Mozart: String Quartet No. 20 in D major, K. 499, “Hoffmeister”

The String Quartet in D Major, K. 499, “Hoffmeister” was written in 1786 in Vienna by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It was published by — if not indeed written for — his friend Franz Anton Hoffmeister. Because of this, the quartet has acquired the nickname Hoffmeister.

This work, sandwiched between the six quartets he dedicated to Joseph Haydn (1782–5) and the following three Prussian quartets (1789–90), intended to be dedicated to King Frederick William II of Prussia (the first edition bore no dedication, however), is often polyphonic in a way uncharacteristic of the earlier part of the classical music era. The menuetto and its trio give good examples of this in brief, with the brief irregular near-canon between first violin and viola in the second half of the main portion of the minuet, and the double imitations (between the violins, and between the viola and cello) going on in the trio.

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