Mozart's Italianate Response to Haydn's Opus 33


It has become a commonplace that the publication of Haydn's string quartets Op. 33 prompted Mozart's return to this genre in 1782. The latter's Op. 10 quartets have been considered as attempts either to imitate or to contradict Haydn's 'models'. The present article, in contrast, focuses on the Italian influence on Mozart's string quartets, from the 'Lodi' quartet K. 80 and the 'Milanese' series to his Haydn dedication set. In the context of a mostly unknown contemporary Italian repertory, several aspects of Mozart's seemingly personal genre conception can now be related to Italian practice. Features of his early works are still extant in his 'Viennese' and 'Haydn' quartet series. In the latter, they coexist with the demonstrable influence of Haydn's Op. 33. In comparison to Haydn, Mozart came from a different, probably Italianate tradition of quartet writing, to which he remained largely true.