An Afternoon at Skittles

Kegelstatt is where it all began – the world’s first composition for clarinet, viola and piano and composed on 10 sheets of paper by Mozart when he was living in Vienna, dating the manuscript on 5 August 1786.

Mozart’s Kegelstatta Trio K498

Kegelstatt means ‘a place where skittles are played’. Mozart had already written a set of 12 Duos for French horns inscribing the first page ‘while playing skittles’. A week and a half later he composed and dated his Trio for clarinet, viola and piano but it seems the name Kegelstatt was not added until an 1862 catalogue of Mozart’s music.

One of Mozart’s students at the time was 17-year-old Karoline Pichler, who recalled that the work was dedicated to Franziska von Jacquin – another of his students – and with a family with whom Mozart was close friends, performing house concerts with Nikolaus on flute and Franziska the piano.

Anton Stadler

Mozart’s Kegelstatt trio for clarinet-viola-piano trio was first played in the von Jacquin’s house with Anton Stadler playing the clarinet, Mozart the viola, and Franziska von Jacquin the piano.

Stadler’s name is inextricably linked to Mozart’s compositions for these two instrument – and they were both Freemasons.

The music itself does not follow convention either. The three movements begin not with the more usual Allegro but a more contemplative Andante. Instead of an expected slow second movement Mozart writes a moderate Menuetto, and the last movement, while a lively Rondeaux: Allegretto, is not the standard Allegro.

Nikolaus Joseph von Jaquin

Mozart had already dedicated a number of works to the von Jacquin family so a new work such as this would have not come as any surprise. However the introduction of a relatively new instrument such as the clarinet would have been unexpected. Mozart was to follow with a Clarinet Quintet and a Clarinet Concerto. Now popular works in the clarinet repertoire, these works undoubtedly helped increase the instrument’s popularity. 

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Yet it was some time before other composers discovered the beauty of this instrumental combination. In 1853 Schumann broke new ground with Märchenerzählungen (Fairy tale narrations) followed by Max Bruch and his ‘Eight pieces’ in 1910.


Saturday 6 July, 7.30pm
St. Michael’s Church, Broad Street, Bath

Glinka Trio in D minor Pathetique
Helen Grime Snow and Snow
Mozart Trio in E flat major K498 Kegelstatt
Beethoven Trio in B flat major op11 Glassenhauer
Brahms Clarinet Trio op114.

Tickets £16 – available online – click on button below
Also available in person from the Bath Box Office, Bridgwater House,
2 Terrace Walk,  Bath BA1 1LN or call 01225 463362.