11 February 1785: the Premiere of the D Minor Concerto

“Heavy snows and freezing temperatures accompanied Leopold and Heinrich to Vienna. They arrived on 11 February 1785 to find the apartment a hive of activity as Mozart oversaw the copying of a new piano concerto he was to play that evening at his first Mehlgrube concert of the season. During the performance, Leopold marveled at the orchestra’s ability to cope with the “superb” concerto it had to play well at sight.” 

Piano Concerto 20 - 5

On a stormy evening in February 1785, the elite of Vienna gathered to hear a new work of Austria’s leading virtuoso pianist, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The importance of what lay within this masterpiece was known to only one man: Leopold Mozart, the composer’s estranged father…   

The d Minor Piano Concerto was first performed by Mozart at the Mehlgrube Casino on 11 February 1785 (one day after he had entered the work in his Thematic Catalogue). This was the first of six weekly ‘Friday concerts’ given by Mozart during spring 1785. Leopold Mozart arrived in Vienna, after a very difficult trip, just in time for the Premiere of The d Minor Concert. In a long letter written between 14 and 16 February, Leopold described the event to Nannerl, Mozart’s sister:  

“On 11 February we drove to his first subscription concert, at which a great many members of the aristocracy were present. Each person pays a souverain d’or or three ducats for these Lenten concerts. Your brother is giving them at the Mehlgrube. … The concert was magnificent and the orchestra played splendidly. … we had a new and very fine concerto by Wolfgang, which the copyist was still copying as we arrived, and the rondo of which your brother did not even have time to play through, as he had to supervise the copying.”   

Neuer Markt, Mehlgrube on the right - 1760 painting by Canaletto

To read more about the Premiere of The D Minor Concerto, click here.

228 years ago, at the Mehlgrube, this is how it must have sounded like… 

Mozart - portrait by Lange


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