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In this interactive article, concert pianist Paul Janes offers advice on the performance of a Mozart piano sonata. A tutor in piano studies at the Royal Northern College of Music, Paul is in demand as both a recitalist and accompanist throughout the UK and regularly performs with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra.

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A complete analysis of the Sonata in A major may be found in’s February Issue, 2001. Click here to access.

By the 1780s Mozart had toured all Europe and had been hailed as a genius from an early age. Despite this, the period leading up to his move to Vienna in 1781 was in many ways an unhappy one: now that he was in his twenties the label of child prodigy (and the stardom that came with it) was no longer, and he failed to procure a suitable court post. Thus, in 1778, the opportunity to return to work for Archbishop Colloredo in Salzburg was one that could not be rejected, even though his previous employment there had been far from satisfactory. Once again Mozart became half-hearted about his duties: his employer required more religious works for the cathedral, whereas Mozart’s interests seem to have been more concerned with instrumental and secular music. The final straw came in 1781 when Mozart returned from Munich following a successful production of the opera Idomeneo. Back in Salzburg he was once again treated like a servant and shortly afterwards secured his release from these duties, spurred on by the thought that he could probably make a freelance living in Vienna.

There are differing views as to exactly when the A major sonata (K331) was composed, with most scholars suggesting 1781 as the correct year (although whether or not it was written before or after his move to Vienna is also unclear). However, in the sleeve notes to Marta Deyanova’s recording (Nimbus NI1775), David Threasher states that paper studies have challenged this view and that the correct date of composition is somewhere around the late summer months of 1783.

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