Mozart Minute: Mozart's Triple Delight
In Mozart's day, as today, it felt good to get compliments on a job well done. One episode in Mozart's life shows that getting props is enough to make even a genius right chuffed.
Mozart was always eager to tell his father of his own musical successes. To that end, on Oct. 23, 1777, Mozart wrote his father from Augsburg of a performance he gave with two other pianists of his Concerto for Three Pianos, K. 242. Mozart had composed the work the previous year for his friend the Countess Antonia Lodron to play with her two keyboard-playing daughters. But Mozart also performed the concerto, including in a concert with the Augsburg keyboard instrument maker and player Johann Andreas Stein and Johann Michael Demmler, the organist at Augsburg Cathedral. In that concert Mozart's playing, by his own account, brought the house down.
"The Count kept running about in the hall, exclaiming, 'I have never heard anything like this in my life,'" Mozart wrote. "And he said to me: 'I really must tell you, I have never heard you play as you played today.' […] Now what does Papa think that we played immediately after the symphony? Why, the concerto for three claviers. Herr Demmler played the first, I the second and Herr Stein the third." (Letters of Mozart and His Family, trans. Emily Anderson)
On the same concert, after the concerto for three pianos, Mozart went it alone, performing piano sonatas, concertos and unspecified "solos" so well, he claimed, that the performance had an uncanny effect on his fellow musicians. "There was a regular din of applause," Mozart wrote. "Herr Stein was so amazed that he could only make faces and grimaces. As for Herr Demmler, he couldn't stop laughing. He is a quaint fellow, for when he likes anything very much, all he does is to burst into fits of laughter. In my case he even started to curse."