Violin Sonata No.21

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Violin Sonata No.21 in E minor

K293d, K304

About this work

The fourth of seven sonatas for piano and violin composed by Mozart in Mannheim and Paris during 1778, the E minor Sonata is the only one in a minor key. Recent paper dating has shown that while the opening Allegro was composed in Mannheim, the following Tempo di Menuetto was composed in Paris, where Mozart and his mother finally arrived on March 23. Like all but the last of its companions, K. 304 has only two movements, but it departs from the distinctly domestic feel of the first three works in finding a new profundity of dramatic expression fully in keeping with its minor mode. In this it bears a strong resemblance to another minor-key work composed in Paris at much the same time -- the Piano Sonata in A minor, K. 310. It may not be too fanciful to see in both works some reflection of the emotional upheaval Mozart must have experienced on leaving Aloysia Weber, the first love of his youthful life, behind in Mannheim. It was an event he had striven to delay as long as possible, much to the annoyance of his father Leopold back at home in Salzburg. Mozart's attempts to give greater equality to the violin in a genre traditionally dominated by the keyboard (not for nothing are all Mozart's sonatas designated as being for piano and violin, rather than the reverse) here takes a further step forward in the opening theme of the Allegro, which is dramatically announced complete by both instruments in unison, after which it is taken up not by the piano, but the violin. The Tempo di Menuetto movement that follows is less intense and includes a section in the major. The six sonatas K. 301 through K. 306 were published in Paris later in 1778 as Opus 1, Nos. 1-6, with the title page bearing a dedication to Maria Elisabeth, Electress of the Palatinate. For this reason they are frequently known as the "Palatine Sonatas."