Concerto No. 3

for Violin and Orchestra, K. 216, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Though Mozart composed in nearly every genre during his lifetime, he only spent one year of his life interested in the violin concerto. In 1775, the 19-year-old composer wrote five violin concerti and never revisited the genre again. Historians have wondered if he would have returned to the genre had he not died at such a young age. His year of violin concerti took place while he was Konzertmeister at the Salzburg court, a position that led to considerable personal turmoil for the composer. Some historians believe that Mozart specifically wrote the set of five concerti for his friend, violinist Gaetano Brunetti.

This concerto was the third that Mozart composed that year, and it demonstrates the level of skill that Mozart was capable of, even at age 19. It has three movements, with a brief pause between each. Each movement is a different tempo (speed) and is meant to show off the virtuosity and skill of the violin soloist. An accomplished violinist himself, Mozart’s attention to intricacy and his concern for the role of the orchestra are the most important features of the work. Overall, the orchestra’s sound is light, while the soloist’s is incredibly ornate. Mozart intentionally composed it this way to highlight the technical skill of the soloist.

At the end of each movement, there are complicated and impressive cadenzas (ending solos) by the violinist. The second movement features a slow tempo and quiet, muted strings to highlight the beauty of the solo violin line. The final movement is dance-like and uses a simple orchestration featuring brief solos by other instruments.

The ISO’s last performance of Concerto No. 3 in G Major for Violin and Orchestra, K. 216 was November 2005, with soloist Chee Yun, conducted by Hugh Wolff.

© Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, 2016.

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Program Notes