Piano Concerto No. 18 (Mozart)

The Piano Concerto No. 18 in B-flat major, KV. 456 is a concertante work for piano, or pianoforte, and orchestra by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. In Mozart's own catalogue of his works, this concerto is dated 30 September 1784.

For years, historical speculation was that Mozart had written this concerto for Maria Theresa von Paradis, based on a letter written around that time by Leopold Mozart to his daughter Nannerl. However, Hermann Ullrich has discounted this theory, based on the date of entry in Mozart's catalogue and the fact that von Paradis had left Paris at the start of October 1784, which indicated that there was not sufficient time to send von Paradis the concerto for performance. Richard Maunder has countered with the idea that Mozart could still have sent the concerto to Paris, and that it would have been forwarded to von Paradis in London, where it was possible that she performed the work in March 1785.

The work is orchestrated for solo piano, flute, two oboes, two bassoons, two horns, and strings. The concerto is in three movements:

  1. Allegro vivace
  2. Andante in G minor
  3. Allegro vivace

Mozart wrote out two different cadenzas for the first movement. Joseph Swain has performed a Schenkerian analysis of each first-movement cadenza. Martha Kingdon Ward has commented that the slow movement of this concerto contains one of the "most tranquil" of Mozart's flute solos, specifically in the G major variation. M.S. Cole has noted Mozart's use of meter changes in the finale, starting at measure 171, from 6/8 to 2/4 in the winds, with the piano following at measure 179. This changing of tempo in rondo finales was contrary to common practice at the time. Joel Galand has performed a Schenkerian analysis of the rondo finale, and noted features such as its novel use of ♭II as a remote key.

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