Marches, K. 408

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        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.

        Mozart wrote well over a dozen marches (beginning at age eleven), scored in a variety of combinations of pairs of wind instruments--with or without strings.  The marches of K. 408 were written in 1782, roughly a year after his removal from Salzburg to Vienna.  He had achieved early success in Vienna, especially with his opera, Die Entführung aus dem Serail of the same year.  Outdoor music was an important part of the social scene of the Italian and Austrian nobility at that time, and Mozart wrote not only marches but dozens of compositions variously called serenades, cassations, divertimenti, and other dances for patrons in Salzburg and Vienna.  The marches of K. 408 are delightful examples from a genre that later found voice in composers from Beethoven to Dvořák, Richard Strauss, and Charles Gounod.

--Wm. E. Runyan

© 2015 William E. Runyan