Composers Datebook®

with host John Zech

Saturday, August 5

Mozart's First (and Fashions)

Synopsis

In the summer of 1764, the eight-year-old child prodigy, Wolfgang Mozart, was in England, accompanied by his 13-year old sister, Nanerl, and their father, Leopold.

The Mozarts had arrived in London wearing what back home in Salzburg would pass as fashionable French-style clothing. Since England had just ended the Seven Years' War with France, this faux pas resulted in the Mozarts receiving some rude words and even ruder gestures from London street urchins. Papa Leopold quickly acquired more "politically correct" attire for himself and the children.

On August 5th, 1764, the family settled at a country home in Chelsea for a time, as Leopold had taken ill. Temporarily forbidden to make any noise or even play the piano while their father recovered, Wolfgang and Nanerl had to amuse themselves quietly. Mozart had already written some keyboard pieces and chamber works, but it was in Chelsea that he decided to try his hand at writing his first symphony.

Perhaps as compensation for having to keep so quiet, Mozart suddenly was keen on writing for as many instruments as possible. As Nanerl later recalled, "While he composed and I copied, he said to me, 'Remind me to give the horn something worthwhile to do!'"

And so, Mozart's Symphony No. 1 in E-flat, written in London in the summer of 1764, is scored for two oboes, TWO horns and strings.

Music Played in Today's Program

Wolfgang Mozart (1756 – 1791) Symphony No. 1, K. 16 Prague Chamber Orchestra; Charles Mackerras, cond. Telarc 80256

Additional Information

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