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Serenade K361 "Gran Partita"

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart


This work is also referred to as the Gran Partita, K370a, Serenade No. 10, and sometimes incorrectly as Serenade for 13 Winds.


General Info

Year: c. 1781-1784
Duration: c. 49:30
Difficulty: VI (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Various
Cost: Unknown


Movements

1. Largo - Allegro molto - 8:35
2. Menuetto - Trio I-II - 9:05
3. Adagio - 5:55
4. Menuetto (Allegretto) - 4:30
5. Romanze (Adagio - Allegretto - Adagio) - 6:25
6. Theme with Variations (Andante) - 8:00
7. Finale (Molto allegro) - 3:50


Instrumentation

Score
Oboes I-II
Clarinet I-II
Bassoon I-II
Basset Horn I-II
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
String Bass


Errata

None discovered thus far.


Program Notes

The serenade as a genre was a quite frivolous and light-hearted affair in Mozart’s time. Serenades were “dinner music,” to be performed at parties and other social events. Also known as divertimenti, nocturnes, or cassations, these works had their origin in the aristocratic practice of hiring a band to “woo” potential lovers and damsels. Mostly, serenades were written for immediate consumption. By 1780 these types of works were beginning to appear in serious concerts, but because of their very nature many serenades from the Classical period have been lost forever, swallowed by the filter of time. Mozart’s serenades, however, have survived ... a testament to their construction and quality.

It is important to also note that Mozart did not, in fact, nickname his Serenade. The moniker “Gran Partita” was added by an unknown hand after his death. It is not clear if this title is one that Mozart endorsed or was even aware of. The first mention of the work comes from a Viennese newspaper on 23 March 1784 that read “Today Herr Stadler senior, at present in the service of his Majesty the Emperor, will give a musical academy for his benefit in the Imperial Royal National Court Theatre, at which, among other well chosen pieces, a large wind work of a very special kind composed by Herr Mozart will be performed.”

Much controversy still exists over the year in which the Gran Partita was written and who it was written for. While a great many of Mozart’s scores show haste, the autograph score for the Serenade No. 10 shows great care, and it is known to be composed on the same type of paper that Mozart was using in 1780-81. What is known is that Mozart composed this work no later than 23 March 1784 (the date of the above mentioned performance). On that date, four movements of the Serenade were performed by a group of musicians from the “Harmonien” of several different Austrian households who were free of their musical duties due to Lent, a traditional time for servants’ vacation. This group included the clarinetist Anton Stadler. As far as a concrete date of composition, that may never be known. The original Köchel date had the Serenade placed at 1780; however, there is question about how Köchel came to this date because the autograph score was unavailable to him, being privately owned at the time.

Alfred Einstein, editor of the first thorough revision of the Köchel catalogue, upon finding the autograph for sale at the shop of an antiquarian in Munich, noted that the date on the autograph did not read 1780. He believed that the final digit was a “1” that had been overwritten to make it look like a “0.” In addition, there existed a story (now known to be false) about Mozart writing the Serenade as a present to his wife Constanze on their wedding day, which was in 1782. There exist several other theories on the date of this work and where it fits into Mozart’s catalogue, but the more compelling one is the theory laid out by Daniel Leeson, who believes that the Serenade was written at the same time as the K.452 and the K.454, both of which also use basset horns and share some similar melodic material.

- Program Note by Nikk Pilato


Mozart's Serenade in B-Flat Major, KV 361/370a, commonly referred to as the "Gran Partita," is arguably among that composer's most beloved works and is, without question, one of the wind band genre's greatest masterpieces. While there is no known documentary evidence concerning Mozart's reason for composing this extensive serenade, extant documents suggest that the premiere took place 230 years ago this month (March, 1784). Since the set of variations in his Flute Quartet in C-Major (c. 1781-82) most likely represent the original version of this serenade's sixth movement, it is surmised that the "Gran Partita" was composed sometime between 1782 and 1784.

The nebulous circumstances regarding the work’s creation are but one of the puzzles encountered when contemplating this serenade: substantiating with any precision the performance practices of 1784 is difficult as well, though recent scholarship serves to bring into better focus many salient issues. There is little doubt, for example, that musicians’ then centuries-long tradition of melodic ornamentation, ranging from single-note ornaments to extensive melodic elaboration, was still very much alive. Additionally, instrumental, music, especially serenades, divertimenti, etc., was at that time most often based on contemporaneous dance practices. However, inconsistencies in Mozart’s notation of articulations, dynamics, appoggiaturas and grace notes, and rhythms force editorial and interpretive choices that cannot possibly be considered "definitive." Moreover, the definitions of various “expressive” markings among musicians working in late 18th-century Vienna were not codified. For example, long-time Italian traditions -- such as the use of terms like “Andante” to suggest a particular musical character, rather than a specific tempo, the employment of dynamic markings to sometimes signify changes of tempo, and the addition of articulations meant to encourage subtle changes of musical intensity, rather than alterations to the length of individual notes -- were still influential, further diluting twenty-first-century attempts to reach absolute interpretive decisions.

Fortunately this lack of clarity offers contemporary performers the opportunity to explore many viable interpretive possibilities. Indeed, we have collectively embraced this challenge! Consequently today’s performance (March 15, 2014) will be a “one-time” affair, with Mozart’s notation serving as the framework within which each of us will make fluid, responsive choices as the music unfolds. We invite you, in turn, to listen to this landmark composition in the spirit with which it must have been listened to twenty-three decades ago: as a “living” work of art, reflecting the ephemeral performance practices of its day, while evoking, through Mozart’s extraordinary sonic landscapes, an array of human emotions.

- Program Note by Arizona State University Faculty-Student Chamber Players


Franz Joseph Haydn may have offered the best words about “the greatest composer known to me either in person or by name; he has taste, and, furthermore, the most profound knowledge of composition.” Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, child prodigy, celebrated performer, and “the greatest composer,” was born into a musical family.  Mozart’s father, Leopold, whose business acumen was far superior to that of his son, was largely responsible for creating the famous Mozart.  A tour to France and England helped secure performances, commissions, and court appointments.  Mozart’s symphonic and operatic achievements are well documented, whereas his works for winds give important context to our own wind band medium. The Serenade No. 10 in Bb Major is both well-known and a mystery.

We will likely never know the exact date of composition for this serenade.  Scholars have examined a wide variety of sources: Mozart’s manuscripts, the type of paper he used, his thematic catalog, works composed at the same time, correspondence between other musicians -- nothing is conclusive.  We know Mozart was in his late twenties and that the piece, or part of it, may have been premiered in Vienna on March 23, 1784, given this newspaper clipping:

Today Herr Stadler senior, at present in the service of his Majesty the Emperor, will give a musical academy for his benefit in the Imperial Royal National Court Theatre, at which, among other well-chosen pieces, a large wind work of a very special kind composed by Herr Mozart will be performed.

Serenades were intended as “consumable” -- light-hearted background music quickly written with the purpose of entertainment during social events.  Mozart’s serenades were obviously written with more in mind.  He uses musical features more indicative of a symphony or opera.  Whether Serenade in Bb premiered at the National Court Theatre or not, Mozart felt this work should not simply accompany dinner; it is deserving in its own right. Although he himself never named the work Gran Partita, that title is appropriate for this monumental composition, both in the genre of serenades, and as a work strictly for winds.

Seven movements use traditional forms, interspersed with some unusual elements. 

  • Largo-Molto Allergo - A slow introduction is followed by sonata form.  Main themes are introduced, developed, and then return before a concluding coda.
  • Menuetto - The first minuet (dance in three-quarter time) has not one but two contrasting trio sections.
  • Adagio - This lovely tune is a conversation between three soloist friends: oboe, clarinet, and bassetthorn.
  • Menuetto - The second minuet is shorter but still with two contrasting trios.  Mozart may have engaged in a playful musical pun.  The second trio, like the Adagio before, uses a trio of instruments.  Oboe, bassetthorn, and bassoon move in constant eighth notes, like a carousel waltz before the final stately return of the minuet.
  • Romance - There is a fantasy-like quality to this movement.  A brief adagio is interrupted by a faster and darker contrasting middle, before reflectively concluding where it began.
  • Tema con Variazioni - The primary theme is supremely “singable.”  Appearing in the clarinet (a Mozart signature), it feels very much like something from one of his symphonies.  Six variations follow.  The sixth moves away from the woodwind melismas of previous variations, offering a lively concluding waltz.
  • Finale - Enjoy this happy rondo.  Each time the main theme returns, it seems fuller, bolstered by developed of the contrasting section before.  A coda brings a rousing end to the work.

- Program Note by David Stanley for the University of Georgia's Hodgson Wind Ensemble concert program, 25 February 2020

Commercial Discography


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


Performances

To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Indiana University (Bloomington) Wind Ensemble (Benjamin Alaniz, conductor) – 11 March 2020
  • University of Georgia (Athens) Hodgson Wind Ensemble (Cynthia Johnston Turner, conductor) – 25 February 2020
  • University of Texas-Austin Chamber Winds (H. Robert Reynolds, conductor) - 21 December 2019 (2019 Midwest Clinic)
  • University of Florida (Gainesville) Wind Symphony (Bryan T. Braue, conductor) – 20 February 2020
  • Charles River Wind Ensemble (Boston, Mass.) (Matthew M. Marsit, conductor) – 20 October 2019
  • West Chester (Penn.) University Chamber Winds (Andrew Yozviak, conductor) - 17 April 2019
  • Lawrence University (Appleton, Wisc.) Wind Ensemble (Andrew Mast, conductor) – 24 February 2019
  • University of Texas (Austin) Wind Ensemble (Jerry Junkin, conductor; Lucien Douglas, reader) – 17 February 2019
  • San Luis (Calif.) Chamber Orchestra (Keith Waibel, conductor) - 27 January 2019
  • Dallas (Tx.) Winds (Jerry Junkin, conductor) – 22 January 2019
  • Boston (Mass.) Conservatory Wind Ensemble (Vimbayi Kaziboni, conductor) – 8 December 2018
  • University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) Symphony Band Chamber Winds (Michael Haithcock, conductor) – 8 October 2018
  • Boston University (Mass.) Wind Ensemble (David Martins, conductor) – 2 October 2018
  • University of Michigan Symphony Band (Michael Haithcock, conductor) – 28 September 2018
  • State University of New York, Fredonia, Wind Ensemble (Paula Holcomb, conductor) – 29 April 2018
  • University of Massachusetts (Amherst) Wind Ensemble (Matthew Westgate, conductor) - 22 April 2018
  • San Francisco (Calif.) Conservatory of Music Wind Ensemble (John Masko, conductor) – 3 December 2017
  • Iowa State University (Ames) Wind Ensemble (Michael Golemo, conductor) – 1 November 2017
  • Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge) Wind Ensemble Chamber Winds (Damon Talley, conductor) – 30 October 2017
  • Eastman Wind Ensemble (Rochester, N.Y.) (Frederick Fennell, conductor) - 8 Februry 2002 *Eastman Wind Ensemble 50th Anniversary Concert*
  • Eastman Wind Ensemble (Rochester, N.Y.) (Frederick Fennell, conductor) - 8 February 1953 *Eastman Wind Ensemble Inaugural Concert*


Works for Winds by this Composer


Resources