Mozart filled this score with brutal and hilarious insults to the soloist

28 February 2019, 22:03

We all know Wolfgang was a musical genius and a bit of a joker - and here’s a great example of what he got up to in one of his most famous manuscripts.

Joseph Leutgeb was one of the finest horn players of his time. He began his career in Salzburg where he met the child prodigy Mozart, and later the two worked together in Vienna.

It seems they had a close, jokey relationship. When Mozart came to write a few concertos for Leutgeb, he saw an opportunity to poke some fun at his soloist friend. 

The original manuscript from the Rondo of the Horn Concerto No. 1 is full of little jibes at the soloist written in the composer's hand: "Take courage", "You ass" and "Thank heavens, that's enough". 

At one moment Mozart marks the orchestra part 'Allegro' and the solo horn part 'Adagio' – Mozart clearly thought horn players had a tendency to drag. He also used four colours of ink in the solo part to confuse Leutgeb.

The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment recently performed the concerto with their Principal Horn Roger Montgomery, complete with the notes from Mozart's manuscript projected onto the wall behind the orchestra.