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Mozart Comes To St Rose School To Tell His Story



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Mozart Comes To St Rose School To Tell His Story

By Larissa Lytwyn

The spirit of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart came alive at St Rose School recently through “Meet the Musicians,” an educational music program created by actor and musician Dennis Kobray.

Supported by grants from Commissions of the Arts, the program combines Mr Kobray’s storytelling skills with period costumes and a classical soundtrack to give students the opportunity to “meet” Bach, Beethoven, Gershwin, Brahms, Schubert, Chopin, Joplin, and of course, Mozart.

Mr Kobray grew up in a Brooklyn-based family infused with a love for music. He was taught piano by a Julliard-trained pianist and was educated in music and history at Brooklyn College and Southern Methodist University in Dallas before creating “Meet the Musicians” in 1986.

“We saw Mr Kobray perform [at a Commissions of the Arts preview] and were impressed, so we sought to bring him to St Rose,” said St Rose PTA member Alice Walsh. “He performed here as Beethoven several years ago, and we thought Mozart would be a good choice for this year. His appearance is part of [the school’s] cultural arts series.”

Mr Kobray’s St Rose visit was December 2, just days before the 212th anniversary of Mozart’s December 5, 1791, death at age 35.

Mr Kobray introduced himself to students as Mozart, a musical prodigy who wrote his first minuet at age 5½, his first full-scale symphony at 8.

Unlike today’s high-tech, generally gender-equal society, Mr Kobray-as-Mozart explained how his musically talented sister was not allowed to continue her education because of society’s expectation that she “stay home, cook, clean, and raise a family.”

He also discussed how musicians from families of humble beginnings were generally employed as servants at European palaces. Mozart was born in the remote Austrian village of Salzberg.

At age 32, Mozart wrote The Marriage of Figaro, widely regarded as the best opera ever written. The story of a servant couple outsmarting their royal master, who had designs on the female servant, ignited blue-blooded rage.

“The suggestion that servants were smarter, more noble somehow, than royalty, was written during a time of much tension between [classes],” explained Mr Kobray-as-Mozart. As a result, the lauded composer’s royal fans boycotted his concerts for four years.

Mozart and his wife did not save much money because “they didn’t think they’d ever need to,” said Mr Kobray-as-Mozart. When he died, Mozart was deeply in debt. He was buried in an unmarked mass grave. He was never fully appreciated for his musical genius during his own lifetime.

Mr Kobray enriched his performance with Mozart’s most famous works, including selections from Don Giovanni and The Turkish March.

“Mr Kobray is such a great performer,” said Ms Walsh. “It’s wonderful to see how he brings the music of Mozart alive!”

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