Nobody seems absolutely certain when the Gran Partita was written, but it was most likely composed about the same time as the six ‘Haydn’ quartets (between 1782 and 1785). It’s Mozart’s largest piece for wind ensemble, both in terms of duration (50 minutes plus) and numbers (2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassett horns, 2 bassoons, 4 horns and double bass/ contrabassoon, making a total, in all, of 13 instrumentalists).
In some ways it’s a typical serenade/divertimento of the period with its seven movements and simple forms, and yet this music is clearly not intended (as were most of these pieces) as a pleasant background for some aristocratic get-together. Here is music that needs and was intended to be listened to; at its heart is one of Mozart’s loveliest adagios and it ends in a riot of good humour…
A list of all 23 Mozart quartets plus some other useful bits and pieces:
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