Full Episode: Colburn Chamber Music Society – Mozart, Dvorak

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This episode of “Open Call” features songs by Mozart and Dvorak, courtesy of the Colburn Chamber Music Society.

About the music:

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Piano Quartet in E flat major, K. 493 was originally one of three piano quartets commissioned by publisher Franz Anton Hoffmeister. However, after the first installment of the series, the Piano Quartet in G minor, K. 478, Hoffmeister canceled the commission, noting that the work was far too difficult for amateurs and therefore would not sell. Mozart decided to go ahead anyway and thus produced the quartet in E flat. The piano quartet as a genre took off thanks to Mozart – as Mozart scholar Neal Zaslaw writes in The Compleat Mozart, “Mozart practically invented the piano quartet”. Until then, chamber music for piano and strings was mainly found in the popular trio sonata, in which the keyboard played the accompaniment role of the strings; Mozart’s piano quartets altered this balance by ensuring that all voices were of equal importance. The early piano quartet is perhaps less directly related to the trio sonata than to the 18th century keyboard concerto, often written with accompaniment of two violins and cello. It wasn’t until Mozart began to use the piano, violin, viola and cello format that this combination became popular – and only in the hands of such a master.

The Piano Quintet in A major, Op. 81, by Antonin DvoÃ…? ák, was written following the composer’s dissatisfaction with his little-known first piano quintet, Op. 5 (also in A major). The first quintet was written in 1872 and despite a warm welcome after its first performance in Prague, DvoÃ…? Ák was not happy and burned the manuscript. Fifteen years later, he sought to revise the quintet (the presenter of the concert had kept a copy of the score) but was still not satisfied with the work. DvoÃ…? Ák then decided to start writing a new quintet and, after only six weeks, created Op. 81 Piano quintet heard this evening. The work, created in Prague on January 6, 1888, adds to its already growing success around the world.

(Written by Avi Nagin, student at Colburn Conservatory, violinist and sophomore in the Bachelor of Music program at Colburn Conservatory.)

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