Immortalized among the greatest Classical-era composers, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is known for The Magic Flute and his many symphonies. While you read, listen to his Violin Sonata No. 27 to commemorate its 238th “birthday”.

Old school style

Before artists had to worry about fitting their music into three-minute radio slots, it wasn’t uncommon to find songs that lasted for 20 minutes. The Classical period of music spanned from 1750 to 1820. Prominent composers from this era alongside Mozart include Beethoven, Schubert, and Haydn. Classical-era music most often featured lively piano, expressive strings, and melodious woodwinds, though accenting brass was also not uncommon. Songs were generally arranged in different movements or parts, lending to the feeling of hearing a collection of songs instead of just one.

Mozart’s Violin Sonata No. 27 is organized into three movements, each with a distinct feel. It was one of the last pieces he composed while working for Archbishop Hieronymus Colloredo of Salzburg. Mozart composed the piano and violin duet late at night the day before the concert, only writing down his accompanist, Brunetti’s, part and keeping the piano part in his head. The piece was performed the following evening, April 8, 1781, at a concert arranged by the Archbishop’s brother.

Writing home

Following the concert, Mozart penned an excited letter to his father about the spur-of-the-moment piece. His note read: “Today (for I am writing at eleven o’clock at night) we had a concert where three of my compositions were performed— new ones, of course; a rondo for a concerto for Brunetti, a sonata with violin accompaniment for myself, which I composed last night between eleven and twelve (but in order to be able to finish it, I only wrote out the accompaniment for Brunetti and retained my own part in my head): and then a rondo for Ceccarelli, which he had to repeat.” Mozart continued creating musical compositions until his death in 1791.