Mozart was never taught to play the violin; he just seemed to know how. On
his concerto tours throughout Europe, little Wolfgang would play not only
the harpsichord, but also the violin, and developed quite a brilliant style
in France. He lost interest in the instrument, however, perhaps because he
was forced to play it in the orchestra of the Archbishop of Salzburg.
Mozart composed his only five violin concertos all in Salzburg in 1775,
most probably for his own use. They are a highly personal amalgam of all
the styles he had absorbed during his travels. They are a musical
reflection of early Classical and Rococo Europe: aristocratic, graceful,
humorous and marvelously melodious. The last two concertos, K. 218 and
219, are characterized by finales in a variety of tempos and meters.
Particularly notable is K. 219, in which a poetic Adagio episode introduces
the soloist in the first movement and a Turkish episode infuses the minuet
finale with a rousing spirit.
After having devoted himself to Baroque music for many years, Nikolaus
Harnoncourt began turning increasingly to the orchestral works of Mozart in
the 1980s. Here, too, Harnoncourt's views differed radically from those of
traditional Mozart reception. For him, Mozart is "the most romantic
composer of all", his music "dramatic, dynamic, often strikingly and
exceedingly emotional". In Gidon Kremer, Harnoncourt found a partner who
shared his views. The German-Russian violin virtuoso has also sought his
own path in his Mozart interpretations. In 1970 the then 23-year-old
virtuoso attained the first peak of his career by winning the first prize
at the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. He has since
become one of the most sought-after violinists in the world. It should also
be noted that the Vienna Philharmonic, celebrated for its natural and
graceful Mozart style, initially opposed Harnoncourt's unconventional
concepts. However, the orchestra was soon won over by the unusual stylistic
approach often concertizes with Harnoncourt today.