Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

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 about two dozen 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!

Symphony No. 39 in Eb Major, K. 543

            While Mozart had enjoyed some degree of success with his operas during the recent years, he was again in deep financial trouble during 1788.  His income from time to time was evidently encouraging, but he was notorious for his over-spending.  So, there are extant some heart-rending letters to his friends, literally begging for money.  It is in this context that he moved his family from the inner city of Vienna out to the suburbs for the summer.  There he had at his disposal a quite large apartment adjacent to an attractive garden.  In this pleasant atmosphere, in less than two months, working at what must have been a feverish pace, Mozart wrote three of his most important works:   his last three symphonies—the Eb , the G minor, and the “Jupiter.”  We don’t know his motivatio

Symphony No. 40 in G Minor, K. 550

            While Mozart had enjoyed some degree of success with his operas during the years leading up to 1788, by then he was again in deep financial trouble.  His income from time to time was evidently encouraging, but he was notorious for his over-spending.  So, there are extant some heart-rending letters to his friends, literally begging for money.  It is in this context that he moved his family from the inner city of Vienna out to the suburbs for that summer.  There he had at his disposal a quite large apartment adjacent to an attractive garden.  In this pleasant atmosphere, in less than two months, working at what must have been a feverish pace, Mozart wrote three of his most important works:  his last three symphonies—the Eb , the G minor, and the “Jupiter.”  We don’t know his m

Symphony No. 41 in C Major, K. 551

        Mozart’s symphonies are generally conceded to surrender pride of place to his incomparable operas and piano concertos.  Nevertheless, they still constitute one of the treasures of symphonic music.  Admittedly, he began composition of symphonies when both he and the genre were practically in their respective infancies.  He had not yet the models of achievement of the maturity of Joseph Haydn before him, but as Haydn gradually developed the modern symphony, Mozart grew along with the older colleague.  They later became close friends in Vienna, and constituted a mutual admiration society.  As with all his works, Mozart’s symphonies were generally written “upon demand,” for a specific purpose or event.  But the “wunder” summer of 1788 produced a group of three symphonies that distin

Violin Concerto No. 5 in A Major, K. 219 (“Turkish”)

            Visitors to the small, sparse museum located in the putative home of the Mozarts in Salzburg will see a glass display case containing the little violin of the young Wolfgang.   And it reminds us of the centrality of the violin in Mozart’s younger days.  His father, Leopold, was the author of the most celebrated tutor for the violin in the eighteenth century .   Little Wolfgang was his prize pupil, and his performances on the violin were a mainstay of his celebrity during all those barnstorming tours as a child.  A little older, and back home in Salzburg, Mozart led the little court orchestra as a virtuoso concertmaster.  In 1775, at the age of nineteen, Mozart composed all five of his violin concertos, for own use, of course.  Though composed rather quickly in succession, ea

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