Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Mozart - Rondo For Piano In A Minor K. 511

As if Mozart's documented abilities as a musician were not enough, there have been all manner of astounding attributes and feats concocted about him through the years. For example, there has been much made of Mozart's methods of composing, that he made no sketches but composed works in his head and when he put pen to paper wrote them out complete. Modern research has discovered that Mozart indeed make sketches of works in progress. There is also evidence that he composed with the assistance of a keyboard, contrary to what has been written for years.

But as myths continue to be perpetuated by some, the pendulum seldom stays exclusively on one side. Some now err on the opposite side by saying that Mozart was nothing but a slight musical talent, a hack that stole music from his contemporaries. There is enough existing proof to debunk such nonsense, but the opinion persists, specifically with an author that has written an article titled Exploding The Myth Of Mozart. I offer no link, nor do I deem it necessary to include the author's name. A quick Internet search will bring up the article, if anyone wants to see it for themselves. Evidently the same author has promised a book on the subject for quite a few years, but there is no sign it will ever be published.  Extreme views, whether on the side of turning Mozart into a God or a dunce, do nothing but create confusion, lies and nonsense.

And in the end, does it matter? Whether he used a keyboard to compose or not, whether he worked out his compositions on paper or not doesn't matter.  It is the legacy of his music that matters, and over 200 years after his death, Mozart's music is still being played and enjoyed.

Musicologists suggest that Mozart was most famous during his life as an improviser. The art of improvisation in Mozart's time was used as a measurement of the abilities of a musician. Many of the composers of the 18th and 19th centuries were also masters of improvising at the keyboard.  With Mozart's documented abilities in improvisation at the keyboard, it is no wonder that many of his compositions were for solo keyboard or included the keyboard in the ensemble. He was evidently a composer that thought musically through his fingers.

The Rondo In A Minor was the third and last Mozart wrote for solo piano. It was written in 1787, apparently not as a commissioned work.  Mozart wrote many short stand alone pieces for keyboard throughout his life, but this rondo is rather long (about ten minutes) compared to others he wrote. Mozart made more instruction to the performer in the way of dynamic and phrasing marks than usual, so perhaps this piece was written for a student. The rondo is in a melancholy mood that is lightened by the major mode in the episode sections, and Mozart varies the rondo theme slightly each time it returns.  It resembles the slower rondos of C.P.E. Bach in its ornamentation and style, and Mozart does not resolve minor key to major key in the ending, but ends the piece in the hushed home key of A minor.


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