The final concert in MiNM Series 10 is almost upon us! On 8 July at 3pm we will complete our 10th anniversary year’s celebrations with a performance by the Albion Players directed by Jane Booth, and featuring Mozart’s incredible Serenade in B flat, K.361.
This virtuosic piece, for 12 winds, plus double bass, is unique in Mozart’s output, and no-one really knows quite why it was written. The instrumental forces are strange indeed: 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 basset horns, 4 horns, 2 bassoons and a double bass. Possibly, it was a gift for Mozart’s friend the clarinettist, Anton Stadler (for whom he also wrote the Clarinet Concerto): certainly parts of it were played at a benefit concert for him in March 1784, but we know very little about the work’s early performances. It circulated widely after Mozart’s death (and unsurprisingly, some arrangements were made for more readily-available forces); Mozart’s autograph manuscript still survives, in the Library of Congress in Washington DC, so there’s no mistaking the fact that he really did compose the Serenade for this original combination of instruments. Its enormous scale (7 movements) puts it on a par with any of Mozart’s symphonies. Altogether, it’s a bit of a mystery.