Evening Masterwork: Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 – 1791)

Piano Concerto No. 23 in A by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Evening Masterwork for January 2, 2020 – 7:00 PM on Classical WSMR 89.1 and 103.9

In the mid-1780s, the majority of Mozart’s income was actually generated by performing as a pianist, not composing. That isn’t to say he wasn’t prolifically composing during this time period: he was completing a comic opera, three piano concertos, and he was preparing for the premiere of his Marriage of Figaro. He wrote those three piano concertos to perform at the piano himself, and one of those was the Piano Concerto No. 23. The 23rd Concerto has some unusual features for the time period: Mozart didn’t include trumpet or timpani in the score, and he replaced the oboes with clarinets, resulting in a much darker, or warmer, sounding work. The clarinet, in general, was a new feature to the symphony because it was a new instrument, and in the original score Mozart even included a note stating the clarinet music could be performed on violin or viola – just in case the orchestra didn’t have a clarinet at hand.