Magnificent Mozart: Concert Four

Thoughts on Magnificent Mozart and his Effect

~ Maestro David Mairs 

Have you heard about “The Mozart Effect”? A good deal has been written about the music of this master, whose life was way too short for the talent he had and the way he used it. Some say Mozart’s music helps people learn; some say it helps people, and especially children, regain emotional calm and stability. Some claim that the tension and relaxation, the suspension and resolution of Mozart’s music, helps humans find a balance that life can easily and quickly throw askew.

The orchestra on stage is smaller than usual. That’s because Mozart found his music being performed, not in large concert halls or arenas, but in small ballrooms, large drawing rooms of palaces or mansions, or even “a large room in an apartment he would rent” in order to premiere one of his 600 compositions. That’s just the way it was. Some of his operas were performed for “the common people” at the Vienna Volkoper and that was something he dearly loved. His music was a smashing success wherever it was performed.

So how can the music of a single composer be presented in a concert which brings variety. How about performing not one concerto, but three? How about hearing a movement from three different concertos for three different instruments performed by three different artists from the Mid-Texas Symphony? Does Mozart sound the same when the solo instrument is a flute, or a clarinet, or a bassoon? It’s time we found out, and our amazing MTS musicians, Rita Linard, principal flute; Vanguel Tangarov, principal clarinet , and Jonathan Castillo, principal bassoon,  will help us do that.

Finally, we celebrate our 40th Anniversary Season with a performance of Mozart’s 40th symphony, his next to last symphony. In it you can hear traces of his melancholy side (movement 1), his love of the comedic (movement 4), his ability to make us want to dance (movement 3), and his talent for taking us into a comic opera, with its dialogue and humor (movement 4).

Many critics say that Mozart wasn’t the innovator that Beethoven was (although Beethoven stated that Mozart was one of his greatest musical mentors!). They say that Mozart just had a knack for absorbing various styles of music already composed that people tended to love.

After our performance on Sunday, February 18th at the Performing Arts Center at Canyon High school, I wonder what you will think.

Let me know,


Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Christmas is without a doubt my favorite time of the year. I'm that person that when the clock turns midnight on Thanksgiving night I go right into Christmas mode. I have every reason to be uncontrollably happy because it's Christmas, it’s the happiest time of the year. What is better than watching 25 Days of Christmas, sitting by the fire, decorating the Christmas tree and ice-skating? The answer is: nothing. There are so many reasons why I love Christmas as much as I do and it’s not because I get showered with gifts by my family.

Even though it’s incredibly cold in New York at this time of year, I still feel warm and happy because of the atmosphere Christmas brings. Going into New York City and seeing the tree at Rockefeller Center, skating in Central Park or walking past the department store to see the window display just makes me incredibly happy. When it starts to snow and the sky is full of small little flakes it makes everything just feel more magical and joyous. Christmas is such a happy holiday and it makes so many people happy that it just makes me happy.

I also love Christmas because my sister and I both come home from college and for two days she has no choice but spend time with me. I rarely get to spend time with her so any moment I do get with her makes me happy. I also get to see the rest of my family. My cousins, my sisters and I never fail to have a good time together. What is better than spending time with the people you love most? Getting to spend an absurd amount of time with my cousins playing Just Dance beats any other day of the year.

Finally, I love Christmas because it gives my mom and I a great excuse to bake an unhealthy amount of cookies and watch a concerning amount of Christmas movies. One of my favorite traditions with my mom is taking a whole day and baking cookies for the holiday. The smell of cookies filling the house and Christmas music playing in the background never fails to make me smile. Every year we do the same thing and my dad does his usual of staying away from the kitchen so we don't ask him for his help. I couldn't imagine celebrating Christmas without this tradition.

I don't know how, but there are people that just don't feel the same about Christmas as I do. Yes I believe they are crazy. I am Buddy the Elf of Christmas. There is the best excuse to be extremely happy! No worries, some responsibilities and being surrounded by joy and love. How could people not love this holiday?

Madeline Ulrich, Blogger


Angels & Anthems

Concert Three: Sunday, December 17, 2017 at 4pm

by Maestro David Mairs

I Googled it. It was real! The Blizzard of 1947 in New York City was real! My mother’s story was right. She had decided to take my brother (5) and me (4) across the George Washington Bridge into NYC to see Handel and Gretel at the Metropolitan Opera on December 26th. Hansel and Gretel, an opera about children, was traditionally performed at Christmas time at the Met. Why not! It’s about kids, and angels, and families (and yes, a wicked witch!). We bussed into the city for the 1:00 performance. When we came out, the snow was 2 feet deep, the busses weren’t running, and my mother made some very bold and gutsy moves to get us little kids home safely. She surprised an elderly man in a big car who had slowed to a crawl on his approach to the George Washington Bridge, by throwing open his rear door, shoving us boys into the car, climbing in herself, and exclaiming, “Can you help me get these boys across the bridge?” He did.

What I remember from that encounter is the “angel music,” Humperdinck’s amazing music filling the hall as the angels came down to watch over Hansel and Gretel, who were hopelessly lost in the woods. Every time I perform this piece, as a hornist and now as a conductor, I am overwhelmed as the majesty of the orchestra accompanies the angels – “and the Glory of the LORD shown around them!”

Our Christmas concert is about angels and especially about kids – little kids and big kids – kids singing for you and escorting us into the presence of the mysterious and perhaps, the holy. From the 5th graders from the Seguin area to the Seguin High School Choir, the voices of kids will take you places that you’ll want to go. Enjoy the trip!


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It's all about Beethoven

19 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Beethoven


AUGUST 12, 2014


Ludwig van Beethoven was born in December of 1770 in Bonn to parents Johann and Maria, who were excited and scared about the future of their newborn son. Stubborn and self-involved, dramatic yet loving of his friends, Beethoven would become a virtuoso pianist and canonical composer of dozens of symphonies, concertos for piano, piano sonatas, and string quartets. Having performed brilliantly for much of his youth and into his early thirties, the musician would slowly lose his hearing and ultimately focus his efforts on composing alone. Even after he had lost his most precious sense, Beethoven would create some of the most moving works of all time.

Jan Swafford’s Beethoven: Anguish and Triumph chronicles the life of the master musician, painting the picture of a character who loved and hated ferociously, of a Europe wrought with revolution and enlightenment, and of a Vienna housing some of the foremost icons of history (Mozart and Haydn would predate Beethoven there). Below is a list of things you might not know about this beloved artist.

1. Beethoven was actually the third Ludwig van Beethoven in his family. The first was his grandfather, a noted musician in Bonn, and the second was Beethoven’s older brother, who passed six days after his birth.

2. Beethoven’s father noticed early on the boy’s penchant for playing. He set his sights on creating a prodigy as Mozart was just years before, and Johann beat music into Ludwig, forcing him to practice day and night to reach the same level of genius. Neighbors of Beethoven remembered the small boy standing on a bench to reach the keyboard, crying, his father looming over him.

3. Having left school at age 11 to help with household income, Beethoven never learned how to multiply or divide. To his last day if he had to multiply, say, 60 x 52, he’d lay out 60 52 times over and add them up.

4. Among his friends, Beethoven was a notorious spacecadet. Once, while speaking to family friend Cacilie, she noticed him zoning out. When she demanded a reply to what she’d said, his answer was, “I was just occupied with such a lovely, deep thought, I couldn’t bear to be disturbed.”

5. On his first visit to Vienna, 17-year-old Beethoven was scheduled to perform for Mozart. The latter was generally unimpressed with other musicians, having been so far ahead of his peers in talent and accomplishments. No one really knows what happened in that fateful meeting, but myth has it that Mozart walked out of the room saying, “Keep your eyes on him—someday he’ll give the world something to talk about.”

6. Beethoven was known for his improvising (before he lost his hearing). One contemporary of his, composer Johann Baptist Cramer, told his students that if you haven’t heard Beethoven improvise, you haven’t heard improvisation.

7. After moving to Vienna in his early 20s, Beethoven took lessons from Joseph Haydn, father of the symphony. As per Beethoven’s habit with teachers, the two often got frustrated and ultimately didn’t like each other very much.

8. When Beethoven had been composing for some years, the piano began to come into its own. Whereas his predecessors had composed for harpsichord, Beethoven decided he would focus his efforts on the instrument no one had yet written comprehensive work for.

9. Beethoven had varying luck with women. Some admired him for his genius while others found him repulsive. A woman he courted once called him “ugly and half crazy.”

10. Beethoven was a sick kid to his dying day. Throughout his life he would suffer from deafness, colitis, rheumatism, rheumatic fever, typhus, skin disorders, abscesses, a variety of infections, ophthalmia, inflammatory degeneration of the arteries, jaundice, chronic hepatitis, and cirrhosis of the liver.

11. Though he attributed the beginning of his deafness to an instance in which he was startled and fell, the foundation would have probably been a disease he had suffered from as a child like typhus, smallpox, etc. He began to hear constant buzzing at age 27.

12. The Moonlight Sonata was a hit from the start, dedicated to Beethoven’s pupil and love interest Julie Guicciardi.

13. Beethoven hated giving piano lessons unless they were for exceptionally talented students or attractive young women of whatever talent.

14. He was instrumental in setting the tone of critiques of his work in the leading music journal of the day, AMZ, telling the editor to back off with negative comments if he wanted to receive copies of the musician’s work.

15. His Symphony No. 3, called Eroica, was dedicated to Napoleon (before he’d disappointed Beethoven and crowned himself absolute monarch, as opposed to being a symbol of revolution and new era in Europe) and written at a time when Beethoven considered moving to Paris. The move never happened, but the symphony would be a defining artistic work of the German enlightenment.

16. One of the major inspirations of Beethoven’s famed Ninth Symphony was poet Friedrich Schiller’s poem “Ode to Joy,” which he’d been meaning to put to music since his youth.

17. Despite his acclaim, Beethoven always had to work hard to ensure a comfortable living by giving piano lessons, writing work commissioned by wealthy Viennese residents, and, of course, publishing his own music.

18. He died during a thunderstorm at age 56, his friend comparing the occasion to the composer’s symphonies with “crashes that sound like hammering on the portals of Fate.”

19. Thousands joined the procession at his burial. His monument said, simply, “BEETHOVEN.”


Concert Two: Beethoven Unbound

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Mid-Texas Symphony & David Mairs

Thoughts from Maestro David Mairs

Bee-tho-ven Sev-enth, Bee-tho-ven Sev-enth! (Say this slowly). This is what our fourth and fifth grade students will be saying at our free Children’s Concerts on Monday, October 16th at the Performing Arts Center at Canyon HS in New Braunfels. Each season we present a concert and invite all the area schools to attend. This year we will serve over 3500 area students. 

They will learn about the magic of “Mr. Fragment” – Ludwig van Beethoven. His fabulous ability to make extraordinary music out of 3, 4, and 5 note themes is surpassed by no other composer in the history of classical music. His Seventh Symphony is one of the best and most exciting examples of this skill. All four movements have little fragments that are unique, melodically and rhythmically. What Beethoven does with these fragments, or motifs, is truly amazing. Every movement is different and captivating! If you listen for the fragments in each movement, you will discover a new way of listening to and enjoying the music of one of the truly great masters of classical music.

We are pairing Symphony No. 7 with the Overture to the Creatures of Prometheus, as it has a similar instrumentation in spite of containing different musical material.

Concertmaster Craig Sorgi will be our soloist for Concert Two. He has been our wonderfully musical captain of the orchestra for many years, and has also been a vital part of our creative endeavors by organizing and producing the work of the MTS Chamber Players throughout the season. Like Beethoven, Craig likes to try different things, different styles, and different types of concerts. On this concert as well, Craig has requested to do three shorter works for violin and orchestra instead of the customary three-movement concerto. Craig will be performing a lovely Romance by Svendsen, but also some very lovely works by Berlioz and Wieniawski. This delightful contrast will not only show us some different styles but will also cleanse our palettes for more Beethoven after intermission.

I look forward to bringing you some wonderful music featuring the violin and Craig Sorgi, before making sure that you have your seat belts fastened for “The Seventh!”

See you Sunday, October 15th, 4pm, at the Performing Arts Center at Canyon High School in New Braunfels. Buy ticket on this site!