Mozart Emerges In New Digital Portraiture By Artist Hadi Karimi

Earlier this month, CG Artist Hadi Karimi  unveiled new portraiture of Mozart via the wizardry of 3D renders and digital sculpting. I found ...

Earlier this month, CG Artist Hadi Karimi unveiled new portraiture of Mozart via the wizardry of 3D renders and digital sculpting. I found his work to be hauntingly exquisite and plausible. Requesting to share his rendering and ask a few questions, I was delighted with his response and permission to publish! While I admire all four portraits which capture the composer in various angles and light, my favorite is of Mozart in shadowy profile. See three additional portraits in the addendum below. 

Past attempts to capture the Maestro's profile have often resulted in the polarizing extremes of Adonis and caricature. But what Hadi offers us exists in a next-level realm of technology and historically informed artistry (or shall I say HIP as in historically informed portrait!). See for yourself... 

Like any historian, I've wished for a time machine where I might be transported back in time to meet my subject in person. But gazing upon these new portraits was like meeting Mozart as only we can today. For all of the extant information we have about his appearance via portraiture, first-hand accounts, estate documents and locks of hair, I feel that Hadi's artwork is the most authentic attempt to produce his likeness I've seen to date. His decisions were made based on research and an artist's intuition. Everything I see on the canvas can be referenced and justified. Hadi's portfolio demonstrates his creative process in reimagining the image of Mozart. 

I was curious about Hadi's journey with the composer, his passion for bringing historical figures to life and whether or not he's considering other Mozart family members as future subjects. He responded: "As a portrait artist, I find it a great challenge trying to reconstruct those faces that were lost in history and all we have are paintings, masks and descriptions. And of course Mozart was one of the most interesting subjects I could have worked on and I’m happy that I did. Currently, I don’t have any plans for other members of the Mozart family but maybe I’ll give it a try in the future."

When I asked Hadi if he referenced the 1856 daguerreotype of Mozart's eldest son, he replied "Yes, I did research on Karl Mozart and other than the color of the eye and hair, his head's overall shape had some resemblance to the paintings of his father."  

Hadi didn't mention this to me or in his portfolio entry, perhaps because he wasn't aware of it, but a resemblance to the last living Mozart descendant is also notable and corroborating. Karoline Grau née Mozart, who died in 1965 at age 80, was the great-great-grandniece of Mozart's father Leopold. This is a photo of Karoline circa 1955. Neither of Mozart's sons married or had children. Bertha Forschter, the great-granddaughter of Mozart's sister Maria Anna, died in 1917. 

Digital portraits provide audiences with a sensory connection and experience that's invaluable to preservation efforts. Removing historical figures from their perceived mantle of greatness to reveal a tangibility that is human and imperfect, vulnerable and relatable, enriches our relationship. As they become more real and attainable, so does our objective to successfully tell their story.  


Celebrating Mozart's 265th Birthday With A Virtual World Premiere And Programming

Happy Birthday, Mozart! Alles Gute zum Geburtstag, Mozart! Today marked an historic moment. The composer's recently discovered Allegro i...

Happy Birthday, Mozart! Alles Gute zum Geburtstag, Mozart! Today marked an historic moment. The composer's recently discovered Allegro in D (K. 626b/16) received a virtual world premiere in the Great Hall of the Salzburg Mozarteum Foundation.

I purchased a ticket for the full program with recital and lecture hosted by Mozart Week (Mozartwoche) Artistic Director Rolando Villazón and Dr. Ulrich Leisinger, Director of the Research Department at the Mozarteum University Salzburg (Universität Mozarteum Salzburg) and performed by Seong-Jin Cho. To gather for a watch party with others from all over the world to celebrate the Maestro with a premiere in 2021? What a rare and precious opportunity. 

If you missed the premiere, watch this exclusive excerpt! 

When gazing upon my virtual ticket, I thought of an artifact from Sotheby's that emerged at auction in 2011: one of the only known surviving tickets from Mozart's academy concerts in Vienna that bears his own validating stamp on the corner. How these receipts of his music stand in stark, yet remarkable contrast. 

The premiere is a part of the reimagined Digital Mozartwoche (January 27-31) with a schedule of performances available on-demand from DG Stage, Fidelio, Mezzo and Audiences, particularly those demographics we need to reach to create further awareness and accessibility, are mostly unaware of the availability of this programming, so as with every effort in which I invest, I hope that my platform can act as a conduit, particularly for viewers in North America.

Experiencing this new music today, I felt joy and excitement for the future. For a moment, it made me forget about the pandemic, my industry's collapse and cancelled contracts. It's exactly what my heart needed, personally and professionally. To feel empowered to rise above. And I think it's what we all need collectively. I hope others feel that energy when they hear these previously unknown measures, for this is the Maestro's eternal flourish, his evergreen gift to us. 

Mozart's music continues to illuminate the human condition and the heights to which we aspire artistically, creatively, morally, spiritually. His melodic contours are timeless in message and delivery. With approximately 50 to 100 compositions still unaccounted for, Mozart remains an elusive figure that we seemingly know so well, yet can't quite seem to capture. He keeps us in a state of befriended wonderment. That is his craft, his magic. And it is this relationship with his audience that sustains him. My task is to safeguard and nurture this relationship, a beloved responsibility and promise.


Sunbury, Pennsylvania Looks to Celebrate Former Resident, Lorenzo Da Ponte

Happy New Year! In hopes that 2021 will be far more promising than its predecessor, I thought it would be a great idea to start the year by ...

Happy New Year! In hopes that 2021 will be far more promising than its predecessor, I thought it would be a great idea to start the year by announcing an anticipated project.  

In September, I made inquiries to Sunbury, Pennsylvania concerning former resident Lorenzo Da Ponte. Between 1805 and 1838, he lived in Sunbury for seven years (1811-1818) and in New York City the remaining years. Too few realize that the Italian poet and librettist, best known for collaborating with Mozart on three of his greatest operas (Le nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni and Cosi fan tutte) traversed the Atlantic to live the last three decades of his life in the United States. 

Read my 2020 article: Building Recognition for Lorenzo Da Ponte's American Legacy.

Working alongside Da Ponte's great-great-great-great grandson Clay Alder and family has been one of my most treasured professional honors. And this is a part of that continuing effort. With New York City being the primary focus of Da Ponte's stateside biography, I've been keen to gauge Sunbury's interest in creating more awareness of his local story. On a personal note, Da Ponte's connection to the Keystone State is all the more special to me given that I'm a native of the neighboring state of Ohio. You can't imagine my reaction when I discovered that Mozart's librettist once lived across the border! 

In addition to receiving locally sourced material from Northumberland County Historical Society's President Cindy Inkrote, I couldn't have imagined a better response from City Administrator Jody Ocker: "So very pleased to hear from you! The timing couldn't be more serendipitous..." She said that they were in the early stages of planning Sunbury's 250th anniversary celebration in 2022 and thought it would be a wonderful idea to include Da Ponte in the festivities. We corresponded earlier this month and the planning committee will meet again soon.

And perhaps as another fortuitous sign, last month I was invited by my friend and colleague Greta Di Raimondo to join the Associazione Mozart Italia - Sede di Venezia (Mozart Italy Association - Venice) as a member of their international team! Greta was recently installed as their President and represents the exciting future of the organization. Indeed, this is a timely gift from the city of Da Ponte's birth. To have AMI's partnership and support will most certainly strengthen future initiatives concerning their native son in his adopted country. 


Piano and Place: Remembering Mozart Through His Art and Travels

Detail of a watercolor by Thomas Sandby, c. 1760. As we approach the anniversary of Mozart's passing on December 5th, I'm inviting M...

Detail of a watercolor by Thomas Sandby, c. 1760.

As we approach the anniversary of Mozart's passing on December 5th, I'm inviting Mozartians to commemorate the day by joining my annual candlelight vigil on Facebook (read Illuminating Mozart's Eternal Flame to learn about last year's event).

To reflect on loss is to celebrate life. So, beyond hosting the vigil, I wanted to find a way to create some meaningful proximity to Mozart's biography. The social isolation and disconnect we've felt so acutely during the pandemic has affected our relationships with everything, including music. Because the last several months have lacked opportunity for audiences to more directly connect with performance art and its history through traditional avenues (ie. concerts, operas, tours, exhibits, cinema screenings), lethargy has replaced enthusiasm. And not only amongst audiences, but music professionals, including myself, who now face a collapsed industry at year's end. 

With the weight of this in mind, I'm even more committed to ensuring that December 5th isn't only about remembrance, but remembrance with a purpose to nurture and restore connection. Mozart spent one-third of his short life on the road, visiting 10 countries and over 200 cities. During an extraordinary year like 2020 when travel is almost unimaginable, what better way to reconnect with Mozart than through a virtual journey to experience his environs in musical context? 

Mozart on Tour is the order of the day! This television series (1984-1990) was reissued on Blu-ray by EuroArts, but is currently unavailable. Fortunately, I did some research and discovered that the Canadian television channel Stingray Classica scheduled the series for its 2020-2021 programming, and made all 13 episodes available on demand. The good news? You can take advantage of their free trial to access this content and more via their website or Prime Video. Please note that this is not an endorsement, affiliate marketing or brand ambassadorship. I'm sharing this series with you on my own accord for the benefit of audiences and music heritage preservation. 

Featuring a Mozart piano concerto at the heart of each episode, Mozart on Tour transports us to the cities and landmarks that were central to his life when this music was written and performed. The late André Previn hosts with a narrative accompanied by re-enactments, performances and tours of locations relevant to the history. Previn performs himself in two episodes and is joined by a cast of renowned musicians throughout the series. I've watched Episode 9: Vienna and Prague and a few excerpts from other episodes to become better acquainted with the material. Otherwise, this series is new to me and I look forward to exploring it with you!

A preview of the first episode...

Episode 1: London focuses on the family's journey to London when Mozart was just eight years old. Vladimir Ashkenazy and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra perform Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 12,  KV. 414 at Hampton Court Palace, where the family appeared for King George III and Queen Charlotte soon after their arrival in April 1764. This concerto was written in Vienna in 1782, so why is it relevant to London? Because its second movement contains a theme written by J.C. Bach who was Mozart's mentor during his 15 months in London. Bach died in early 1782, so Mozart's gesture is generally considered an homage.

Mozart on Tour spotlights some of the places where my work has been focused including the Villa Bertramka in Prague and the Mozarthaus Vienna. I organized the Mozart in Italia 250 project earlier this year to celebrate the 250the anniversary of Mozart's journey to Italy, but it was canceled due to the pandemic. It would be a dream for me to acquire the funding and resources to reimagine the concept of this series for contemporary audiences. Preservation isn't only about artifacts, manuscripts and musical performances. It's also about architectural heritage, our physical bond to traces of an artist's bygone existence in our world that endures beyond death.