Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart:
Divertimento No. 8 for 2 oboes, 2 bassoons & 2 horns in F major , K. 213 (with Score)
Composed: 1775
Performance: Bläser der Berliner Philharmoniker

0:00 1. Allegro spiritoso (F major)
4:25 2. Andante (C major)
6:57 3. Menuetto (F major – B-flat major)
9:59 4. Contredanse en Rondeau (F major)

Music for wind bands or groups (known in German as Harmoniemusik) played an important role in the Austria of Mozart’s day. Highly suitable for outdoor performance, such groups had a practical use as military bands in addition to enjoying the function of providers of entertainment to members of the aristocracy (those familiar with Don Giovanni will recall that shortly before the climax of the opera we find the Don supping to a wind band playing arrangements of popular opera tunes of the day). Less expensive than employing a full orchestra, many noble houses employed their own Harmoniemusik and a large repertory was built up. Mozart’s contribution is significant and includes the Divertimento in F, K. 213, the first of a group of wind chamber works (the others are K. 240 in B flat, K. 252 in E-flat, K. 253 in F, and K. 270 in B-flat) written in Salzburg between July 1775 and January 1777. They are preserved in a manuscript housed in the Prussian State Library in Berlin, and, with the exception of K. 252, have dates added in the hand of Mozart’s father Leopold. The original manuscript of a sixth work, K. 289 in E flat, is lost and its authenticity has been questioned by Mozart scholars. The standard scoring for chamber Harmoniemusik was pairs of oboes, bassoons and horns, all six works mentioned above conforming to such a layout. While no specific purpose has been established for K. 213, it may well have been composed as dinner table music for the Archbishop of Salzburg, Hieronymus Colleredo. Despite such modest intentions, K. 213 shares with its companion works such consummate technical skill in the layout and handling of the instruments as to elevate the work far above mere background music.