About this work
The Köchel catalog number of K. 285 number for the C major Flute Quartet is misleading. Despite being adjacent to those of the two quartets Mozart completed while he was in Mannheim as a result of a commission from the Dutchman Ferdinand Dejean in 1777 and 1778, it is now known to have been composed in Vienna rather later. While no reliable autograph manuscript exists, a sketch of ten bars of the opening Allegro has been discovered, and the same leaf also includes one of the arias from the German opera Die Entführung aus dem Serail, on which Mozart was working during the latter part of 1781 and 1782. The quartet can therefore be dated to this period, a conclusion confirmed by paper analysis. In addition, the second of the two movements, the Theme and Variations (marked Andantino) has a close relationship with another work dating from this period, being a simplified version of the sixth movement of the magnificent Serenade for 13 Wind Instruments, K. 361. The authenticity of this arrangement has been questioned, as has Mozart's authorship of the final bars of the Allegro. Quite why Mozart should have returned to composing a quartet featuring an instrument he disliked without apparent motive is a puzzle, the most likely explanation being that, like its successor (the Flute Quartet in A, K. 298), it was composed or arranged for the domestic enjoyment of friends. The scoring is the same as that of the other flute quartets; flute, violin, viola, and cello.