MOZART: Haffner Serenade, K. 250 / March, K. 249
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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791)
Serenade K. 250 ("Haffner" Serenade)
March in D, K. 249
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg in 1756, the son of acourt musician who, in the year of his youngest child's birth, published aninfluential book on violin-playing. Leopold Mozart rose to occupy the positionof Vice-Kapellmeister to the Archbishop of Salzburg, but sacrificed his owncreative career to that of his son, in whom he detected early signs ofprecocious genius. With the indulgence of his patron, he was able to undertakeextended concert tours of Europe in which his son and his elder sister Nannerlwere able to astonish audiences. The boy played both the keyboard and theviolin and could improvise and soon write down his own compositions.
Childhood that had brought signal success was followed by a lesssatisfactory period of adolescence largely in Salzburg, under the patronage ofa new and less sympathetic Archbishop. Mozart, like his father, foundopportunities far too limited at home, while chances of travel were nowrestricted. In 1777, when leave of absence was not granted, he gave upemployment in Salzburg to seek a future elsewhere, but neither Mannheim norParis, both musical centres of some importance, had any1hing for him. His Mannheimconnections, however, brought a commission for an opera in Munich in 1781, andafter its successful staging he was summoned by his patron to Vienna. ThereMozart's dissatisfaction with his position resulted in a quarrel with theArchbishop and dismissal from his service.
The last ten years of Mozart's life were spent in Vienna in precariousindependence of both patron and immediate paternal advice, a situationaggravated by an imprudent marriage. Initial success in the opera-house and asa performer was followed, as the decade went on, by increasing financialdifficulties. By the time of his death in December 1791, however, his fortunesseemed about to change for the better, with the success of the German opera TheMagic Flute, and the possibility of increased patronage.
The serenade in the later eighteenth century was an essentiallyoccasional composition, designed for evening entertainment or celebration.
These works were generally in a number of movements and proved particularlypopular in Salzburg, where Leopold Mozart himself had contributed notably andprolifically to the genre. A serenade would normally open and close with amarch and include a sonata-form movement, two slow movements and two or threeminuets. Originally intended for outdoor performance and therefore entrustedprincipally to wind instruments, the form came to include indoor chamber ororchestral music of a similar character.
Siegmund Haffner was descended from a family long established atJenbach in the Tyrol and in 1733 had become a citizen of Salzburg, where he hada prosperous business. In 1768 he was elected mayor, an office he held untilhis death in 1772. He left four daughters and a son, also Siegmund, an exactcontemporary of Mozart, who won a considerable reputation locally for hisgenerosity and was in 1782 ennobled by the Emperor, the occasion for Mozart'sso-called Haffner Symphony, originally a serenade. In 1776 Haffner commissionedfrom Mozart a serenade for the eve of the wedding of his sister Marie Elisabethand the merchant Franz Xaver Spath. The opening March bears the date of 20thJuly, the day before the performance in the garden-house of the Haffners, withthe other movements of the Serenade composed earlier in the same month. Mozartmade later use of the music both in Salzburg and in later years in Vienna andclearly regarded it as a work of some importance. It is scored for pairs ofoboes alternating with flutes, bassoons, horns, trumpets and a string sectionof first and second violin, first and second viola and double bass, the lastusually doubled by the cello, an instrument naturally excluded from lesssedentary performances.
The entry March leads to a first movement with a relatively statelyintroduction, followed by a rapid sonata-form Allegro, its first subjectinitially shared by oboes, bassoons and strings, these last entrusted with thesecond subject. This D major movement of symphonic proportions leads to a Gmajor Andante in which oboes are now replaced by flutes, with prominence givento a solo violin. The first of the three Minuets of the Serenade, in G minor,has a G major Trio scored only for solo violin, flutes, bassoons and horns, andthe solo violin has its own role to play in the ensuing Rondeau. Oboes andtrumpets return for the D major Menuetto Galante, with its gentle D minor Trioscored only for strings, while the following A major Andante, in which thetrumpets are silent once more, is at first entrusted to the strings. The lastof the three Minuets is scored for flutes, horns, trumpets and strings, its Dmajor answered by a first G major Trio, with solo flute, solo bassoon andstrings, and by a second Trio in D major for flutes, bassoons, horns, trumpetsand strings. Flutes are replaced by oboes for the Adagio that leads to a sparklingAllegro assai, the whole Serenade rounded by a repetition of the March, to thesound of which the musicians withdraw.
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