Horn Concerto No.3

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Horn Concerto No.3 in Eb major


About this work

The concerto K. 447 is the third of the four horn concertos composed by Mozart between 1783 and 1791 for the French horn player Joseph Leutgeb (1732-1811), a friend whom Mozart knew for most of his life. In 1777 Leutgeb moved from Salzburg (where he was member of the court orchestra) to Vienna, where he opened a cheese shop (with the help of a loan from Mozart's father Leopold) in addition to continuing his musical career. The jocular, at times insulting comments that litter the autograph parts of the horn concertos bear witness to the close nature of the friendship between Mozart and Leutgeb. More important, they are also a testament to the artistry of the latter; the solo parts contain many passages that present a considerable challenge to players on the natural (valveless) horn. Among these was the use of so-called "stopped notes," a technique that involved the player's inserting his right hand into the bell to enable him to play notes otherwise unavailable on the horns of the day. Mozart's horn concertos all include such stopped notes, in addition to bass notes obtained by the technique known as "overblowing," another skill developed by Leutgeb. The concerto was originally given a dating of 1783 by Köchel, but more recent research has established that K. 447 probably belongs to 1787 -- although that leaves open the question as to why Mozart did not enter the work into the thematic catalog he started in 1784. As with all the concertos with the exception of "No. 1," K. 412 (the last in order of composition), K. 447 is in the usual three-movement concerto form, with an Allegro followed by a slow movement marked Romance and a concluding Allegro in rondo form with plenty of hunting-horn atmosphere. The concerto is scored for two clarinets, two bassoons, and the usual complement of strings.