Mozart style

September 4, 2007 at 04:34 PM · Hi, I'm writing this because I need your help. I'm playing the Mozart's concerto nº5, but I dont find the "Mozart style", so I can't give to it. I have searched about this topic, I have been in Vienna, in all his houses, just to find this "Mozart style", I have studied a lot of mp3 of all his violin concertos. PLeas, can you help me?

Thanks a lot

Replies (33)

September 4, 2007 at 05:35 PM · I have just started learning this concerto with a new teacher who is very concerned with the Mozart style. Do you have the Barenreiter edition? The first thing is to play of the original markings- all stacatto marks and such are to be taken. There are subtle differences that I never realized, such as some eigth notes having stacatto markings and some not, even in the some measure, that in the International edition are not there. Talk to a teacher who is well versed in classical/period playing. That's what I'm doing right now- so good luck!

September 4, 2007 at 05:56 PM · Why do you need to play it "Mozart style"? I think you have to do it in a style that works for you and speaks to you, so that you feel "moved", as opposed to "authentic" or whatever. However, if you are really interested in Mozart style, why not read Leopold Mozart's treatise on violin playing? That should give you as good an idea as anything about how violin music was played at that time.

September 4, 2007 at 06:03 PM · I do not think there is such a thing as a definitive Mozart style or interpretation. With great music like Mozart, there's really very little you have to do after playing in tune and in time. It's already great music - it's not Conus or Shostakovich where you have to convince the audience the music is great. There's this one stylistic thing I don't really like in some of today's Mozart performances. It's this new trend to make diminuendos on extended notes, I've had people tell me this is "authentic" and closer to the sound Mozart wanted. Unless notated I do not recommend doing this. You have to give the audience their money's worth for the whole note!

September 4, 2007 at 06:14 PM · Here's a good example of what I was talking about:

September 4, 2007 at 06:22 PM · You can always look to other Mozart pieces for inspiration. The operas, for one. And then there are the piano concerti, symphonies, chamber music, etc.

September 4, 2007 at 07:55 PM · I think to play Mozart well it has to be played incredibly expressively (as well as phrased sensitively with a clean sound).

September 4, 2007 at 08:14 PM · Study the score and chord structure.

Knowing how the violin fits with the rest of the orchestra will help you understand where mozart was coming from.

I got burned in a masterclass for neglecting this work.

September 4, 2007 at 09:44 PM · "However, if you are really interested in Mozart style, why not read Leopold Mozart's treatise on violin playing? That should give you as good an idea as anything about how violin music was played at that time."

Of course, his treatise was published in 1756, the year of his son's birth, so I guess it depend which Mozart's style you're looking for.

Mozart was an innovator--while there's nothing wrong with searching down an historically accurate presentation of his concertos, would he really have wanted us tightly bound to the 18th century way of playing (especially on modern instruments?)

September 4, 2007 at 10:24 PM · Listen to his operas!

September 4, 2007 at 10:31 PM · "Mozart style"

No, you aren't going to find some treatise to give you all the secrets of the "Mozart" style.

I think you have to be sensitive.

I think you have to acknowledge the incredible amount of emotions in his music and see that yet they are completely honest and natural.

I think you have to be playful in a true sense of what playful is.

And, I think you have to let the music move you to a place where it's actually music and speaks for the gentle kind place it comes from, where people can let go of the problems of life and they are actually attended to.

Then perhaps it will be "Mozart" but that isn't one person is one time animated by a specific style which makes it all come together.

Also, to be honest, if you are talking about style: They say that the romantic period is more about emotions and emotionality but I can't say I find that to be the case. Mozart, to me, has more emotions than the whole romantic period, and a greater variety. There is a lot of sensuality and indulgence in beautiful harmonies and rich lush dreams and desires but with Mozart, to me, there is more emotions because they are simply emotions. The characters in the operas are completely developed as characters and their personality relates to their emotions. In Mozart, to me, the emotions are multidimensional, they are a relationship to emotions which are there the whole day, not just when a person makes an object out of them. But, then you have to be a bit more sensitive to find out how this relationship works. And perhaps even a bit less "serious."

September 5, 2007 at 12:19 AM · Greetings,

there is lots of good advice here and throughout this website on how to be efefctive in the concertos that =Heifetz= stated were the most difficult of all! In the long run you can spend hours studyign and playing the quartets (Szigeti`s advice to Steinhart) studying the operas (almost universla recommendation) read the fathers book (some timelss and pithy advice in there), limit the dynamic range so that ther eis not a huge volume differential between f and piano, recognize that it is chamber music and know the score betetr than the violin part etc. but if I was strictly limited to one point it would be the following:

Sing it and reproduce that on the instrument. That is your Mozart.

The difficulty is finding your voice ;) It has eveyrthing to do with where you are as a person.



September 5, 2007 at 01:01 AM · behold the great kavakos

September 5, 2007 at 11:32 AM · This is a very important topic and a difficult one.

Webster's defines style as:

a) manner or mode of expression in language, as distinct from the ideas expressed; way of using words to express thoughts b) specific or characteristic manner of expression, execution,

Style is the externals. Content is what is in your heart.

Your personal style includes the way you dress, the way you talk, the places you choose to go, the neighborhood you live in, etc. etc.

For a performing musician, Mozart style includes the tempi you choose, your tone quality, the articulations, bow strokes, choice of dynamics (how loud is a Forte) the way you shape your phrases, etc, etc. all within the context of Mozart's music.

You develop your sense of Mozart style be immersing yourself in his music, by doing a lot of listening and by playing a lot of Mozart. Listen to many recordings of the violin concerti. Listen actively for their stylistic elements -- tempo, choice of bowings, length of notes, choice of dynamics, shaping of phrases, etc. etc. When you can start identifying elements that you really like, you can start to apply them to your own playing. Experiment!

Play lots of Mozart -- sonatas, string quartets, symphonies. Also play music by other composers in a similar style -- Haydn and early Beethoven are basically in the same style as Mozart.

September 5, 2007 at 02:09 PM · Roelof wrote: "Also, to be honest, if you are talking about style: They say that the romantic period is more about emotions and emotionality but I can't say I find that to be the case"

Romantic music is not just defined by being "emotional". That is far to vague to classify this style. Mozart is emotional music as is Bach and Palestrina. Even as far back as Aristotle, he speaks of music "stirring the emotions". The difference is how the music is conceived.

In the classical period, composers like Haydn, who worked for the Esterhazy estate, had musical obliagtions to the patrons. Beethoven was the first composer to work for himself - he had several patrons giving him a stipend to compose freely without obligation. Beethoven is considered by many the prototype of the romantic movement.

Romanticism in the general sense is sort of a reaction against the Enlightenment, yet romanticism could not survive without it. One of the factors that classify romanticism is "bilbung" - an aesthetic cultivation of the self or a "self formation". Another factor is the critique of culture - romantics never accept the commerical or industrial aspect of society. Finally there is the eternal search for redemption in an imperfect world. Keywords for romantics include: love, nature, spirituality, folklore, suffering and supernatural.

Romanticism effected music by letting the composer use music as a means of personal expression in a unique way. It also gives the composer freedom to break rules, yet at the same time composers held on to certain traditions. (even though Berlioz's music was considered revolutionary, he still adhered to sonata form.) Also there is a richness and complexity to romantic music. (try analyzing the motivic transformations in Brahms' first symphony!)

September 5, 2007 at 02:47 PM · Perhaps what is being referred to as "Mozart style" is the style associated with the high classic era, the music of Mozart, Haydn, and early Beethoven. An excellent book on this subject is "The Classical Style" by Charles Rosen. Though there are particulars regarding strong and weak beats, question and answer grouping in phrases, groups of two notes in a slur, terraced dynamics, and other things I wrote about to you in an e-mail, one aspect that is always the subject of debate is determining where a phrase is leading and how one may choose to emphasize certain notes over others creating shorter phrases (phraselets) within a longer phrase or creating a broader shape which fashions a more seamless long phrase.

Some feel that Mozart's music, with its wealth of themes/motives or sudden changes in character, requires greater contrast and shorter phrasing. Others feel that the melodic patterns link up so beautifully that they should be more connected and not segmented. Still others try to have it both ways and try to show the contrasts while also pointing up the longer line. It is the classic, no pun intended,dilemma of how to balance all the interesting little details with the bigger picture or not losing sight of the forest for the trees.

For example, one can look at the recent interpretations of Mozart and early Beethoven by Anne Sophie Mutter and Lambert Orkis and note that a great deal of tempo and rhythmic flexibility is present in these interpretations with an eye/ear for pointing out little details in the phrases compared with other performers who choose a stricter rhythmic course and shape the line more broadly. To some, Mutter's approach is too fussy and burdened but to others it is fascinating in its explorations of the details. To some it is a super-imposition, a forced fit, on the elegant simplicity of Mozart and a distortion but to others it brings out the complexity and diversity they feel is inherent in the music.

To give a concrete example, we could look at the opening of Mozart's 4th violin concerto. Some will say that the first D is not the strongest but leads to the sixth D in the second measure of the solo violin entrance. The energy then lessens at the beginning of the eighth notes in the third measure but increases to the downbeat of the 4th measure. Others might say that the phrase continues all the way to the last D before the rest and begins to weaken in the descending scale that follows. Still others will see the high F# and A as an interjection of a gentler child-like voice and de-emphasize those notes to create a contrast with the trumpet-like blasts of the repeated D's rather than link all of them together in one broad crescendo to the last D before the rest. It depends whether you hear the phrases broken up into shorter segments or longer ones. If you want to dramatize the characters or personalities, with their moods and emotions, within the line, as if Mozart were introducing his cast of many characters in his operas, you might opt for greater contrasts within the phrase. If you want to avoid possibly obscuring the simplicity and clarity of the broader phrases and make a more seamless melody that has one clear peak, then you'd make a more gradual shape to the peak note and a gradual fall from there.

Another example is the return of the upward rising arpeggio theme ( G- half note, B D- quarter notes, D- half note), in the first movement of Mozart's third violin concerto. The harmonies that outline the first appearance of this theme move as expected from tonic to dominant. But when this theme comes around again as part of the recapitulation, it passes from tonic to A minor by way of a descending bass line and a diminished 7th chord. This touch of melancholy into what was formerly a happy uplifting theme adds a degree of complex emotion and mood change that makes Mozart's music the special thing that it is. The violinist might choose to play this melody with a longer more connected bow stroke to elongate the sadness cast over the theme by the underlying harmony and not play it with spaces and brightness of attack as he/she might the first time around. Such are the joys of considering choices in interpretation.

In the end, there is always more than one possibility, but listening to the many recordings available and reading up about Mozart's music from the various sources that have been mentioned so far will give you a stronger background in shaping your "Mozart style".

September 7, 2007 at 08:41 PM · Thanks a lot for all of you guys, I'm working with all your advice. I'm looking for the Mozart style because everybody speak about it and I wanna know how does it work with me. Have you already found it?

September 8, 2007 at 06:59 AM · Greetings,

yes, it wa sin the back of my fridge.



September 10, 2007 at 12:58 PM · Kevin Jang wrote:

Roelof wrote: "Also, to be honest, if you are talking about style: They say that the romantic period is more about emotions and emotionality but I can't say I find that to be the case"

Romantic music is not just defined by being "emotional". That is far to vague to classify this style. Mozart is emotional music as is Bach and Palestrina. Even as far back as Aristotle, he speaks of music "stirring the emotions". The difference is how the music is conceived.

Right from Wikipedia and it's definition of Romantic Music:

"The Romanticism movement held that not all truth could be deduced from axioms, that there were inescapable realities in the world which could only be reached through emotion, feeling and intuition. Romantic music struggled to increase emotional expression and power to describe these deeper truths, while preserving or even extending the formal structures from the classical period.

The vernacular use of the term "romantic music" applies to music which is thought to evoke a soft mood or dreamy atmosphere. This usage is rooted in the connotations of the word "romantic" that were established during the period, but not all "Romantic" pieces fit this description, with some musical romanticism producing strong, harsh sounds for agitated emotion. Conversely, music that is "romantic" in the modern everyday usage of the word (that is, relating to the emotion of love) is not necessarily linked to the Romantic period."

notice the use of the words emotion or emotional...

Also, I never stated that I was defining the term romantic.

If you would ask most people whether the classical or romantic period was more about emotions they would say the romantic period.

However, I find more true emotion in the music of Mozart (who is usually defined as being classical although sometimes as being romantic). I think that's something you have to be sensitive to, and that's something different than composing a whole academic expose on what this or that style is.

In fact, in the end, I believe Mozart's music transcends those types of definitions.

Also, Mozart was the first person to actually break away from a patron the way he did and set up shop for himself in Vienna. Only, he didn't make a big political deal out of it saying that he was doing it for artistic freedom. And so you can't pin a lable on his music saying that it is about this or that, only that it is about music, and thus it is about personal expression and freedom.

The music came first not the style.

And this is how you approach Mozart, because it is in the first place: music.

If you are truly sensitive to the emotions, then you will find that they fit perfectly into the melodic contour, the phrasing and are a completely genuine part of the time period in which the music was written. If you try to put the "style" first, I think you end up trying to make something out of Mozart that would turn him into someone whose music would have gotten lost with the rest of the so well meaning peers of his time whose music has faded away because they followed the rules of the "style" of the period rather than giving music essence.

And Mozart's music DID survive, thus it would seem really bizarre to try to fit it into something that would have killed it off.

With Mozart, it seems that more effort it put into just that than with any other "style."

September 10, 2007 at 08:21 PM · Here is a link to a digital copy of Leopold Mozart's treatise on violin playing ( Here is a link to Geminiani's book on violin playing ( Enjoy!

September 10, 2007 at 10:34 PM · Hi, Tom,

Thanks a lot for the links! I own both books but it's very handy for me to have them accessible via the computer.



September 10, 2007 at 11:13 PM · yes, thanks Tom

September 11, 2007 at 12:36 AM · Wow, Tom, Thanks for the link to the Leopold Mozart Treatise!

September 11, 2007 at 05:35 PM · Roelef-

I didn't think you were defining the word. I think we are in agreement about many things about Mozart, but I feel that the word Romantic and emotions in that context can be deceiving. I was recently working with a conductor and he felt that Mozart was a great "seducer". I feel that this sums up the style of Mozart. I liked the word you used - transcendent; because I too feel this way about his music.

And I brought up the point of the other styles because their effect on the listener is also emotional. Just playing a little devils advocate. To me, using the word romanticism stirs up certain ideals that are more specific than "emotional".

I totally agree with you about the romantic music being more emotional and transcendent and I feel maybe using other adjectives could paint a clearer picture.

September 11, 2007 at 06:58 PM · Kevin...Kevin..: wrote

"I liked the word you used - transcendent; because I too feel this way about his music."

Yes but I think Mozart wasn't trying to call it "his" music, he was trying to share it because it brought out the magic of what being human, having ears, a brain a heart and being alive was all about...

And what is more transcendant than allowing music to be music and nothing else?

It's not "his" music that's transcendant in time, it's music itself. I'm a real stickler for this by the way. If someone comes up to me with their eyes raised smiling as if they are going to come up to me and say how they liked my playing and stroke my ego I can get REALLY annoyed (and I want to give them a lecture on how it's about the music, not how well it seems I am controlling it)...I just end up asking them if they enjoyed the music.

I think perhaps the romantic period is about personal freedom.... but then you have someone such as Schumann whose music is incredibly emotional but he ended up in the asylum rather(and to this day people are put in asylums and have their brain damaged as if this will create harmony stifling something which would actually give color to emotions enough that they become multidimensional and have a whole other logic than sanity)....

I think people associate ego with emotions too much (and emotions are multidimensional, everything you do has to do with them the whole day not just when one "feels" something). And they think harmony and balance comes from something else than the self (the inner child which knows no bounds..."Laughs at a scruple, Believes all sham but paradise" as Emily Dickinson says)

But Mozart then is "Classical" and this is about harmony and balance although things were definitely perhaps a bit out of balance as to how Mozart was treated (and even unreasonable).

Music is already transcendant from such "time" and there's really absolutely nothing wrong with being seduced by it.

September 12, 2007 at 11:44 AM · I forgot to mention that while Mozart did break off from the courts, he still was a "slave" to them for many years. Beethoven did not have to answer to any courts since he had a patron giving him a stipend to compose freely.

September 14, 2007 at 06:37 PM · Thanks to Tom Holzman for the Links...

Maybe the most valuable idea on interpretation of Mozart's music is this treatise.

There are few recordings of Mozart violin concertos on original instruments and disregarding you like or not the concept of this kind of playing is worth to listen to. I think Simon Standage recorded all of them. Victoria Mullova made also an excellent rendition of this pieces.

March 16, 2010 at 03:03 PM ·

Hallo everyone! I think you could find interesting also looking at the manuscript score:

I hope it helps! Enjoy your study (and sorry for my english)

March 17, 2010 at 03:30 AM ·

Yes, do research, ranging from Leopold Mozart to Charlse Rosen's modern classic, The Classical Style. But ultimately you must find your own interface. Otherwise, let's agree on one 'definitive' approach, and have nobody else play Mozart after that. Thank God, we'll never reach such a concensus. To paraphrase Ivry Gitlis, to say that there is but one definitive interpretation for any particular piece is selling music short.

That said, I can think of no more exquisite a starting point and inspiration for (but not only) Mozart than Arthur Grumiaux. Szerying said that it was Grumiaux to taught us all how to play Mozart. When asked how he did it, he replied - a bit disingenuously - "I simply play what's there"!

March 18, 2010 at 12:08 PM ·

Stephen (Buri) I think got it right, as he usually does - find your own voice and sing it.

One of our regular conductors once said that people talk about "the style of playing Mozart, the style of playing .... There's no such thing - there's just playing the music". To a large extent I think he was right. Youtube can be an invaluable resource. For example, look at

Nathan Milstein
David Oistrakh
Itzhak Perlman

And of course there are current fashions in interpretation - e.g. that Bach must be played fast on period instruments. Or there's just sheer musicianship -


March 20, 2010 at 07:11 PM ·

 sergei krylov has a very stylistic approach to mozart.  it is very special.  check it out on youtube.

March 23, 2010 at 04:11 PM ·

This may sound radical to you, but it is true.  In his time, Mozart was known as a composer, and as a performer, but the reason people flocked to his concerts was because he was a great improviser. He improvised with ornaments, with cadenzas, and with just plain extended sections of improvised music.  His audiences loved it.  People debate the reasons why improvisation has dropped out of most performances of Mozart, but historical accounts are very clear that Mozart's own original playing (and conducting from the keyboard) included lots of improvisation.  If you want find out more about this, look to experts in Classical period performance, like Paul O'Dette and Christian Bezuidenhuit.  They, and others, have collected hundreds of accounts and notated scores from the period and can play in Classical style with a lot of original documentation supporting the sounds they perform.

Short term, my suggestion is to pick a current performer of Mozart who you enjoy and emulate their style.   It is good to be able to play in many styles.  Longer term, if you really want to play in Mozart's style, start working on improvisation and aim to get into a good music school where you can study Baroque and Classical performance styles.

March 23, 2010 at 04:50 PM · if you're actually looking for tips on playing this style, here's one: whenever there's two slurred notes, clip the second one, no matter what time value it has.

March 28, 2010 at 12:36 PM ·

I'm surprised that nobody quotes two books by  Nikolaus Harnoncourt  who explains some specific notations with  their and relation to  the style of playing in those days 

"der musikalishe dialog (musical dialogue ) and 

"musik als klangrede wege zu einem neuen musikverstaandnis"(Fondamental principles of music and interpretation)

I suppose those books were translated into english

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