Mozart - Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor

Though the concerto that followed it was a bigger hit, Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 20 in D Minor from 1785 is still a classic example of just how prolific and formidable the young composer's talents were becoming.

Written just before the massive hit Piano Concerto No. 21, this one was premiered in a casino of all places. It should be noted that casinos in Mozart’s day were venues where one often heard concerts, so probably it would not have proved too much of a problem for the players to be heard above the blackjack.

Correspondence from the time suggests that Mozart went up to the wire when it came to putting in the composition work on this piece. The ink was, literally, still wet on the page when he gave it his first public performance. His father Leopold wrote in a letter to Mozart’s sister Nannerl ‘... An excellent new piano concerto by Wolfgang, on which the copyist was still at work when we got there, and your brother didn’t even have time to play through the rondo because he had to oversee the copying operation’. Mozart often kept the piano parts to his concerto totally in his head, so this would have been nothing untoward for him.

Illustration: Mark Millington

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