According to Mozart’s personal notes, the Serenade had five
movements; for reasons unknown, one of the two minuets and its trio got lost. The four remaining movements have been named: Allegro, Romanze (Andante), Menuetto (Allegretto) and Rondo (Allegro). According to an authentic autograph the work was intended for "Two violins, viola, violoncello e basso", i.e. a string quintet, but in modern performances the orchestra is enlarged at the conductor’s discretion.
Origin of the composition
The purpose of this most popular of Mozart’s compositions is unknown. What is known is that, according to Mozart’s personal notes, it was finished on August 10th, 1787 in Vienna, at a time when he was busy with the second act of his opera Don Giovanni.
"Eine Kleine Nachtmusik" is the apogee of Mozart’s occupation with symphonic instrumental branch forms. It is an example of party music, written as a commission for a special cast of instruments (e.g. big orchestra, string ensemble, quartet, wind instruments, trio). Mozart, but also Haydn, Beethoven and Schubert have composed similar works; for the listener it was entertainment, but it made high demands on the composer’s art.
"Eine kleine Nachtmusik" documents a divine musical talent and an unsurpassed mastery in the application of musical forms. In spite of the brevity (the duration of the performance is around 16 minutes) this work is as perfect in its form as a big symphony. There is hardly a parallel in musical history that a piece is so identified with its composer as Mozart’s most popular composition, K 525.
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