Mozart and the Violin

October 18, 2018, 9:04 AM · I found this very interesting article on Mozart and the violin that I thought this community would enjoy. I was surprised to learn that no violin was found in Mozart's possessions after he passed away. Perhaps he was too busy to play. What do you think?

Replies (16)

October 18, 2018, 6:21 PM · Raymond, many thanks for that very useful link. I've downloaded the pdf but haven't yet had the time to read it properly.

About 20 years ago I visited the Mozart Museum in the Mozart family house in Salzburg. In a glass case in one of the rooms was displayed what was said to be his violin. From what I've just seen online the museum has been considerably modernised since my visit.

October 18, 2018, 6:52 PM · Mozart wrote to his father (I don't remember the year, he was living in Vienna, so after 1781) that he'd decided not to perform on the violin anymore... because violin required too much practice! Easy to guess that when in financial distress (as he often was) he'd sell the violin.
October 18, 2018, 9:24 PM · Thanks for the article! I'm still reading through it, but from what I've heard previously, Mozart always favored the piano. His father persuaded him to write more for the violin, which he did for a time with some good results. But eventually I suppose he asserted himself and maybe abandoning the violin was also a sort of rebellion.
October 18, 2018, 10:18 PM · Not useful, but I think it's interesting that during my lesson this evening this precise topic came up for discussion.

Funny how things like this work out.

October 18, 2018, 11:12 PM · And then he switched from violin to viola for his occasional chamber music playing - for which we can thank him for improving the status of the viola in string quartets, the orchestra, the quintets and the marvelous Symphonie Concertante
October 20, 2018, 6:10 AM · Joel's point is a good one. He also gave us two wonderful duos for violin and viola and the Kegelstatt trio for viola, clarinet and piano. These are masterpieces of the chamber repertoire.

I recall some years ago that there was a CD made of his two piano quartets using a violin, viola, and piano he had owned, and a cello from the period. As I recall Andras Schiff was the pianist, but I do not recall the other musicians.

Edited: October 22, 2018, 2:41 PM · Tom, that suggests that the violin I saw in the Salzburg Mozart Museum, said to have been Mozart's violin, could have been the one used on that CD.

[Edit added]
I've been looking through András Schiff's extensive discography, with this result:

Mozart - András Schiff, Yuko Shiokawa, Erich Höbarth, Miklós Perényi - Piano Quartets K478 & K493 ?(CD, Album)
Decca 444 115-2 1995

Schiff is married to the violinist Yuko Shiokawa.

The Schiff recording of the piano quartets is not on IMSLP (I've looked), but could be on the Naxos website. I'm no longer a subscriber to Naxos so I can't check it out.

Edited: October 22, 2018, 3:53 PM · Trevor - I do not think that the recording you cited is the one I am thinking of. As I recall, the violinist was a young European female. The cover specifically said it had been made with those instruments. However, the one you found specifically uses those instruments, so I suppose that might be the one I recall, or there may be another one with those instruments.
October 23, 2018, 1:34 AM · The Salzburg Mozarteum Foundation possesses six of Mozart's instruments, his childhood violin, two 4/4 violins, his viola, fortepiano and clavichord. They are presented in the Mozarteum museum and on their website (including audio samples):

I don't know about the Schiff recording, but I know that back in 1998 EMI released a recording with the then 10-year-old Maria Elisabeth Lott playing Mozart`s childhood violin.

Edited: October 23, 2018, 10:05 AM · Maybe the violin Trevor saw in the Mozart Museum was the "ex-Mozart."
October 23, 2018, 10:17 AM · I heard somewhere else that while he played violin, he wasn't really a "violinist" but a pianist, thought proficient enought to play his violin works.
Edited: October 23, 2018, 10:26 AM · Katarina - that's the recording I recall, with Lott playing his violin. If I recall correctly, Schiff was the pianist in that recording, and it was the piano quartets with three of Mozart's instruments and a cello from the period. Do you have a link to that CD or a description of it?
October 23, 2018, 10:41 AM · The young Mozart was probably good enough to perform the Mozart Violin concertos and later probably could play the Viola part for his Symph. Concertante. He demonstrates a profound knowledge of the instrument by putting the key to that piece in Eb and then tuning the Viola strings (all gut) up a 1/2 step. The Viola resonates better in the flat keys. The Violin prefers the sharp keys.
October 23, 2018, 10:47 AM · The scordatura viola part is in D major.
October 23, 2018, 11:50 AM · Thanks Raymond! Great article.
November 12, 2018, 3:13 AM · Though it is a known fact that Mozart had decided not to perform on the violin anymore, I doubt if he did not hold the Violin again after around 1781 (or approximately so).

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