About this work
Doubtless recalling the great success of the six subscription concerts Mozart had promoted during the Lenten season of 1785, he decided to mount another series of three concerts during the Advent season at the end of the year. According to a letter from Mozart's father Leopold to his daughter Nannerl, Mozart had told him that he mounted the new series "without much preparation." Nevertheless the subscription amounted to 120, a respectable number and only 30 short of that he had attracted to his Lenten series. For this series, as was his habit, Mozart composed a new piano concerto, the present work in E flat, which he entered in his catalog on December 16. It has been conjectured that the first performance was not in fact given at Mozart's own concert, but on the occasion of the second of two performances of Dittersdorf's oratorio Esther, when it would have been played between the acts. These concerts were given on December 22 and 23 by the Society of Musicians at the annual benefit concerts for their widows and orphans, the bill announcing the second concert advertising that Mozart would play "a new Concerto of his own composition." The report of the two concerts in the Wiener Zeitung decided that it could forbear to mention the favorable reception the concerto received, "since our praise is superfluous in view of the deserved fame of this master."
The date at which Mozart first played K. 482 at his own subscription concert is not known, but it obviously repeated (if that was indeed the order of events) the success it had achieved at the charity concert. Mozart was able to report to Leopold that the central Andante had to be repeated--"a rather unusual occurrence," Leopold told Nannerl. As has been noted, the E flat Concerto is notable for its strong echoes of Le nozze di Figaro, on which Mozart was working at the time he composed the concerto. This applies particularly to the complex Rondo finale, with its delicious minuetto interpolation. The work is also notable for being the first instance on which Mozart had included clarinets in the scoring of one his concertos, which also calls for a flute, pairs of bassoons, horns and trumpets, timpani, and strings. The spacious opening movement is an Allegro. The concerto was published by the Viennese house of Johann Traeg in August 1789.
Curated by Anna Lachegyi, Viola da gamba player and Cellist