Piano Concerto No.8

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Piano Concerto No.8 in C major

K246 • “Lützow”

About this work

The piano concerto was the last of the great Classical forms to be developed. When it did so it was almost entirely at the hands of Mozart, who after settling in Vienna in 1782 produced 17 masterpieces that form the core of the Classical concerto repertoire. Mozart's earliest attempts were influenced by the concertos of a number of composers including Johann Christian Bach (whom he met in London in 1764) and Johann Schobert, several of the earliest adapting material from them. It was not until the end of 1773 that Mozart composed his first wholly original piano concerto, the Concerto in D, K. 175.

The C major Concerto, K. 246, is the fourth of Mozart's original concertos and was composed in Salzburg and dates from April 1776, the year after Mozart and his father Leopold returned from their third and final visit to Italy. It was composed for the young Countess Antonia Lützow, a niece of the Mozarts' employer, the Archbishop of Salzburg, and possibly a pupil of Mozart's father Leopold. The concerto is cast in the usual three movements, marked Allegro aperto, Andante, and Rondeau (Tempo di Menuetto), and is scored for pairs of oboes and horns, and strings with an ad libitum part for bassoon. Although the concerto is less obviously brilliant than some of the other piano concertos Mozart composed around this time (for example K. 242 in F, or K. 272 in E flat), it calls for enough nimble fingerwork in the outer movements to suggest that the countess was an accomplished performer, while the central Andante provides more than a few prophetic hints of the great slow movements to come in the Viennese concertos. Both Mozart and his sister Maria Anna (Nannerl) continued to play the concerto during the 1770s, and Mozart is known to have taken it with him on the trip to Mannheim and Paris (1777 - 1778), mention being made by him in letters to Salzburg of performances in Munich, and Mannheim, where Mozart mentions the famous teacher Georg Vogler "scrambling his way" through the concerto. Mozart himself used K. 246 for teaching purposes, which doubtless explains the existence of three sets of cadenzas of varying degrees of difficulty.

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