Piano Concerto No.3

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Piano Concerto No.3 in D major


About this work

The piano concertos of Mozart are considered to be his greatest work written for piano. The earlier concertos, however, served more as a lesson in composition in that genre, as well as further study of the colors and effects of the orchestra. Composed in Salzburg in 1767, following an extensive tour of Europe (1763-66), the piano concertos nos. 1-4 quilted together sonata movements borrowed from several of the composers Mozart met along the way, including Johann Schobert and Hermann Friedrich Raupach. This method of construction was not unusual for the time, especially in the world of opera. The arrangements of other composers' works allows scholars to compare the original sonata with the work of Mozart, indicating specific choices in instrumentation. The D Major Concerto, K. 40, includes movements borrowed from the piano sonatas of Leontzi Honauer (Op. 2 no. 1), Johann Gottfried Eckerd (Op. 1 no. 4), and C.P.E. Bach ("La Bohmer", from W. 117).

The concerto opens with a grand pronouncement by the strings, introducing the driving and energetic first movement. The dramatic gestures are interpolated with the more flirtatious grace-note figures and the tender, lyrical passages. The movement, although not Mozart's own composition, contains several of his "signature" figures and gestures, which foreshadow his later concertos and sonatas. The second movement is a calm and elegant respite from the rhythmic intensity of the two outer movements. The finale, marked Presto, is a frantic chase or hunt, with the brass echoing the strings and rapid descending arpeggios in both the strings and the piano.