Historical Seasons > Past Symposiums

Symposium 107 - Mozart and Haydn

Sunday, 20 October 2013 @ 5:00pm
Monday, 21 October 2013 @ 7:00pm

Mozart and Haydn


  • Trio in D Major for Fortepiano, Flute, and Cello, Hob. XV:16 (1790) 

    Andantino più tosto allegretto
    Vivace assai


    Joseph Haydn

  • Quartet in D Major for Flute, Violin, Viola, and Cello, K 285 (1777-1778)

    RONDEAU: Allegro


    Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

  • Quartet in G Minor for Fortepiano, Violin, Viola, and Cello, K 478 (1785)

    RONDO: Allegro



Notes on the Program

    Program Notes by Avi Stein

    The story of the father, Leopold Mozart taking his precocious children Wolfgang and Maria Anna around Europe and showing off the young wonders' amazing talents is well known. That it achieved legendary status even in its own time is evident from the remarks of a local librarian upon the Mozarts' return from one of their trips: 

    ". . . There is a strong rumor that the Mozart family will again not long remain here, but will soon visit the whole of Scandinavia and the whole of Russia, and perhaps even travel to China, which would be a far greater journey and bigger undertaking still: de facto, I believe it to be certain that nobody is more celebrated in Europe than Herr Mozart with his two children."

    By his teens, Mozart had ceased to be a child prodigy and settled back in his hometown of Salzburg at the employ of the local archbishop for which he wrote a great amount of church music. Troubles with the archbishop had been brewing for a while, involving a wide variety of matters, from the change in budget priorities away from music, to favoritism shown to imported Italian musicians over locals such as the Mozarts. Wolfgang continued to compose music as part of his duties but began to expand his clientele by writing instrumental and secular vocal music for private patrons.

    After much complaining, both father and son were dismissed from their positions in 1777 and Wolfgang embarked on a journey with his mother to find new employment. It was during this journey that Mozart encountered the Mannheim orchestra which vied with the best in Europe. Charles Burney, who's writings reveal so much about music at this time, commented that the Mannheim musicians were of such caliber, that the orchestra was like an "army of generals." In his entertaining letters, Mozart himself extolled their virtues, though from his own unique perspective:

    "One of my chief reasons for detesting Salzburg is the coarse, slovenly, dissolute court musicians . . . these here certainly behave quite differently from ours. They have good manners, are well dressed and do not go to public houses and swill."

    One of these musicians was the flutist Johan Baptist Wendling. Wendling introduced Mozart to Ferdinand De Jean, a surgeon with the Dutch East India Company and an amateur player. De Jean commissioned for himself two little concertos and several flute quartets. According to his letters, Mozart seems to have begun work on this commission well enough but soon tired of it and in the end was only paid half the original fee. Regardless of circumstances, what Mozart produced in the D Major Quartet was one of his most charming works, containing a slow movement to rival the haunting melodies so reminiscent of the great clarinet works written towards the end of his life.

    Mozart's rocky relationship with commissions was to remain with him throughout his life. In 1785 he was requested to write three quartets for piano and strings by the composer and publisher Franz Anton Hoffmeister. By the end of the 18th century the Viennese tradition of essentially miniature piano concertos had become quite popular and Hoffmeister hoped to capitalize on their success. Unlike the earlier commissions for flute, Mozart produced much more than what he had been asked to do, and that seems to have been the problem. The vast proportions and challenging intricacy of the first quartet were too much for the amateur market and Hoffmeister cancelled the rest of the commission.

    In contrast to Mozart's youthful imprudence and mature idealism stands the business acumen of Haydn and a perfect example of this savviness are his flute trios. They were written for an English audience that particularly prized the flute as an instrument of music-making in the home. Haydn managed to double the return on his investment, for while he was receiving payment from a London publisher, he had these pieces published simultaneously by his own longstanding publisher in Vienna.