LANSDOWNE

SYMPHONY

ORCHESTRA

Mozart Piano Concerto No. 20 Program Notes

While  not  technically  Mozart’s  twentieth  (some  early  works  were  arrangements  of  CPE  Bach),  this  was  the  first  piano  concerto  he  composed  in  a  minor  key.    Its  brooding  and  syncopated  opening,  building  towards  dramatic  tutti  chords,  and contrasting  tender  lyricism,  seem  to  foreshadow  some  of  the  emotionalism  of  the  Romantic  era  several  decades  later.  The  concerto  was  first  performed  on  February  11,  1785,  the  day  after  it  was  composed,  in  the  first  concert  of  Mozart’s  self-produced  series  of  Lenten  subscription  concerts.  (For  Lent,  Court  theaters  were  closed:  more  audiences,  and  musicians,  were  therefore  available!)  Mozart’s  father  Leopold  arrived  in  Vienna  the  day  of  the  concert,  and  writing  to  his  daughter  Nannerl,  reported  especially  favorably  on  this  concerto.    Posterity  has  borne  this  out:  while  several  of  Mozart’s  piano  concertos  are  now  performed  widely,  it  is  No.  20  that  was  played  regularly  through  the  19th  century.    One  of  its  greatest  champions,  Ludwig  van  Beethoven,  went  so  far  as  to  compose  cadenzas  for  the  piece  -  one  of  which  you  will  hear  today.    (Mozart’s  were  not  written  down.)  Mozart’s  produced  his  concerts  in  an  intriguing  Viennese  building  called  the  Mehlgrube,  which  now  exists  as  the  luxury  Ambassador  Hotel. Its  guests  have  included  Mark  Twain,  the  Emperor  and  Empress  of  Ethiopia,  Theodore  Roosevelt,  Robert  Schumann,  and  Charles  Lindbergh  (though  not  all  at  the  same  time).