Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus: K. 580a, Adagio for Cor Anglais and String Quartet

That Mozart left a nearly-completed Adagio for unspecified instruments has left a happy opening for Mozart scholars and arrangers and a still-happier opening for players of the Cor Anglais.  It’s not clear what the instrumentation of this work (from the most masterful period of Mozart’s life) was intended to be, since it exists in manuscript only as a fragment.  The melodic line was completely written out, but the three accompanying voices were only partially written out, and only the words corno anglais, written in the hand of Georg Nikolaus Nissen (biographer of Mozart and Constanze Mozart’s second husband) give any indication of an intended instrumentation.  Whether this instrument was Mozart’s intended bearer of melody for 580a is lost to history, but the instrument does suit very well.  The work is simple and beautiful and very warm on the low reed instrument. The version we give today was set by an anonymous arranger for English Horn and String Quartet around 1900.

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  1. The marking on the score, which was found in teh Mozarteum in Salburg, was cor anglais meaning “crooked horn” being the name for a basset horn. As it says in you explanation: it is great for low reeds, Hence it fits the bassethorn perfectly. There completion of the work was done by Paumgartner, Meylan and Munclinger (for Alto Oboe, wrongly named English Horn. It might have been used in Mozarts Masonic Lodge.

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