How to play Mozart

October 1, 2010 at 07:43 PM ·

The eternal (and amazing) Mozart.  I am, like probably every (classical) violin pilgrim before me, working on the Mozart in G (#3) and absolutel adoring it.  To be honest its rather refreshing to take a break from the endless 16th notes of Bach ;)  and play these lovely strong musical lines.  

But how to nail that light, expressive Mozart sound?   I thought Vernon put the conundrum so well in the other topic: "I think the exposure in Mozart is that it's very light and delicate, but full of passion... and how do you find the perfect balance without going too far?!"  I've listened to a few versions on youtube.  I love this one by Antal Szalai, though I'm not sure how technically accurate it is to the Mozart style:

(amazing cadenza by Ysaye by the way)

An obvious novel aspect is the appogiatura; these non-grace, grace notes are rather terrifying since they seem to have a life of their own - sometimes dominating the note pair and at others sharing top honours.  And then there are mysterious rules for note sequences and a whole new world of punctuation (I have the Urtext)! 

Replies (55)

October 1, 2010 at 08:40 PM ·

 Interpreting Mozart is a big question, but I'd start with phrase endings. Many students kick the very last note or note ending instead of letting it taper away gracefully.

October 1, 2010 at 08:58 PM ·

mozart's is like respiration; beautiful sighs, excited pulpating inhalations, exhalation of relief, long breaths of someone in love

October 1, 2010 at 10:32 PM ·

Elise: why don't you get the wonderful recording of James Ehnes of the complete work, himself conducting. It has been enhanced by the most reknowed critics as the very best recording and finest interpretation since Grumiaux... His own  cadenzas are a delight and very accessible ( I can provide you with these if you wish) .

James Website:

You will find the recording reference there...

October 1, 2010 at 11:50 PM ·

 I mentioned in a post on another discussion that a luthier I know was of the opinion that a lot of the difficulty people find in playing Mozart today is because they're using a modern bow.  He suggested that a transitional bow (between Baroque and Tourte) would be more suitable.  Such bows were used in that time, and are used today by some specialist orchestras.  So, has anyone here tried playing Mozart (not necessarily a concerto) with a transitional bow, or even a Baroque bow?

October 1, 2010 at 11:53 PM ·

 I'll also suggest that in the search for the Mozartian sound and expression gut strings could well be the most suitable.

October 2, 2010 at 12:02 AM ·

Funny that Marc - I was just looking at James' CDs today wondering how good they were. I can download them onto Itunes (which would actually be a first for me...) 

October 2, 2010 at 12:26 AM ·

Trevor: I think you can hear several versions of Mozart played on baroque instruments on youtube..

October 2, 2010 at 05:24 AM ·

I second Marc's recommendation of Ehnes' recording, although I also recommend Szerying, Kogan, and of course Oistrakh. I also think Mullova should be checked out. And if you like to expand to less traditional interpretation, you might also want to listen to Mutter's recording. I'm hell-bent on listening as many versions of each piece that I work on as I can so I'll find one speaks to me the most a each point of my development. People will tell you who is the best on Mozart, Beethove, or Bach, but if one interpreation you are asked to follow does not speak to you at this moment, then where is the joy playing so? What I'm saying is that it makes sense if we are allowed to go through phases of our tastes, just like what we would do with food or fashion over time.

Technically speaking, Mozart is very unforgiving. I'm sure we all have heard the following but they are worth repeating, when practice Mozart, you must a) practice very slowly, b) remember that every note counts, c) be extremely thoughtful about bowing; d) think about Mozart operas, male and female singers how they flrt and paint the music accordingly. 

October 2, 2010 at 06:11 AM ·

Just one aspect of it--the light and expressive sound comes from being in complete control of the instrument, which to me is why students have a hard time with Mozart.

October 2, 2010 at 07:09 AM ·

Oh Margarete, so true! But not only hard for studnets, it's hard for grown up pros too, in a way, harder because they know how hard Mozart is. Stylistically, Mozart is not hard. You get the bowing cleverly worked out and you listen to enough Mozart, you'll get the style very quickly. But it's impossible to play cleanly and musically convincing without technical insecurity.

October 2, 2010 at 11:08 AM ·

I think I am beginning to understand.  Achieving the musicallity - the lightness, singing quality - is almost opposite to perfecting the technical aspects so as you focus on one the other suffers?  I hope that makes some sort of sense....

One thing that is confusing me is how you decide exactly what kind of ornementation to use.  Specifically, there are 1/6th and 1/8th appoggiaturas I've heard a bit obout how to use these but must say its confusing.  Are there any rules to fall back on?


October 2, 2010 at 06:29 PM ·

Elise, the lightness and singing quality presupposes technical security; i.e., the lightness is the ease of playing difficult stuff well without showing it's difficult. It is not unlike the ease displayed in dancing by a telanted dancer or in figure skating by an experienced figure skater. Everything looks so light and easy not because it is, but because the performer has worked very hard for a very long time to achieve this high level of proficiency.

As for ornamentation, you can get some good idea quickly without the guidance of a teacher by picking one good recording with the music in front of you to study how this performer treats them. Then you can pick some other performers to compare the differences.   But I have to say that ornamentation is not the most important thing to concern you when you start to learn a piece.  Playing in tune, with good (steady, straight, smooth and even/balanced) bowing, and correct rhythm should be the top three priorities, which could easily take one a few months to achieve. Hope this makes sense.

I hope you have a teacher, Elise. It can save you a lot of time and money down the road.


October 2, 2010 at 08:37 PM ·

Thanks Yixi - but it seems to me that the ornementation in Mozart is much more than its moniker - if you played it assuming the little notes are grace notes that can be ignored it would not sound anything like the recordings.  Its interesting to compare the urtext with the 'adaptations' 'transcriptions' 'fingerings by' where the notes themselves change, sometimes to 'translate' the ornementation into plain modern music and sometimes, it seems, because the transcriber felt they could improve on Mozart ;)  Thus, even if you are at an early stage of learning it you still have to come to grips with these non-grace notes...

But point taken nonetheless, Mozart then is at the pinacle of playing with the relaxation of one who has mastered the instrument - and thats a great way to explain why it is so difficult. 


October 3, 2010 at 12:35 AM ·

Oh Elise, sorry I wasn't clear about what I mean by ornamentations. I didn't mean you should ignore them completely. I mean they are the not nearly as a priority as other matters when it comes to learning a piece written by Mozart. One can have amazing ornamentations without sounding good, let alone sounding like Mozart, if the other basic stuff we previously talked about have not been first properly dealt with. Yes, there are inconsistencies between what's printed on the urtext and how everyone else is playing. Different teachers will have different opinions as well based on their taste and understanding which indicates to me that it how to treat them is not written in stone.  Again, the decision on ornamenation is a relatively a minor issue. You may want to listen to Mozart operas to see how ornamentations are treated there.

October 3, 2010 at 03:01 AM ·

I guess I need a game plan for each ornament so that I can deal with the meat of the issue :)  I do have a teacher - and she is currently specializing in Baroque so all my queries will no doubt be answered, whether I want them or not :D

October 3, 2010 at 02:34 PM ·

 In response to the last few posts concerning ornamentation, one could say that the ornamentation is the piece; have a look at the original manuscript of Mozart's KV 498 where everything is completely written out.

October 3, 2010 at 03:13 PM ·

Nigel: I appreciate this comment of yours. Going to the source is the solution. The prelude in G minor of Bach is also noted ornementation, as well as the first movement of the partita in B minor... Chords or sequences all ornemented. So when not written, these are fine example of what can be done to respect the style of the piece...

October 3, 2010 at 03:16 PM ·

Which is kinda where I started out - the key then is to understand how to read the ornaments and which are important to the core of the music, as it were, and which incidental ...

October 3, 2010 at 04:36 PM ·

Umm, check out Auer's Violin playing as I teach it.

Usually if the grace note note is slashed it's played rapidlly , and if it's unslashed it takes half the note value of the note. So if it's an unslashed 8th note attached to an 8th note and two sixteenths, you'll play all four notes as four 16th notes. and if it's slashed, and attached to say a quarter note, it'll be more like playing a 16th note, and dotted 8th; I know I've seen a document somewhere floating around about ornamentation from that period... I'll look around for you. unfortunately, you can barely read my score. I think it's by his father, Leopold Mozart... check that out, the ornaments that he discussed are still in use by his son.

I generally take a score and turn it into my own edition anyways, a fingering change here, a bowing change there... as long as I feel like it's still in the composers will... which is essentially what I call any score. I treat it as if it's their will and I try to execute what they wish with as minimal change as possible, but sometimes with these editions that you buy, alot of things have to be changed. I like that you have an urtext edition and are confronting the orignal way he wrote the ornaments, instead of taking the benefit of what somebody else told you in the score. Most editions that I know of change the notes to fit what you're actually playing as opposed to what he wrote... well if you're lazy then that's fine, but where is the challenge of using your mind to actually read the score?

I actually do just the opposite when learning a piece, I listen to no recordings at all... If I can! Couldn't do that with Mendelssohn,Beethoven,Brahms, and Wieniawski no.2 listened to it too much to form my own opinion of what I think is mine. I think about it like instrumentalist of the past century, the ones that didn't have recordings to listen to... that's why they were so original sounding... They were forced to make their own interpretation.

(Question everything!)

Back to mozart, you'll know when you've done him justice, you'll get this goofy smile like you've done something good, and if you don't feel that way, play it again until your mind body and soul are all in agreeance.

I love his concertos, but I like the ones less often played...(I've even looked at the ones that are attributed to him, and I agree I don't think they were written by him, but they're still nice to hear!)  How many times I can I listen to the same three? (Quite alot) He wrote other ones, and I don't know why they're not played as baffles me.

October 3, 2010 at 07:23 PM ·

Thanks Vernon - thats very useful and I guess true to the period too, that the music was just a starting point for individual interpretation.  Perhaps we've all become a bit too precious a bout this era.  The real question in my mind is what would Mozart want to hear if he were here?

October 3, 2010 at 08:05 PM ·

hmmm, that is a good question. Well if he never died, I can only guess that his ideas would have evolved with the times... I'm not sure if mozart was really the cutting edge type, his music wasn't super progressive, maybe it would have evolved to something like Mendelssohn, or maybe even Beethoven! And if it were Beethoven, he would have evolved into something more like Dvorak or Tchaikovsky maybe... It's interesting to think about progressing composers.

Have you read Violin playing as I teach it? I highly recommend it! He has a whole section on Style and I still think it's of great value today. In today's times of Historically accurate performances, and progressive modernism, it's hard to pin down a style... but style is the man/or WOman... lol.

I'm just rambling... It's hard to speak in words something that affects us in a non verbal way.

October 3, 2010 at 08:11 PM ·

 The more I play Mozart's music the more it occurs to me that perhaps it plays better if it is approached from the direction of the Baroque (which faded out only a handful of years before he was born) rather than from more than two centuries (and several dramatic changes of style) after his death.

I've just returned from a performance of the Requiem and the Ave Verum where I put some of my thoughts in effect - like playing with gut strings and without a chin rest and shoulder rest in a concert for the first time.  It all worked out reasonably well (at least I didn't drop the fiddle!).   While I was playing I also thought about the recent tragedy in New York - we were playing a Requiem, after all.

October 4, 2010 at 05:22 AM ·

So if Baroque 'faded out' before Mozart was born, who or what faded it and what came between?  That would seem kinda key to understanding Mozart himself.  I think of the rapid evolution of music in the 50-60s last century where there was a cascade of styles (band-rhythm and blues-rock etc) that evolved into the modern day relatively ridgid popular styles. 

Wish I knew more...

October 4, 2010 at 06:05 AM ·

1760 is sometimes given as the date for the end of the Baroque.  Mozart was born the same year his father published his violin tutorial, 1756.  Mozart was violinistically raised on late baroque performance practice.  In many parts of Europe the Baroque era's performance practices continued to be used up through 1780.   Leopold Mozart's tutor was reprinted in Germany twice, the 2nd time in 1787.  Wolfgang died in 1791.

If you have access to a college library you might like to read articles like this one from Early Music:

There is an article by bow maker Stephen Marvin about the bows and musical style in Mozart's time which you might enjoy:

...and I'll link the Leopold Mozart tutor again just for fun:

Now that I think of it, Robin Stowell's Violin Technique and Performance Practice in the Late Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries (Cambridge Musical Texts and Monographs) would probably be ideal, although there are also any number of books specifically on performance practice in Mozart as well.


October 4, 2010 at 07:22 AM ·

Andres, that is awesome.  I smell a fellow academic - though my specialty does not seem to have much value (OK so here I define 'value' as something worthwhile but not utile; and yes, I know, thats rather an old fashioned way to look...).

Is there a name for the period between baroque and classical - barassical would be pretty good :)  - I mean what exactly defined the end of the baroque era?  Was it political maybe?

I will look up some of your citations I just can't manage a lot with all my other demands....

October 4, 2010 at 09:28 AM ·

The term 'Baroque' was picked up from the visual arts.  Its wide acceptance sort of happened despite the fact that not all the academics were in agreement about the usefulness of applying the term to such a wide variety of styles of music.  As I understand it the period is taken to end at roughly the point where all the major players were dead, culminating with Bach in 1750 (the more usual date for the end of the Baroque), although with a few stragglers bringing up the rear like Handel in the late 1750s.

In the narrow sense, the 'classical' period is taken to go from 1750  to around 1820, and it is just understood that there are different threads of Baroque influence weaving in and out.

These terms are arguably just convenient and rough ways of broadly grouping things, and there are other ways of dividing things up in terms of styles.  But as things stand Mozart is considered an exemplary classical period composer. 

Oh and thanks, I'm not an academic, I just have a strange sense of fun.  ;-)

October 4, 2010 at 01:03 PM ·

I'm not an academic but I do agree that approaching mozart with some understanding of the baroque style would be very beneficial.

Performance style changes every year, every decade, and it is so gradual it's hard to pinpoint when it actually does.  One of the most important aspects of the demise of the baroque style came after Mozart, when Louis Spohr invented the "violin holder" now known as the chin rest.  He claimed that because it was much easier to keep the violin in place now that we can and should vibrate on every note rather than continue with the baroque understanding that vibrato was just an ornament.

I don't believe Spohr's ideas had caught on by Mozart's time though so I would think that baroque ideals would still apply very well to Mozart's music.  Don't forget that Mozart was primarily an opera composer and all his instrumental music should be approached from a vocal perspective.

When did the baroque era end?  I don't know.  Even Paganini played on gut strings and without a chin rest.  The more interesting question is what other types of baroque music is out there besides Bach, Vivaldi, and Handel.  Unfortunately in the classical music world we only learn about the high baroque era and completely forget that there were many great composers out there like Schmelzer, Castello, Bertali, Marini, Merula, Fontana, and the list goes on and on.  Funnily enough, this music had a lot of romantic stylistic approaches in comparison to Corelli or Leclair for example.


October 4, 2010 at 02:02 PM ·

Marina: Spohr was against vibrato... He overlooked at it as distateful and that is the main reason why he did not like Paganini. His student Joachim tought the same and used it like a trill. You can listen to recordings of Joachim and you will see what I mean... Continuous vibrato was advocated by Lambert Massart who was the teacher of Wieniawski and Fritz Kreisler. Massart knew the secret and how to teach it. Spohr did not understand the true mechanism of vibrato. This is obvious when you read his treatise. He even did some "waves" with the bow to reach some effect close to a superficial vibrato. Spohr,Joachim and Auer believed vibrato to be an ornement. Everything changed with Kreisler who influenced Heifetz,Seidel and so many others... Sparing use of it, only to emphasise certain notes was the rule set down by Spohr...this is not continuous vibrato. "Paganini tremulant Adagio passages had a peculiar charm" wrote Carl Ghur about the master. Ole Bull spoke and wrote about Paganini using a continuous vibrato which was not comprehensible to his fellow violinists... Paganini only applied the technique known from a long time and a tradition in Italy. It is very instructive to read what Geminiani wrote about continuous vibrato in his treatise published in London in 1740. Leopold Mozart speaks about some violinists using a continuous vibrato which he was not totally in agreement with. This passage was misinterpreted by some fellow academics. But at the time,it is obvious that some performer knew how to achieve continuous vibrato...


Reference:Werner Hauck, Vibrato on the violin, Bosworth edition,third impression1989

October 4, 2010 at 04:44 PM ·

As Marina said, "Don't forget that Mozart was primarily an opera composer and all his instrumental music should be approached from a vocal perspective."

And more than that, Donald Tovey once pointed out that Mozart's muse was not just opera, but (even in his more serious music) comic opera. Hence the "light touch." It's not light in the sense of delicate and fragile, but light in the vocal, theatrical aura of comic opera. Indeed, how do you translate that technically?

No one has mentioned that controversial Mozart player - Jascha Heifetz. Say what you will, but his Mozart is sincere and vocal and technically (of course) superb and truly elfin.

October 4, 2010 at 05:26 PM ·

Maybe my ear is not trained enough but I just can't do Heifetz and Mozart.  There's something too, well, masculin about how H plays for me to get the M mood.  Thats what I love about Oistrakh, with his playing it seems to be more about the music and less the player.  Now if you were talkin' Tchaikovsky I would be the other way round...

I think I have a lot of growing to do...

October 4, 2010 at 05:40 PM ·

Hi, Elise: Not to get too much into verbal semantics here, but personally the Heifetz voice doesn't strike me as "masculine" (as opposed to feminine), but rather "intensely passionate" (as opposed to sweetly sentimental). In any case, his Mozart does indeed sing. And I, too, love Oistrakh's Mozart. Which one is "better"? Can't we appreciate both?  Does that do it for you?

As I'm thinking about this, there's also the question (related to what this discussion is all about) of this: If there is this vocal comic quality to Mozart (no matter who's interpretation you prefer), how do you use technique to express it in your playing?

October 4, 2010 at 06:05 PM ·

"As I'm thinking about this, there's also the question (related to what this discussion is all about) of this: If there is this vocal comic quality to Mozart (no matter who's interpretation you prefer), how do you use technique to express it in your playing?"

Question and answer. Make the music conversational. Enjoy the humour.

October 4, 2010 at 06:07 PM ·

@Marina: great comment as usual!  I'm very curious about what Nadien said to you about playing Mozart. Can you share with us?

@ Sandy and Peter: I learned so much from listening Mozart operas.  The changing of voices/roles (conversation or gesture) in the violin concertos is so obvious that it simply astonishes me to see how some violin students comptely ignore them. 

October 4, 2010 at 06:32 PM ·

Yixi - I'm probably guilty as charged - but to my defense I've only really worked on the first 10 lines or so so far (#3)!  Are there changes that rapidly?  I mean how many voices should I have heard... Or do these come in between movements etc?

October 4, 2010 at 06:50 PM ·

The vibrato and the portamenti Heifetz uses have nothing in common with the subtility of Mozart music. His cadenzas are to much virtuosic and would have been unthinkable in the time of Mozart. Nobody displayed such virtuosity and when you look at Mozarts own cadenzas for the piano,nothing is interrelated.

But so was Mr. Heifetz. Milstein and Francescatti, also Jacques Thibault and Kreisler,to name just a few, were much closer to the truth for players who were making a career at the same time as Jascha...Oistrach and Grumiaux, later, gave the finest performances...

October 4, 2010 at 07:14 PM ·

There is an anecdote about Brahms and Ysaye. Brahms was at a performance of his Violin Concerto, and the soloist was Eugene Ysaye. Afterwords, Brahms said to the violinist, "So, it can be played that way, too." Who is to say that were Mozart to hear Heifetz (or anyone from a different era), that he wouldn't say, "Keep it; I like it." Heifetz was meticulously thoughtful about everything he did, musically as well as technically. Perhaps his approach - no matter how interpretively incorrect - exposes a different side of an acknowledged masterpiece. Today we mix genres and styles every day without giving it a second thought; so what's wrong with appreciating what Heifetz has done with Mozart? And, by the way, lest you think Grumiaux is all sweetness and delicacy, his performance of the Tchaikovsky is a real barn-burner - intense and powerful.

October 4, 2010 at 07:52 PM ·

Yixi, what Nadien said to me about Mozart I will never forget.  He is the one who explained to me that all of Mozart's music is operatic.  More specifically about the technical aspect of playing a melodic line he said to try to keep it on one string because a singer uses only "one string."   He made me practice lots of melodic lines using just the first finger sliding up and down for each note on one string trying to imitate a singer's voice.  It went beyond Mozart for him at times.  When I look at some of my sheet music that he fingered there are lots of passages that are 1-1-1.  Thanks for making me go down memory lane.

October 4, 2010 at 08:29 PM ·

Sander, no one is arguing that there is only one way to play Mozart.  Some folks are interested in the musical context in which Mozart composed, and insights and references have been offered.  None of this is a denial that there are optional choices or other preferences.

October 4, 2010 at 10:24 PM ·

So was Heifetz does not mean I do not appreciate what he has done... it is just not my intellectual preference...

October 4, 2010 at 11:22 PM ·

If there is one thing that jibes about Mozart in 'Amadeus' its the depiction of the enfant-terrible -  rock star of his age.  As such, it would not be hard to imagine him just indulging in all the musical variations that are available today - including the different approaches of Rachel Podger trying to capture the 'true' Baroque, Heifetz with his use of the music as a vehicle for his own technical (and I assume, eve if as for Marc I can't get it, musical vision) or even the use of his compositions to sell toothpaste! 

I think this topic does have two directions: one how does one read his scores to get a reasonable rendition of the phrasing that Mozart intended, and how to use the same music to generate ones own personal expression.

Seems to me that classical musicians are always victims of this divide - rendering the composer'e intent vs using the composer's creation to express their own voice... do one and you loose out on the other...

October 5, 2010 at 02:36 PM ·

For whatever it's worth, here's what Sir Thomas Beecham had to say about Mozart:

"He emancipated music from the bonds of a formal age, while remaining the true voice of the 18th Century. His new sentiment or emotion, expressed by a matchless technique, was his supreme gift to the world. That sentiment was an intimacy, a masculine tenderness, unique - something confiding, affectionate."

(source, Beecham Stories, complied by Harold Atkins and Archie Newman, published 1978 by Robson Books Limited, Great Britain).

It seems to me that as a performer, one has to get in touch with one's inner emotional "vision" of the music - whether it is from a scholarly knowledge of the period and the mind of the composer, or from the perspective of one's own era and style, or both - and decide how to bend the mechanics of playing the violin to at least approximate that vision. To me, that is artistic honesty. And I think that we all owe it to ourselves to try to expand our appreciation of the widest range of vision, especially with a composer like Mozart - whether it is played by Artur Grumiaux or Jascha Heifetz or David Garrett.

And don't forget, Heifetz came out of a "tradition" also. It may not be the most "authentic" in terms of playing Mozart, but the Heifetz meticulousness is evident in every note and phrase. It's funny, but I never really cared for his Mozart until the last few years. Now I find it thrilling, and tradition be damned.

October 5, 2010 at 05:26 PM ·

Sander:  It seems to me that as a performer, one has to get in touch with one's inner emotional "vision" of the music - whether it is from a scholarly knowledge of the period and the mind of the composer, or from the perspective of one's own era and style, or both - and decide how to bend the mechanics of playing the violin to at least approximate that vision. To me, that is artistic honesty. And I think that we all owe it to ourselves to try to expand our appreciation of the widest range of vision, especially with a composer like Mozart - whether it is played by Artur Grumiaux or Jascha Heifetz or David Garrett.

I like that.  I like that a lot.  I guess the main caveat is one has to reach a level of technical mastery before one is capable of presenting ones honest artistic rendition.  It is surely also also required that at any age we try our best to become familiar with the artistic renditions of those that came before.  To my mind, thats what makes it necessary to try as far as possible to emulate the composer's intent as a step towards that artistic honesty. 

In a sense, thats what makes classical music different from so many other arts: the composer is always a partner - unlike, for example, painting where we do not have to play hommage to Picasso when we pick up a brush (unless we choose to of course)...

August 10, 2014 at 01:35 PM · Bump.

I'm back to playing Mozart again and searched on Google for clues to bowing - what comes up? The topic I started here 4 years ago! I think its incredible the insight and ideas that are expressed above so bumped it up for anyone interested to review.

Two themes keep recurring: creating and maintaining the light, post-baroque Mozartian style require superb bow mastery, and the sound of the concerto should mirror the human voices in his operas - the phrases are operatic conversation. But there is so much more....

August 10, 2014 at 06:39 PM · Hi Elise -- You might enjoy this video that I made a while back on how to achieve style and expression in the Mozart G Major Concerto.

August 10, 2014 at 07:49 PM · Thank you Roy - I will certainly check it out!


August 10, 2014 at 10:18 PM · Its a good teaser Ron... ;) I might bite - but I'm going to a weeks masterclasses on the subject on Friday so we'll see after I get back...

August 11, 2014 at 07:08 PM · Well, I listen closly to

- Grumiaux: elegance, poise, crystalline sound with a fast vibrato integrated in the tone rather than imposed on it;

- Menuhin (ca. 1960): a tender sweetness, with a kind of nostalgia for the apparently simple?


- Heifetz: I shall be shot for this, while awaiting worse punishment, but to me he sounds bored.... His A major I find vulgar..

- Oistrakh: I find him a little heavy-handed but so, so convincing;

- Suk: sort of hafway between Grumiaux and Oistrakh;

- Szeryng: ditto.

- Zukerman: a bit saccharine?

Apoggiaturas/acciaccaturas? Try all possibilities, then trust your instinct?

August 12, 2014 at 12:48 PM · I play it very differently to Roy's suggestions and I think he would find me very old fashioned. I'm more in the direction of Oistrakh, Ricci and Grumiaux (and Szerying) with that classical style and beauty of tone. But if only I could get it near those ideals I would die a happy bloke.

But being different is the essence of life - if we were all the same it would be a boring old world.

August 12, 2014 at 02:59 PM · A lot is written about lightness and the post-baroque style, and I get the whole stockings-and-powdered-wigs image that is conveyed. But I think there should be a difference between Haydn and Mozart. I read that Mozart wanted to write virtuoso concertos that would be clearly distinguished from those of Bach, Haydn, etc. And when you consider the tonal capabilities of the modern violin with powerful strings, maybe there is room for some gravity in the playing of Mozart?

August 12, 2014 at 07:07 PM · I'm just listening to Szerying playing the 4th concerto - its spectacular. The consistency, lightness, expression. Fabulous. I think I'm getting the idea...

August 12, 2014 at 09:05 PM · Three small things:

- Between Baroque and Classic we find Roccoco; let's say that J.C.Bach leads to Mozart (Style Galante), and K.P.E.Bach to Haydn (Stürm und Drang)?

- There are first-violin parts in some of Haydn's quartets that are far more virtuoso than Mozart's concertos!

- Even on our "modern" violins, it is worth practicing with no vibrato at all, to force us to obtain all expression by subtle bowing...

August 13, 2014 at 07:41 AM · AND of course better intonation!

August 14, 2014 at 11:04 AM · Adrian, its "Sturm und Drang" ;)

To me playing Mozart in my exam (mostly I don't play much of Mozarts music) it was very challenging in terms of intonation and rhythm, especially some tricky string crossings. I think, that one of the problems in Mozarts violin- music is, that it is not always playable in the comfortable positions, like first third and so on. Many times one has to go to slightly uncomfortable positions and jump across the fingerboard. I would LOVE to hear how Mozart himself was able to play his works and how it sounded!

August 14, 2014 at 11:36 AM · What seems to have been overlooked is that in Mozart's time the strings would have been entirely gut, the bow design neither entirely Baroque nor quite Tourte, and the setup of neck (length and angle), bass bar, fingerboard and bridge possibly more Baroque than modern (although I stand to be corrected on this). In particular, the E would have been gut and not steel, so would give a different sound and response, almost an extension of the gut A in effect.

Would not these factors have markedly influenced fingering and bowing compared with today, and so should be borne in mind when playing music in the manner of the period? I also imagine that Mozart (like most professionals before and since!) would have endeavored to make things as simple and easy as possible for himself when performing.

August 17, 2014 at 09:02 AM · Thänk you Simon!

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