Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Dr. Bob Prescribes Wolfgang Mozart, Among Friends

I tried, honest to gods, I tried.

My M.O. in these Dr. Bob Prescribes posts has been consistent: if I feature a lesser-known composer in a Music History Monday post, I will follow up in the next day’s Dr. Bob Prescribes with a work (or works) by that same composer.

Franz Xaver Mozart (1791-1844), in 1844 not long before his death
Franz Xaver Mozart (1791-1844), in 1844 not long before his death

Yesterday’s Music History Monday was about Wolfgang Mozart’s youngest son, Franz Xaver Mozart (1791-1844), and his sadly underwhelming career as a pianist and composer. As we noted yesterday, he didn’t compose a whole lot of music, and almost nothing after 1820, when he was 29 years old. Nevertheless, his music was performed; some of it was published; and some of it is available on recordings today.

I would tell you that I choose the topics for my Music History Monday and Dr. Bob Prescribes posts 8 – 12 weeks in advance, so I have adequate time to gather resources and purchase and listen to recordings if necessary.

As we observed yesterday, Franz Xaver composed two piano concerti; they are his “largest” and most ambitious works, and nice things (or at least, not unkind things) are said about them on the internet. Believing (or at least hoping) that I had discovered a couple of sleepers, I acquired the disc above, and listened.

Honestly, I tried. But Franz Xaver’s concerti are not just overshadowed by his father’s, but they are overshadowed as well by Muzio Clementi’s Concerto in C major that fills out the disc. I’m so sorry, Franz Xaver, but when you are outclassed by Muzio Clementi . . .

The bottom line: Franz Xaver Mozart’s piano concerti are not competitive in a post-Classical/proto-Romantic field of piano concerti by such composers as Johann Nepomuk Hummel (1778-1837), Ignaz Moscheles (1794-1870), Friedrich Kalkbrenner (1785-1849), Johann (sometimes John) Baptist Cramer (1771-1858), or Henri Herz (1803-1888).

Consequently, I have chosen not to honor the “son” in this post just because he was lucky/unlucky enough to inherit a name from his father. If we must listen to music by a Mozart, let it be Wolfgang Mozart.… continue reading, only on Patreon!

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