Divertimento for String Trio (Mozart)
This article relies largely or entirely on a single source. (October 2018)
The Divertimento in E-flat major, K. 563, is a string trio, written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in 1788, the year in which he completed his last three symphonies and his "Coronation" Piano Concerto. It is widely regarded as separate from his other divertimenti.
The work was completed in Vienna on September 27, 1788, and is dedicated to Michael Puchberg, a fellow Freemason, who lent money to Mozart. The premiere was in Dresden on April 13, 1789 with Anton Teyber taking the violin part, Mozart playing viola and Antonín Kraft playing cello. At the time Mozart was conducting a tour of German cities, on his way to Berlin; see Mozart's Berlin journey.
- Allegro (E-flat major, sonata form, 4/4)
- Adagio (A-flat major, sonata form, 3/4)
- Menuetto (Allegretto) – Trio (E-flat major, ternary form, 3/4)
- Andante (B-flat major, theme and 7 variations "intertwined", 2/4) The first 8 measures are the first phrase of the theme; the next 8 are first phrase of Variation 1; measures 17-32 give the conclusion of the theme; and measures 33-48 the conclusion of Variation 1. This pattern of treating the Variations in pairs continues with Variations 2 and 3 in measures 49-96 and Variations 4 and 5 in measures 97-144. The 6th variation, in B-flat minor, is contrapuntal and chromatic, and the 7th returns us triumphantly to B-flat major, with the skeleton of the theme in the viola. This last variation melts seamlessly into a very brief coda which concludes the movement.
- Menuetto (Allegretto)– Trio I – Trio II (E-flat major, rondo form, with the first trio in A-flat major and the second trio in B-flat major, 3/4)
- Allegro (E-flat major, sonata rondo form, 6/8)
Recorded performances of the Divertimento range from 41 to 50 minutes.
As Alfred Einstein writes in Mozart: His Character, His Work (and as excerpted in the notes to a Kennedy Center performance), his only completed string trio (there are fragments) shares with most divertimenti this six-movement format, but from that no lightness of tone should be understood – rather, "it is a true chamber-music work, and grew to such large proportions only because it was intended to offer ... something special in the way of art, invention, and good spirits. ... Each instrument is primus inter pares, every note is significant, every note is a contribution to spiritual and sensuous fulfillment in sound." Einstein called it "one of his noblest works."
Mozart's Divertimento in E-flat major is "one of a kind," according to the notes to an Emerson Quartet performance. "It is not only Mozart's only finished composition for string trio – it also appears to be the first such work by any composer." Though probably the first substantial work for the combination, it is not the first work written for string trio; there were works for violin, viola and cello written at least five years earlier, by Wenzel Pichl, and works for two violins and bass, probably based on the trio sonata, written much before that.
- Melvin Berger, "Guide to Chamber Music", Dover, 2001.
- Notes to a concert containing the Divertimento at the Kennedy Center written by Richard Freed
- Notes to a concert of the Emerson Quartet written by Peter Laki