Top Mozart Concertos

Illustration of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart at piano with people sitting around him listening
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A concerto is typically a three movement classical work composed for a solo instrument accompanied by an orchestra. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s concertos were written for a variety of instruments including solo piano, flute, violin, horn, and more, and were so beloved by audiences in his own lifetime, not even Franz Joseph Haydn’s could match their brilliance. Today, they remain just as popular as ever. If you’re looking to add Mozart’s classical music to your playlists, I highly recommend beginning with this small list of Mozart concertos.

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Flute Concerto No. 2 in D Major – K. 314

Mozart’s Flute Concerto No. 2 is an adaption of the original concerto composed for oboe in 1777. It came into creation when flutist Ferdinand De Jean commissioned Mozart to compose four new quartets and three new concertos for flute. For reasons unknown, Mozart only completed three new quartets and one new concerto. In 1778, Mozart decided to rewrite his Oboe Concerto No. 2 for flute and presented it to De Jean. Because De Jean commissioned Mozart to write new and original works, he paid him for the three quartets and one concerto. No matter how it was created, this wonderfully light concerto is worth listening to any time of day.

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Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor – K. 491

Who doesn't love it when Mozart composes in minor keys? Piano Concerto No. 24 is actually one of only two piano concertos Mozart wrote in a minor key (the other is Piano Concerto No. 20 in d minor). Completed on March 24, 1786, it is the largest of his piano concertos in terms of instrumentation; its score was written for one flute, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, two horns, two trumpets, timpani, and strings. This lush orchestration certainly adds to the concerto’s darker emotional content.

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Piano Concerto No. 9 in E flat Major – K. 271

Fun, exuberant, lovely, and pleasant are words that come to mind when describing Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 9. Written in 1777, when Mozart was only 21 years old, the concerto is highly praised by many musicologists including Alfred Einstein, Charles Rosen, and Alfred Brendel. What makes this concerto unique is Mozart’s surprising use of the solo piano. Typically, the solo instrument isn’t introduced in the concerto until after the themes have been introduced by the orchestra. However, Mozart is quick to begin the piano solo at the start of the concerto and carries this unexpected employment of the instrument throughout the entirety of the piece.

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Piano Concerto No. 17 in G Major – K. 453

Scored for flute, two oboes, two bassoons, two horns, strings, and solo piano, Mozart completed his Piano Concerto No. 17 in 1784. What’s interesting about this concerto is that when Mozart was finished composing the piece, he bought a pet starling and taught it to sing the theme from the final movement.

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Horn Concerto No. 3 in E Flat Major – K. 447

It's time to add more variety to the list, and what better way to do so than Mozart's Horn Concerto no. 3? Completed in 1787, Mozart composed this horn concerto for his friend, Joseph Leutgeb (a horn player himself). Given its short performance time, it is often performed alongside the other horn concertos or wind concertos.

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Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor – K. 466

Of Mozart’s only two minor-key piano concertos, Piano Concerto No. 20 was his first, and one Ludwig van Beethoven admired and kept within his personal repertoire. After completing it in early 1785, Mozart performed as the soloist at its world premiere on February 11, 1785.

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Concerto for Flute and Harp in C Major - K. 299

After beginning the concerto with fanfare-esque sequence, Mozart introduces the flute and harp, a combination of instruments our ears aren’t used to hearing. This unique pairing gives way to a beautiful concerto (especially the third movement). Mozart composed the concerto while staying in Paris in 1788, after being commissioned by  Adrien-Louis de Bonnières, duc de Guînes (a French aristocrat and flutist. He requested the piece to be composed for him and his daughter, who played the harp. It is the only piece of music Mozart wrote for the harp.

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Clarinet Concerto in A Major – K. 622

Given this concerto is one of the last works completed by Mozart before his death, its form and composition are truly more refined and mature. Today, it remains one of his most popular concertos (the adagio movement alone can be found on hundreds, if not thousands, of classical albums). Mozart composed the work for his friend, clarinetist Anton Stadler, in 1791. Mozart wrote the original score for a basset clarinet, which is slightly longer than a standard soprano clarinet and is able to play lower ranges of notes.

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Violin Concerto No. 4 in D Major – K. 218

When completed in 1775, Mozart was only 19 years old. It is believed that Mozart wrote the five violin concertos for his own personal use, but when the older and more skilled violinist Antonio Brunetti requested to perform them, he revised and rewrote the violin parts to be more virtuosic. 

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Piano Concerto No. 27 in B flat Major – K. 595

Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 27, completed in 1791, was the last piano concerto Mozart ever wrote. Though it is not known why Mozart wrote the piece, it is the first piano concerto he wrote since 1788, which was unusual for him. Despite the troubles and hardships, Mozart faced at the end of his life, you’ll never know it when listening to this lovely concerto.