“I played the last [Divertimento] om B-flat until they all stared. I played like I was the greatest fiddler in Europe.” – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, letter to Leopold Mozart, Sept. 30, 1777
“The Divertimento No. 15 is the most familiar today, and probably deserves the attention it gets, because of the sustained quality of all its six movements, and its depth of expressive detail….The Adagio…is one of the finest of the divertimento slow movements.” – John N. Burk, Mozart and His Music
What’s in a name? Among the hundreds of works by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart you’ll see lists of Divertimentos, Cassations, Serenades, and other titles that are often used interchangeably. Better, modern-day scholars advise to call them all one thing: “Party Music,” e.g., multi-movement works – often played outdoors – and designed to accompany a social gathering. As Mozart expert Burk puts it, “Popular music in the 18th century did not have, as now, a separate category of composers. Mozart was called upon at any moment to provide any music whatsoever, from the most solemn Mass to the lightest stage entertainment; music for concerts, music for dancing. Music by the yard for social functions did not in the least bother him.”
In fact, Mozart seemed to excel at it – his so-called Divertimentos are often anything but trifling music. As Burk notes, “He [Mozart] neither wrote above the heads of his audience, nor did he demean his art. Often he gave his patrons not only surface charm, but undying beauty of detail…”
Heifetz alum and 2016 Artist in Residence Itamar Zorman opened his Heifetz Sunday Matinee mini-recital with a beautiful rendition of the sublime Adagio movement from Mozart’s Divertimento No. 15 that was later arranged for violin and piano by the great 20th century virtuoso Joseph Szigeti. Itamar, a prize winner of the 2011 International Tchaikovsky Competition, is joined by pianist Alexander Tentster in this exploration of what musicologist Alfred Einstein called Mozart’s “lost paradise of music.” There are more videos of Itamar’s remarkable recital in Francis Auditorium here and here, and there’s also an entire page of previous Videos of the Week . You can also subscribe to get them delivered to your inbox every week!