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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
Serenade in E-flat major, K375
By far the greatest of Mozart’s many divertimenti and serenades for wind instruments are the last three wind serenades, numbered 10, 11 and 12 in the complete edition of his works, and written in 1781 and 1782. Two of these expand the boundaries of the conventional serenade form, No 10 in B flat by its extravagant scoring for thirteen instruments and its sequence of no fewer than seven movements, and No 12 in C minor by its remarkable expressive content. But No 11 in E flat achieves its mastery more conservatively, within the established framework of the Viennese serenade of the time.
It was indeed written for outdoor performance in the true serenade tradition: it was given for the first time in Vienna on St Theresa’s Day (15 October) 1781, and no fewer than three Theresas were favoured with performances of it on their name-day during that evening. The Serenade was played then by pairs of clarinets, bassoons and horns, but the following year Mozart rewrote it for 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons and 2 horns, the most common wind band scoring of the classical period. The layout of the movements also adheres to the norms of eighteenth century Vienna: an extended first Allegro, a rather lighted finale, and two minuets enclosing a central slow movement.
© Anthony Burton