19 Nov 2017

History through the Piano: The World of Mozart

From The Sunday Feature, 2:00 pm on 19 November 2017
piano

piano Photo: Creative Commons

In this series of History through the Piano, John Drummond looks at some famous pieces of piano music as windows into the world in which they were created. A composer cannot help but reflect the world he lives in, his understanding of life the universe and everything, his values and his beliefs. Mozart may have been a uniquely inspired musician, but he was also a child of his time. Like the rest of us, he learned his culture - his way of looking at the world - through his childhood, he found his own vision of it in his adolescence, and he polished it through his adulthood. And when he put pen to manuscript paper, that rich cultural world he inhabited came down from his brain through his fingers and into his music.

Mozart's Piano Sonata in C K545 is all sunshine and grace. It’s become known as a typically Mozartian piece, one often played to signal Mozart’s identity. But when Mozart entered it into his catalogue of compositions, he added a curious description at the top of the page: Für Anfänger – for beginners. And, unlike many of his works at this time, he didn’t offer it for publication, which is strange, since he clearly needed to keep up his income stream from all sources. And that description ‘for beginners’ is a little strange too, since the sonata is clearly not for beginners on the piano – nowadays, the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music includes it in its list for Grade V pianists. There’s a bit of a mystery here. Who are the beginners?

Music Details:

MOZART: Piano Sonata in C K545 - Ronald Brautigam (fortepiano)  - BIS CD 840

Portrait of Mozart

Portrait of Mozart Photo: Barbara Krafft, Public Domain

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