Home > Orchestra > MOZART - STARR; Fantasy in F minor KV 594, for orchestra (originally for mechanical organ)

KV 594 is one of two fantasies that Mozart composed in 1790 (the year before his death) on commission, for a mechanical organ (with a cylinder mechanism similar to later player pianos.) He produced two complex masterpieces (musically they rate among the most significant movements of his late period.) The problem for posterity has always been: how can we listen to this music? Attempts to rebuild a suitable mechanical organ are little more than historical curiosities, since Mozart hated the miserable sound of the original instrument. He went way beyond the sonorities that could be produced by "little pipes." Attempts to perform the work on a church organ have proven similarly ill-advised. Knowing that he was writing for a machine, Mozart went far beyond the technical limitations of mere organists, equipped with only two hands and two feet. Inevitably, organists slow down the allegro section to an allegretto just to handle all the notes; and even then, many notes are unreachable on one keyboard played by one performer. When first published, KV 594 was transcribed for piano 4-hands – on which it sounds terrible. This is not piano music. It has also been transcribed for woodwind quintet – on which it sounds even worse. A woodwind quintet lacks the power and differation of color to realize all the nobility, drama, brilliance and rich textures that are part of this extraordinary music. Upon detailed analysis of KV594, it seemed clear to me that what Mozart really had in mind when he composed this music was the orchestra. Using a large orchestral ensemble that Mozart often employed in his last symphonies, it was possible, I believe, to realize all the instrumental possibilities inherent in this work, with no compromises in terms of instrumental technique, style, color and emotional impact. Browsers interested in the remarkable background of this work are directed to my historical essay that precedes the music, on pages 2 and 3. These pages are accessible on Scorch by using the page arrows.

To listen to the second Fantasy originally for mechanical organ KV 608, just jump down to the bottom of the page when KV 594 is finished. You will find a box labeled Associated Scores, and in this box is a links to the succeeding Fantasy.

In addition to perusing the score online and hearing it played by SCORCH using basic MIDI sounds, you can also listen online to an MP3 of each movement, made with enhanced musical sounds. And if you wish, you can download this MP3 file free-of-charge for repeated listening.

Please let me know what you think of this orchestral arrangement of Mozart's Fantasy KV 594 - either by email (just click the button EMAIL THE PUBLISHER) or with an online review. I am always interested to read listeners' comments.


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