On November 2 and 3, Pro Musica presents Mozart and Haydn in the Lensic. The sensational pianist Anne-Marie McDermott will follow in Mozart’s footsteps by conducting the Orchestra from the keyboard in two of his piano concertos, nos. 14 and 22. The concert opens with Haydn’s joyous Symphony No. 90, conducted by Music Director Thomas O’Connor.
Consider this (Neal Zaslaw, Mozart’s Piano Concertos, 1996):
“From time to time in the history of human affairs someone has altered the course of Western culture by creating a corpus of work so monumental in its extent and so profound in its content as to become permanently influential in its effect. Perhaps the plays of Shakespeare, the etchings of Dürer, the architecture of Palladio, the novels of Dickens, the paintings of Monet, and the symphonies of Beethoven may serve as examples of such extraordinary bodies of works, which in quantity, quality, and influence mark epochs in the history of culture… I regard Mozart’s piano concertos as belonging to that select list of mind- and culture-altering accomplishments.”
During Mozart’s years in Vienna (1781-91), he was never employed full-time with any one patron, but free-lanced with a blend of performing, composing, and teaching. “The piano concerto offered an ideal vehicle to synthesize his complementary identities as a composer and a performer” (Thomas May, The Kennedy Center). Mozart typically wrote his piano concertos for himself, fueling his popularity with the Viennese public.
Over the course of his life, Mozart developed the piano concerto into a substantial musical statement, on a par with the newly evolving symphonic form. He was alert to the twin traps that composers faced in writing concertos: first, how to deal with musical material played by two distinctly different entities, in this case, the orchestra and the piano; and second, how to maintain a balance between a symphonic form with occasional piano solos, and a virtuoso piano solo with simple orchestral accompaniment. Mozart’s solutions are delightfully varied and complex. And in our November concerts, you can hear two of his solutions.
Mozart wrote the Piano Concerto No. 14, K. 449 in February 1784 in Vienna for his 18-year-old pupil Barbara (Babette) von Ployer. While most of his 27 piano concertos were written for himself with a full orchestra and a gala concert in mind, K. 449 was written in what he described as an “entirely different style and for a small rather than a large orchestra.” He intended that it could be played with a small orchestra of strings with 2 oboes and 2 horns, or with just a string quintet (2 violins, viola, cello and bass), with or without the wind instruments. In the small version, it could easily be played in one’s living room.
The second concerto on the program, K. 482, was written almost a year later, in December 1785. It shares the same key of E-Flat Major with K. 449. This key was typically associated with more “intimate” works (perfect for K. 482) and evoked subjects like night, love, devotion and solemnity. While the Piano Concerto K. 482 requires larger forces more suited to public concerts, and includes a full array of wind instruments, Mozart substitutes the darker colored clarinets for the more brilliant oboes, an orchestration that highlights the more muted key of E-Flat Major. At its premiere, the middle movement Andante was so well received and so enthusiastically applauded, that Mozart had to replay it before moving on to the third movement.
“Mozart touched no problem without solving it to perfection.” (Donald Tovey, 20th century musicologist)
Meet the Music
To learn more about the music, join us one hour before each Pro Musica Lensic concert and hear informative conversations with Music Director Tom O’Connor and the guest artists. Free to ticket holders.
505.988.4640 | sfpromusica.org
Orchestra Series II
Mozart and Haydn
Lensic Performing Arts Center
Saturday, November 2 at 4 PM
Sunday, November 3 at 3 PM
Pro Musica Orchestra
Thomas O’Connor, conductor
Anne-Marie McDermott, piano and conductor
HAYDN Symphony No. 90 in C Major, Hob. I:90
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 14 in E-Flat Major, K. 449
MOZART Piano Concerto No. 22 in E-Flat Major, K. 482
Look for our next newsletter to learn more about Anne-Marie McDermott in her dual role as piano soloist and conductor.
Subscriptions and discounts available exclusively through the Pro Musica Box Office.
Tickets range from $20-$100.
Pro Musica Box Office
505.988.4640 | sfpromusica.org
Lensic Community Box Office
505.988.1234 | lensic.org