If I'm not mistaken, Walt Disney's first color and sound cartoon was Flowers and Trees, one of his many imaginative and innovative “Silly Symphonies”.
It combined symphonic music with the anthropomorphic actions of flowers and trees in lush color and started a trend that has continued unabated to this day.
About seven decades later, combining symphonic music with nature is still popular entertainment.
Three outdoor concerts this week do just that: take symphonic music and put it in a natural setting for summer outdoor pleasure.
On Saturday, July 2 the Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra will play two symphonies by Mozart, which are anything but silly, among the flowers and trees of the Vácrátót Botanical Garden, about 30km east of Budapest off the M3 motorway. The concert begins at 7pm.
One of the symphonies, the G minor Symphony, K 183, is quite early (1773), while the other, the Jupiter Symphony in C major, K 551 (1788), is Mozart's last will and testament in this genre.
The earlier work is today generally considered extremely innovative and one of the first pieces in which Mozart demonstrated his unmistakable, unique genius.
Contrast that opinion with that of his father, Leopold: “It is better that whatever does you no honor, should not be given to the public. That is the reason why I have not given any of your symphonies to be copied, because I suspect that when you are older and have more insight, you will be glad that no one has got hold of them, though at the time you composed them you were quite pleased with them. One gradually becomes more and more fastidious.” Simply bad judgment, or Oedipal conflict? Innovation is again a keyword in discussing the Jupiter Symphony, which marries sonata form to fugal practice in an exciting, unprecedented way. This brilliant work is still one of Mozart's most popular creations, and it never fails to inspire.
The National Philharmonic is an orchestra that never fails to inspire, not least of all because of its music director and conductor, Zoltán Kocsis, one of the most significant personages in Hungarian music life.
(The Budapest Sun, June 30, 2005)