A volume that is in almost constant use in my studio is the shorter piano pieces by Mozart in the Henle edition. It contains the tiny pieces Mozart wrote as a child, as well as the Rondos, Fantasies, and other pieces that don’t fall into the sonata or variation categories. All of them are fascinating, and the volume includes some real gems that pianists don’t seem to know.

For the Henle Urtext edition, follow this link

Among my very favourites is the Adagio in B minor, K. 540, a personal and profound work full of wonders. The magisterial performance of Daniel Barenboim I once owned on LP record still haunts me, but I cannot seem to find it anywhere. Here is Murray Perahia’s equally beautiful performance, and I hope it inspires you to include this piece in your repertoire.

From the sublime to the ridiculous, it is known that Mozart had a great sense of humour. In one of his most tragic pieces, the finale of the C minor piano concerto, K 491, instead of writing repeat signs in the conventional manner, he wrote a little smiley face that looks back to where he wants the players to return. The autograph is in the library of the Royal College of Music, London, and when I was a student there I was given the rare privilege of handling the score (yes, I did have to wear gloves).

Mozart also wrote a funeral march – as a joke. One of his students, Barbara Ployer, was a fine pianist but apparently did not enjoy her counterpoint studies with him. In order not to discourage her, he wrote a very short piece entitled Marche Funèbre del Signor Maestro Contrapunto, K 453a, in which Mr. Counterpoint is dispatched forever – and she never had to take another counterpoint lesson.

There is only one known portrait of Ms. Ployer, one scribbled by Mozart himself in the margin of another manuscript, showing an elaborate high hairdo and a less-than-flattering hook nose.

Some years after Mozart’s death a sheet of manuscript paper was found in Barbara’s scrapbook containing this piece written in Mozart’s handwriting. Only 16 bars long, the Funeral March became a popular piece among pianists of the 19th century but nowadays it seems to have become neglected. It is full of interest and colour, so do have a look at it.

For the score, follow this link

In this fortepiano recording, Kristian Bezuidenhout brings out the contrasts in the piece by playing the dotted rhythms sharply and the expressive elements with freedom. Notice how colourful his instrument is in the different registers.

Another unusual work is the Andante in F Major, K.616. It is the last of three works Mozart wrote during the final year of his life for a mechanical organ, or musical clock. Scholars believe it was commissioned by Count Joseph Deym von Strzitez, a Viennese aristocrat who owned several mechanical organs that were powered by clockwork, one of which played solemn music in a mausoleum dedicated to the memory of the late Field-Marshal Laudon.

For the score, follow this link

Here is the Andante in a performance by a celebrated pianist of yesteryear, Walter Gieseking – remembered today especially for his colourful playing of Debussy.

Another little delight is the Adagio in C for Glass Harmonica, K. 356. The glass harmonica (or glass harp) was once a popular instrument (Beethoven, Donizetti, Richard Strauss and others wrote for it), before it fell out of fashion. Here is Alexander Lemeshev playing K. 356, but it can of course be played on a keyboard.

For the autograph score, follow this link

I will leave you with another miracle, the surprisingly dissonant Minuet in D, K 355, played here by Lili Kraus in a recording from the early 1950s.

For the score, follow this link

To purchase the Henle Urtext volume containing all the above pieces, and plenty more besides, click here.

***   ***   ***

If you enjoyed this article then please click here if you’d like to sign-up to our mailing list to receive future articles, content updates and special offers. You may also be interested in the following resources:

Practising the Piano eBook Series 

There are surprisingly few books that deal with the art of practising. This multimedia eBook series contains hundreds of videos, audio clips, music examples and downloadable worksheets to show you exactly what need to do in order to get the most out of your practice time. Click here for more information.

Practising the Piano Online Academy

Building on my blog posts and eBook series, the Online Academy takes my work to the next level with a comprehensive library of lessons, masterclasses and resources combined with insights from other leading experts. Aimed at piano teachers and pianists, it will transform the way you approach playing or teaching the piano!

Please click here to find out more about the Online Academy or on one of the options below to subscribe:

  • Monthly subscription – Subscribe for £9.99 a month to get full, unlimited access to all Online Academy articles and updates (click here to sign-up for this option)
  • Annual subscription – Save over 15% on the monthly subscription with an annual subscription for £99.99 per year and get free eBooks and editions worth over £70! (click here to sign-up for this option)