The Piano Concerto No. 14 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, written in 1784 is a piano concerto in E flat major catalogued
with KV 449.
It is the first composition he entered into a notebook of his music he then kept for the next seven years, marking
down main themes, dates of completion, and other important information. From this notebook we have the information that he
finished the concerto on February 9.
In the same year in succession he wrote several concertos, and in a letter to his father that May, wrote of the
15th and 16th concertos (in B flat and in D, KV. 450 and 451) that he "could not choose between them" but that "the one in
E flat does not belong at all to the same category. It is one of a quite peculiar kind...". It is regarded as being the first
of the mature series of concertos Mozart wrote, and indeed, commentators such as Girdlestone and Hutchings valued it as one
of the best, particularly as all three movements are of the highest standard.
This concerto has three movements:
Allegro vivace. (3/4 time). Andantino. (B flat major and 2/4 time). Allegro ma non troppo. (2/2 time).
Works written in 1784 include besides this concerto the six piano concertos 14-19, the Quintet in E flat
for Piano and Winds, along with several piano works - the Sonata in C Minor noteworthy, one string quartet (the "Hunt"), and
several sets of orchestral dances also. Works by other composers known to Mozart from just around this time include the 80th
symphony (in D minor) and the second cello concerto of Joseph Haydn; Michael Haydn had published two sets of quartets the
year before (also the year of the two Mozart violin-viola duos which legend has it were produced to help that composer fulfil
a commission, which Alfred Einstein regards as a dubious tale), and Carl Stamitz and Ignaz Pleyel each another set of six
(Pleyel released a further set in 1784.) A Pleyel cello concerto (in C) was also released at some point between 1782-4 (Pleyel
being a composer whose quartets, at least, Mozart rated highly.)
A 3/4 time signature was unusual for the opening movement of a piano concerto - of Mozart's piano concertos,
for example, concertos 11, 24 and this one open with a movement in 3/4, but no others. It is also traditional, in the tutti
of a classical concerto, for there to be little key adventuring. There are several reasons for this, but the upshot is that,
the less this is true, the harder it becomes to distinguish the tutti from the opening of a classical-era symphony.
In this concerto, in the first movement, after the first phrase - which begins ambiguously, a unison E flat followed
by a unison C, winding down and back up to a B flat - comes to a full cadence, there is an immediate modulation, through C
minor, into B flat major (over the chord of F major for a few bars to calm the nerves.) Here a possible second theme is heard,
played by strings, winds not coming in until its later strain (near the modulation back into E flat).
Allegro ma non troppo
Girdlestone (p 187, Mozart and his Piano Concertos) writes that the gait of this finale is "neither that
of a gallop, nor of a race, nor even of a dance, but just of a swinging walk, swift and regular, and the virtue of its refrain,
with its sketchy outline and its 'sillabato' diction... rests in its rhythm rather than in its melody." Further he notes that
while this rondo can be divided into contrasting sections, the appearance on the page is very different from what falls on
the ear, which is almost monothematic: "When, score in hand, one notes each return of the first subject... it is possible
to pick out the four expositions of the [rondo] refrain and the three couplets... but on hearing it one's impression is that
the refrain never leaves the stage".