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Mozart's Oboe Concerto

Author(s): Bernhard Paumgartner

Source: Tempo, No. 18 (Winter, 1950-1951), pp. 4-7
Published by: Cambridge University Press
Stable URL: .
Accessed: 18/07/2015 21:02

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by Bernhard Paumgartner
In about I920 I found in the archives of the Mozarteum at Salzburg a bundle of
papers most probably belonging to the so-called " Mozart Legacy " (i.e., a
legacy of Mozart's son, including many pieces of the property of the master
himself.) This contained manuscript parts of Viennese origin produced already
in the I 8th century, perhaps in the Offizin Lausch. The title of the envelope of
the Bass part reads: " Concerto in C: oboe principale 2 violini 2 oboi 2 corni
viola e basso Del Sigre W. A. Mozart." It was immediately clear that these
parts corresponded with the famous Flute Concerto in D Major. When, later
on, I reconstructed the score from them, I noticed a number of apparently
unimportant deviations from the flute version which, however, turned out to
be most significant, as they convinced me that I had come across the original
version of this Concerto.
A Concerto, written for the oboist Giuseppe Ferlendis, is mentioned for
the first time by Mozart's father in a letter of the i sth October, I777. On
3rd December 1777 Mozart wrote from Mannhein to his father " I have presented
him (the oboistMr. Ramm)with the Oboe Concerto " and on the I4th February,
1778 he writes " then Mr. Ramm played (for a change) my Oboe Concerto
for Ferlendis for the fifth time. It has made a great stir here and is now Mr.
Ramm's cheval de bataille." In Mannheim, at the house of J. B. Wendling,
Mozart made the acquaintance of a wealthy Dutchman, de Jean, and he wrote
on Ioth December 1777, " Wendling told me: our Indian (i.e., the Dutchman)
is a rare man, he will give you 200 florins if you write for him three little, easy,
short Concerti and a few quartets for the flute." Mozart concluded the first
Flute Quartet (D major K.28g), on 2Sth December, and perhaps two more
(K. 28 ga and b-manuscripts not preserved) and one Concerto (G major K. 313).
On Igth February 1778, de Jean left for Paris and Mozart had not completed
the commission. Mozart wrote on I4th February that he had finished two
concerti and three quartets and had received only 96 florins instead of the
promised 2oo. The second Concerto mentioned here was probably the arrange-
ment of the Oboe Concerto for Ferlendis and de Jean may not have accepted
it because it was not an original composition. De Jean packed the scores which
Mozart had handed to him in the wrong suitcase, which was subsequently lost.
However, the score of the Oboe Concerto remained in Mozart's possession,
though it was not until Igth February 1783 that he remembered it and wrote
his father " Please send me at once the book which contains the Oboe Concerto
for Ramm or rather for Ferlendis." He needed it for the oboist Anton Mayer
and on 29th March received the book. The parts were copied from the score in
Vienna but this score has since disappeared.
There are many reasons why the Oboe Concerto in C appears to be the
original composition and the Flute Concerto in D a later version. It is a striking
fact that, on the one hand, the violins used in the orchestra in the D major
version of the Flute Concerto never go below the A on the G String, that is to

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say they do not go as low as the open G String. On the other hand, the solo part
of the Flute Concerto (KV.314) does not exceed the E, which means that it
does not even exceed the extension of the instrument normal in Mozart's
times, whereas in the Flute Concerto in G Major (KV. 3 13) which, in my opinion,
is an original flute composition, it repeatedly reaches the G, i.e., the highest
note of the flute then used.
One should also compare the considerably more " flautistic " use of all
positions of the flute in the solo part of the G Major Concerto (KV.3 3) with
that of the Concerto KV.314 where Mozart, nevertheless, wrote some very
ingenious variations with regard to playability on the flute when he transcribed
this concerto for de Jean. For example:

Ex. I


Furthermore, at the beginning of the second movement, it is remarkable that

the brilliant upper part in the oboi di ripieno which starts an imitation in
reverse, and is repeated at the beginning of the recapitulation (bar So-5i)
and again in the coda, in the flute version has been written an octave lower.
By this, not only the attractive contrast of the sound registers of the
descending violins and the ascending oboes is lost, but also the strengthening
of the violin melody by the wood-wind in the higher octave, which is especially
charming and truly Mozartian after the jump of a 2th (bar 2) of the first violins.
Mozart has transposed the original version for flute one tone up into D Major
because it is easier to play. He wanted, however, to limit the range of the oboi
di ripieno with D as the highest note, a limit he even observed in the oboe solo
Most convincing is, however, the-at last!-correct version of the oboe
concerto as opposed to the much discussed and hopelessly corrupted episode of
imitations in the third movement of the flute concerto (Gesamtausgabe,series
XII, page I 24, bars I52 and following).
This passage offered great difficulties when the complete edition of Mozart's
works was prepared in I883. From parts which contain many corrections in
this particular place, E. Rudorff with the assistance of Johannes Brahms re-
constructed the music as shown in Ex. 2, overleaf.
One must admit that the editor, even with the help of Brahms, has not
entirely succeeded in solving this problem. More than everything else, the
corrections in the old Viennese parts have induced him to make many alterations.
How little there actually was to be changed is shown in the transparent clearness
of the oboe version which without doubt shows this inspired episode of imitation
properly and leaves no doubt either as to its value for use. See Ex. 3, overleaf.
The examples given should be sufficient to make it abundantly clear from
historical and critical arguments concerning the text that the oboe version is
prior to the flute version.

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Ex. 2
Solo 15-





Cor. I I




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Ex. 3
Ob. I
Z 1.
Ob. . L L
i.- ..JE4i
I . - - I
I.. . .
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Via.lExa.. !

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Example 3

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