The Influence of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21 K.467 on Concertos by Other Composers.

This essay will discuss the influence of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No.21 K.467 in C major on the works of other composers. This concerto was finished on 9th of March in 1785. It has significant influence on Piano Concerto No.5 in C major by Joseph Wolfl and Piano Concerto No.1 in C major by Beethoven.

Piano Concerto No.5 Op.43 in C major was composed by Joseph Wolfl in 1799. It is written in the key of C major, the same as Mozart’s Piano Concerto No.21. Although the first movement it is not written as an exact sonata form, it can still be analysed in four sections. The first section is the Prelude. The other three sections represent the Exposition, Development and the Recapitulation. The music sounds in a minor key at the beginning, creating an anxious feel in the music. The wind and percussion instruments take the leading roles in the march-like opening prelude. In contrast to Piano Concerto No.21, Piano Concerto No.5 is more like a military march. After the stormy opening, one horn gives a solo performance to derivate the Exposition. The oboe tutti introduces the theme in a simple march rhythm in C major, followed by the strings which repeat the melody in a brilliant way. The piano enters with a series of scales after four diminished seventh chords.

The march-like theme appears again with piano and accompaniment. It seems that Wolfl favoured presenting the main melody with the orchestra and then made the solo piano play the same melody with some ornaments. However, Mozart preferred the main melody to be presented by the orchestra and then the solo piano plays almost the same with the accompaniment by orchestra. Mozart also wrote in a contrapuntal style to make music livelier. The melody starts to change when the piano repeats the theme for the second time and the music becomes more exciting and multifaceted in Concerto No.21. The piano and orchestra jostle with each other to express their own ideas in this part. In the Development of Wolfl’s work, the piano expresses the music quietly with a beautiful, lyrical sound, similar to Piano Concerto No.21.

Wolfl also imitated Mozart’s use of many virtuosic scales in the development to push the music forward. In concerto No.5, the Recapitulation has large virtuoso piano part which presents a number of challenges for performers.

The second movement of Concerto No.5 begins with a piano solo. The ornaments add some romantic elements to the music, and the orchestra follows with melodious phrases. After the lyrical beginning, the key changes to E minor in the piano part with the new materials and the orchestra pull the major key back in tutti. In concerto No.21, the piano part returns to the major key by itself with major broken chords in left hands. A variety of trills, sequences and arpeggios for piano are presented in the middle section in Concerto No.5. This movement is in E major; however, the whole movement ends with a questioning phrase on the note B which does not receive an answer.

The third movement is a rondo form in the key of C major. The beginning of the music is similar to the third movement of concerto No.21, the melody and rhythm are almost the same. The piano part derived from a light introduction. All the instruments play a dance-like theme, influenced by Mozart’s style of writing. He preferred to compose dance music in the last movement of his concertos and sonatas. This music is more virtuosic than No.21 because of the complex and dramatic scale. However, these elements all make contributions that imitate the style of Mozart.

Beethoven piano concerto No.1, No.2 and No.3 are all influenced by Mozart’s style to some extent. The concerto No.1 was composed by Beethoven in 1795, It can be seen as the second Piano concerto because the concerto in B flat major was written before and published later as Op 19. The premiere took place in Prague in 1798 and Beethoven played the solo piano part by himself. The Concerto No.1 shows many similarities of Mozart Concerto K467.

The first movement is Allegro con brio. Beethoven often uses simple phrases at the beginning in Allegro movements, the fifth symphony is perhaps the most typical example. The orchestra gives a gentle opening, the light scales bring some interesting and lively elements to the music. The opening in concerto No.21 begins quietly as well. After the conversation between the brass band and the strings, the opening theme appears again with more energy and excitement in concerto No.21. Beethoven changed the dynamics for the repeated opening theme to F as well. However, he did not make various link between two themes. Before the solo piano entrance, both composers used polyphonic melody to make the music forward. They applied polyphonic melody to make the music forward.

In concerto No.1, the solo piano enters after the bright ending of the orchestral exposition. The melody is calm and peaceful which is similar to the solo piano entrance in Concerto No.21. The descending scales build a bridge between ascending themes that achieve a multifaced sound in Concerto No.1.

The Development in Concerto No.1 starts in E flat major with a lyrical and singing melody. The orchestra part plays the gentle accompaniment with long slurs. The music become anxious when the orchestra takes the leading role with the accompaniment by the piano. It modulates to c minor after a descending chromatic scale and ends with an octave glissando. The Development in Concerto No.21 begins with a melancholy mood in the key of e minor. The piano is accompanied by the violins playing a new theme. This theme (in bar 223) steams from bar 2 of the opening march theme because they have the same rhythmic setting.

The theme of the Development of Concerto No.21 is in a regular eight-bar phrase which is followed by the flute and oboe. The piano plays a graceful melody to match the lyrical phrases in the orchestra part. However, the peaceful atmosphere is soon interrupted by a sequence of running notes through the piano part. The climax is reached by groups of notes then a light sequence of broken chords announces the recapitulation. Beethoven and Mozart used different methods to finish the development. The audience cannot speculate when the Recapitulation will come because the link between Development and Recapitulation is blurred though Mozart wrote a sequence of notes to do the preparation for the Recapitulation. Beethoven just used the octave glissando to build a bridge between these two parts in a simple way which makes an effective link to push the music forward. In Concerto No.1, the Recapitulation goes back to C major and orchestra gives the original taste of the music by tutii. In Concerto No.21, The Recapitulation has the same opening theme in C major as the Exposition. However, differences appear when the harmony changes to B flat minor; the music has more tension in this section. After the lyrically expressive part, the march-like theme enters again with the virtuosic piano part.

Beethoven provided three different cadenzas for the first movement in Concerto No.1. The performer starts the cadenza after the fermata which is marked by SF. The first movement ends by the orchestra alone in a glorious atmosphere. Both of the composers brought some elements from the theme to the coda which give the audience the flavour of the original taste. Mozart’s cadenza for this movement has not survived, but many pianists have composed and improvised their own cadenza which begins before the trill. The first movement does not end in a march-like music. Mozart finished it in p with scherzo elements to give an air of mystery to the music.

The second movement of Concerto No.1 is in a ternary form in A flat major. The character is quite different to the second movement in Concerto No.21 though both of them are quiet and peaceful. The audience may find some dramatic elements in Concerto No.21 because it changes key frequently. Beethoven used many slurs in this movement to make a relationship between the phrases. The whole movement is quite slow which requires mature technique for performers otherwise the music will be boring and tedious. Some light and ornaments can be found in both composer’s music. These interesting details can push music forward in a natural way.

The third movement of Concerto No.1 is a sonata rondo which is the same as Concerto No.21. The themes in these two concertos sound similar, both themes are energetic and lively. In concerto No.1, the piano solo demonstrates the theme first then repeated by the orchestra with different dynamics. However, Mozart applied some interesting ideas at the beginning. The orchestra plays the theme first and the piano plays the same phrases. Rosen describes it as thus:

‘The main theme, which begins in the orchestra, ends with a repetition of its first phrase, and this phrase, which now rounds off the melody, is surprisingly played, not by the orchestra, but by the piano; so the soloists both finishes what the orchestra began, and also begins exactly as the orchestra did. This is a pun based on the nature of concerto form.’

The cross-hand section of the third movement in Concerto No.1 shows elements of Mozart’s style in melody and structure. ‘An amusing duet follows in which the tune is divided between a low bass and a high treble; it involves some show crossing of the hands since the central accompany figure buzzes along happily without interruption.’ The piano asks a question in the low voice by left hand then answers it in different voices, the right hand always play the accompaniment during this section. The theme in the music can be frequently heard in different pitches, played by different instruments. Sometimes, the new materials appear after the familiar theme to bring new ideas and feelings to the music which is the same as Concerto No.21.

‘A brief cadenza leads to a lengthy trill which diverts the music into the alien key of B major, in which new tonality the initial rando theme now appears. For a time thing seems to hang fire; then the safe return to C major, the ‘home key’ is greeted joyously by the full orchestra. A delightful dialogue ensues between the soloist and different sections of the woodwind; it contains of deliberately naïve scales and the fragments of the theme’. The same thing happens in Concerto No.21 as well. The music turns to A minor in the middle section of the movement. The piano takes the leading role to express the sad mood. However, the conversation between woodwind and piano gradually change the key to C major. The music continues in this key until the end of the movement.

Concerto No.1 ends with orchestra only brilliantly. The piano does not dominate the conclusion as well in Concerto No.21; the orchestra plays accompaniment in virtuosity to produce a satisfying sense of textural and formal integration.

In conclusion, Mozart’s piano concertos have a significant influence on the works of later composers. Many similarities can be found in Concerto No.5 by Joseph Wolfl and Piano Concerto No.1 in C major by Beethoven. The structure and melody in Concerto No.21 k.467 influence these two works to different extents. These two composers also show their own style in both of their music. Sometimes, they combined their own ideas with Mozart’s style to develop their composition. In my opinion, Mozart’s music will continue to influence future generation of musicians, even though music styles and tastes will certainly change with passage of time. Mozart’s legacy will never be forgotten. 

07 July 2022
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