Concerto No. 4 in D major
In this masterclass, Miriam Fried discusses capturing the playfulness and exuberance of Mozart’s fourth violin concerto with Emilia Sharpe. She touches on some important technical aspects such as vibrato, making large leaps, and preparing the bow, fingers, and arms for upcoming passages. She also points out some signs of tension in the performer and offers some advice on how to eliminate them in the practice room. The main focus of the class, however, is on delivering a convincing performance that conveys the spirit of the music. She encourages the student to release her fears of making mistakes and instead spend her energy feeling the emotion herself and then figuring out how to help the audience feel it as well. This involves feeling a strong sense of meter, having direction in every phrase, bringing out contrasting moods, and most importantly, enjoying oneself while playing this delightful music.
Taking risks and not being afraid of mistakes.
Feeling the meter and high points of the phrases.
Bringing out the playful spirit of the music.
Intentional use of vibrato.
Communicating the character and meaning of the music to the audience.
Mozart composed his fourth violin concerto in Salzburg in 1775. He likely intended to perform the work himself, but as he was succeeded in the Salzburg Court Orchestra shortly afterward, he did not premiere the piece. The concerto adheres to standard Classical form, with three movements in a fast-slow-fast construction. The first movement, Allegro, has militaristic qualities with a marching tempo and bugle calls, though it retains plenty of charm. The Andante cantabile is gentle and lyrical, with the violin floating over the orchestra. The final movement, Rondeau, vacillates between two contrasting characters. The first is gracious and restrained, while the second is joyous and dancelike. By the end, the two themes have converged into a delightful conclusion.
If you don't enjoy what's happening, how do you expect the listener to enjoy it?
Aim for excellence! You can improve your skills with expert advice. Download the annotated sheet music of this violin masterclass. Please note that this piece has been annotated in accordance to Miriam Fried’s feedback and comments.
Professor of violin at New England Conservatory in Boston.
Miriam Fried has played with virtually every major orchestra in the United States and Europe and has been a frequent guest with the principal orchestras of Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, New York, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, as well as with the Israel Philharmonic, the London Symphony, the Royal Philharmonic, and the Vienna Symphony.
In recent seasons, Ms. Fried’s schedule has included orchestral engagements with such prestigious ensembles as the Boston Symphony, the Chicago Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Berlin Philharmonic, the Orchestre de Paris, the Czech Philharmonic, and the St. Petersburg Philharmonic. In 1993, she premiered a violin concerto written for her by Donald Erb with the Grand Rapids Symphony, and recorded the work for Koss. Ms. Fried’s highly praised New York recitals of the complete Bach Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin were the culmination of three years of international performances.
She was the first violinist of the Mendelssohn String Quartet for ten years and collaborates regularly with her son, pianist Jonathan Biss. Currently, Miriam Fried is a professor at New England Conservatory and is invited to give masterclasses throughout the world. Since 1994 she has been program Director of the Ravinia Steans Music Institute, one of the country’s leading summer programs for young musicians.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a great child prodigy of Western music and one of the most important musicians of Classicism. He wrote more than six hundred compositions and single-handedly developed and popularized the piano concerto. He was widely recognized during his lifetime, and is still regarded as the most universal composer in the history of classical music.
Born in 1756 to Anna Maria and Leopold Mozart in Salzburg, Austria, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s musical talents were recognized at an early age. By age four, the young prodigy began playing the harpsichord, and by five-years old he was composing pieces. The Mozart family would make several trips throughout Europe to exhibit the young boy and his sister’s sensational virtuosity with the harpsichord and violin.
In later years, Mozart would enjoy a flourishing career in Vienna. He frequently performed as a pianist and was regarded as the most outstanding keyboard player in the city. In addition to his career as a performer, Mozart established himself as a fine composer. In 1782, he wrote the opera Die Entführung aus dem Serail, which was very successful. Other renowned operas written by the rising composer included Le Nozze de Figaro (1786), Don Giovanni (1787), and Cósi fan Tutte (1790).
The death of his father in 1787 may have marked the decline of Mozart’s career. He composed very few works, suffered many financial problems, and in 1791 during a visit in Prague for the premier of his opera La clemenza di Tito, Mozart became very ill. In his final days, Mozart was preoccupied with completing his final oeuvre : Requiem in D Minor, K. 626. Unfortunately, he was unable to complete this piece (it was later finished by his student Franz Xaver Süssmayr) as he passed away on December 5th, 1791 possibly of rheumatic fever, however the official cause is unknown.
Despite Mozart’s tragic early demise, the brilliant instrumentalist and composer left an unparalleled legacy. He was a gifted composer all around and wrote in every major genre including but not limited to symphonies, operas, solo concertos, sonatas, masses and more. His influence is wide and profound, and his music continues to be recognized and celebrated for its ingenuity.