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Publication Date

Winter 1-23-2015

Year of Release



Elizabeth Reed Smith, violin

Henning Vauth, piano

Program Notes

In June of 1781 the 25 year old Mozart resigned, or more probably was fired, from his employment by the Archbishop of Salzburg. Enjoying his first taste of freedom, he took up residence in Vienna as a boarder at the Auernhammer home, and began teaching private pupils including his landlord's daughter Josepha, a 22 year old pianist who began taking daily piano lessons from Mozart. In November of that year Mozart's publisher Artaria bought out a set of six sonatas for violin and piano dedicated to Josepha von Auernhammer. Josepha fell madly in love with Mozart and helped spread rumors that the couple would be married. Mozart rebuffed her and wrote a very unflattering caricature of her to his father, Leopold, to dispel the rumors: "If a painter wished to portray the devil as lifelike as possible, he would have to seek out her face - she is fat as a peasant wench, sweats so that you feel inclined to vomit...She is repugnant, dirty, and ghastly." He acknowledged, however, her skills as a pianist, and continued to perform with her. She went on to achieve success as a concert pianist, married a clerk, and had four children. It is thought that she had a hand in editing the violin sonatas for publication.

Although the set bore the standard title "Sonatas for Pianoforte with the Accompaniment of a Violin," the last four in particular very much broke the mold. Perhaps the young Mozart was tasting freedom not only from his employer and his domineering father, but from musical traditions. An anonymous contemporary reviewer wrote "These sonatas call for as skilled a violinist as a clavier player." The Sonata in Eb, K 380 is dramatic in a way that may reflect the fact that he was also at the same time composing the opera Abduction from the Seraglio.

The first movement contrasts an opening of grand half note chords with a graceful second theme in triplets. There are moments in the development that presage Beethoven. The Andante is a soulful operatic aria, and the final movement an exuberant rondo.

Saint-Saȅns dedicated his Sonata No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 75 to the violinist Martin Pierre Marsick, with whom he had toured Switzerland. The sonata was written in 1885, the year before the Organ Concerto and the Carnival of the Animals, when Saint-Saȅns was at the height of his powers. The work, along with the Franck Sonata, served as inspiration for Vinteuil's Sonata in Proust's Recherche du Temps Perdu. The virtuosic piano part was of course written for the composer himself to perform.

The first two movements connect to each other without break, as do the third and fourth movements. The first is in 6/8 occasionally alternating with 9/8, with an urgent first theme contrasting with a more serene second theme. The first movement connects to the Adagio, in the surprising key of Eb. The third movement is a scherzo which contains a chorale-like passage. Saint-Saens was fascinated with chorales and incorporated them into several works. The third movement leads directly into the fourth, a jolly perpetual motion.


First Presbyterian Church, Huntington, WV


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