Harmoniemusik is a German term that typically refers to music written for winds between the late 17th and early 18th centuries. The ensemble typically consists of two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, and two horns. It was common for wealthy patrons to have Harmoniemusik ensembles for parties to entertain their guests. This type of music allowed wind instruments to have more presence in society.

1781-1784 – Serenade No. 10 in Bb “gran Partita” K.361 – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Many arguments have been made over time regarding Mozart’s (1756-1791)

Serenade in Bb. Among Mozart’s oeuvre, fifty compositions contain subtitles, and this serenade is nicknamedgran Partita.Musicologists speculate on when the subtitle was added, but there is no belief that Mozart penned the name. This piece for 13 players was written between 1781 – 1784, and documentation exists that a performance occurred on March 23, 1784.[1] The type of paper used to write the piece matches that of the paper Mozart used for other works in 1781, leading some scholars to believe it was written around the same time.[2] However, musicologist Daniel Leeson believes the Serenade in Bb was written between 1783-1784 because it shares a great deal of similarity in structural detail to Mozart’s K. 452, Quintet for piano and winds, and K. 454,

Sonata in Bb for violin and piano. Leeson argues that because the three are structurally similar, they would have been written in the same period.[3]

Instrumentation for K. 361 includes two oboes, two clarinets, two basset horns, two horns in F, two horns in Bb, and a contrabass. Even though the instrumentation is larger than the standard octet of the time, K. 361 is still considered Harmoniemusik because of the pairs of the specific instruments.[4] The movements are:

    1. Largo – Allegro molto
    2. Menuetto – Trio I-II
    3. Adagio
    4. Menuetto (Allegretto)
    5. Romanze (Adagio – Allegretto – Adagio)
    6. Theme with Variations (Andante)
    7. Finale (Molto allegro)

*The author of this document highly suggests reading Daniel Leeson’s Gran Partita: A Book about Mozart’s Serenade in B-Flat, K. 361, for 12 Wind Instruments and a String Bass, for more information.

1781/1782 – Serenade No. 11 in Eb K.375 – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Mozart’s Serenade in Eb was originally written in 1781 for pairs of clarinets, horns, and bassoons. He added two oboe parts in 1782 to complete the

Harmoniemusik ensemble. The five movements are labeled: Allegro maestoso, Menuetto, Adagio, Menuetto, and Allegro. In a letter to his father, Mozart explained that he wrote the original sextet for Viennese court painter Josef von Hickel’s sister-in-law as a gift for St. Theresa’s Day. Later in the same letter, he mentioned that he hoped Joseph von Strack would also hear the piece and send highly of his music to the courts.[5]

1782 or 1783 – Serenade No. 12 in C minor K.388 – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Musicologists are still debating when Mozart wrote his

Serenade in C minor, but most believe it would have been around 1782 or 1783. The piece was initially written for pairs of oboes, clarinets, horns, and bassoons and arranged for string quintet around 1787. In a letter to his father on July 27, 1782, Mozart mentions writing another serenade for winds and calls it his “Night Music,” and it is possible that he was referencing K. 388. It is presumed that he wrote it for Princes Liechtenstein, but no performance record exists.[6] Typically, serenades in the 18th century were written in major keys and consisted of dance movements, yet this serenade begins in C minor. It eventually finds its way to the relative Eb Major and ends the final movement in C Major, almost as if Mozart were making a little joke. The four movements include Allegro, Andante, Menuetto in canone, and Allegro.

1792 – Octet in Eb, Op. 103 – Ludwig van Beethoven 

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) composed his Octet for

Harmoniemusik ensemble in 1792, just before he moved from Bonn to Vienna to study with Joseph Haydn. The published version of the Octet features four movements: Allegro, Andante, Menuetto e Trio, and Finale/Presto. It is believed that his Rondino was meant to be the fourth of five movements.[7]

1793 – Rondino, WoO 25 – Ludwig van Beethoven

Rondino was completed in 1793 after Beethoven arrived in Vienna to study with Haydn. Rondino is categorized as WoO 25. WoO stands for “Werke ohne Opuszahl” or “Works without opus numbers.”

1802 – Octet in F Hob. II:F7 – Joseph Haydn or Wranitzky 

Octet in F Hob. II: F7 was written around 1793, but there is scholarly debate about whether Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) was the actual composer. Musicologist and scholar of Haydn’s work, H.C. Robbins Landon, claims that Paul or Anton Wranitzky most likely wrote it. Unfortunately, no autograph score is available, and the question of authenticity remains.[8] The movements include Allegro moderato, Andante con Variazioni, Menuetto/Allegretto, and Finale/Allegro. Upon searching for the score on the database, IMSLP, Petrucci Music Library attributes the piece to Paul Wranitzky and notes that it was formally attributed to Haydn.

1807 – Octet Partita in F, Op. 57 – Franz Krommer

Franz Krommer (1759-1831) was a Czech composer who wrote multiple partitas for winds and other works for chamber winds. During his time, Krommer was one of the most successful and influential Czech composers. He was known as a leading composer of string quartets, and many considered him a rival of Beethoven.[9] Octet Partita in F, also known as

Harmonie in F, was published in 1807 for octet. Movements include: Allegro vivace, Minuetto: Presto, Adagio: Andante cantabile, and Alla polacca.

  1. Daniel N. Leeson, Gran Partita: A Book about Mozart's Serenade in B-Flat, K. 361, for 12 Wind Instruments and a String Bass (Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2009). 33.
  2. Ibid. 47.
  3. Ibid. 65.
  4. Ibid. 43.
  5. Neal Alexander Zaslow and William Cowdery, The Compleat Mozart: A Guide to the Musical Works of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (New York, NY: Mozart Bicentennial at Lincoln Center, 1990). 245.
  6. Ibid. 246-247.
  7. Norman E. Smith, Program Notes for Band (Chicago, IL: GIA Publications, 2002). 45.
  8. Nikk Pilato, “Octet in F Major,” Wind Repertory Project, https://www.windrep.org/Octet_in_F_Major. Accessed December 15, 2022.
  9. Wessely Othmar, "Krommer, Franz." Grove Music Online. 2001; Accessed 14 Dec. 2022. https://www-oxfordmusiconline-com.lib-e2.lib.ttu.edu/grovemusic/view/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.001.0001/omo-9781561592630-e-0000015571.


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