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On rare occasions rather conservative contemporary musical theorists such as Leopold Mozart criticized the techniques used by the Mannheim school. Thus, in a letter to his son Wolfgang, who was staying in Mannheim, he commented on a recent piano sonata which the latter had just sent to him: “It contains elements of the mannered Mannheim style, though only a little, so that your own good nature is not impaired by it. ”As a result of his new friendship with concertmaster Christian Cannabich (1731—1798), a number of new influences began to make themselves felt in Mozart’s works. His friendship with Cannabich also enabled him to make new acquaintances in the “musicians’ paradise”, and it seems that he fell in love with Cannabich’s daughter, Rose, to whom he gave music lessons. At length he attempted to enter the service of Elector Carl Theodor and envisaged a career for himself in Mannheim. After Leopold had been informed of these plans he wrote to his wife, who had accompanied Wolfgang to Mannheim, to express his fears about their son’s career prospects: “… very much doubt whether Wolfgang will find everything to be as he imagines...” Leopold’s concerns about Wolfgang’s uncertain future in Mannheim prompted him to spell out the financial situation to his itinerant family: “I am in fact rather apprehensive, for Mannheim is an expensive place. You know how things stand.” The ostentations life of the court in Mannheim had, it seems, pushed up the cost of living to an unaffordable level.
In the musical sphere Mozart was able to learn a great deal in Mannheim, since most of the contemporary avant-garde composers were members of the court orchestra. And under Cannabich, the young composer studied the art of orchestration as practiced in what was the most progressive orchestra of its day. He wrote to his father: “Cannabich now composes much better than when we saw him in Paris. Yet what I and also my mother noticed at once about the symphonies here is that they all begin in the same way. They always start slowly and in unison.” However, in the Sinfonia in E flat on this CD, which was probably composed in 1778/9, there is no trace of a slow introduction. Yet the unison passage at the beginning of the work was obviously a feature of the new orchestral style which Mozart had ventured to criticize. Nevertheless, as the work progresses, Cannabich begins to relinquish the stereotype application of Mannheim melodic patterns, and, for example, no longer introduces the crescendo or “Mannheim Walze” indiscriminately. In fact, he was primarily concerned to provide his orchestra with an opportunity to excellence by emphasizing virtuosity and innovative sonorities. Cannabich’s achievements as orchestral director were still remembered in the Romantic period, and Schubert once remarked: “He invented a totally new style of bowing, and possesses the ability to keep the largest orchestra together by merely nodding his head or twitching his elbow.” And on the occasion of the rehearsals for the Munich performance of his opera Idomeneo Mozart described the way in which Cannabich threw himself into conducting:“…At the last rehearsal he was drenched in sweat...”.
(Taken from the cd "Mannheim: The Golden Age" Teldec 3984-28366-2 p 1999.)