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Early works.

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It is likely that the full extent of Mozart's original output during the 1760s will never be known. Not only were many of his early autographs heavily corrected by his father, but it is clear that some works, such as the pasticcio concertos k37 and 39–41 and to a lesser extent the J.C. Bach arrangements k107 (fig.12), were jointly composed. Other compositions, among them the Sonata for keyboard and violin k8, take over, wholly or in part, movements first written by Leopold. A related problem concerns Leopold's Verzeichniss of 1768, which describes ‘13 symphonies for 2 violins, 2 oboes, 2 horns, viola, and basso, etc.’ (Zaslaw, A1985). Of the early works in the genre attributed to Wolfgang, only eight are demonstrably genuine and known to have been composed by this time, while another four are of uncertain authorship and date. Even if all these symphonies are genuine and early, at least one other is missing. Leopold's list describes additional lost works, including six divertimentos in four parts for various instruments, six trios for two violins and cello, solos for violin and bass viol, minuets, marches and processionals for trumpets and drums. Also, as with many composers of the time, several works are known only from sources with no direct connection to the composer. Some may be authentic, but in other cases there is insufficient evidence for or against Mozart's authorship (for the symphonies see Eisen, L1989).

Accounts of Mozart's early stylistic development often fail to take these problems into consideration: demonstrably authentic works are often compared with, and analysed alongside, works only insecurely attributed to Mozart. The inevitable result is a patchwork story of progression and regression. When only the demonstrably authentic works are considered, however, not only does the progression in Mozart's style appear more linear, but individual works, often dismissed as showing no significant evidence of Mozart's development, can be seen to represent new plateaux in his sophistication as a composer. In the case of the symphonies this is especially apparent in the works composed up to about 1771. His earliest works in the genre, composed before 1767, are based on models that he encountered on the ‘Grand Tour’. All are in three movements, lacking a minuet and trio, and are scored for two oboes, two horns and strings. The first movements are in expanded binary form, in common time, and have tempo indications of Allegro, Allegro molto or Allegro assai, while the second movements, also in binary form, are in 2/4 time and are marked Andante. The concluding fast movements are generally in rondo form and are marked Allegro assai, Allegro molto or Presto, with 3/8 time signatures. For the most part, these works show a remarkable grasp of the principles of J.C. Bach's symphonic style, including the dramatic contrast of a forte motto opening and a piano continuation, together with hints of cantabile second subjects. In Vienna in 1768, however, Mozart adopted the common four-movement cycle, as well as local formal preferences: k48, for example, is the first of his symphonies to include a first movement in a fully worked-out sonata form. Still later, in Italy, he reverted to the three movement pattern with its attendant busy string figuration, lighter textures and less melodic thematic material (but still including full recapitulations, albeit with little or no preceding development). k74, with its linked first two movements, may originally have been intended as an opera overture.

While these symphonies are indebted to models encountered by Mozart during his travels during the 1760s and early 1770s, several depart from local norms in significant ways. The first movement of k16 is an expanded binary form of a type more common among Viennese symphonies; k19 includes a brief diversion based on the dominant minor, a procedure common among Salzburg symphonies of the 1750s; and k22 includes an extended orchestral crescendo and recurrence of tutti primary material at the middle and end of the movement, typical of Mannheim. k112, composed at Milan on 2 November 1771, is unusual for its inclusion of a minuet and trio. This symphony in particular represents a significant advance: it is the first by Mozart to include genuine development, rather than a mere retransition to the recapitulation; it explores a new tonal relationship between minuet and trio (previously always in the subdominant but here in the dominant); and it begins to break down the association, previously strictly upheld, of thematic or motivic material with function. The beginning of the transition, at bar 10, is obscured by a re-use of the symphony's stable opening bar as a jumping-off point for the modulation, an effect heightened by the structure of the opening idea. In earlier symphonies with similarly constructed opening material – an aggressive, forte and often unison triadic idea followed by a softer motif characterized by conjunct motion – the first idea is more or less literally repeated; in k112, however, the repetition of the opening is initially lacking and is reserved for the first important cadence, where it serves not only to bring the symmetrical pair of five-bar phrases to a conclusion, but also to represent the first element in a two-bar phrase at the beginning of the transition. This reinterpretation of previously-heard material creates an impression not only of unity, but also of ambiguity, and was to become a standard feature of Mozart's symphonies, and his style in general, during the 1770s and later.

Some departures from local norms may have resulted from Mozart's acquaintance with local Salzburg repertories, which have been underestimated in discussions of his development as composer of orchestral music. His father was the leading symphonist in the archdiocese, and works by several other composers, including Caspar Christelli, Ferdinand Seidl, Adlgasser and Michael Haydn, were known to Mozart during the 1760s. Many of these include Viennese and Italian features that he encountered at source only later on the ‘Grand Tour’, as well as novelties of their own. Salzburg also provided Mozart with opportunities for composition: the three serenades k63, 99 and 100 were probably composed there in the summer of 1769. Following local traditions best represented by Leopold Mozart, each has six or more movements plus an associated introductory (and perhaps valedictory) march. More relaxed in style than symphonies, the serenades show their most refined invention in the slow movements, of which one generally has a concertante part (for violin in k63 and for oboe in k100, which also has concertante parts in a fast movement and the trio of one of its minuets, a pattern that later became standard). The chief influence of Salzburg, however, was on Mozart's church music. The Missa brevis k49, although composed in Vienna in 1768, displays all the features of the Salzburg missa brevis tradition best represented in the works of Eberlin: in the Kyrie, a slow introduction to the main part of the tutti; solo and tutti writing in the Gloria and Credo, with fugal endings to both; a three-section Sanctus and a solo quartet Benedictus; and a simple, chordal tutti Agnus followed by a lively triple-time ‘Dona nobis pacem’. Many other features derive from Italian church music, which was widely disseminated and performed in Salzburg for several decades before the 1760s (Eisen, H1995). Among these are a preference for da capo arias, which is particularly strong in Mozart's solo church music, including the Regina coeli k108, with its large, busy orchestra and soprano solos. The Litaniae de venerabili altaris sacramento k125 of 1772 is a more sophisticated and individual work, with strong choral writing, strikingly contrasting arias and an opening Kyrie in an elaborate ritornello structure with three levels – orchestra, chorus and soloists.

In Salzburg, Mozart was also acquainted, both directly and indirectly, with Italian theatrical music even before his numerous tours. Italian operas were often given at court during Schrattenbach's reign, and their style informed the local near-equivalent, the so-called Finalkomödien, or school dramas, given annually at the Salzburg Benedictine University to mark the end of the academic year. Mozart composed only one work in this genre, Apollo et Hyacinthus, which includes full da capo arias and a striking dialogue for the angry Melia and the innocent Apollo, where changes in texture and key support the sense of drama; it is in many respects a successor to his earlier ‘sacred Singspiel’ Die Schuldigkeit des ersten Gebots k35.

La finta semplice, by contrast, gave Mozart his first opportunity to compose opera buffa, which required a command of the Italian language, an ability to delineate emotions quickly, a thorough knowledge of a wide range of effective orchestral clichés, and a control of the extended, multi-sectional finales of the Goldoni-Galuppi tradition favoured in Vienna. His next two dramatic works, Ascanio in Alba k111 and Il sogno di Scipione k126, were of the serenata or festa teatrale type. Ascanio is a leisurely work, with pastoral choruses and ballets interspersed with the arias, while Il sogno di Scipione is less tellingly characterized: the arias are lengthy and contain much bravura writing. The most significant of the early dramatic works, however, is the opera seria Lucio Silla, which is less convention-bound and more individual than Mozart's first opera seria, Mitridate, re di Ponto (modelled in several details of form and treatment on the setting by Quirino Gasparini; see Tagliavini, J1968). This is particularly true of the role of Junia, whose opening aria alternates between an intense Adagio and a fiery Allegro, and whose choral scene at her father's tomb recalls Gluck; the terzetto ‘Quell' orgoglioso sdegno’, in which the tyrant Sulla expresses his anger, is an early example of simultaneous differentiated characterization. Mozart was clearly pleased with several of the arias, which he had recopied in the later 1770s and early 1780s; he may have performed ‘Pupille amate’ in Vienna as late as Carnival 1786.

Mozart: (3) Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

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