Listening to and writing about Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s music is always a pleasure, a relief from everyday’s hustle and bustle. Here I sit with two hours to kill and I have nothing better to do than to enjoy Mozart’s Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 27 in G, K. 379, performed by Augustin Dumay (violin) and Maria Joao Pires (piano). And once again I struggle to find the right English word to describe the music’s mood. “Innig” in German – intimate, profound, heartfelt; that’s what the dictionary gives me. But it only hints at the depth of emotion stirred up by the first movement.
Occasionally my research for this blog uncovers information that truly makes me laugh out loud. Here’s a delightful detail. The 18th-century composer Ignaz Joseph Pleyel was an extremely business-orientated man, and, unlike many of his colleagues, very successful at that. He did not only get rich by publishing and printing other composers’ work and by selling pianos built in his own factory. He wrote some of his concertos in different versions, each time for a different solo instrument. Very efficient. I wonder whether he had also had a discount policy, something like: “Buy the concert versions for clarinet and flute and get the cello version for free!”
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was his teacher, Frédéric Chopin his successor. He was a master pianist and an accomplished composer, rooted in the classical Vienna, but looking already beyond the 18th century at the Romantic world of sound. Johann Nepomuk Hummel bridged the two eras and showed contemporary audiences how much brilliance and delicatezza piano music can display without leaving the framework that Mozart and Hummel’s later teacher Antonio Salieri had set. His later compositions expanded considerably in expressive range, harmonic and melodic variety, compared to earlier works, closer to Mozart’s style.
Is it your birthday today by any chance? Yes? Wonderful. I have a gift for you – a beautiful piano concerto written by Ludwig van Beethoven. It is full of vitality and enthusiasm, and I hope it will colour your day just like a bouquet of flowers. Happy Birthday! If today it is not your birthday, it doesn’t matter. I wish you an enthusiastic day anyway, and hopefully Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5 “Emperor” in E flat major, Op. 73 will make you feel like a king. Let’s stay modest here.