1786: Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 25 (LA MARSEILLAISE) in C major

SUNDAY, September 13, 2020 – 8:52 AM

Mozart Piano Concerto No. 25 in C major,  December 4, 1786, age 26 and almost 27

It was composed about the same time as the as Symphony No. 38 (PRAGUE). There were 12 twelve great piano concertos written in Vienna between 1784 and 1786, and this is the last of them. This is Mozart at his peak. I picked the conductor, Manfred Honeck, because I love what he does with Mozart. In concertos what the orchestra does is at least half of everything, but this young pianist is very good, and I want to hear more of him.

  • 0:21 – Allegro maestoso, C major: Most interesting to me here is the theme we all associate with France, “La Marseillaise”, the French national anthem. Why Mozart picked it for this concerto is a mystery to me, but it’s a lot of fun, and it appears also in the cadenza. One of the fun things here is listening to what each player does with the cadenza, because most players make up their own. Piemontesi plays his here.
  • 15:16 – Andante in F major : This is where a slow movement is supposed to go to, the IV chord, so no surprises here. The choice of key is very traditional, nothing earth shaking, but some of the modulations are quite surprising. There is one here that is straight from Mars, and just how he gets suddenly from C major to Bb major is so totally unusual that I can’t even wrap my head around how he did it. It must have been downright shocking to audiences then, and it’s so much fun. Here he goes again, here. This is absolutely outrageous for the time, and this time he slides from F major to Eb major. It sounds like something out of a 21st video game, about two centuries ahead of his time. Simply brilliant!
  • 22: 46 – Allegretto, C major: He’s right back to something more conventional here, and the theme is as simple as Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, which he also wrote variations on. I guess he didn’t want to do anything more to make the listeners brains explode. But there is so much in this concerto that is new and ahead of its time that it’s just shocking, all in a totally good way. I see a lot of connections between this and Beethoven’s Concerto No. 4.

Cadenzas by many different pianists, so listen to many and pick your favorite…


  • Solo piano
  • flute, 2 oboes, 2 bassoons,
  • 2 trumpets, 2 horns
  • timpani
  • strings.

A familiar tune…

One of the secondary themes of the concerto’s first movement is a march that resembles “La Marseillaise”, the French national anthem. It sounds as though Mozart stole it, but in fact he wrote his theme earlier.

Finally a critic who got it right, although late…

In 1798, music critic Johann Friedrich Rochlitz described this concerto as:

“the most magnificent and difficult of all [Mozart’s] hitherto known concertos”


“[maybe] the most magnificent of all the concertos which have ever been written.”

But this critic was 12 years late. However, by the time he wrote these compliments Mozart had been dead seven years. So you don’t have to be prophetic to figure out one of the greatest geniuses who has ever lived wrote something amazing after he’s long gone. It would have been better if someone had written things like this back in 1886, when Mozart was alive and needed all the support he could get.

You want to hear this right after No. 24…

It comes right after Mozart’s great C minor piano concerto, completed a few months prior, so these two concertos make an incredible pair of amazing piano compositions.

3 thoughts on “1786: Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 25 (LA MARSEILLAISE) in C major”

  1. This time, I listened to the music before reading your comments and like you, I like the director’s conducting. I would prefer him to stand in front of the piano, not behind. I could listen to Mozart symphonies all day long.

  2. You’re not joking, you can hear Beethoven in this. Not specific phrases, but just some sense of sonic brilliance, like a shimmering lake. Stuff one hears in the 4th and especially 5th Beethoven piano concertos.

    Every time I hear these I hear new things.

  3. I don’t have a problem with her facial expression. The music comes through and it may just be how she experiences music. If someone were to play horribly but try to convince us of how moving the music is through grimaces I’d feel differently.

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