November 12, 2005

In Mozart’s Footsteps


Divertimento in D Major, K 136 (125a)
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)

Quartet in D Major for flute and strings, K. 285
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Concerto for fortepiano No. 14 in Eb Major, K. 449
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Allegro vivace
Allegro ma troppo

In Mozart’s Footsteps

During our 2005-2006 concert season, Ars Antigua celebrates the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birth (January 27, 1756). For this concert, held in conjunction with the Chicago Humanities Festival, we employ this year’s festival theme as a unique way of considering Mozart’s music. This year’s Festival theme of “Home and Away” leads us to examine his music in the context of where it was written. Mozart’s travels began when he was five years old and continued to the last year of his life. He toured nine countries and over two hundred cities. These travels and experiences greatly affected the music he wrote.

The first work on today’s concert serves as a reference point. The Divertimento in D Major K136 was composed by Mozart when he was sixteen years old and was written in, Salzburg, Mozart’s childhood home. Mozart was still very much under the control of his father at this time, who titled the piece. While this work is an early work, it let’s Mozart’s serious occupation with chamber music and the symphony shine through in a light and playful guise.

Just five year’s later, Mozart made his first trip away from home without his parents. He planned to travel to Munich, Augsberg, Mannheim and Paris in search of a better job and a greater reputation as a first class free lance musician. In December 1777, while in Mannheim, Mozart wrote his flute quartet in D Major on commission. It is a work of great vitality—Mozart was no longer under the oppressive supervision of his father and he succumbed to the charm of an opera singer in Munich, fell in love in Mannheim, first with Mademoiselle Gustle, the beautiful daughter of the flautist Wending; and then with Lisel Cannbach while at the same time finding her sister Rose most attractive, and on top of all this, he wanted to take a 15 year old Alysia Weber to Italy and make her an opera star. These experiences away from his home in Salzburg, express themselves in the quartet you hear today.

The final work on today’s program is the piano Concerto in Eb Major K449. It is a mature work, composed in 1784 for his student Barbara Ployer. This concerto is one of the few from the Vienna period which Mozart did not compose expressly for his own use. In addition to Mozart, Ms. Ployer and his sister were allowed to play it. Mozart was 28 and living in Vienna when he wrote this work. Mozart indicated this piece could be performed with strings alone and the work is considered among the first of Mozart’s mature concertos, perhaps reflecting Mozart’s growing maturity and his “settling down” in his adult hometown of Vienna. As was the performance practice of Mozart’s time, the fortepiano is used and functions not only in a solo capacity but as a continuo instrument as well.

Please join us in the sanctuary after the concert to discuss the historic instruments we use, our techniques for playing them, and your thoughts on how Mozart’s music changed when he was home and when he was away.


Martin Davids and Pasquale Laurino, violins
Susan Rozendaal, viola
Pablo Mahave-Veglia, violoncello
Jerry Fuller, double bass
James Janssen, fortepiano
Anita Miller Rieder, flute