Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Clarinet Concerto in A Major, K. 622

            During his relatively brief life Mozart composed at an amazing rate, and so today we are blessed with a multiplicity of his works in almost all musical genres.  His operas, of course, are his most important contributions, but they are followed close in significance by his concertos.   Collectively, they defined the form and set the mark for all composers who followed.  Mozart wrote over twenty concertos for piano, about a dozen for various stringed instruments, and roughly the same number for wind soloists.   The clarinet concerto was his last, written in the final year of his life along with the immortal Magic Flute and the Requiem Mass.   Composed for Anton Stadler, a well-known virtuoso in Vienna, the concerto received its first performance there in Octo

Contredanses, K. 609

            Mozart, like all composers before the nineteenth century, saw himself as more-or-less a craftsman, serving up what his patrons and audiences wanted and were willing to pay for.  Hence, in addition to Olympian masterpieces such as Don Giovanni and his last symphony, we also have a plethora of smaller, more modest compositions written for everyday social requirements.  His oeuvre includes not only serenades, but cassations, divertimentos, and also dance music, including German Ländler and contredances.   A contredance is one in which the couples face each other in two long lines.  At the end of the seventeenth century, many English folk dances crossed the channel and became popular in France.   By the time of Mozart they were favored in Viennese soci

Divertimento in F Major, K. 138

            Mozart’s genius surfaced early, not only as a precocious performer, but as a composer, as well.  His father was a successful court musician in their hometown of Salzburg, but he certainly was not above bolstering the family finances by sharing little Wolfgang’s talents with the greater musical world.  As a result Mozart’s life early on was punctuating with a series of grand tours, wherein he met the rich and talented and wowed them with his own gifts.  Several lengthy Italian tours were major events in the young composer’s life, and entertainingly documented in his letters home.  We must remember, notwithstanding the tendency to regard Vienna as an outpost of Germany, Austria’s geographical location has always made Italian art and musical style a fundamental component of its

Marches, K. 408

        Unlike that of many composers of the first rank, Mozart’s genius found fruition in almost every musical genre--imposing or modest.  While it is tempting for many to project romantic notions as the basis for Mozart’s professional motivations, we must remind ourselves that he wrote for his daily bread--not for the eternity of art.  Whether producing masterpieces like Don Giovanni and the piano concertos, or charming little marches such as these--Mozart’s life as a composer was driven by the necessities of the moment (and the patron with ready cash).  Simply put, he “followed the money” and composed what his society needed and was willing to pay for.

Overture to Don Giovanni, K. 527

            Mozart’s incomparable musical gifts enabled him to compose at the highest level of artistic brilliance in almost every musical genre.  We are privileged to experience his legacy in symphonies, chamber music, wind serenades, choral music, keyboard music—the list goes on and on.  But, unquestionably, his greatest contributions to musical art are his operas.  No one—not even Wagner, Verdi, Puccini, or Richard Strauss exceeded the perfection of Mozart’s mature operas.  The reason, of course, is clear: his unparalleled musical gift is served and informed by a nuanced insight into human psychology that is simply stunning.  His characters represented real men and women on the stage, who moved dramatically, and who had distinctive personalities.   Of no opera is this truer than his

Overture to The Magic Flute, K. 620

            Mozart’s incomparable musical gifts enabled him to compose at the highest level of artistic brilliance in almost every musical genre.  We are privileged to experience his legacy in symphonies, chamber music, wind serenades, choral music, keyboard music—the list goes on and on.  But, unquestionably, his greatest contributions to musical art are his operas.  No one—not even Wagner, Verdi, Puccini, or Richard Strauss excelled the perfection of Mozart’s mature operas.  The reason, of course, is clear: his unparalleled musical gift is served and informed by a nuanced insight into human psychology that is simply stunning.  While Mozart composed both comic operas and serious operas, and in both German and Italian, his major body of work lies in his opera buffe--Italian com

Overture to The Marriage of Figaro, K. 492

            Mozart’s incomparable musical gifts enabled him to compose at the highest level of artistic brilliance in almost every musical genre.  We are privileged to experience his legacy in symphonies, chamber music, wind serenades, choral music, keyboard music—the list goes on and on.  But, unquestionably, his greatest contributions to musical art are his operas.  No one—not even Wagner, Verdi, Puccini, or Richard Strauss excelled the perfection of Mozart’s mature operas.  The reason, of course, is clear: his unparalleled musical gift is served and informed by a nuanced insight into human psychology that is simply stunning.  His characters represented real men and women on the stage, who moved dramatically, and who had distinctive personalities.  While Mozart composed both comic ope

Piano Concerto No. 20 in D Minor, K. 466

        Mozart is largely responsible for the creation of the modern piano concerto, composing them primarily for himself to support his career as a performer.  His spending habits consistently placed him in financial difficulties, and since he usually desperately needed to concertize, concertos were a natural solution.  He composed some twenty-three of them, starting about 1767.  Although his operas exceed his piano concertos in musical genius, and historical significance, no other genre of his is so consistently high in quality and maturity. 

Piano Concerto No. 21 in C Major, K. 467 (“Elvira Madigan”)

          Mozart is largely responsible for the creation of the modern piano concerto, composing them primarily for himself to support his career as a performer.  His spending habits consistently placed him in financial difficulties, and since he usually desperately needed to concertize, concertos were a natural solution.  He composed some twenty-three of them, starting about 1767.  Although his operas exceed his piano concertos in musical genius, and historical significance, no other genre of his is so consistently high in quality and maturity. 

Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major, K.488

        Mozart is largely responsible for the creation of the “modern” piano concerto.  He wrote them primarily for himself to support his career as a performer.  His spending habits consistently placed him in financial difficulties, and he usually desperately needed to concertize.  Only his operas exceed his piano concertos in musical genius, and historical significance.  He composed some twenty-three of them, starting about 1767.  No other genre of his is so consistently high in quality and maturity.  K.488 was written in March of 1786, along with what many consider to be his best, K.491—so typical of Mozart to toss off two masterpieces in short order!

Pages