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After Mozart: The Viennese Piano Scene in the 1790s

Katalin Komlós
Studia Musicologica
Vol. 49, No. 1/2 (Mar., 2008), pp. 35-48
Published by: Akadémiai Kiadó
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25598311
Page Count: 14
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After Mozart: The Viennese Piano Scene in the 1790s
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Abstract

The last decade of the eighteenth century was a transitional period in the political as well as the cultural history of Europe. Aesthetic values underwent far-reaching changes everywhere: the field of keyboard music and keyboard performance was no exception. In Vienna, the once legendary performances of W.A. Mozart already seemed out of date for some musicians before the turn of the century. 'Pearly' playing gave way to singing legato style, and the occasional use of damper pedals. Of course, the appearance of the young Beethoven made a profound effect on the Viennese piano scene. He competed with four pianists on the keyboard (Gelinek, Wölfl, Steibelt, Vogler) in the course of his first ten years in Vienna: through the contemporary descriptions of these events we can learn a great deal about the current styles of piano playing. The keyboard works of the pianist-composers of the time varied in their style and level of craftsmanship. Textures became denser, and more demanding to play. The general style approached the tone of the early nineteenth century, Schubert's in particular. Of the younger generation, Hummel was the first who performed on Viennese stages before the end of the century. After 1800, the significant Viennese debut of three young artists, Kalkbrenner, Czerny and Moscheles, initiated a new kind of bravura in pianism, which prepared the era of the instrumental virtuosity of the nineteenth century.

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