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24 Oct
Mon / 2011

Mozart’s “Piano Quartets”

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On Sunday afternoon, four members of the Houston Grand Opera OrchestraTimothy Hester (fortepiano), Oleg Sulyga (violin), Rene Salazar (viola), and Barrett Sills (cello) — perform Mozart’s Piano Quartets in Rienzi’s Gallery.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is probably one of the most well-known classical music composers. Born in 1856 to Leopold and Anna Maria Pertl Mozart, young Wolfgang was taught violin and keyboard by his father, a composer and music teacher. An Austrian child prodigy, Mozart — along with his sister Nannerl — performed for audiences beginning at the age of 5. 

In 1785 Franz Anton Hoffmeister, a publisher, commissioned Mozart to compose three quartets. The first, Piano Quartet, No. 1 in G Minor, K. 478, has three movements. Hoffmeister felt that the public would not purchase this quartet; because it was in the key of G minor, a particularly difficult key, it had potential to be perceived as too intricate for the amateur pianist. Subsequently, Hoffmeister released Mozart from the three-quartet contract. However, Mozart completed a second, Piano Quartet, No. 2 in E-flat major, K. 493, nine months later.

These two piano quartets are considered to be exemplary of what a piano quartet should be; they are balanced, with each of the four instruments being highlighted at some point in the pieces. Prior to the completion of these two pieces, piano quartets did not exist; their precursor is considered to be the piano sonata. Sonatas use a keyboard and stringed instruments. Piano quartets add a bass instrument, in this case the cello, to the sonata’s ensemble. Mozart used three movements in both composition types; an Allegro, Middle, and Finale.

Please join us on Sunday, October 30 to hear these two quartets in Rienzi’s intimate Gallery. Tickets are $20. For more information please call 713.639.7800.

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About Casey Monahan

Casey Monahan

Casey Monahan joined Rienzi as education assistant in 2010. She received her B.A. in art history and history from the College of the Holy Cross, and her M.A. in art history from the University of Houston. At Rienzi, the Massachusetts native works with docents, tours, and other public programs. 

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