Horn Concerto No. 1 (Mozart)
This is one of two horn concerti of Mozart to include bassoons (the other is K. 447), but in this one he "treats them indifferently in the first movement." It is the only one of Mozart's horn concerti to be in D major (the rest are in E-flat major) and the only one to have just two movements instead of the usual three (with the exception of the incompletely scored horn concerto, K. 370b+371).
Although numbered first, this was actually the last of the four to be completed. Compared to the other three concertos, it is shorter in duration (two movements rather than three), and is much simpler in regard to both range and technique, perhaps in a nod to Leitgeb's, the horn player and Mozart's great friend, advanced age and (presumably) reduced capabilities at the time of composition. The second movement was shown by Alan Tyson to have been finished by Mozart's student Franz Xaver Süssmayr after Mozart's death.
The autograph score contains, arranged in strategic places throughout the Rondo, a bizarre written narrative perhaps directed to Leitgeb:
- For you, Mr. Donkey—Come on—quick—get on with it—like a good fellow—be brave—Are you finished yet?—for you—beast—oh what a dissonance—Oh!—Woe is me!!—Well done, poor chap—oh, pain in the balls!—Oh God, how fast!—you make me laugh—help—take a breather—go on, go on—that's a little better—still not finished?—you awful swine!—how charming you are!—dear one!—little donkey!—ha, ha, ha—take a breath!—But do play at least one note, you prick!—Aha! Bravo, bravo, hurrah!—You're going to torture me for the fourth time, and thank God it's the last—Oh finish now, I beg of you!—Confound it—also bravura?—Bravo!—oh, a sheep bleating—you're finished?—Thank heavens!—Enough, enough!
Maynard Solomon terms it "a prose description of a farcical sexual encounter".
Given its duration (no more than 10 minutes), the Concerto is typically grouped with Mozart's other 3 for the instrument. The foremost example[clarification needed] is Dennis Brain's November, 1953 recording of the four horn concertos on EMI with The Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Herbert von Karajan.
- Jean-Pierre Marty, The Tempo Indications of Mozart. New Haven & London: Yale University Press (1988): 43. "The very absence of sixteenths is also an incentive towards overly fast tempos, and this is why the finales of the Horn Concertos K. 386b, 417 and 447 are almost always performed faster than 88/264."
- Martha Kingdon Ward, "Mozart and the Bassoon" Music & Letters 30, 1 (1949): 9
- Maynard Solomon (1995) Mozart: A Life. Harper Collins: 357
- Concerto in D K. 412: Score and critical report (German) in the Neue Mozart-Ausgabe
- Horn Concerto No. 1: Free scores at the International Music Score Library Project