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8.550445 - MOZART: Piano Sonatas, Vol. 1 (Piano Sonatas Nos. 8, 10 and 15)
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791)
Piano Sonata in A Minor, K. 310
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg in 1756, the youngest child of Leopold Mozart, author of a well known treatise on violin-playing and a musician in the service of the ruling Archbishop. Leopold Mozart was to sacrifice his own career in order to foster the God-given genius he soon perceived in his son. A childhood spent in successful tours throughout Europe, in which the young Mozart demonstrated his skill on the violin, and on the keyboard in improvisation and in performance with his sister Nannerl was followed by a less satisfactory adolescence at home in Salzburg. Mozart's talent was none the less, but there seemed little opportunity at home, particularly after the death of the old Archbishop and the succession of a less indulgent patron. In 1777 Mozart and his father, now Vice-Kapellmeister, were refused leave to travel, and Mozart himself resigned his position as Konzertmeister of the court orchestra and set out, accompanied only by his mother, to seek his fortune elsewhere. The journey took him to Augsburg, to Munich and eventually to Paris, but only after a prolonged stay in Mannheim, the seat of the Elector of Bavaria, famous for its musical establishment.
In Mannheim Mozart made many friends among the musicians at court, but neither here nor in any of the other places he visited was there a suitable position for him. The following year, after the death of his mother in Paris, he made his way slowly back to Salzburg, where his father had found him another position at court that he retained until 1781, when he found final precarious independence in Vienna. The following year he married the penniless younger sister of a singer on whom he had first set his heart in Mannheim and won initial success with his German opera Die Entführung aus dem Serail. There were pupils and subscription concerts, and chances to arouse the admiration of fashionable audiences by his skill as composer and keyboard-player in a new series of piano concertos. By the end of the decade, however, his popularity had waned, although there were signs of a change of fortune in the success of a new German opera, Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute), which was still running at the time of his sudden death in December 1791.
Nothing is known of the circumstances of composition of one of the most important of Mozart's earlier piano sonatas, the >Sonata in A minor, K. 310. It bears the date 1778 and was written in Paris, and therefore was composed at a time when Mozart had come to understand the futility of wasting more time in France, where he felt himself undervalued. During the course of the summer his mother died, a misfortune with which he was able to bear with a greater degree of maturity than might have been expected, breaking the news gently enough to his father, at home in Salzburg. The A minor Sonata opens with a principal theme of some poignancy, the mood lightened by the C major second subject. The elaborate figuration of the F major slow movement leads to an A minor final Presto that finds room for a brief episode in the tonic major key.
The Sonata in C major, K. 330, was probably written in 1783, either in Vienna, or during the course of Mozart's first visit home to Salzburg, bringing with him a wife of whom his father strongly disapproved. It is clearly one of the sonatas mentioned by the composer in a letter to his father written in June 1784, identified with K. 330, K. 331 and K. 332, and now sent for publication to Artaria, but already known to his sister. The sonata opens with an operatic principal theme, while its F major slow movement has at its heart a darker-hued F minor section, leading to a final Allegretto.
By 1788, the date of the first two movements of the Sonata in F major, K. 533, Mozart's financial difficulties had assumed some importance for him. His father had died in 1787, the year of the opera Don Giovanni, while in 1786, the year of composition of the last movement of the K. 533 Sonata, Le nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro) had proved a success. A fourth child had been born at the end of December and was to die six months later. The first two movements of the F major sonata bear the date 3rd January 1788, and the final rondo the date 10th June 1786, catalogued by Köchel separately as K. 494. The whole sonata was published in Vienna in early 1788. The first movement starts with a single-line melody, echoed at the octave, followed by a second subject that includes an important triplet figure. There is a B flat major slow movement and the final rondo, expanded for the 1788 publication, now includes a cadenza with an element of counterpoint.
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