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Mozart's Viennese Instrumental Music

Mozart's Viennese Instrumental Music: A Study of Stylistic Re-Invention

Simon P. Keefe
Copyright Date: 2007
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 232
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  • Book Info
    Mozart's Viennese Instrumental Music
    Book Description:

    The stylistic evolution of Mozart's Viennese instrumental repertory as a whole [1781-1791], closely tied to historical and contextual lines of enquiry, has yet to receive systematic attention. This book fills the gap through a study of stylistic re-invention, a practically- and empirically-based theory that explains how innovative, putatively inspired ideas take shape in Mozart's works and lead to stylistic re-formulation. Re-invention comprises a two-stage process: Mozart manipulates pre-existent stylistic features of his music to climactic effect, in so doing introducing a demonstrably 'new' stylistic dimension with broad aesthetic resonance; he subsequently re-appraises his style in response to the dimension in question. From close examination of a variety of Mozart's works [piano concertos, string quartets and symphonies in particular], supported by study of Mozart's other chamber and dramatic works, the author shows that stylistic re-invention is a consistent and coherent manifestation of stylistic development. Ultimately re-invention puts centre stage the interaction of intellectual and imaginative elements of Mozart's musical personality, accounting both for processes of reflection and re-appraisal and for striking conceptual leaps. SIMON P. KEEFE is James Rossiter Hoyle Chair of Music, University of Sheffield.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-576-5
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Musical Examples
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. List of Figures
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xi-xii)
    Simon P. Keefe
  6. Introduction: Mozart and Stylistic Re-Invention
    (pp. 1-16)

    The extraordinary popularity of Mozart’s works composed during his years in Vienna (1781–91) is a product of, and a factor contributing towards, the intense public fascination with the man and his music. Scholarly attention to Mozart, no less remarkable in volume and intensity, is also motivated by, and is a motivating factor for, the continued allure of his music as a topic for intellectual investigation. The explosion of secondary literature on Mozart in the last fifty years or so, in musicological sub-disciplines as diverse as source studies, history and context, gender studies, and music analysis (to name but a...


    • 1 ‘An Entirely Special Manner’: Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 14 in E♭, K. 449, and the Stylistic Implications of Confrontation
      (pp. 19-42)

      AHIGHPOINT in Mozart’s career as a composer-performer in Vienna came during the spring of 1784. In a letter to his father Leopold, dated 4 March 1784, Mozart listed an astonishing 22 engagements for the period 26 February to 3 April, including three concerts in a subscription series at the Trattnerhof, two at the Burgtheater (one of which was subsequently cancelled) and several at the salons of Prince Galitsin and Count Esterházy.¹ According to Mozart, the Trattnerhof and Burgtheater performances were particularly well received: he ‘won extraordinary applause’, had a hall that was ‘full to overflowing’ and was praised repeatedly for...

    • 2 On the Grand, Brilliant and Intimate: Mozart’s Piano Concertos K. 450–K. 503 (1784–86)
      (pp. 43-63)

      THE unique position and far-reaching significance of K. 449 in Mozart’s concerto oeuvre encapsulates the stylistic ‘problem’ he faces in moving from one conception of the genre in the a quattro works (K. 413–415) to a fundamentally different one in the ‘grand’ works (K. 450 onwards). While the ‘entirely new and special manner’ of K. 449 ultimately owes its distinctive stylistic identity – and, by extension, its status in a process of stylistic re-invention – to the confluence of these two concepts, the subsequent piano concertos reside in a different realm. Mozart makes it clear to his father that...

    • 3 A Complementary Pair: Stylistic Experimentation in Mozart’s Final Piano Concertos, No. 26 in D, K. 537 (the ‘Coronation’), and No. 27 in B♭, K. 595
      (pp. 64-86)

      WITH his Piano Concerto No. 25 in C, K. 503, completed in Vienna on 4 December 1786, Mozart brought an extraordinary sequence of Viennese concertos to a close. In the space of four years (1782–86) he had composed 15 masterworks, endearing himself to the Viennese public through acclaimed performances at the Burgtheater, Trattnerhof and Mehlgrube.¹ Alongside his singspiel Die Entführung aus dem Serail (1782), his opera Le nozze di Figaro (1786), and his six string quartets dedicated to Haydn (K. 387, 421, 428, 458, 464, 465, published in 1785), these concertos established Mozart as a leading light on the...


    • 4 An Integrated ‘Dissonance’: Mozart’s ‘Haydn’ Quartets and the Slow Introduction of K. 465
      (pp. 89-104)

      EVER since their completion and publication in 1785, Mozart’s six string quartets dedicated to Haydn, K. 387 in G, K. 421 in D minor, K. 428 in E♭, K. 458 in B♭, K. 464 in A and K. 465 in C, have elicited strong reactions from musicians and critics alike. The private performance of the last three works of the set with Mozart and Leopold in Vienna on Saturday 12 February 1785, less than a month after Mozart had finished K. 465, prompts Haydn’s famous proclamation to Leopold: ‘Before God and as an honest man I tell you that your...

    • 5 Mozart’s ‘Prussian’ Quartets, K. 575, 589 and 590: Towards a New Aesthetic of the String Quartet
      (pp. 105-134)

      MOZART wrote only four string quartets after completing the ‘Haydn’ set in 1785, the ‘Hoffmeister’ (K. 499) in August 1786 and the ‘Prussian’ quartets (K. 575, 589 and 590) dated June 1789, May 1790 and June 1790 respectively. Just as late eighteenth-century writers single out the ‘Haydn’ quartets for critical attention on account of harmonic and tonal intricacies (see Chapter 4), so they also refer to striking technical and affective qualities of Mozart’s ‘Prussian’ quartets, casting the works in a positive light. A death notice in the Franckfurter Kayserliche Reich-Ober-Post-Amtszeitung on 7 December 1791 praises the ‘Prussian’ works, ‘in which...


    • 6 The ‘Jupiter’ Symphony in C, K. 551: The Dramatic Finale and its Stylistic Significance in Mozart’s Orchestral Oeuvre
      (pp. 137-164)

      DISCUSSION of stylistic re-invention in Mozart’s Viennese symphonies is inherently more problematic than corresponding discussion of his concertos and quartets: after all, he wrote only six symphonies in Vienna as opposed to 17 piano concertos and 10 string quartets. In contrast to his pre-1781 orchestral output (numerous serenades, cassations and divertimenti and at least 34 symphonies) the Viennese symphonies occupy only a small place in his compositional output as a whole, a discrepancy in numbers of pre- and post-1781 works that is either not evident, or not as pronounced, in his concerto and quartet repertories. What is more (and even...


    • 7 Mozart’s Stylistic Re-Invention in Musical Context
      (pp. 167-200)

      IN Chapters 1–6 we have established that stylistic re-invention in Mozart’s piano concertos, string quartets and symphonies constitutes an on-going, two-stage process. First, Mozart contemplates his pre-existent stylistic procedures in a genre, manipulating them to climactic effect. Thus, the confrontation in the development section of K. 449/i takes to a new stylistic plateau the separation of piano and orchestra interlocutors and the characteristics of development–recapitulation transitions from K. 413–415; the manipulation of striking harmonic procedures from the first five ‘Haydn’ quartets in the slow introduction of K. 465/i produces a rich peroration to the set as a...

  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 201-210)
  12. Index of Mozart’s Works by Köchel Number
    (pp. 211-212)
  13. Index of Mozart’s Works by Genre
    (pp. 213-214)
  14. General Index
    (pp. 215-218)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 219-219)