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Mozart flute quartets

A Minute with Miles
Mary Noble Ours
SC Public Radio

In a famous letter to his father, Mozart once wrote, “you know I become quite powerless whenever I am obliged to write for an instrument I cannot bear.” He was talking about the flute, and the occasion of the letter was a commission Mozart had received to write several flute concertos and quartets for flute and strings.

In fairness to Mozart, neither the flutes nor the flutists of his day were terribly reliable, but it’s also possible that Mozart had just been procrastinating, and inventing an excuse to give his father. In any case, the works he wrote for flute, including four flute quartets and two concertos—one of which, it’s true, started life as an oboe concerto—are all among the jewels of the flute repertoire. Mozart was still Mozart, after all, and in the same letter to his father he also wrote, “a composition goes into the world, and naturally I do not want to have cause to be ashamed of my name on the title page.” 

A Minute with Miles is a production of South Carolina Public Radio, made possible by the J.M. Smith Corporation.

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Miles Hoffman is the founder and violist of the American Chamber Players, with whom he regularly tours the United States, and the Virginia I. Norman Distinguished Visiting Professor of Chamber Music at the Schwob School of Music, in Columbus, Georgia. He has appeared as viola soloist with orchestras across the country, and his solo performances on YouTube have received well over 700,000 views.