>..., the question I have mind now and which has prompted this query is,
>why Mozart may have written concerti for 2 and 3 pianos.
In the case of Mozart, we know that he rarely wrote anything substantial
unless it was for a specific purpose. The concerto #7 (K. 242) for 3
pianos was written in February 1776 for the Countess Antonia Lodron
(hence the "Lodron" moniker) to be played with her two daughters, Aloisia
and Josepha. The Lodrons were a prominent Salzburg family, and I assume
that the concerto was written on commission, or at least with the hope
of some remuneration. Mozart also wrote two divertimenti to celebrate
the Countess's name days, K. 247 & 287. Interestingly, Mozart though
enough of this work to arranged it for two pianos so that he and his
sister Nannerl could perform it together in Salzburg on September 2,
1780. Recordings of both versions are available.
The concerto for 3 pianos (K. 365) is presumed to have been also
intended as a vehicle to showcase the piano talents of both Mozart
siblings, and was written early in 1779. Subsequently, beginning
early in 1781, Mozart was a boarder in the household of Josepha Barbara
Auernhammer, a wealthy Viennese amateur pianist who became a pupil of
Mozart's. After something of a slow start, Mozart became impressed with
her technique. It is known than Wolfgang asked his father to send him
a copy of the concerto K. 365 so that he could play it with her, and
it was then performed in her home on November 23, 1781 and May 26, 1782.
Auernhammer's tutelage under Mozart apparently gave her sufficient
confidence to perform in public and compose seriously as her music lessons
had gone beyond basic keyboard technique to include improvisation as
well as studies in theory and composition. She became a successful
concert pianist in Vienna, sufficiently famous to retain her maiden
name after she got married.
>Isn't it unusual in terms of 18th century practice?
Mozart's are the only concerti specifically written for more than
one piano that I am aware of. Bach wrote his concerti for 2, 3 and 4
harpsichords with strings and continuo in the 1730s as didactic pieces
for him and his sons to play together. The next example I know of is
by Jan Ladislav Dussek: his tenth piano concerto published in 1809 is
scored for 2 pianos and orchestra. Then we have Mendelssohn's two
concertos composed in 1823 and 1824, and Czerny's from 1827 and Frohlich's
from 1886. That's it as far as I know until the 20th century where the
scoring was used for concertos, suites, etc. by composers such as Bruch,
Villa-Lobos, Tansman, Poulenc, Martinu, Bartok, Vaughan Williams, Tveitt,
Matton, Badings, Rawsthorne, Arnold, and Klebe.
With the caveat there may have been many concertos written that have
never seen the light of day, then, yes, I guess it was fairly unusual
in the 18th century to score concertos for 2 or more pianos. Mozart the
Incidently, I got most of this info from the New Grove, the web, and
from H.C. Robbins Landon's excellent "The Mozart Compendium: A Guide
to Mozart's Life and Music". This last is highly readable, even given
the reference nature, and recommended to anyone interested in Mozart's
music. It is accessible to the layman, or I wouldn't like it so much.
The CLASSICAL mailing list is powered by L-Soft's renowned LISTSERV(R)
list management software together with L-Soft's HDMail High Deliverability
Mailer for reliable, lightning fast mail delivery. For more information,
go to: http://www.lsoft.com/LISTSERV-powered.html