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The "Keyed Glockenspiel" - Papageno's "magic bells"??

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Author Topic: The "Keyed Glockenspiel" - Papageno's "magic bells"??  (Read 1460 times)
Reiner Torheit
« on: July 29, 2009, 11:12:52 am »

Although the music for the "magic bells" in THE MAGIC FLUTE is usually played on a celesta today, such an instrument is a C19th invention, and couldn't have been what Mozart used.  Nor, for HIP bands playing at a=415, is it a usable alternative.

Here's what one HIP band in Australia used:

NB these instruments may not have been completely obscure.  Charles Jennens, librettist of MESSIAH, wrote to his brother (in his famous "maggots in the head" letter) that Handel was keeping an instrument at home "called Tubalcain" that was a set of bells "operated by a keyboard in the manner of a clavecin, and with this cyclopedian instrument he intends to make poor Saul stark mad".  (referring to the mad scene in the oratorio SAUL).

Stephen Storace evidently brought one back from Vienna with him (or somehow arranged for its importation - unless he came by one someone in London?), since he scores for the "carillon" in THE SIEGE OF BELGRADE (1791).
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« Reply #1 on: July 29, 2009, 11:17:38 pm »

The keyed glockenspiel he created is one of only two in the world. When Dyer sits behind it on Friday he believes he will be playing the same instrument Mozart used in early productions.

‘‘It’s got that bell tone Mozart wanted – that extra ring,’’ he said.

Seems to be lacking some historical criticality, if you ask me ;p
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Tony Watson
« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2009, 10:42:25 pm »

I was surprised to find out which other composers have written for this instrument and when: for example Mahler in his 7th symphony and Dukas in The Sorcerer's Apprentice. That being the case, why is it so rare? Why was the celesta invented, unless for its softer tone?

I have been rereading parts of Mozart's Last Year by HC Robbins Landon and the letters Mozart wrote in his last year. Schikaneder's orchestra is detailed (in Landon) but there is no mention of a glockenspiel. Mozart does not mention the instrument except for that famous story when he played it at unexpected moments in one performance to catch Schikaneder (as Papageno) off-guard. Nowhere does Mozart say what sort of bell tone he wanted. It would be very interesting to know at what stage in the writing of it they decided it would be a good idea to include the instrument. Why not just stick to a magic flute? The story I mentioned does show that the instrument was not in the orchestra pit but behind the scenery. According to Landon, Mozart conducted the first performance on the fortepiano and from the pit.
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