Mozart Concert Review Essay

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I have chosen Mozart's Violin Concerto in D major KV 218 for violin and orchestra which I have been working on for the past few months. Mozart composed this piece when he was 19 years old on October 1775 in Salzburg. He was granted the post of concertmaster to the Prince-Archbishop from 1773-1777. During these few years in Salzburg, he composed the majority of his works for solo string instruments and orchestra to use those works for special occasions, which proves that concertos and concertante music for solo string instruments were popular in Salzburg during this period. In the year 1775, there were more than a few hundred works that he composed which consisted of serenades, violin concertos, piano concertos, and etudes for his female students. Though all five violin concertos were composed during the years of 1773-1775 in Salzburg, except the third movement of Violin Concerto No.5 which was composed in Vienna in 1781, the rest of them have been traditionally ascribed to the year 1775, thus the accurate date of when those pieces were completed is not clear.

One of the reasons for this flourish in activity within those years was the possibility of experimenting with all the new compositional techniques acquired during his third trip to Italy and his stay of several months in Vienna from July to September in 1773. Despite the amount of successful work, he was not satisfied with working in Salzburg because of the low salary and attempted to find a position elsewhere. In 1774, he traveled to Munich by himself and wrote a letter to his father to inform him that he had no luck with church authorities there. The bishop whom he had been wanting to see for a long time had told him “Ah, Mozart, the first thing for you to do is to become famous, then we will see. You must understand that here in Munich people do not want deal with beginners. So travel and become famous!”. His father replied to his letter that “…depart from Munich if nothing more can be obtained.” In 1775, although he tried to get a fixed position with the Archbishop, the theater ended up being closed.

Mozart began his career as a violinist at the age of six, after receiving a child-size instrument from the emperor and empress during Mozart’s trip to Vienna in 1762. He played a Violin Concerto in B-flat by Vanhall and also a Strasbourg Concert on the violin when he was on a trip to Mannheim and Paris in the fall of 1777. Those performances were very successful according to a letter which he wrote to his father on October 23-25 of 1777. This proved that Mozart himself likely played some of his violin concertos, though he was not as comfortable playing on the violin as on the piano. He stopped his career as a violinist in public during his trip to Mannheim and Paris in 1777-1779 mostly because he was persuaded by his father.

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Several musicians may have performed Mozart’s Violin concertos. His acquaintance, Josef Mysliveček, whom he had met on his third trip to Italy, may have been one of the reasons why he decided to compose violin concertos during the years 1773-1775. In addition to that, there must have been outstanding violinists among the court orchestra as well as among amateur musicians. While there are records of Antonio Brunetti, who was a solo violinist and concertmaster to the Archiepiscopal court, who performed Mozart’s Violin Concertos, it is not verifiable whether these works were written expressly for him. There is another Salzburg violinist Johan Anton Kolb performed Mozart’s Violin Concertos. Mozart-era violin concertos were performed indoors, at intermission between the acts of a play, or in church during movements for reflection during Mass or Vespers, unlike the concertos by Romantic composers such as Brahms or Tchaikovsky which were performed in larger concert venues. But even though several musicians performed Mozart’s Violin concertos, it still cannot be determined for whom or for what occasion Mozart wrote them.

Mozart’s violin concertos were considerably less well-known and less frequently performed than his piano concertos during his lifetime and even in the 19th century. His concertos were mostly derived from the works of Antonio Vivaldi, whose concerto form consists of three movements and a ritornello form. In addition to piano and violin concertos, he also wrote two concertos for flute, four for horn, one for Basson, one for oboe, one for clarinet, and one for a combination of flute and harp. He was an expert in improvising his cadenzas and all of his violin concertos were without any written cadenzas.

The first movement of violin concerto no.4, Allegro, starts in a martial fashion which you can find in his previous violin concerto K.216 No.3 “Strassburg” in G major. Mozart introduces a beautifully contrasting section into the orchestral ritornello and returns to the noisy energetic opening for only the last few measures before the solo section comes in. From this perspective, Mozart seems to have made a special decision to make the solo section come out of the orchestral texture. The second movement, Andante Cantabile, is in A major which is the dominant key of the first movement and implies a “singing” movement in his era. One of the things that I found special about this movement was that a lovely touch of solo violin theme is furnished by the little canonic echoes that the oboe offers the soloist just before the return of the opening material in the middle of the movement, which sounds beautiful. Although the virtuosity of the outer movements is absent here, it is replaced by a beautiful melodic outpouring. The third movement, Rondeau: Andante grazioso, opens with a brief section which is a dance-inspired in 2/4, which recurs three times throughout this movement. After that, Allegro ma non troppo in 6/8 follows and the Allegro begins the same way in its fourth appearance and then branches off into something new. This third movement may have a folk melody like “Strassburger”, but no source for it has yet been uncovered.

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Mozart Concert Review Essay. (2024, February 29). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 17, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/mozart-concert-review-essay/
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