THE ILLUSORY MOZART: SELFISH MEMES IN THE PRIESTS’ MARCHES, by Steven Jan
THE ILLUSORY MOZART: SELFISH MEMES IN THE PRIESTS’ MARCHES FROM IDOMENEO AND DIE ZAUBERFLÖTE
for Julian Rushton
I want to claim almost limitless power for slightly inaccurate self-replicating enti-ties, once they arise anywhere in the universe. This is because they tend to become the basis for Darwinian selection which, given enough generations, cumulatively builds systems of great complexity.
(Dawkins 1989: 322)
1. CONTEXT: THE LATE SUMMER OF 1791
In comparing the Priests’ Marches from Mozart’s Idomeneo K. 366 (1781) and Die Zauberflöte K. 620 (1791), Rushton observes that the earlier march ‘…breathes an air of mystery which anticipates another temple, in Die Zauberflöte’ (1993: 105). The affinity is apparent to the ear, yet the marches share much more than a mood of hushed devotion: my concern here will be to show that musical similarities between them are such that one can clearly regard the later march as replicating, in various ways, much of the content of the earlier.
First, the background. By mid-July of 1791 Mozart had completed the bulk of the work on Die Zauberflöte, but in his Verzeichnüß aller meiner Werke we see the opera entered, in that month, using the opening bars of Tamino’s ‘Zu hilfe!’ (number 1) as the incipit (see Rosenthal and Tyson 1991: 57). With the exception of Die Ent-führung aus dem Serail, the overture was the last part of Mozart’s operas to be com-posed, being put aside while vocal sections were completed so the singers could begin work. With Die Zauberflöte, the composition of the Priests’ March, the only other ex-tended instrumental number, was also deferred, Mozart presumably intending to write it later with the Overture.