Sinfonia Concertante for Violin, Viola and Orchestra (Mozart)

The Sinfonia Concertante for Violin, Viola and Orchestra in E major, K. 364 (320d), was written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Sinfonia Concertante for Violin, Viola and Orchestra
by W. A. Mozart
Martini bologna mozart 1777.jpg
The young composer, a 1777 copy of a lost painting
KeyE major
CatalogueK. 364 (320d)
GenreSinfonia concertante
StyleClassical period
Composed1779 (1779)
MovementsThree (Allegro maestoso, Andante, Presto)
  • Violin
  • Viola
  • orchestra

At the time of its composition in 1779, Mozart was on a tour of Europe that included Mannheim and Paris. He had been experimenting with the sinfonia concertante genre and this work can be considered his most successful realization in this cross-over genre between symphony and concerto.


The piece is scored in three movements for solo violin, solo viola, two oboes, two horns, and strings, the last including a divided viola section, which accounts for the work's rich harmony.

The solo viola part is written in D major instead of E major,[a] and the instrument tuned a semitone sharper (scordatura technique), to give a more brilliant tone. This technique is uncommon when performed on the modern viola and is used mostly in performance on original instruments.



Giuliano Carmignola, Danusha Waskiewicz, and Orchestra Mozart made a recording in Bologna in 2007 conducted by Claudio Abbado. This is available on the Archiv label. Richard Wigmore in Gramophone (October 2015) writes that there are over 40 CD recordings in all. He rates as best to date one by Iona Brown, violinist and conductor, and Lars Anders Tomter, viola, with the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra, Chandos CHAN9695. Also on his short list is a 1989 recording, with Iona Brown, and with Nobuko Imai, viola.[citation needed] Mention should also be made of the 1951 Casals Perpignan Festival recording with Isaac Stern and William Primrose, Casals conducting.


This Sinfonia Concertante has influenced many arrangers to use its themes. In 1808 an uncredited arrangement of the piece for a string sextet was published by Sigmund Anton Steiner [de] under the title Grande Sestetto Concertante. All six parts are divided equally among the six players; it is not presented as soloists with accompaniment. It has also been arranged for cello in place of the viola part.

The Sinfonia Concertante was mentioned in William Styron's 1979 novel Sophie's Choice; after a stranger molests Sophie on the subway, she hears the Sinfonia Concertante on the radio, which brings back memories of her childhood in Kraków and snaps her out of her depression.

Variations on the slow second movement were used for the soundtrack to the 1988 Peter Greenaway film Drowning by Numbers by composer Michael Nyman. The original piece is also heard after each of the drownings in the screenplay.


  1. ^ That is, with the scordatura the solo viola is treated as a transposing instrument (in D major); in real notes (concert pitch) the part is in E, which is the key of the work of course; writing it in D major allows the solo violist to use the fingerings he or she is used to without being confused by the instrument being tuned a half-step up.

Further readingEdit

  • Mordden, Ethan. A Guide to Orchestral Music: A Handbook for Non-Musicians (Oxford, 1980).
  • Smith, Erik. Notes to Mozart Sinfonia Concertante K364 (L.P. DECCA 1964)

External linksEdit

  • Sinfonia Concertante for Violin, Viola and Orchestra (Mozart): Scores at the International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP)
  • Sinfonia Concertante in Es für Violin, Viola und Orchester: Score and critical report (in German) in the Neue Mozart-Ausgabe
  • "Mozart:Sinfonia Concertante for violin, viola and orchestra". Viola in Music. 2012. Retrieved 1 July 2013.
  • Anderson, Keith (1990). "Liner Notes - Mozart: Violin Concerto No. 4 / Sinfonia Concertante, Naxos 8.550332". Naxos. Retrieved 1 July 2013.
  • Filmer, Andrew. "Mozart: Sinfonia Concertante in E-flat major for Violin, Viola and Orchestra". Andrew Filmers Blog. Retrieved 1 July 2013.
  • Freed, Richard (2005). "Program Notes – Sinfonia concertante K. 364". The Kennedy Center. Retrieved 11 December 2019.
  • Freiberg, Sarah (2007). "'Mozart: Grande Sestetto Concertante for String Sextet after the Sinfonia Concertante, K.364,' Edited by Christopher Hogwood". Retrieved 1 July 2013.
  • Heninger, Barbara; Kujawsky, Eric (2004). "Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Sinfonia Concertante". Redwood Symphony. Retrieved 1 July 2013.
  • Nemet, Mary (2009). "'Grande Sestetto Concertante (1808) After the Sinfonia Concertante, K. 364,' by W.A. Mozart". Retrieved 1 July 2013.
  • Pajot, Dennis. "K364 Sinfonia Concertante in E♭ for Violin and Viola". Retrieved 1 July 2013.[dead link]