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About this Piece

As with many of Mozart's chamber works, Haydn figures prominently in Mozart’s String Quintet in D, K. 593. Nearly 40 years after Mozart died, the English music publisher Vincent Novello recorded the reminiscence of Abbé Maximilian Stadler that he (Stadler) had frequently played with Mozart and Haydn in Mozart’s quintets, particularly the D-major one. It was composed in December 1709, and probably for Johann Tost, who had been Haydn’s principal second violin in his Esterhazy orchestra.

The music itself also references Haydn. It begins with a slow introduction, much more common for Haydn than for Mozart – except when Mozart was specifically invoking Haydn, as in the introduction for the “Dissonant” Quartet. This time, however, Mozart trumps himself and his older friend, bringing his Larghetto introduction back just before the main Allegro ends, for a magically disruptive yet integrating effect unique in his music.

The Adagio marking for the slow movement, relatively rare for Mozart, may be another homage to Haydn. “The most incredible passage in any of the quintets is in the middle of the development section, where the work’s central constructive device – the use of descending thirds – reaches a violent pitch of intensity,” writes H.C. Robbins Landon.

The Menuetto, which picks up the descending third element, also touches a Haydn base, including a strict canon in its second part. The final Allegro is even more contrapuntally obsessed, quick and astonishingly intense.