About this work
Composed in Vienna in the fall of 1784, the C minor sonata was entered in the thematic catalog Mozart started earlier that year on October 14. For Mozart, 1784 was a year of intense compositional activity for the piano, the eight preceding entries in the catalog all indicating piano works. Six months later, Mozart composed a Fantasia in C Minor, K. 475, that has become irrevocably associated with the sonata and invariably precedes it in performance, forming an expansive prelude. It was the composer himself who originally linked the two works, which were published together by the Viennese publisher Artaria under the title "Fantasie et Sonate Pour le Forte-Piano" late in 1785. Although unusual, such a coupling of a work in free, improvisatory style with the stricter form of a sonata was not unparalleled, particularly in the works of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach -- with whose music Mozart was well acquainted. The title page of the first publication bears a dedication to Therese von Trattner, who was a pupil of Mozart's and the wife of Johann von Trattner, a printer and publisher who was also Mozart's landlord at the time the works were composed. As usual with Mozart's relatively few minor-mode works, the C minor sonata is a highly personal work. But here the mood is not one of storminess or tragedy, as in his G minor works, but of high drama in the operatic sense. The mood of noble suffering in the central E flat Adagio has, for example, been viewed by at least one commentator as music that appears to be a direct precursor of that Mozart was to write for the Countess in Le nozze di Figaro, while the final Allegro assai is a movement in intense dramatic agitation that looks forward to the Romantics, most immediately to the "Pathétique" sonata of Beethoven.
Curated by Femke Steketee, Saxophonist