Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante, K. 364: An Enlightened Operatic Reading

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In his biographical book on Mozart Julian Rushton states that dialogic writing is an inherent feature of Mozart’s concertos, but one that “usually occurs between the soloist and the orchestra, rather than between two individual ‘characters’”, a fact that leads Rushton to envision the Sinfonia Concertante [K. 364] as a brief consolation “for the lack of an opportunity to write an opera”. This article morphs that statement into a question: why and how could have Mozart channelled his operatic yearning through the Sinfonia Concertante? In an attempt to find an answer, I will analyse a number of aspects of Mozart’s approach to the genre of sinfonia concertante from two main perspectives. First, I will introduce a brief historical background on Mozart’s K. 364 as the basis for the consideration of Barry S. Brook’s understanding of the concertante as an enlightened genre and Mozart’s potential interest in the aspects that might have made it so, an argument that is actually related to and based on Mozart’s exploration of dramatic dialogue. Second, I analyse the interplay between the operatic and instrumental elements found in the second movement of K. 364, mapping them to a selection of Mozart’s operatic works, particularly those composed at the same time and right after the Sinfonia Concertante. I also contrast Simon Keefe’s interpretation of the dialogic-dramatic dimension of Mozart’s instrumental music, the influence of opera on his piano concertos, to Charles Rosen’s study of the influence of the formal developments that Mozart adapted from his instrumental music to his operatic writing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-111
Number of pages15
JournalMusic Scholarship
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021


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