Piano Concerto No.19

About this work

Like the majority of the piano concertos Mozart composed in Vienna, the F Major concerto, No. 19, was written for his own use, possibly at an Advent concert in December 1784. The extant autograph score gives no date of composition, but Mozart entered the concerto in his thematic catalog on 11 December of that year. He would also likely have included it along with another new concerto, K. 466 in D Minor, in a series of six Lenten subscription concerts he gave in the Mehlgrabe in Vienna the following February. 1784 was in fact something of a "year of the piano" for Mozart, for it witnessed the composition of no fewer than six piano concertos, in addition to the great Quintet in E flat for piano, oboe, clarinet, horn and bassoon, K. 452. At this point Mozart's repute as a pianist was at its height, with writers falling over themselves to outdo each other's panegyrics. An example comes in this account from April 1784: "His concerto on the pianoforte, how excellent that was! And his improvisations, what a wealth of ideas! what variety!.... One is washed away unresistingly on the stream of his emotions."

Mozart's catalog entry for the F Major Concerto includes timpani and trumpets in the scoring, although such parts have never been found, and they are not normally included in the composer's music written in that key. They would, however, not be out of place in the festive, martial opening Allegro of this work sometimes referred to as Mozart's second "Coronation" concerto (the other being the Concerto No. 26 in D, K. 537, the work usually known by the "Coronation" nickname), since he chose to perform it in 1790 at a concert marking the coronation festivities of the Emperor Leopold II in Frankfurt. In modern times the concerto has unjustifiably been something of a Cinderella work among Mozart's mature piano concertos, yet it as every bit as fine as the better-known works that surround it, with wind writing that is particularly felicitous even by Mozartean standards.

Although the mood of this concerto is sunny and its weight light, there is an aspect to the first movement which is worthy of close attention: Mozart builds a convicing sonata form out of two themes of similar mood, both of them exceptionally lyrical, and he sustains their basic moods in a masterful development. The middle movement is not especially slow, being marked "Allegretto." It is based on two themes, one of them an expressive opening melody. The finale is a very lively movement, with wonderful contrapuntal writing hidden by the overall jocularity. This is already an exceptionally fine concerto, showing great advances in the use of winds, and pointing the way towards even greater achievements to come.

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