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Flute Concerto No. 2 in D major, K. 314

About the Work

Wolfgang Mozart
Quick Look Composer: Wolfgang Mozart
Program note originally written for the following performance:
National Symphony Orchestra: Christoph Eschenbach, conductor: Stravinsky's Le Sacre du printemps / Aaron Goldman, Principal Flute, plays Mozart's Flute Concerto No. 2 Nov. 13 - 15, 2014
© Peter Laki

During the fall and winter 1777-78, Mozart spent five months in Mannheim, which boasted one of Europe's best orchestras at the time. He made many professional and personal contacts in the city. On the personal side, he met the Weber family that was to play a very important part in his life. He fell in love with Aloysia Weber, a highly gifted young singer (and eventually married her younger sister Constanze). On the professional front, he became acquainted with a Dutch amateur flutist and music patron named Ferdinand Dejean, who commissioned him to write three flute concertos and some flute quartets. Working under considerable pressure (and also, no doubt, spending a lot of time with Aloysia), Mozart only ever delivered two concertos and three quartets. One of the concertos, as it later turned out, wasn't even new: Mozart simply recycled an oboe concerto he had written for oboist Giuseppe Ferlendis the previous summer, transposing the work from C major to D major, to make it more suitable for the flute.

      Throughout the 19th century, the work was known only as a flute concerto. From some references in Mozart's correspondence, specialists always knew that Mozart had written a concerto for oboe, but this work was presumed lost until, in 1920, a set of parts was discovered in Salzburg, making clear that the same work existed in two versions, one for oboe and one for flute.

      The first movement, Allegro aperto ("Open Allegro"), contains a succession of brisk, jaunty melodies. The Adagio combines a tender singing quality with a certain quiet dignity. A lighter, mischievous mood prevails in the Rondo, whose main theme is almost identical to Blondchen's aria, "Welche Wonne, welche Lust" ("What Pleasure, What Joy") from the opera The Abduction from the Seraglio, written a few years later in 1782.

      In 2014 Lera Auerbach wrote three cadenzas to the concerto (one for each movement), on commission from the National Symphony Orchestra and Christoph Eschenbach. The cadenzas, published by Auerbach's German publisher Sikorski, remain close to Mozart's style up to a certain point, but occasionally some surprising things may happen...