Mozart’s “Eine Kleine Nacht-Musik”: A Cheerful Nocturnal Serenade

Mozart’s G major string Serenade No. 13, commonly known as Eine kleine Nachtmusik (“A Little Night Music”), is among the most enduring popular music ever written. Responding to an unknown commission, Mozart dashed it off on August 10, 1787 in Vienna as he worked on the second act of the opera, Don Giovanni. Originally scored for string quartet and double bass, the piece is frequently performed by a string orchestra. German commentator Wolfgang Hildesheimer wrote, “even if we hear it on every street corner, its high quality is undisputed, an occasional piece from a light but happy pen.”

The opening of the first movement (Allegro) has become almost as iconic as the four-note motif from Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. It makes use of the Mannheim Rocket, a popular device used by composers during the classical period which involves a fast, ascending arpeggiated melodic line. It serves as a cheerful musical “announcement,” capturing attention at a boisterous party in progress. The second movement (Romanze: Andante), a tender ballad, is followed by an elegant Minuet (Allegretto). The final movement (Rondo: Allegro) is filled with sparkling inner lines and fun-loving musical surprises.

Aaron Copland wrote that, with Eine kleine Nachtmusik, Mozart “tapped once again the source from which all music flows, expressing himself with a spontaneity and refinement and breathtaking rightness that has never since been duplicated.”

Featured Image: Salzburg’s Horse Fountain, photograph by G.Breitegger

About Timothy Judd

A native of Upstate New York, Timothy Judd has been a member of the Richmond Symphony violin section since 2001. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music where he earned the degrees Bachelor of Music and Master of Music, studying with world renowned Ukrainian-American violinist Oleh Krysa.

The son of public school music educators, Timothy Judd began violin lessons at the age of four through Eastman’s Community Education Division. He was a student of Anastasia Jempelis, one of the earliest champions of the Suzuki method in the United States.

A passionate teacher, Mr. Judd has maintained a private violin studio in the Richmond area since 2002 and has been active coaching chamber music and numerous youth orchestra sectionals.

In his free time, Timothy Judd enjoys working out with Richmond’s popular SEAL Team Physical Training program.

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