Mozart Piano Concertos: Where to Start

Almost all of Mozart’s concertos were written after he moved to Vienna, to be performed at his own subscription concert series there. The concertos Nos. 14-25 were written in a period of creativity (lasting from February 1784 to December 1786) that has certainly never been surpassed in piano concerto production.

In his lifespan, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wrote 27 concertos for piano and orchestra. For a long time, these remain neglected, but today are recognized as among his greatest achievements. Mozart’s concerti for solo piano and orchestra were like ‘standards’ that were followed by other composers of his as well as the following generations. When Beethoven first came to Vienna (shortly after Mozart’s death), Mozart’s concerti featured prominently in his concert repertoire.

About Mozart Piano Concertos

Mozart’s last 10 piano concertos are considered masterpieces, considered among the greatest human achievements. However, it doesn’t mean that his earlier 17 concerto were average. Its the media that tells us that his last 10 concertos are the best. You may just pick any Mozart piano concerto, even the ones that he composed as a boy, and you will hear the stamp of the master on it.

Most of us assume that Mozart had a lot of free time to compose these masterpieces. However, the fact is that Mozart did this for a living, and most of his works had to be delivered within a fixed time frame. Some of these Mozart concertos were written for his own subscription concerts, under extreme deadlines. He wrote most of these concertos, while trying to make a living, just like most musicians today (most of them don’t have lot of money).

A concerto is a musical composition that is made of three parts – these parts are also called movements. In a piano concerto, the piano serves as the solo instrument and it is accompanied by an orchestra.

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart | Piano concertos (2 Hours – Non Stop Classical Music )

Tribute and Origin

It can be said that piano concertos are the invention of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Before he came into the limelight, there were only a few concertos and were written for fortepiano or harpsichord. It is also observed that the few samples of the concertos of that time didn’t possess the same high artistic qualities of the Mozart piano concertos.

Possible Contemporaries

However, we should also note that J. S. Bach wrote excellent harpsichord concertos, but we can almost be sure that Mozart didn’t come to know any of them. Carl Philipp Emanuel also wrote more than 50 similar concertos that Mozart may have probably learned of. However, these harpsichord concertos are way different from Mozart’s works that it is hardly believable that he drew any principles or inspiration from them.

Early Mozart Concertos

The early Mozart piano concertos are numbered one to four. The very first one was written on April 1767. These works for the most part were arrangements of the works of other writers. The other three concertos were written in the months of June and July of the same year. His concerto number five, written in December of 1773 was considered his first real work toward this said genre.

Classical Work or Pop Music

Today we consider Mozart piano concertos to be classic works. However, that wasn’t how his works were perceived by his immediate contemporaries. To them, Mozart’s pieces were like pop music to us today. Most of them thought of the works as something that can be enjoyed for the meantime and to only be replaced by something newer or more upbeat. In spite of this low regard, collectors and connoisseurs recognized the extraordinary qualities of the Mozart piano concertos. This was an implicit approval of Mozart’s works and genius. On an interesting note, of all the many symphonies that Mozart wrote, only three were published in his lifetime. However, a third of his original concertos attained quite a distinction.

Watch (Hear rather): Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Piano concertos

Mozart’s Zenith

It can be said that Mozart’s glory days were from 1782 to 1785 when he was in fact very much in demand as a teacher, performer, and composer. He was able to make quite a handsome living from all his labors. Those were the times when both private and public concerts were quite popular. Mozart was the one of the leading spirits that pushed the genre forward into its prime. But, of course, not all good things last especially in the world of music. Everything went into quite a sharp decline in 1790 at the death of Emperor Joseph II. Other than the emperor’s death, recession and war also became contributing factors to the deterioration.

Concepts of a Mozart Piano Concerto

Mozart’s conception of the piano concerto was rather unique. More often than not, there was the question of how to deal with the thematic material via piano and orchestra. Another question that haunted composers of his day was determining a balance or middle ground between piano solos and the symphony. Mozart’s solutions to the said musical traps are quite varied especially in his mature series. It is observed that the way he handled such perplexities were quite complex.


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