Frederick the Great
In April, he wrote the Concerto for Flute and Harp. The duke, whom Mozart found to be an excellent flutist, commissioned Mozart to compose a concerto he could perform with his daughter, a harpist. The duke never paid for the piece and may never have performed it, but the result was a charming and joyous work for what was, at the time, an unusual instrumental combination.
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Difficult as it may be to imagine, the harp was not yet considered an orchestral instrument. Mozart seems to have decided to approach the instrument as a kind of plucked piano. Though he left few clues as to his feelings about the experience, it is perhaps telling that he never used the instrument in another piece—an unusual omission for an eager adopter of new technology and an early champion of instruments such as the clarinet and the glass harmonica. If Mozart was ambivalent to the harp, his feelings for the flute were only marginally warmer.
After composing a few chamber and solo pieces including this one in , the composer never again returned to the flute as a solo instrument. However, the duke had recently imported one of the new six-keyed wooden flutes from London. These were a vast improvement over the four-keyed instruments that were then standard in Paris, and Mozart seems to have taken advantage of the improvements in intonation and dynamic range afforded by this new instrument.
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Throughout the course of the work, Mozart deftly handles the technical limitations presented him by an instrumental combination for which he had never written. He manages throughout to balance the quiet solo instruments against the orchestral forces without drawing attention to the fact that he is doing so.
The three-movement piece opens with a joyful Allegro in C major. Structured in standard sonata form, the piece begins by introducing the two principal musical themes which are developed throughout the course of the movement. The second movement features a much lighter texture. In contrast to the first movement, in which the solo instruments banter with the orchestra in a playful dialogue, the flute and harp have almost exclusive right to the melody here, trading it elegantly back and forth between themselves, accompanied only by the strings.
After a brief pause, the orchestra retakes center stage as it launches into the joyful strains of the rondo finale.
If Mozart composed any cadenzas for the concerto, no record of them has survived. Additional taxes may apply.
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Sheet Music, Allegro from Flute Concerto No. 3 in C Major, Frederick the Great, 5 or More Flutes
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