Throughout his lifetime, Mozart wrote concertos for various solo instruments, but the most significant are his piano concertos, many of which he composed for his own personal performance. There are 23 piano concertos written by Mozart, which stand as the pinnacle of the 18th century concerto form -- he virtually defined the genre. In his concertos, he treated the piano as an equal to the orchestra, which, in itself, was an innovative concept.
The Salzburg YearsAll of Mozart's violin concertos, together with the concertos for flute, oboe, bassoon, flute and harp, 2 violins, and violin and viola, belong to the Salzburg years. During this period he also produced the first group of completely original piano concertos, which include concertos for 2 and 3 pianos with orchestra.
One example is K. 365 in E-flat for 2 pianos. It is one of a kind and has:
The concerto, K.271 in E-flat (1777), is another example of his work during this period.
- youthful exuberance
- gentle melancholy
- close interplay between pianos
- a resemblance to the idealized Salzburg social life
- outer movements begin and end with the piano asserting itself with vigor
- brings in the soloist before the first orchestral tutti (which influenced Beethoven)
- soloist (as was the style) plays both tutti and solo passages
- slow movement shows the transfer of vocal idioms to the piano, in which the piano appears as a tragic operatic heroine
The Vienna YearsThe years 1782-86 mark the Viennese concerts by Mozart (the "Grand Concertos"). He composed 11 concertos for his own personal use, all of which call for a larger orchestra with expanded winds. They demonstrate a more symphonic approach, which had a great influence on Beethoven. All have three movements with the fast-slow-fast format, with the slow movement in a different but related key (usually the subdominant).
K.466 in D minor and K.491 in C minor - pianist opens solo with new materialK. 467 and K. 503 - shy soloist is coaxed and enticed from the role of a continuo player to soloist
K. 537 in D ("Coronation") - Mozart performed it himself for the coronation of Leopold II
K. 595 in B-flat
- melody in first movement conveys an impression of a downward progression or falling
- repetition of melody but with a different coloring
- extensive use of the Neapolitan area
- various kinds of hiatus or effects of disorientation
- after the final trill, which usually heralds the conclusion, he inserts material that had belonged to the orchestra in the solo part
Other ConcertosAll his other concertos are fine music, but do not match the high standard of the piano concertos.(See also Mozart's Concerto 1st-Movement Form)
- Violin Concertos (from the Salzburg years) - resemble the serenades of this period, but are deeply serious (highly polished melancholy)
- Horn Concertos (4 of them) - written for friends in his final days
- A Clarinet Concerto - also written for a friend in his last days