The Firebird - Finale Igor Stravinsky
Opera, piano music, symphonies or concertos – Mozart’s music has something for everyone. Here's our pick of 15 great pieces, so you listen for yourself and discover the essential Mozart downloads.
A cheery skipping horn tune coupled with playful strings – Mozart’s Horn Concerto No. 4 is enough to put anyone in good mood. He wrote it for his friend Joseph Leutgeb to play on a natural horn, a predecessor to the modern French horn.
Lively, cheeky, funny – Mozart had a sense of humour, and you can hear it from the word go in this cheerful opera. It’s a great love-story, with a few cases of mistaken identity, trickery, and practical jokes thrown in for good measure. Musical highlights include the ‘Sull’aria’ duet, and the soprano aria ‘Porgi, amor’.
Mozart’s 1785 beautiful piano concerto is often used in films – you’ll hear it in Superman Returns, The Spy Who Loved Me, and Elvira Madigan, giving the music its unofficial nickname.
Mozart captures the character of the oboe perfectly in his symphonies, so it’s surprising that this is his only oboe concerto. The flighty melodies in the fast movements are well suited to the instrument, but it’s also been reworked as a concerto in D major for the flute.
Expect fiancée swapping, disguises, and trickery aplenty in this jaunty opera from Mozart. It’s one of the three operas composed to a libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte, and the vocal writing captures the Italian flavour of the words perfectly.
Mozart only wrote one clarinet quintet – a piece for string quartet plus clarinet – but he’s proven he knows how to get the best from the instrument. The lyrical tunes and the similarities to the clarinet concerto have ensured both pieces remain extremely popular: both are in A major, and they were written for the same clarinetist, Anton Stadler.
A handsome prince, a serpent, and three ladies who produce an enchanted flute with the power to change men’s hearts? Mozart's opera is a bit of a musical pantomime, with some brilliant songs thrown in for good measure: the famously difficult ‘Queen of the Night’ aria, ‘Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen’, is just one of them.
A fitting conclusion to Mozart’s 41 symphonies, ‘Jupiter’ showcases the best of all the composer’s styles. It’s majestic and impressive with a playful lightness of touch and humour – a perfect mix of musical genius and friendly accessible tunes.
If you like Mozart’s operas, this solo religious motet is bound to impress. Originally written for a male castrato singer, it’s now usually performed by a female singer. The final movement, setting just the word ‘Alleluia’ to fast running quavers, is a masterpiece.
When Mozart wrote this concerto in 1778, the harp was still being developed. This is the only piece of music he wrote for the instrument, but the writing for each soloist is carefully crafted – it’s something of a showpiece for harpists who can get their fingers round the difficult passages.
This brilliant piece is one of the last works Mozart wrote before he died in 1791. It seems he was saving the best ‘til last with this concerto for clarinet – it’s the only concerto he wrote for the instrument. Cheery yet graceful, the clarinet’s warm tone brings the beautifully simple tunes to life, and it’s always a high entry in the Classic FM Hall of Fame.
An anonymous commission prompted Mozart to start writing his Requiem. After taking on the project, he started experiencing ‘very strange thoughts’, and began to fear he was writing a requiem for his own death. The result? A moving piece, with passages of fearful angst and resolute acceptance, left unfinished by the time Mozart died in 1791.
This is a much lighter version of Mozart’s Mass settings, one where he wasn’t fearful of his own death. Regal and grand, the ‘Coronation’ mass shows classical choral writing at its best, and the flowing soprano solo in the ‘Agnus Dei’ may have inspired the ‘Dove Sono’ aria from The Marriage of Figaro, written seven years later.
Mozart composed 23 string quartets, but the set of six dedicated to Haydn are some of the best examples of the genre. From the mysterious ‘Dissonance’ Quartet, No. 19, to the lively ‘Hunt’, No. 17, the six quartets cover a wide emotional range. What’s more, Haydn loved them, saying Mozart was the greatest composer he knew.
There’s a reason this stormy symphony is often called ‘The Great G minor’. It’s a powerful piece from the off, and it’s packed with catchy tunes. Rushing passages are appeased with relaxing heart-warming harmonies, until the piece comes to a close in a frenzied finish.