XIIB: Divertimento and Serenade

In 1760, apart from church music and opera, the principal forms flourishing in Vienna were as follows:

 (1) The symphony, which had been taken over from the Italian operatic overture and consisted of three movements, fast-slow-fast, to which a minuet and trio were very often added as the third (and sometimes second) movement.

 (2) The string quartet for two violins, viola and cello, a form which Haydn seems to have invented about 1757. There has been much discussion about the origin of the string quartet, but modern musicology now believes that the quartet as we know it (as opposed to earlier form even using this instrumental combination) was in fact Haydn's peculiar invention. By 1761, other composers in the Austro-Hungarian monarchy were composing quartets, such as Franz Dussek, later a friend of the Mozarts in Prague.

 (3) The string trio: this was a popular combination either of two violins and cello or violin, viola and cello. It was the kind of thing one could have at one's country estate without the expense of a whole orchestra.

 (4) Piano Concertos, using the harpsichord or the early fortepiano, were very popular, and the leading exponent was the Viennese Court Composer Georg Christoph Wagenseil. The Viennese bourgeoisie gradually took over the aristocratic mania for music, and the development of the piano literature in Vienna came about largely because of the enormous support found among the well-to-do upper middle-class citizens.

 (5) Piano trios (piano, violin, cello), violin sonatas, and large chamber music with piano (quartets, quintets, etc.) became highly popular as the eighteenth century progressed. The solo keyboard sonata also flourished and almost all composers wrote sonatas for their pupils; many of Haydn's earliest preserved compositions are harpsichord or clavichord sonatas for his fashionable Viennese pupils.

 (6) Wind band music. Another very popular genre was the divertimento for wind band, which usually consisted of two oboes, two bassoons and two horns. Since the aristocracy had horns for the hunt, it was another inexpensive way to provide Tafelmusikby having a wind sextet. This combination, which was soon enlarged to include two clarinets, was very popular for evening serenades. Haydn wrote a whole series of divertimenti for wind sextet when he was at the summer estate of Count Morzin at Lukavec (now Czechoslovakia) in 1760; and Mozart wrote several remarkable serenades, of which the B flat (K. 361) is scored for the extraordinary number of thirteen wind instruments; the Serenade in C minor (K. 388) is scored for the more conventional wind octet (with clarinets), but is such a hair-raising piece that one wonders what kind of a serenade the Viennese thought they were hearing.

 (7) Divertimenti. Coupled to this wind band divertimento was another popular form which consisted of divertimenti with two oboes, two horns, two violins, two violas, cello and double-bass, to which one or two bassoons were sometimes added.

In Salzburg the serenade tradition, which Mozart inherited, consisted of works that lasted nearly one hour and were as heavily scored as a big symphony, sometimes even with trumpets and kettledrums.

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