March 1784, Vienna. An evening at The Trattnerhof.

Monday, 15 March 1784, Vienna: Mozart performs for Count Esterházy and dates the Piano Concerto in B-flat K. 450. 

Mozart - Piano Concerto 15 - det

The entry in Mozart’s hand-written catalogue of works reads:

“the 15th of March

A Piano concerto. Accompaniment: 2 violins, 2 violas, 1 flute, 2 oboes, 2 bassoons, 2 horns and bass.” 

The Spring of 1784 was busy and exceptionally fulfilling for Mozart in Vienna. In his letters from March and April 1784, Mozart asks for his father’s understanding for not having the time to write to him because of the numerous engagements: 22 between the end of February and the beginning of April. Among them, three concerts in a subscription series at the Trattnerhof, two at the Burgtheater and others in the salons of Count Johann Esterhazy and Prince Galitsin. Mozart tells his father how wonderfully his performances were received: he won extraordinary applause, the hall was “crammed full”, and he was praised repeatedly for the first concert on 17 March. He proudly presents his father the list of subscribers to the Trattnerhof concerts: 174 names from the highest levels of society, all of whom attended his successful performances. Among them, Prince Kaunitz, Prince Galitsin, Therese von Trattner, Baroness Martha Elisabeth von Waldstatten, Count and Countess Thun, Princess Lichnowsky, Prince Lobkowitz, Prince Liechtenstein, Count Zichy, Count Esterházy, Count Nostitz, Baron van Swieten, Councillor Greiner, Countess Waldstein, Count Zinzendorf, Baron Wetzlar, Princess Auersperg, Count Banffi, Ignatz von Born, Count Czernin, Prince Schwartzenberg, Countess Hatzfeld, and many others, all people of importance and position in the Viennese society.  

Ein kolorierter Kupferstich von Carl Schütz, zeigt Am Graben 1781

Dr Michael Lorenz

 “On 20 March 1784 Mozart sent his father the famous list of subscribers who paid an entrance of six gulden for three concerts at the Trattnerhof. In his commentary to this letter Joseph Heinz Eibl gives a number of 176 subscribers, but actually the list contains 174 people, yielding Mozart a gross profit of at least 1,044 gulden. The concerts, at which Mozart played the concertos K.449, 450 and 451 took place on 17th, 24th and 31 March 1784. Nothing is known about the other pieces that were certainly part of the three programs.

Right below the list of subscribers Mozart writes:

Here you have the list of all my subscribers; I have 30 subscribers more than Richter and Fischer combined. The first concert on the 17th went well; the hall was crammed full and the new concerto that I played was very well received; wherever you go people are praising this concert.’

In a letter to his father on 10 April 1784 Mozart again addresses his three concerts at the Trattnerhof:

‘I beg you, don’t be angry that I have not written for such a long time; you know how much I had to do in the meantime! My three subscription concerts brought me great honor. – My concert at the theater also went very well. […] To tell the truth, I recently grew tired of all the playing, and it gives me no small credit that my audience never grew tired of it.’

Michael Lorenz – Mozart in the Trattnerhof 

The "Graben" in Vienna, 1781. Mozart lived in the house Graben no.17 from Sept 1781 to July 1782 and later in the house called "Trattnerhof" in 1784.

The “Graben” in Vienna, 1781. Mozart lived in the house Graben no.17 from Sept 1781 to July 1782 and later in the house called “Trattnerhof” in 1784.

Monday, 15 March 1784, Mozart gave the first performance of a piano concerto, either K.449 in E-flat Major, or K.450 in B-flat Major, at Count  Esterházy’s residence in Vienna. And Wednesday, 17 March 1784, Mozart gave his first subscription concert in the Trattner Hall.  

Johann Thomas von Trattner was the leading music publisher and retailer in Vienna between 1770 and 1790. He became court bookseller in 1751 and court printer in 1754. His business flourished, so in 1773 he bought the Freisingerhof on the Graben and the houses around it, took them down and built the Trattnerhof there in 1777. Mozart lived in the Trattnerhof from 23 January to 29 September 1784, and gave piano lessons to Thérèse, Trattner’s second wife. He gave three concerts in Trattner’s concert hall. To Thérèse von Trattner he dedicated his Sonata in C minor, K. 457 composed in 1784 and the Fantasy in C minor, K. 475 written in 1785, both works published in 1785 as his Op. 11 by Artaria, the leading Viennese music publisher. 

Trattnerhof - 1781 engraving by Karl Schutz

The story of Mozart’s Trattnerhof is best told by Dr Michael Lorenz in his fascinating article: Mozart in the Trattnerhof.  Michael Lorenz has a great gift for bringing history to life! To read through his extraordinary work, so masterly researched and written, is to embark in a travel through time, with history coming alive at each step. So… visit his blog to read about Mozart’s Trattnerhof, how he lived there, how he performed there, to read the documented history of that special building, to see images of the place (most of them never before published), the plan of Mozart’s apartment, and also of Trattner’s apartment (where Mozart played in a private concert for Therese von Trattner in May 1784), the list of subscribers to his concerts as he sent it to father Leopold, the earliest existing photograph of the Trattnerhof, taken in 1875, the second entrance of the Trattnerhof at Graben 29A in 1910 (the door that Mozart had to pass to get to his apartment), and many other fascinating images and documents, History will come alive as you read, as you look at the images, so prepare for a wonderful Travel in Time!

And as you read, listen to the Music!

The breathtakingly beautiful ‘Andante‘ from  Mozart’s Piano Concerto in B-flat Major No 15, K.450 

Mozart - Andante from Piano Concerto no 15 - 1 - det 1

Mozart - Andante from Piano Concerto no 15 - 1 - det 2

Mozart - Andante from Piano Concerto no 15 - 2 - det 1

Mozart - Andante from Piano Concerto no 15 - 2 - det 2

Mozart - Andante from Piano Concerto no 15 - 3 - det 1

Mozart - Andante from Piano Concerto no 15 - 3 - det 2

Mozart - Andante from Piano Concerto no 15 - 4 - det 1

Mozart - Andante from Piano Concerto no 15 - 4 - det 2

Mozart – Piano Concerto in B-flat Major No 15, K.450 – III Allegro 

Mozart - Piano Concerto 15 - Allegro part 3

The sound of Mozart’s Piano Concerto in B-flat Major (No 15, K.450)

Mozart - Piano Concerto 15

Mozart - Andante from Piano Concerto no 15 - 1

Mozart - Andante from Piano Concerto no 15 - 2

Mozart - Andante from Piano Concerto no 15 - 3

Mozart - Andante from Piano Concerto no 15 - 4

Mozart – Piano Concerto in E-flat Major no 14, K.449 – Andantino 

Mozart – Piano Concerto in E-flat Major no 14, K.449 

The E-flat Major no 14 is the first composition Mozart entered into his hand-written catalogue of works, which he started in Vienna in 1784 and kept for seven years, until his death, marking down main themes, dates of completion, and other important information. The entry about the D-flat Major Piano Concerto is that he finished it on 9 February 1784. 

Mozart's Thematic Catalogue - det

Mozart's Thematic Catalogue

Mozart – ‘Andante’ from Piano Concerto in D Major no 16, K.451  

Graben with the Trattnerhof through time: 

Ein kolorierter Kupferstich von Carl Schütz, zeigt Am Graben 1781

The Graben with Trattnerhof on the right

Vienna, Graben - Carl Schütz as art print or hand painted oil

The Graben towards the northwest, c. 1900



Images of the scores copyright of Internationale Stiftung Mozarteum

Images of Mozart’s Thematic Catalogue copyright of The British Library 

Photos © where specified,

credits specified there where available,

other images from the internet, assumed to be in the public domain.

DISCLAIMER – I don’t claim credit or ownership on the images taken from the internet, assumed to be in the public domain, used here. The owners retain their copyrights to their works. I am sharing the images exclusively for educational and artistic purposes – this blog is not monetized, and has no commercial profit whatsoever. Whenever I find the credits to internet images I am happy to add them. If you are the artist or the owner of original photos/images presented on this blog and you wish your works to be removed from here, or edited to include the proper credits, please send me a message and they will either be removed or edited. Thank you! 


9 March 1785: the Majestic C Major Piano Concerto

“the 9th of March

A Piano concerto. Accompaniment: 2 violins, 2 violas, 1 flute, 2 oboes. 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 clarinets, timpani and bass.”

It is the entry in Mozart’s hand-written catalogue of works, anouncing the splendid Piano Concerto in C Major, no 21, K.467! 

Mozart - Piano Concerto 21 - page 1, det. 1

Mozart - Piano Concerto 21 - page 1, det. 3

Mozart - Piano Concerto 21 - page 1, det. 2

On the 10th of March 1785, less than one month after the premiere of the stormy, moving, dramatic D minor, Mozart was presenting another piano concerto to the Viennese audience: calm, brilliant, full of light and joy, majestic in its great beauty! 

Mozart - Piano Concerto in C Major, No 21, K.467

As with the Piano Concerto in D minor, the C Major Piano Concerto was composed for the series of Lenten subscription concerts that Mozart was giving in 1785. Leopold Mozart, who had come to visit his son just in time to witness the premiere of Mozart’s sublime D minor Piano Concerto, would write to Nannerl: “We never get to bed before one o’clock and I never get up before nine. We lunch at two or half past. The weather is terrible. Every day there are concerts; and the whole time is given up to teaching music, composing and so forth. I feel rather out of it. If only all the concerts were over! It is impossible for me to describe the rush and bustle. Since my arrival your brother’s fortepiano has been taken at least a dozen times to the theater or to some other house…” Father and son went out together, to eat of attend musical or social events, or received friends in Mozart’s apartment, where they would spend hours making music; in the same time the composer went on with the lessons with his pupils, took part in various public and private concerts and, above all, composed!

Mozart entered the C Major Piano Concerto in his catalogue on 9 March 1785 (although on the autograph score he writes “in February 1785” – “Concerto di Wolfgango Amadeo Mozart, nel Febraio 1785”), and premiered it on 10 March 1785 at the Burgtheater – The National Court Theater, in a concert for his own benefit.  

Carl Schuetz, 1783 - Wien - Michaeltrakt mit Hoftheater

A handbill for the concert announced that it would include “a new, just finished Fortepiano Concerto”, in addition to Mozart playing improvisations employing “an especially large Fortepiano pedal”.  

Altes Burgtheater 1

On Thursday, March 10, 1785, Kapellmeister Mozart will have the honor of giving in the Imperial and Royal Court Theater a Grand Musical Concert for his own benefit including not only a new, just finished fortepiano concerto to be played by him, but also an especially large fortepiano pedale in improvising will be used. The remaining pieces will be announced by a large poster on the day of the concert.” 

Altes Burgtheater 3

A letter from Johann Samuel Liedemann, a merchant in Vienna, from 18 February 1785, states that “…the Fortepiano maker Walther had augmented his Fortepiano with a Pedal. Mozart played the instrument and it produced a wonderful effect” (he is referring to the premiere of the D minor Piano Concerto of 11 February 1785). Leopold’s letter to Nannerl and the announcement for the Burgtheater concert of March 10 indicate Mozart also played the C Major Piano Concerto  on a piano which had a special pedal attachment: “He has had a large fortepiano pedal made, which stands under the instrument and is about two feet longer and extremely heavy”. The success of the concert and the receipts of 559 florins were reported by Leopold with satisfaction and pride to his daughter, in the letter of 12 March 1785.   

“This concerto followed the last at four weeks interval. Between the two there is absolute contrast. On one hand, passion, conflict, storm of the spirit; on the other, calm and majesty. We have already noted how, more than once, Mozart produces, one after the other, two first-rate works of highly contrasted inspiration: the autumn before, with the concerto in B flat, K.456, and the sonata in C minor; in 1786, with the concertos in A and C minor; and again in 1787 and 1788 with the quintets and symphonies in G minor and C. We said that it was but one manifestation of his very mobile nature, ready to leap without transition from one aspect of reality to another, from one mood to its opposite. Sometimes the sorrowful work precedes the joyful one; sometimes the contrary. In February and March, 1785, the order is optimistic: the song of peace comes after the tempest; the luminous C major exorcises the sombre and daimonisch D minor. Nevertheless, the concerto in C is not a blithe work; it is powerful and motionless rather than joyful, and in its immobility we recognize, albeit frozen, the billows of the D minor. (Cuthbert Girdlestone) 

Mozart - Piano Concerto 21 - Allegro page 1

Mozart - Piano Concerto 21 - Allegro page 2

The C Major’s first movement, the ‘Allegro’, is (not in the autograph but in all editions), “Maestoso” in its design and essence! The second movement, ‘Andante’, breathtakingly beautiful! The last movement, ‘Allegro vivace assai’, light, airy, wonderful! On the 10th of March, 1785, at the Burgtheater, could this have been the sound that the musicians and audience delighted in? 

“The first movement is headed maestoso, a mark which should be observed and not replaced in practice by brillante, as is done by some musicians who consider they know what Mozart wanted better than Mozart himself. But the first subject, as we hear it in the first eleven bars, belies this indication. It is a march like so many first subjects in concertos of the period, but a tiptoed march, in stocking feet, and even when woodwind, brass and drums interrupt the stringgs, it does not rise above piano. It is almost a comedy motif and we should not be surprised to see Leporello emerge from it. But this impression is soon rectified. Conforming to the plan of the quiet beginning followed by a forte, Mozart repeats the theme with all the resources of his orchestra, modulates at once with unusual freedom and, passing quickly through A minor and C minor, settles a while in G major on a tonic pedal. (…) After giving out these two themes, it would seem that the tutti had but to conclude and admit the solo. But this concerto does not act like its predecessors. Instead of a closing figure, the march begins again, first in imitations in the strings, piano, then, when all the orchestra has joined in, forte, and the music launches forth into a working-out whose progress, led with a steady step and insistent in its regularity, reminds us of the straining and pitiless vigour of the D minor. There is no modulating; everything comes down, in the last resort, to rises and falls of one octave, repeated several times, without haste, now with the whole orchestra, now antiphonally, with strings and woodwind. Such calm perseverance is irresistible; its strength is in its mass, not in its fire or speed (on condition, once again, that the movement is taken at a moderate speed and even heavily, maestoso, and not brillante. Played swiftly and lightly, this passage becomes a kind of breathless race that keeps on coming back to its starting-point, which is nonsense); the music looks neither right nor left; its progress is due to singleness of will. No passage demonstrates better than this both the kinship and the ontrast which unite and separate the twin concertos; in one, vehemence and wrath; in the other, self-assurance; in both, a will firm and inexorable.”  (Cuthbert Girdlestone) 

“In neither of Mozart’s earlier works do we find the contrapuntal potential of the opening so fully realized on the larger structural level as it is in K.567, where various polyphonic settings of the opening theme produce some of the main structural blocks of the ritornello. (…) Charles Rosen has described K.467 as “Mozart’s first true essay in orchestral grandeur” and has commented on the block-like nature of its construction…”  

And the ‘Andante’ that follows… Mozart’s fragile, beautiful soul, transfigured into Music! 

Mozart - Piano Concerto 21 - Andante page 1

Mozart - Piano Concerto 21 - Andante page 2

“The world of the andante is that of the “dream” andantes, a family which comprises some of Mozart’s most beautiful slow movements in earlier years and in the long successions of which it is the last; but its form is unique. It is a piano cantilena preceded by a tutti prelude and sumptuously sustained and adorned by the murmur of the strings and the multi-coloured raiment of the wind. The tune winds from key to key, smooth and closely blended; it passes through various moods, some dreamy, some full of anguish, some serene, but the themes hardly stand out; it is a river, moving slowly but unceasingly, and only from time to time does an eddy in the current announce a freshy subject. Yet it is not a fantasia. There is directions and progress in its emotion and its form. The stream advances, turns back, passes on again, and though its structure be free, it is never loose. (…) And all the time it never stops singing; one feels that its chief contribution here is its tone colour, the pale, delicate colour of the 1780 piano, whose beauty Mozart never set forth more felicitously than in this nocturne. We say, nocturne, and in truth the rapprochement with Chopin can hardly be avoided. he hazy atmosphere of the mutes, the quivering calm of the ceaseless triplets, the slow, sustained song of the piano—more than all this, the veiled and sorrowfully passionate soul which this music expresses with such immediacy, do we not find them in the work of Chopin and especially in those nocturnes of which the “dream” of Mozart’s reminds us? This Andante, so placid at first hearing, betrays on further acquaintance an agitated mood. Its perpetual instability, to which its constant modulating and its unsatisfied quest for new places bears witness; its morbid disquiet, thinly concealed now and again under an appearance of calm, breaking forth with heart-rending pathos in the chromaticisms and the discreet yet pungent hues of ex.270 are unquestionably fundamental elements of Mozart’s nature, but they are elements which he shares with Chopin.” (Cuthbert Girdlestone) 

To our ears, to our heart, the ‘Andante’ of Mozart’s C Major Piano Concerto no 21 is perfect beauty as it is: a ‘simple’ melody that moves us to tears whenever we listen to it. We don’t even want to imagine it changed in any way – and the only way in which we would probably accept it changed would be to listen to Mozart himself playing it. Philipp Karl, an amateur-musician who had heard Mozart perform two of his piano concertos in Frankurt, in October 1790, later reported that when Mozart played the slow movements of his piano concertos he embellished them “tenderly and tastefully once one way, once differently, following the momentary inspiration of his genius”. In 1803 Phillip Karl published embellished versions of six Mozart piano concerto slow movements (K.467, K.482, K.488, K.491, K.503 and K.595), presumably inspired by his contact with Mozart, but not imitative of the composer’s own improvisations.” 

“The andante occupies a world apart, a sonic dream world evoked by the magical effect of muted and pizzicato strings. It offers moments of sublime beauty and ends in a state of bliss, but its surface serenity cannot conceal the turmoil that lies beneath. At every turn there is a poignant reminder that happiness is transient, its promise easily revoked. And the escape to a dream world is consummated only in the imagination.” (David Grayson)  

Anton Muller - Altes Burgtheater

Altes Burgtheater 2

How might that evening of 10 March 1785 have looked like? Here’s what David Grayson tells us in his book “Mozart: Piano Concertos Nos. 20 and 21”:

“Iconographic evidence suggests that in “halls” like the Mehlgrube the players would probably have occupied a low platform situated not at  the end of the room, but against one of the long walls. The seating plan for K.466 would probably have been similar to the one recommended in 1802 by the piano-maker and Mozart pupil Nannette Stein Streicher:

“In performing concertos, especially Mozart’s, one should move the fortepiano several feet nearer (the audience) than the orchestra is. Directly behind the piano leave just the violins. The bass-line and wind instruments should be further back, the latter more than the former.”

Adalbert Gyrowetz, one of whose symphonies was programmed in Mozart’s Mehlgrube series, noted in his presumed autobiography that Mozart had hired a “full theater orchestra” for these concerts.  This was most likely the orchestra of the Burgtheater, where, four days later, on 15 February 1785, Mozart again played the D-minor Piano Concerto, in a concert given by the singer Elisabeth Distler.

The Burgtheater, representing the third category of concert venue, was also the site of the premiere of the Piano Concerto in C, K.467, less than a month later, on 10 March 1785. Located on the Michaelerplatz, the Burgtheater was built in 1741 and renovated numerous times before its closing in 1888. Plans reflecting the state of the building during the 1780s show an oval-shaped house, with seating on the floor divided into two sections, ostensibly according to the social rank of the spectators: the Noble Parquet in front, and behind it the slightly elevated Second Parquet, with rows of benches and standing rooms at the rear. (Social segregation was not complete, however, as individuals connected to the theater, including composers and performers, could obtain passes granting admission to the Noble Parquet.) Four balconies surrounded the floor. The lower two held the boxes rented on an annual basis by the nobility, plus, in the first tier, one box overlooking the stage, reserved for the director, and three “Imperial loges” (one in the center and two on the right) overlooking the orchestra, which occupied the floor at the front of the stage. The upper two balconies were galleries with benches and standing room. When jam-packed, the Burgtheater may have accomodated as many as 1800 spectators, but most estimates of the audience capacity are much lower, ranging from around 1000 to 1350.

According to a Vienna theater almanac of 1782, the Burgtheater orchestra comprised 35 players: six first and six second violins, four violas, three cellos, three basses, pairs of flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons, horns and trumpets, and one timpanist. Assuming that these figures are also reliable for 1785, that the full theater orchestra participated in Mozart’s concerts in both the Burgtheater and the Mehlgrube, and that the entire ensemble was used for the concerto accompaniments, we can conclude that the orchestra for the first performances of K.466 and 467 consisted of around 32 players (one of the flutes and the two clarinets not being needed). (…) 

Richard Maunder has speculated that, when Mozart performed his piano concertos in the theater, the orchestra may hav been in the pit, while he alone occupied the stage. Putting the soloist in this privileged position, Maunder reasoned, would have helped solve potential balance problems between the fortepiano and the orchestra, whose players would have been seated facing the stage, with their backs to the audience. Such a “theatrical staging” of the concerto moreover made manifest the genre’s affinity with the operatic aria. Daniel Heartz, however, has offered evidence that it was customary for Lenten concert and oratorio performances at the Burgtheater to follow the Italian practice and have all of the musicians on stage: the orchestra, soloists and chorus. He speculated, though, that the arrangement described by maunder might have been a practical necessity at other times of year, when theater rehearsals and stage sets might have made it difficult to rearrange the stage for an orchestra. Mary Sue Morrow has challenged this reasoning, arguing that rehearsals were often held elsewhere and that the theater’s repertory system would have required that the sets be struck after each performance anyway. Maunder’s theory seems unlikely from a purely logistical point of view, given th mixed nature of Mozart’s typical concert programs. For example, his concert of 23 march 1782 at the Burgtheater began and ended with movements of the “Haffner” Symphony, with arias, concertos, concertante movements, and solo piano works interspersed in between. It would have seeed odd for the orchestra to start the program on stage, then repair to the pit, only to re-ascend at the end of the concert for the “haffner” finale. Even odder would have been for the orchestra to remain in the pit throughout, leaving the audience to face an empty stage at the start and conclusion of the evening. For performances of Mozart’s concertos in the theater, then, we may imagine all of the performers on stage, arranged according to the seating plan recommended above by nannette Stein Stricher.” (David Grayson – Mozart: Piano Concertos Nos. 20 and 21 – “Performance practice issues”) 

A look at the Burgtheater through time – that Burgtheater where Mozart premiered his piano concertos and operas: 

Wien - Die k.k. Reitschule und das National-Hoftheater 1829

Michaelerplatz 1, Kuppel - Spanische Winterreitschule

August Gerasch - Vor dem alten Burgtheater

Rudolf Schima - Das Alte Burgtheater. Aquarell (1880)

Carl Wenzel Zajicek -Das alte Burgtheater, 1860

Das alte Burgtheater Aquarell auf Papier signiert und datiert 1912 - Carl Wenzel Zajicek

Altes Burgtheater, Michaelerplatz - The old Burgtheater (before 1888)

Das alte Burgtheater und die Hofreitschule am Michaelerplatz

In 1888 the “old” Burgtheater was demolished, and a new building with the same name was built on the Ringstrasse: the new Burgtheater. The theater where Mozart premiered his masterpieces had to make space for… space… Almost all the places where he had lived and composed were torn down without the smallest thought that those were not just buildings, they were places of history which should have been preserved with love and respect. Instead of them we now have super-stores, or… more space… 

At least his music has survived! 

Photos © where specified,

credits specified there where available,

other images from the internet, assumed to be in the public domain.

DISCLAIMER – I don’t claim credit or ownership on the images taken from the internet, assumed to be in the public domain, used here. The owners retain their copyrights to their works. I am sharing the images exclusively for educational and artistic purposes – this blog is not monetized, and has no commercial profit whatsoever. Whenever I find the credits to internet images I am happy to add them. If you are the artist or the owner of original photos/images presented on this blog and you wish your works to be removed from here, or edited to include the proper credits, please send me a message and they will either be removed or edited. Thank you! 

Tuesday, 27 January 1756

“S-a născut în 27 ianuarie și de atunci n-a mai apus niciodată!”

“He was born on 27 January and since then he never set again!” 

Happy Birthday, Humanity! Mozart is born! 

Mozart's portrait - from Mozart Family Portrait painted by Johann Nepomuk della Croce, Salzburg 1790-1791

1756 Calendar


December Feeling

“God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December.”
~  J. M. Barrie

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Winter Wonderland winter image 119 - foto Mikail Tkachev

Winter Wonderland winter image 120 - photo Sylvia Lilova

“Winter giveth the fields, and the trees so old,

their beards of icicles and snow.”

~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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“On a lone winter evening, when the frost

has wrought a silence.”

~ John Keats

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“He withers all in silence, and in his hand
unclothes the earth and freezes up frail life.
~ William Blake (1757-1827)

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“He who marvels at the beauty of the world in summer will find equal cause for wonder and admiration in winter… In winter the stars seem to have rekindled their fires, the moon achieves a fuller triumph, and the heavens wear a look of a more exalted simplicity.”

~ John Burroughs

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“Never are voices so beautiful as on a winter’s evening, when dusk almost hides the body,
and they seem to issue from nothingness with a note of intimacy seldom heard by day.”

~ Virginia Woolf

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“How bittersweet it is, on winter’s night,
to listen, by the sputtering, smoking fire,
as distant memories, through the fog-dimmed light,
rise, to the muffled chime of churchbell choir.” 
~  Charles Baudelaire

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“We feel cold, but we don’t mind it, because we will not come to harm. And if we wrapped up against the cold, we wouldn’t feel other things, like the bright tingle of the stars, or the music of the Aurora, or best of all the silky feeling of moonlight on our skin. It’s worth being cold for that.” ~ Philip Pullman

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Happiness is in the eyes of a child

Parlami di Dio, dissi al mandorlo… E il mandorlo fiorì.”

Nikos Kazantzakis 

Happiness 1    

‎”Le mamme stringono le mani dei loro bimbi per un po’…  e il loro cuore per sempre…”

Marziè Mà Pezzoni 

Happiness 2

Photos © mezzocristina, only for Mozart’s Children blog. Please do not copy. 

The night has come, Mozart… 6 December 1791.

The papers of divorce 

between the world and the genius

were deposited

in the common grave of the Vienna cemetery

on 6 December


there where,

to its glory,

the World

threw Mozart

under the  septic lime

of final oblivion.

And since then

the scene

has kept repeating. 

The night has come, 



He drew his last breath on the day of 5 December, at one in the morning, watched by his wife’s sister. His body was washed by loyal friends. They accompanied him when he left his house for the last time. It was them again who brought him to the Saint Stephen Cathedral, in a chapel in which he would wait for the religious ceremony – a simple one, according to the low fee of the third class funeral paid for by Baron Van Swieten. His wife had left the house a few hours after his death, “out of too much pain”, and would stay with friends for the next days. She didn’t keep vigil over his dead body, she didn’t follow him on his last journey. It was winter in Vienna, it was cold, it was almost night… God, what a terrible night of mankind!… One by one, the living abandoned the funeral convoy, and so by the time the hearse had passed the Stubenthor and reached the graveyard of St Marx, Mozart‘s lifeless body was being attended only by the driver of the carriage. By that time, in St Marx there had already been two pauper funerals. Mozart was the third. His body was deposited in the common grave, uppermost, by the gravedigger’s assistant and the driver of the hearst. Then came the night. 

Mozart left alone. He remained alone. His wife, “dearest, most beloved little wife”, as he would address  her in his letters, didn’t look for his grave for eleven years (some biographers say seventeen). Although her state of health seemed to have quickly improved, since only a few weeks after his demise she was already corresponding with a few well-known editors with a view of selling his manuscripts. And never again, after his death, was she in need to go to Baden for cures; she capitalized his musical inheritance, she remarried, she rewrote his life together with her second husband, and she outlived her first husband fifty years. 

None of his close friends, none of those who knew and loved his music and being, no one looked for his grave, not after one day, not after one month, not after one year. It was the “custom” of the time. Relatives and friends paid homage and said goodbye at home, at the church, then the body was taken to the cemetery and buried. Visiting a grave was not customary – there were no Sunday mornings at the cemetery, with flowers and candles. The regulations of the time indicated the deposition in a “common” grave according to the amount of money paid (by the Baron in Mozart’s case), but they did not forbid the placing of a funeral stone on the cemetery wall. Neither Constanze Mozart nor his friends, or the nobles he had ennobled with his feeling and creation, or the Viennese who would hum his melodies in cafes, no one felt the need to mark his resting place, no one searched for him in all those years, no one felt the need to prove their respect and affection by remembering the place where, on top of other bodies, he found his rest… 

Ten years after, the common grave was opened, the bones taken out, to make space for other mortals. This was what the third class funeral meant: a grave which confined more bodies together for ten years, and that was all. After ten years, a pile of bones, taken out to be deposited where?… we will never know. A higher class funeral would have (possibly) meant a grave in the family’s property in the St Marx Cemetery. But it would have cost more. And none of those who knew him, who were close to him, none of those whom he had honored with the divine touch of his being, no one felt that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart deserved a funeral of a higher class. 

The papers of divorce 

between the world and the genius

were deposited

in the common grave of the Vienna cemetery

on 6 December


there where,

to its glory,

the World

threw Mozart

under the  septic lime

of final oblivion.

And since then

the scene

has kept repeating. 

The night has come, 


Rest in peace, beloved friend! 


“The night has come, Mozart…” © Claudiu Iordache – published with the author’s permission. 

24 March 1786: the Moving C Minor Piano Concerto

Vienna, 24 March 1786 – new entry in Mozart’s Thematic Catalogue: “A Piano Concerto. Accompaniment: 2 violins, 2 violas, 1 flute, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, timpani and bass.”

Mozart's Thematic Catalogue -  - Piano Concerto 24, K 481 incipit 1

The great Piano Concerto no 24, K.491, one of the two piano concerts Mozart wrote in minor key, “an explosion of dark, tragic, passionate emotions…” (Alfred Einstein), a storm of feelings bursting out from Mozart’s soul… a music full of tension and despair, of tragedy and dark expresivity, letting out a feeling of deep distress… 

Mozart's Thematic Catalogue -  Piano Concerto 24, K 481 incipit - 2

Mozart's Thematic Catalogue - Piano Concerto 24, K 481 incipit - 4

With the largest orchestra Mozart called for in any of his piano concerts, with an autograph manuscript showing corrections and symptoms of disorganization uncharacteristic to Mozart, The C Minor is powerful, moving, overwhelming, it reflects the increasing density and complexity of Mozart’s music and leaves no doubt it was not for the Viennese audience that this concert was written, but for himself. In the dramatic opening we can hear, and feel, Beethoven, and the grand music of the century to come… and we cannot help but wonder how would all of Mozart’s music have sounded if he had written it only for himself… The intensity of feeling speaks about a Mozart unleashed, liberated from conventions of any kind. As with the D Minor Piano Concerto, as with the Requiem, here, in the C Minor Piano Concerto, Mozart is free! 

C Minor, D Minor, G Minor, Mozart’s minor keys… If only we could read between the lines…

In the beginning of 1786 Mozart was working on his opera Le nozze di Figaro. In-between he composed two of his most beautiful piano concerts: the  A Major (K. 488) and the C Minor (K. 491).  

“The concerto was written for a concert Mozart gave in the Burgtheater on 7 April 1786. Not one of his contemporaries recorded his impressions of Mozart’s C Minor Concerto; or rather, no such recorded impressions have survived. We are thus unable to reconstruct the effect created by this work, especially since we do not discuss music in the same terms Mozart’s contemporaries used. Yet it is certainly clear that this music represents an uncompromising attitude, a refusal to employ conventional formulas or indulge in gratuitous virtuosity. This piano concerto was not intended for the salon, where there was often chatter or card playing during concerts and the piano, in a manner of speaking, “socialized” with the other guests, taking part in the brilliant conversation and commanding attention through wit, elaborate artistry and scintillating invention. Rather, the C Minor Concerto is like a speech that silences a crowd through sheer earnestness and gravity of expression. There is something unrelenting and defiant about the music. It shows no traces of frivolity and does not seek shallow approval; it is neither questioning nor diffident, but powerful and declarative.” (Volkmar Braunbehrens)

Ludwig van Beethoven has more than once expressed his profound admiration for Mozart’s C Minor Piano Concerto, just as he did for the D Minor. And in Beethoven’s own C Minor (Piano Concerto no 3) we can feel Mozart!

The dramatic, stormy, impetuous first movement Allegro is symphonic to an unprecedented degree, but surprisingly it doesn’t end with a bang, instead it calms down in a gentle way, softly leading to the middle movement: the Larghetto, which “moves in regions of the purest and most affecting tranquility, and has a transcendent simplicity of expression.” (Alfred Einstein) The theme is of “childlike simplicity.” But in such case, of “child Mozart’s simplicity”! The concluding Allegretto’s theme “can only be called sublime” (Donald Francis Tovey), and the variations through which Mozart takes the theme cover a remarkable range of emotional and dramatic contrasts. Alfred Einstein called this finale “an uncanny revolutionary quick-march consisting of variations with free “episodes” which represent glimpses of Elysian fields—but the conclusion is a return to the inevitable.”  

Mozart - Piano Concerto 24 - 1

Mozart - Piano Concerto 24 - 2

Mozart - Piano Concerto 24 - 3

“If Mozart could be said ever to have ignored his public in a concerto and followed completely his own inner promptings, it was here. This work is Mozart’s ultimate venture, his furthest exploration of the piano concerto, for the three that were to follow were to be a further refinement of what he had done.”  (John N. Burke) 

Mozart - Piano Concerto 24 - 4

Mozart - Piano Concerto 24 - 5

 Photos of Mozart’s Thematic Catalogue ©The British Library – Turning the Pages