Mozart-Day 3.: Miklós Spányi and the Concerto Armonico

Grand Hall

Mozart: Symphony No. 6 in F-major, K.43                           

Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 6 in B-flat major, K.238         

Performers: Miklós Spányi harpsichord, Concerto Armonico  (artistic director: Miklós Spányi, concertmaster: Gábor Homoky)


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Symphony in F major, K 43

In November 1766, the Mozart family returned to Salzburg after a journey through Europe lasting three and a half years. They stayed at home for less than a year before setting off for Vienna in order for Leopold to show what huge progress his son had made in comparison with their last visit to the imperial capital. However, on their arrival they waited in vain for an invitation to the court, on top of which there was an outbreak of smallpox, which did not spare the imperial family. When the children of the landlord where the Mozarts were staying also fell ill, Leopold – to keep the family safe – relocated to Brno, and then Olmütz. However, they could not escape the disease: first Wolfgang, and then Nannerl fell ill with a fever. Wolfgang was in such a serious condition that he lost his sight for several days. It took nearly four months before the imperial family received them in Vienna. The names of two cities – Olmütz (crossed out) and Vienna – appear in the manuscript of the F major symphony. Maynard Solomon writes about the orchestral pieces written at this time: “… they prove how much Mozart absorbed the rhetoric and structural elements of works by Viennese composers Vaňhal, Dittersdorf, Hofmann, Haydn and Gassmann. More theatrical expressive force, broader transition sections and the freer use of counterpoint were typical for the four-movement symphonies of these composers in comparison with the earlier Italian examples.”


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Piano Concerto in B-flat major, K 238

The B-flat major piano concerto originates from Salzburg in 1776. Mozart wanted to have it printed but this was achieved only after his death, in 1793. We know of two performances (one in Munich and one in Augsburg) where Mozart played the solo part. Not long after, the piece also appeared on a programme in Mannheim, where Mozart’s extremely talented and young student, who later on was active as a composer as well, the 14-year-old Rosina Theresia Petronella Cannabich (1764–1839) performed it. “A very beautiful and well-behaved girl. For her age she has much good sense, and a demure character; she is serious, and speaks little. But what she does say comes forth with grace and friendliness,” Mozart wrote in a letter. It is highly likely that the solo instrument at these concerts was not a fortepiano but instead a harpsichord.