Violin Sonata No.23

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Violin Sonata No.23 in D major

K293f, K306

About this work

Mozart's sonatas for piano and violin largely conform to the genre's contemporary status of works designed for social use. Mozart himself underlined the point when sending home to Salzburg a group of sonatas by the Dresden Kapellmeister Joseph Schuster (1748-1812) he had heard and played in Munich on the first stage of the journey undertaken to Mannheim and Paris during 1777 and 1778. Explaining to his father and sister Nannerl that they were very popular in Munich he concludes: "My main object in sending them to you is that you may amuse yourselves à deux." It is possible that it was the example of Schuster that inspired Mozart to the composition of six sonatas during the remainder of the journey, three and half in Mannheim (K. 301, K. 302, K. 303 and the first movement of K. 304), the remainder in Paris. All the preceding works of the set follow the two movement scheme favored by composers such as J. C. Bach, conforming to the domestic type of sonata with which performers might well amuse themselves à deux, but with the D major Sonata Mozart turned his attention to a different kind of work. Composed in Paris during the summer of 1778, it is a large-scale piece cast in three movements, its grander, more expansive gestures announcing what Alfred Einstein has called "a great concert sonata." The bold opening Allegro con spirito is followed by an Andante cantabile in which the violin's lyrical lines hark back to the violin concertos composed in Salzburg three years earlier, while the final Allegretto looks forward to the operas of the following decade, the fluctuating tempos recalling one of the great scenas and encompassing a written-out cadenza for both instruments. Whether or not Mozart himself used the sonata in concert is not known. It was published in Paris later in 1778 as "opus 1, No's 1-6," the title page bearing a dedication to Maria Elisabeth, Electress of the Palatinate. For this reason they are frequently known as the "Palatine Sonatas."

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