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Mozart's Piano Concertos are some of the composer's greatest works, and No.21 is a particularly popular and virtuosic choice. What's more, he gave the premiere performance himself.
Mozart was lucky enough to write pretty much all his piano concertos to play himself. Indeed, the economics of his freelance, almost at times itinerant life as a composer and performer meant he was not just lucky to play them, but financially compelled to do so.
The famous Piano Concerto No.21 (a staggering figure in itself: 21 piano concertos!) is one such, written in 1785, when he was only twenty-nine, just six years before his early death. It is sometimes referred to as the Elvira Madigan, after a now otherwise long-forgotten film that featured the work.
When he had finished writing the piece, an unprecedented busy and successful time followed for Mozart. He premiered the concerto himself at a benefit concert in the National Court Theatre at which he also, according to the adverts, did some of his famous improvisations. So great was Mozart’s memory for music, that he was said to be able to store at least two complete new symphonies in his head before he needed to write them down.