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Ambache logo DIANA AMBACHE on why she plays MOZART
Portrait of Mozart (probably 1789) by Joseph Lange in the Mozart Museum, Salzburg

I had played some of Mozart's piano sonatas at school and not been particularly taken with them; however it was when I first played a couple of the concertos at University that I felt the power of the music and began to discover Mozart the composer. There were several characteristics which made the music immediately right for me. The range of emotions was everything I felt. The beauty of the music was stunning, and he combined that with depth of expression and sensuality in the sound - a rare feat of creative writing. And it was my kind of pianism, with a lot of single finger lines, incredibly demanding because of its polished finish, but not flashy in a conventionally virtuoso way.

Many people have tried to write about Mozart, and to describe the universality of his music. It doesn't make this job any easier; but there is something about the exceptional spirit of the man which comes through his music, conveyed with great joy and great sadness. He manages to communicate both light and shade together, which gives the feeling that he was completely open and honest, never denying anything.

We can see now how far ahead of his contemporaries he was. As well as the emotional directness, he had such a wealth of ideas. This was depicted in Amadeus as his music having "too many notes"; people couldn't keep up with him at the time, but perhaps we can now.

Haydn's assessment addressed to Leopold is very fitting: "I tell you before God, as an honest man, your son is the greatest composer known to me in person and by name".

It was the many qualities of the Piano Concertos which led me to start my Orchestra. The fact that all the parts are well written and contributory was very important, so the orchestra was an integral part of the music making and not merely in an accompanying role. I like making music when everyone is part of the proceedings. The role of the piano is sometimes described as 'first among equals' and I enjoy taking that place among my colleagues. Mozart's writing for the piano seems particularly personal, as it was his first instrument. The writing for wind instruments is also quite exceptional, and as I am married to a wind player, that is a source of great satisfaction to me.

There is a quality of universality in Mozart, not just because he wrote in so many different genres. The music seems to transcend time and place and be totally relevant to us today, whatever the content of our daily lives.

© Diana Ambache at