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In Mozart's "Don Giovanni" there are many phrases notated as staccato which, after 2-3 measures, no longer have the staccato notation to the end of the phrase. (Ex. Dover full score p.393 measures 251-256 in Violin II).

Measures 251-256 Violin II

Is it Mozart's intention that the staccati continue to the end of the phrase or do they revert back to non-staccato notation as written?

Any help greatly appreciated!

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  • Is that by any chance Act II scene 23, a recit starting "Crudele"? Commented Sep 17, 2023 at 19:20
  • Note to self for a future answer: the relevant bit in the manuscript is p 199-200 of vmirror.imslp.org/files/imglnks/usimg/4/45/…. The articulation marks do stop where Dover stops, though I might interpret them as dots rather than vertical strokes. Commented Sep 18, 2023 at 15:46
  • Meanwhile the short version of my answer is that yes, composers (and Mozart, and especially in this score) often don't bother writing "simile" when an articulation is clearly meant to continue. Commented Sep 18, 2023 at 15:47
  • @AndyBonner did they ever write it in the 18th century? I always associated it with the 19th. In the 18th century they just expected people to have a bit of common sense. But in any event that's no recitative; it's a trio.
    – phoog
    Commented Sep 18, 2023 at 16:40

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My guess, as it is only a guess but based on experience, is that the staccatos should continue.

I find that quite often notations come with an unstated expectation that the player should play in the style and feel of the period. There was no need to write this in the score or parts as the players simply knew how to play the music. A lot of small details would simply not be needed to be notated -- I believe the staccato simile is an example of that.

In more modern times similar things occur, examples might include "swing", where parts of the bars are "swung", i.e. the written notation is a simplification. Generally two eighth notes would be played closer to 2/3 + 1/3 triplets (although the exact "swing" is not exactly the same as triplets). From the same period as Mozart, Wiener Waltz, when performed for dancing is played with a longer first beat of the bar compared to beat 2 and three. The players know the style and play things the "correct" way, as I guess the musicians at Mozart's time would have done without detailed instructions in their parts.

An additional problem arises when editors of later times start adding their own interpretation of how to indicate the correct way to play the music. You can find the same score (and parts for musicians) with wildly different notations depending on when the score was edited. In the original question I believe (guessing) that the score has been edited according to the editor's taste adding the staccatos but not the simile.

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