Divertimento No.3

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Divertimento No.3 in F major

K138, KV138

About this work

In early 1772, Mozart had not yet officially composed in the very young string quartet format. This event would have to await his discovery of the quartets of Joseph Haydn in 1773, when he would revel in these and turn out in short order his first six, K. 168 through 173. Nevertheless, he was, as he had always been, comfortable writing for small groups of instruments, and this work is in fact scored specifically for four string parts. It is customarily performed by an ensemble, and its format, in three movements with no minuet, adheres more closely to the form of a typical Italian sinfonia than to the later string quartet. Composed as the last of three like works, it is the product of the last days of the life of his beneficent patron, Count Schrattenbach, Archbishop of Salzburg, and is buoyant and lively in the extreme. At this point in his life, Mozart was bouncing back and forth between Salzburg and Italy at his father's side, and any distraction at the forces tugging him from several directions would be understandable. Now a teenager, he was prodded on the one hand to compose and comport himself in competition with the established composers of the day, and on the other hand it was still expected -- by Leopold, at any rate -- that his youth would stand him in good stead as a child prodigy. What happened instead during these months and years is that his youth no longer carried so much attraction, and in his inexperience he began to embroil himself in shifty intrigues on the part of those jealous of his immense talent. The F major divertimento betrays none of this, and fairly sparkles with enthusiasm and wit. Throughout it is more complex, sophisticated, and richly scored than the typical divertimenti of the time.