Mozart's K. 314: some performance suggestions

John Wion

Having studied, performed, and coached this concerto for fifty years it seems appropriate at this time in my life to record my thoughts.

Many of these thoughts originated elsewhere and if I do not give credit no disrespect is intended. Things get handed from teacher to student, and one can't always be sure where an idea began. Much of what I received however came from Marcel Moyse, whose thoughts about articulation were revelatory.

A first observation is that we have no manuscript of KV 314. All modern editions are based on the c1810 publication by Falter & Sohn, Munich. In this sense the Bärenreiter edition in its 1981 Neue Ausgabe Sämtlicher Werke can be considered the most reliable modern source.

K314 is a reworking of the oboe concerto in C, thought lost, but re-discovered in 1920, (although flutist and historian, Franz Vester, believed that it had originated earlier still as a flute concerto).


In my opinion the first movement is generally played too quickly, a notable exception being Franz Vester's recording with original instruments. Jean-Pierre Marty in his "The Tempo Indications of Mozart (Yale UP, 1988) argued that Mozart had very clear tempi in mind for his music, and used precise markings to indicate this. Marty divided Mozart's output into various classes which resulted in, for K314, an approximate 126 to the quarter for the first movement, Allegro aperto (the only time Mozart ever used this modifier), 46 to the quarter for the second movement, Adagio ma non troppo, and 126 for the Rondeau, Allegro. My personal taste is a notch slower for the two outer movements.


In Allegro movements of wind music of Mozart's time two notes slurred and two notes tongued was a typical bow to those players who might not have had the ability to tongue more repeated notes. Without an autograph one can't be certain what, if any, slurs were written.

Moyse had specific ideas based on harmony. The first note of a slur gives an emphasis, so the slur indicates a musical stress. As such, a slur indicates a change of harmony, the direction of a phrase, a melodic line, or a dissonance. For much of the first movement of K314 the harmony moves at the half bar. This means that the first bar for solo flute (32) needs a slur on beat three (an ornament of the bar's D major) but not on beat four where it only interrupts the flow of the upward scale. Bar 43 offers a similar situation where beats two and four are parts of the downward scale, with no harmonic change. Bar 44 on the other hand needs a slur on each beat because of the changing harmony. In bar 65, slurs on the first three beats emphasize the direction of the music, whereas beat four is better not drawing attention to itself with a slur. In bars 68-70 two slurs in the first beat will point out the melodic line. Bar 87 benefits from eighth note slurs throughout. In bars 90/91 and 93/94 a slur only on the first two sixteenths drives the arpeggio forward (indeed the BŠrenreiter edition gives this articulation on the reprise). In bar 95, slur the first eighth, articulate beats two and three, and again slur the dissonance on beat four.


Mention should be made of Mozart's frequent use of a pattern of four notes where the first is written as a grace note dissonance followed by an eighth note and two sixteenths. The first note is always played on the beat. It is not easy for a modern performer to appreciate the sense of dissonance and resolution, but one should at least be aware of it. Some editions write these beats out as four sixteenths – avoid them. Depending on the tempo the appoggiatura can be more than, less than, or exactly a sixteenth. I find that in a slow movement less than can create a charming effect.

In the quick movements of KV 314 these appoggiaturas should be leaned on, and can be lengthened a little in some places for the drama. This means, for example, that bars 88 and 89 of the first movement have stronger beats on two and four rather than the expected one and three. And in bar 92 the two appoggiaturas lead the movement forward. Again, in 130 and 131, the appoggiaturas move the weight to beat four. Bar 135 is a good example of stretching the appoggiatura. In the Rondeau the appoggiatura in bar 5 is a good example of leaning onto the second rather than first beat.

Allegro aperto

The first solo measure is in some ways the most difficult. One must immediately assert one's presence - a very careful placement of the first eighth note (all such upbeats need to be separated from the following downbeat), then a trill starting on the upper note (but not lengthening it), a leaning on the C# dissonance, then a directive scale to the next downbeat. One arrives here as a soloist but immediately the situation changes. This is the only concerto I know of where the soloist does not play the principal theme. Instead, at this moment the orchestra takes over again and the flute takes an immediate accompanying role. My dear friend and colleague, oboist Bert Lucarelli, offered the observation that in its original life this note was a C – an uncomfortable note for the oboe. Maybe Mozart meant it as a joke that his friend had to hold this out for four measures before establishing a personality. In any event, the practicality requires a fortepiano as one listens to the violins. Only at the very end of this held D does one remind the audience of one's presence, warm the sound and dynamic and move into bar 37.

Mozart uses the repetition of a note to move the music forward. Bar 37 is a good example of this – the repeated As move through the downbeat and ease off into beat three of 38. (And for this reason it is preferable not to breathe until the rest in bar 38.)

In bar 40, recognize that the first note is a dissonance which must be leant on, easing away to beat three. As always in this movement, the upbeat to bar 41 must be rhythmically well-placed to lead the music forward (and again the upbeat to 43). In bar 46, as always unless preceded by the upper note, the trill starts on the upper note. Don't feature it – just place it securely rhythmically on the beat.

Starting in bar 50 I see a dialog between a dominant personality (the count in The Marriage of Figaro) and a subservient one (the contessa ). He says – this is how it will be (four in the bar and dramatic) – she (in the next bar, while his bluster moves to the orchestral bass) says (two in the bar and pleading) – let's talk about it (look at and lean on the expressive D#). They repeat their positions for the next two bars. Then in bar 56 his expression seems to soften, and they agree on some compromise that allows the movement to go forward. It is so important for instrumentalists to listen to Mozart's operas and see how he creates these discussions.

Bar 58 is an example of where the trill will start on the principal note.

Bar 60 shows another Mozartian device for moving the music forward. The last three eighth notes lead into the next bar, the motif is repeated with slightly more emphasis on the downbeat of bar 62. It is repeated a third time with ornamentation before easing away to a resolution in bar 64. (Be sure to lean on the first beat in these bars, and be careful to hold back on beats two, which because they are longer and might be vibrated on can easily sound louder.)

This resolution creates an interesting moment. A typical practice is to play this downbeat appoggiatura as a quarter note - indeed some editions just write it out that way. However this creates parallel fourths with the viola and is clearly not what Mozart had in mind. I played it more as an eighth note until my doctoral student at the time, Doug Worthen, proposed an alternative. A standard practice of the time was for an appoggiatura to take half the value of its resolution, and in the case of a dotted principal note (or half note with following rest) to take two thirds rhythmically. In this case the A in bar 64 would get the value of a half note, and the resolution (G#) would take up the quarter note rest. It requires a shortened resolution in order to breathe, but I find this an excellent solution.

The upbeat to bar 73 needs to be placed rhythmically precisely, and the trills (upper note) equally precisely.

In bar 75 a cadential trill, although not written, can be appropriately followed by a "nachschlag" or after-turn.

Bar 77/78 is a mini-cadenza or moment of rest. Play the first appoggiatura with more length (about an eighth) than the second (about a sixteenth).

Treat bars 80/81 as a single phrase with more weight on the downbeat of 80 than 81, and the second beats of both as less.

I prefer to articulate the last note of 83 to establish the pattern that follows – the emphasis is always on one and three in these bars.

The repetition of material over the next bars does not need to be addressed again.

In bar 107 the appoggiaturas of the situation already discussed are elegant if lasting about a sixteenth (and securely on the beat).

With the recapitulation in bar 120 the soloist is given more prominence – at its entry in bar 122 the orchestra is marked piano.

I have already mentioned the situation of bar 127.

Mozart did not write cadenzas for KV314. Betty Bang Mather's book "The Classical Woodwind Cadenza" makes several good points, the most interesting of which might be the suggestion that the cadenza was the wind-player's opportunity to show the extent of his breath capacity. Such examples as are extant support the view that a cadenza at this time was indeed short. It starts on the dominant, and although not indicated, the orchestra should play a dominant chord during the final trill.

Adagio ma non troppo

My article "Phrasing" in "The Flutist's Handbook – A Pedagogy Anthology" (National Flute Association, 1998) has comments specifically about this movement, describing how an understanding of the basic phrasing moves the melody forward. 

The downbeat G of bar 11 moves with a sense of direction (crescendo) to the downbeat G# (dissonance) of bar 12 which moves away (diminuendo) to the second beat A. G# (dissonance) in bar 13 moves to the second beat A. A# (dissonance) in bar 14 moves away to B. Overriding these little two-bar hairpins is a sense of direction (crescendo) across the phrase from the downbeat of 11 to the downbeat of 14.

Feeling this sense of direction will prevent one leaning heavily on the second and third quarters of bar 11 for example. Notice now how the next phrase can be simplified E-D (shifting up the octave)-C-B-A-G-F#-G.

The downbeat of bar 19 is hard to explain. I feel that the emotional quality of these grace notes makes putting them either before the beat or on the beat unsatisfactory. I prefer to "muddy" the placement – starting slightly before, resolving slightly after, and making the most of the dissonance.

In bar 22 I prefer to not slur the D octave but treat the last eighth as a separate upbeat to bar 23, as are written the next motifs.

In bar 28 fitting five notes into each trill is more effective than three.

In bar 32 I always feel in Mozart that a little separation between syncopated notes is better than legato.

Bar 34 is another example of being sure that the downbeat E# has more weight than the F# on beat two.

In bar 48 I would slur the octave to match the previous bar (unless one needs to breathe). Stretch the end of bar 49 to set up the recapitulation.

Some editions have an F# in the ornament of bar 57. F natural sets up A minor better.

In bar 59 the grace can be on the beat.

In bar 60 I prefer to play the last eighth (and its successors) an octave higher. For some reason (perhaps because of a difficulty of high F for the oboist) Mozart did not use high G in KV 314.

Bar 72 has a rhythmic variance between the flute and the accompaniment. A decision may have to be made as to whether the accompaniment moves with the flute's triplet or after.


Look at the phrasing of the opening motif – D to E to F#. Then do not emphasize the A of bar 3 but move ahead to the downbeat of bar 4.

Bar 58 is another place to make note of the downbeat being stronger than the resolution on beat two.

Picking up on a point made in the first movement, slur the eighths in bar 69.

In bar 79 and following bars one might use some three and one slurs and eighth note slurs to good effect. In general much of what was suggested regarding articulation in the first movement applies to this movement.

Use a different feeling for bars 109 and 110, and again 113 and 114. I point out again that the trill in bar 114, being preceded by the upper note, starts on the principal note.

I like to treat the repeated eighths in bar 115 and 117 with a sauciness (a fraction slower). Bar 123 needs an "eingang " – a few notes of cadenza to set up the repeat of the Rondeau theme.

Bar 155 and similar following bars are other places to slur in eighths.

And again in bars 177 and 178 (and again 183/4, 187/8) don't break up the scale with slurs.

In bars 190 and 192 I prefer not slurring the large interval.

In bar 220 make a little rhythmic hesitation in beat one to set up the return of the Rondeau theme.

In bar 252/3 the graces are on the beat but quick (about a sixteenth).

In bar 270, again play the eighths "saucily" – short and slightly held back.


My thanks to John Ranck for formatting this article