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Galpin Society

Mozart without the Pedal?

Author(s): Paul Badura-Skoda
Source: The Galpin Society Journal, Vol. 55 (Apr., 2002), pp. 332-350
Published by: Galpin Society
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There is one feature which distinguishes the piano from nearly all other

instruments: the removal of dampers by the pedal, allowing the

continuing vibration of the strings.
When Cristofori invented the piano, called by him 'Cembalo che fa il
piano e forte', the possibility of prolonging the sound by other means than
keeping the keys pressed down, had not yet occurred to him. But soon his
followers and imitators discovered this possibility to enrich the sound.
Probably the first one to build the damper raising device into his pianos was
Gottfried Silbermann in Potsdam. His inspiration might have been the
pantaloneand instruments like the Lautendavierwhich had no dampers at all.
His fortepianos built in Potsdam in the 1740s and those by his nephew
Johann Heinrich Silbermann had handstops for lifting the dampers, mostly
two separate ones for the low and the high register. This practice continued
on square pianos during the second half of the 18'h century. However, on
wing shaped pianos, Fliecl, quite early in their development, the kneelever, which functions like the modern pedal, was invented. Its advantage
is obvious: the dampers can be raised and subsequently lowered while both
hands remain on the keyboard. In England where the later harpsichords
often had had two pedals (one for changing registers and one to operate the
swell), the early piano makers followed this tradition, mainly on wingshaped pianos, but with a different function, identical with our modern
pedals. One of the earliest surviving pianos with pedals is the Broadwood
grand No. 203 (formerly, and possibly still, in the Colt Clavier collection,
Ashford, Kent), dated 1787'. Pedals have the advantage over knee levers in
that any person, short or tall, can operate them easily. Knee levers are
usually at a height of 22 to 23 inches above the ground. Thus players with
short legs sometimes have trouble in reaching them, and need to place a
wooden block or a book under their feet in order to avoid the 'tip-toe'
position for raising the dampers.
D)uring more than fifty years of my fascination with 18th-century
fortepianos with Viennese action, I have come across more than forty
instruments of this period prior to 18002, all of them with knee levers. A
few of them might have been originally conceived with hand levers, later
I owe this informationto my friend Dr.John Henry van der Meer, Fiirth,
I wasthe firstmodernpianistwho recordedfor a WestminsterLPin 1953 some
of Mozart'ssolo works for piano on a Walter grand piano, belonging to the
Museumin Vienna.

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altered, but most of them had knee levers from the outset. The most
precious among these was Mozart's own Anton Walter pianoforte in
Until recentlyit hadgenerallybeen assumedthatits knee levershadbeen
used by Mozart.Yet Dr. Michael Latcham,the last person to have made
carefulinvestigationof this instrument,is convinced that this fortepiano
was builtwith handleversonly, and thatthe knee leverswere addedmuch
later. He publishedhis findings in the article 'Mozartand the pianos of
GabrielAnton Walter',EarlyMusic,August 1997, pp. 382-400. There he
proves, supportedby photos of the action, thatmany alterationshad been
made on Mozart'spiano. includingthe laterinstalmentof the knee levers.
So far there is nothing unusual in his discovery. Many pianistsask for
modificationsin theirpianos.I myselfhad the action of my B6sendorferof
1962 rebuilt severaltimes and a sostenuto pedal installedduring my life
time. Similarly,MalcolmBilson reportsfrequentreworkingon his Walter
copy by Philip Belt.3But there is a 'bombshell'in Dr. Latcham'stheory:
accordingto him allthese alterationswere made only afterMozart'sdeath.
Thatmeansthatwe would have to forego our assumptionthatMozarthad
used the knee leversin his concerts.Thus we should renounce the use of
pedalin a stylisticallycorrectperformanceof his works.
As to be expected, Dr. Latcham'stheory has caused a heated controversy. In contributionsand lettersto EarlyMusica numberof readershave
seriouslyquestionedhis conclusions4while one of them found his account
'totallyconvincing'."In EarlyMusic,August 2000 Dr. Latchamrepliedto
the firstof these criticisms.While he denies that 'any amount of evidence,
gatheredby readinghis (Mozart's)music, can prove he had knee levers in
his instrumentsby Walter', he admitsthat the Stein piano owned by the
Countess of Thun, which Mozart often played in Vienna, 'will have had
such knee levers ... The knee levers on the Walterpianosin Nuremberg
(1785?)and Gdansk(dated1789) are clearlylateradditions...'6 (madeby
whom and when ?) 'I have provided abundantevidence ... which shows
that changes were made by the Walter firm to Mozart'spiano after his
death.It is quitepossible(underlinedby PaulBadura-Skoda)thatthe knee
Letterto EarlyMusic,
3 Malcolm
- Mozart's
4 EvaBadura-Skoda
August 2000 pp.469-473.MariusFlothuis'Mozart'sfortepiano',
2001:'Thewholeof theC-minorsonata,K 457 needskneelevers'.Also
Nov. 2000, pp.685-686
6 HereLatcham
is hardto understand.
One paragraph
laterhe citesthesetwo
their original
pianosas belongingto the threeWalterpianosstillrepresenting
condition.But with the knee leverslateraddedthey are not in theiroriginal
condition!BesidesI findit hardto digestthatpractically
everyownerof a Walter
pianohadit changedlater;why?WhatabouttheWalterssoldabroad?

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levers were addedat the sametime.' - RichardMaunder(see footnote 5)

thinksthat 'handleverswere perfectlyadequatefor damperraisingin the
18t' century ... There is no convincing evidence that any of them (the
extant earlyViennese pianos)originallyhad knee levers'. Finally,a letter
by David A. Sutherlandis worth mentioning.7He suggeststhatMozart's
pedalpiano could explainsome of his notations(see laterexample11) and
that his pedal 'made it inconvenient (perhapsimpossible) to use knee
levers'.This readeris mistaken,however: a reconstructedpedal-boardfor
my Walter copy, (basedon the very few extantpedal pianos)has a board
above the front end of the pedal keys where the feet can rest and easily
operate the knee levers:Example 11 and others could indeed be played
easilyon the pedalkeys.But the sonataK 311 fromwhich thisexamplewas
taken,precedesMozart'sacquisitionof the pedal-pianoby a few years!
As canbe seen fromthe contrastingviews presentedhere, we aredealing
with a thorny question. Apparentlythere exists no hard core proof as to
whetheror not Mozartusedknee levers.Yet, when documentaryevidence
is lacking, historical presentationsneed also logical and psychological
deductionsto fill in the gapsin the information.If they point in the same
direction, we arejustified in believing that they will lead us towardsthe
historicaltruth. But firstof all, we have to look again into the evidence
(incompleteas it may appear).Maybe it can yield more factsthanhitherto

Fourroadsof investigationoffer themselves:

1. Mozart's Walter pianoforte itself and the alterationsit
underwent.For which purposewere they made?
2. The few relevantdocumentsand theirmeaning.
3. A brief accountof the use of the damperliftingdevicesin the
late 18t' centuryin theoryand practice.Why did composersnot
prescribehandlevers,knee leversor pedals?
4. Musical examples which show that Mozart and other
composersprobablyrelied on 'pedalling'.For 'materialists'this
method might appearto be irrelevant,but for artistsand for
musiciansit might have a meaning!
AlthoughI haveplayedon Mozart'sown fortepianoseveraltimes,I have
never takenit apart.For this reasonI do not feel competent to enterinto
discussion with Dr. Latcham regarding the mechanical parts of the
instrument.ThereforeI have to resortto the opinion of a specialistin Dr.
'I)avidA. Sutherland,
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Latcham'sfield. My main source of informationhas been Dr. Konstantin

Restle, musicologistand specialistin the restorationof historicalpianos.
Dr. Restle is head of the BerlinMuseum of historicalmusicalinstruments.
Priorto Dr. Latchamhe had examinedMozart'spiano. He intendsto write
a paperon this subjectand he authorizesme to say that he disagreeswith
Dr. Latcham'sobservationsand conclusions.As an instrumentbuilderand
a scholarhe has 'scientific'reasonsfor believing thatthe knee leverson this
With regardto the other changes of mechanicalparts, I concur with
Malcolm Bilson (see footnote 3). If these alterationswere made after
Mozart'sdeath,for whose benefitwere they made?It is known thatMozart
made the highest demands on the precision and functioning of his
instruments.Apart from his letters there are the mechanical problems
inherentin his piano works:subtledynamics,fastornamentson shortnotes
etc. Even on modernpianosa satisfactoryperformanceof Mozartrequires
a well regulatedaction. Thus it seems to be logical that the mechanical
improvementswere made for him and not afterhim. When Dr. Maunder
assumesthatvery few extantearlyViennesefortepianosoriginallyhadknee
levers(seeabove),evidencepointsin a differentdirection.ApartfromStein
(who accordingto Latchamannouncedknee leversas earlyas 1769) there
was his studentSchiedmayerandtherewere Schantz,Hoffmann,Kiinecke
as well as the makerof my anonymousViennese fortepiano,estimatedby
expertsto datefrom 1780. It hasHolzkapseln(wooden kapsels)and a rather
primitiveaction, but two genuine knee leversnevertheless.Dr. Maunder's
observationthat sale advertisementsin Viennese newspapersmade no
mention of knee levers, is not reallysurprisingand no argumentagainst
their existence.The damper-liftingdevice was a common sound mutation
and therefore belonged to the Mutationenwhich only seldom were
mentioned. One may considerthe factthata 'sostenutopedal'is alsorarely
mentionedin modernpiano advertisements.
Strangelyenough, an importantfeatureof the knee levers in Mozart's
own Walterpiano hasnot been mentioned duringthis entire controversy.
Unlike the other grandpianos, Walter installedhere two knee levers for
raisingthe dampers(and none for the hand-operatedmoderator stop).
Thus the rightknee lever raisesthe damperson the rightside only, the left
operatesall the dampers.The rightknee lever is well suited to play chords
legato or to make a melody 'sing'while the notes in the bassaredetached.
On the otherhand,the left lever (which correspondsto the modernpedal)
is ideallysuited for arpeggiosand broken chordsin legato context. Apart
from Mozart'spiano I have found only one other grandpiano by Walter
with similardamperlifting devices:it is found in the collection of Signora
Giulini in Italy (datedby Latchamc.1785, perhapseven earlier).I have
played and recordedrepeatedlyon Mozart'sown instrumentsince 1956,
and firmlybelieve that these two differentfunctions are genuine and are
not the resultof a restorer'swhim. For a modernplayer,it is at firstrather
inconvenientto operatethe complete damperliftingwith the left leg only.8

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On manylaterWalterpianosaswell ason thoseby Schantz,Hoffmann,etc.

all the dampersare raisedwith only one knee lever, while a second lever
usuallyraisesa 'moderato'stop. Sometimesmore mutationpossibilitiesare
activatedby handor with more knee levers.
Why did Mozartchoose in Vienna a piano by Walterin 1782 and not
one made by Stein, whose pianoshe had recommendedin 1781 to Grafin
Thun? Obviously,becauseby 1782 he preferreda Walterto a Steinpiano
and consideredthe concert grandsby Walter superior.(He was not alone
with this opinion - even today the Walterpianosareconsideredto be the
best in thisperiod).Walter'sgrandpianosaretriplestrungfromthe middle
registerto the treble and produce a much greatervolume than Stein's
double strunginstruments.But what was probablyeven more important
for Mozart- they have a better singing quality.On the other hand, why
shouldMozarthavebeen willing to missfor the restof his life an advantage
which he had so fully appreciatedup to 1777? Why shouldhe for all of his
concertshave been satisfiedwith a somewhatantiquatedinstrument?If the
as l)r. Latchambelieves,
alterationson his piano had been madeafter1800()
would Walter then that late have left a hand stop for the 'moderator'and
not installeda pedalinstead?
In my modest opinion, even a thorough examinationof the wooden
partsalone cannot warranta precisehistoricalresult. It still appearsmore
plausiblethat the date for the addition of the knee levers is 1782, when
Mozartselectedhis piano from severalinstrumentsin Walter'sworkshop.
Noticing apparentlythat this piano had hand-leversonly, he probably
askedWalterto replacethem by knee leverswhich he hadfound so useful
on Stein'sandotherearlypianos.I admit,thisis a puretheoryandno proof.
Whataboutthe factthat,accordingto Latchaim,
hand levers as late as 1789? Eva Badura-Skodail her responseto this
statement,makesa very significantremark:"'His (Latcham's)redatingof
Walterinstrumentsknown to him is basedon an 'evolution theory'This
contradicts the often observed usual procedure of all professional
instrumentmakersof buildingdifferentmodels andactionssimultaneously
and to oblige the personalrequestsof buyers'. In other words:It is quite
justifiableto think that Walterproducedknee leversas earlyas 1782 and
hand levers as late as late as 1789. However, if we believe that all his
fortepianosup tol 789 had had handleversonly (in theiroriginalstate),he
would have been Vienna'smost conservativepianobuilder- an absurdity!
(Otherexamplesagainst'evolution'could be cited:Scarlatti'ssonatasgo up
to the high g?, a note Mozartor earlyBeethoven neverwrote down).
worthnotingthatthedeviceof aseparate
' Itisperhaps
wasabandonedaround1800 andsomehowre-inventedby Broadwoodaround
1815, when he introducedthe 'splitpedal'which is found in Beethoven's
in Budapest),
andon the one whichI
Early Music, November 2000, p.686


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Mozart's letter of 17 October 1777 to his father is a most important
document; not only with regardto its artisticviews but also becauseit is
one of the rare18h'-centurydocumentswhere the damperraisingdevice is
mentioned. It is obvious from thisletterin which he praisedthe pianoforte
instrumentsof Stein, that Mozartknew very well how to use knee levers
before he came to Augsburgin thatyear. He wrote to his father:'The last
[Sonata]in D, sounds exquisiteon Stein'spianoforte... The device, too,
which you work with your knee is betteron thisthanon otherinstruments.
I have only to touch it and it works; and when you shift your knee the
slightestbit, you do not hearthe leastreverberation'.From this statement
two facts emerge: that Mozart was familiar with this damper-lifting
mechanism and that Stein had made it work 'better than on other
instruments'."'Why else would he have bothered to mention a device
which he never used ? Yet, despite his praise for Stein, in Latcham's
opinion, Mozart,when settlinga few yearslaterin Vienna, is supposedto
have acquireda Walterfortepianowhich had no knee levers!
A newly discovered document, recently found by Ingrid Fuchs"
confirmsthe view thatin 1782 Mozartselectedhis fortepianofrom among
severalothersin Walter'sshop. She quotesfrom a letterwritten in 1783 in
which a Viennese agent tells a customer in Slovakia:'Walter hat viele
fortepianovorrathig,die sch6n sind' ('Walterhasmanybeautifulpianosin
stock').Whatis provenfor 1783 is alsovery plausiblefor 1782. At firstsight
this document seems to have little bearingon our cause.Yet, if we add to
this evidence Haydn's well-known letter of 4 July 1790 to Frau von
Gentzinger,we get the clearimpressionthatWalter'spianoswere different
one from another:Haydn criticizedAnton Walterbecausehis instruments
were of differentquality.'Differentquality'meansdifferentlayout, for the
craftsmanshipin all Walter pianos has alwaysbeen regardedas first rate.
Thus the action, the stringingor the damperlifting deviceswere probably
subjectto variation.The most importantdocumentin our query,however,
is the letterof Constanze,Mozart'swidow, of 17January1810, to her son
Carl,beforesendingMozart'spiano to him in Milan. '... Es ist so gut alses
war, und ich m6chte sagennoch Besseralses war ... weil Waltervon dem
es ist, so freundschaftlichwar mirs einmal wieder ganz neu zu Beftittern
und her zu stellen'.'2Nothing in this sentence hints at an additionof knee
levers.Besides,why shouldConstanzehavebotheredto have an outmoded
10We do notknowwhichwerethese'otherinstruments'.
one sentenceearlierMozartmentionedthe superiorityof Stein'sdampersto
Spaeth's,theymightwell havebeenthe Spaethpianos.(Of coursethisis not 'a
but the probability
of this reasoningcannotbe
shredof a proof [Maunder],
zuAntonWalterin derKorrespondenz
seiner Kunden' in: MitteilungenderIniternationalen
48. Jg., p.112

Recently Eva Badura-Skodapointed out to me that this statement of

Constanzeis quitespecificandallowsa suppositionin what Walter'srepairresulted:


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device built in? In 1810 knee levers were obsolete, practicallyall pianos
were alreadybuilt with pedalsinsteadof knee levers. It makeslittle sense
that the rathertightfistedConstanze,a good singer,but not a professional
pianist, should have ordered a costly alteration before sending the
instrumentto her son in Milanwho - unlike his brotherFranzX. Mozart
was not a professionalpianist either. To quote Malcolm Bilson: 'If an
entirelynew actionwere being installedat thatlate date,she would hardly
speakof new leatheronly. But further,Constanzeseemsto know thatthis
instrument, for which (accordingto his son Carl) Wolfgang had had
particularpreferenceandaffection,needed looking afterasone of the most
importantartefactsof her very importantlate husband.Why would she,
some yearsafterhis death, have desired,or even allowed for that matter,
this instrumentto be so altered?It shouldbe stressedhere thatsuchan oldfashionedfive-octave-instrumentwould have been sadlyout of dateat that
time, for whose benefit would it then have been "improved"?'
An importantquestion calls for an answer:Why did Mozart and other
composersin the second halfof the 18t'centurynot indicatethe use of the
damperraisingdevice, a device which in differentforms(handlever,knee
lever, pedal)was built into practicallyevery piano?
1. The firstobvious answeris this: because its use was taken for granted.
'Pedalling'may be comparedwith the use of vibrato in violin playing.
(Indeed,it often producesa similareffectbecauseof the Schbwelbtngen
producedby sympatheticvibration).This answeris less subjectivethanit
appears.Since thismechanismlwasdiscussedin severaltreatiseson the artof
piano playing,it must have been used!
A typical example earlierthan Mozart can be found in Haydn'spiano
sonatain C minor, Hob. XVI/20 from 1771, 3'' movement, bb.107-119
where the harmoniesneed the sustainedbassnotes.

in Germanmeansin allprobability:new leatherfor the hammers;andthe
means spielbarmaclihen
and may have concerned the regulation.A
verb lherstellen
propertranslationinto Englishof Constanze'ssentencethereforemayread:'... It is
as good as it was, I would sayit is even better ... becauseWalter,of whose makeit
is, waskind enough to put new leatheron the hammersandmadeit playableagain'
I[maymean:regulatedand tunedit].

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An even earlierexamplecanbe found in the 1 ' movement of the sonata

in A flatmajor,Hob. XVI/46 from 1768, bb.5-56 and73-75. This attitude
'takethe pedalwhenever it suitsyou'-continued for more thana century.
Brahms,for example,wrote only a handfulof pedal marksin either of his
two piano concertos,namelywhen he deemed the use of pedal absolutely
2. Another reasonfor the lack of notation in the 18th century must have
with the lack of a suitable
been the problemwith the nomenclatura,_namely
would hardlyhave been understood
expression.The Italianconginoccihiera
by a Frenchor an Englishpianist,while 'pedal'would have made no sense
in countrieswhere the pianoshadno pedals.So it happenedthat eitherno
pedal was indicated(Mozart)or that some composersinvented their own
vocabularyto prescribeits use. In the caseof Haydnit is quitepossiblethat
in laterworks the word tenuteor tenutomeans 'sustainedwith the help of
raiseddampers';otherwiseit would have madelittle senseto prescribeit for
long notes no reasonablepianistwould havebeen temptedto shorten.This
word can be found inter aliain the Sonatain E flat major,Hob. XVI/52,
thirdlastbar of the Adagio, or in the Variationsin F minor, Hob.XVII/6
b. 25, bb. 201-204, bb. 213-216 andb.219. For the sonataXVI, No.50 in
C major,publishedin England,he twice used the expression'open pedal'
in two places, (15smovement, bb.73-74 and bb.120-125), namely where
the interminglingof sounds createda special 'celestian'effect and where
normallya pianistwould have refrainedfrom takinga prolongedpedal.

In my opinion it is unlikely that Haydn wanted the rest of the sonata
played without pedal. This example shows also the effect hand levers
would produce.They made 'changingpedals'impossible.
The firstmajor composer to make an attempt to prescribe'pedalling'
systematically,wasBeethoven. Startingwith his 1I"Piano Concerto, Op.15
he resortedto the somewhat clumsy expressionsenzasordiniwhich up to
this day createsconfusion. It meansjust 'pedal' and definitely not 'with
pedal'. (The correctItalianexpressionwould have been senzasmorzatori).
Does this mean that his piano works before Op.15 have to be played
without pedal?Certainlynot! We owe this knowledge to his pupil Carl
Czernywho remarkedthatBeethoven madeampleuse of the pedal,much
more than indicated. How much wiser would we be, had a student of
Mozart made a similar remark! It would have spared us the whole

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There exists a widespreadopinion that the lifting of damperswas 'a

specialeffect, akinto a changeof registrationon the harpsichord',andthat
'it was not well into the 19th century, that anything like the modern
pedallingtechniquewas developed'." This simplydoes not correspondto
the historicaltruth.Pedallingin our sense came into use at the end of the
18t'century.This canbe seen fromthe way it is describedin pianotreatises.
As it is commonlyknown, thereis usuallya considerabledelaybeforea new
performingpracticefinds its way into theoreticalworks. ThereforeI am
also quoting from treatiseswhich were publishedafterMozart'stime.
Already,by 1763 C. P. E. Bach had mentioned that 'the undamped
register of the pianoforteis the most pleasing and, once the performer
learnsto observethe necessaryprecautionsin the face of its reverberations,
the most delightfulfor improvisation'.(see C.P.E. Bach, Versuch
Ed. L. Hoffinann-Erbrecht(Leipzig,n.d.); trans.W. J. MitchellasEssayon
the TrueArt of
(London, 1949); 1763 edition,
4). Apparentlyhe is referringto handleversfound on
chapter7, paragraph
the Silbermannfortepianos.
In his pianoforteschool op.42 (1801)'4 Clementi (Mozart'ssenior by
fouryears)recommendsthatthe feet be firmlyplacedin frontof the pedals
in order to be able to operate them without having to move. If we
rememberthat the Englishpianosof that time had the pedalsattachedto
the piano legs which stood aboutthree feet apart;it follows thatthe use of
pedalsmusthavebeen fairlyfrequent.Otherwiseit would havebeen much
more comlfortableto keep the feet togetherfor most of the time.
But the most explicit explanationof the pedalin a surprisinglymodern
way is found in L.Adam'sMtlod ede Pianodu Conlseratoire.
dans cct Etablisseenllt.Although Adam published this
serI'ir I'Elnsie(qlenienlt

largevolume aslateas 18()4,he stillstandswith one foot in the 18th-century

tradition,havingcollaboratedwith LudwigLachnithon a piano methodin
1798. Of courseone can objectthatsucha latepublicationhaslittlebearing
on Mozart. Yet we have to keep in mind that several of Adam's
observationsare not limited to any given period or style becausethey are
dealingwith acousticsas such and are thereforeapplicableeven to earlier
periods. On the other hand the subtlety of Adam'sexplanationsand his
repeatedwarningsagainst'overpedalling'indicate a modern approachat
the verybeginningof the 19t"century.A few passagesfromthe 10th chapter
(pp.218-221) areworth quoting:(Translationby PaulBadura-Skoda)

" Maunder
(see note 5) quoting David Rolland, A historyofpianofortepedalling,
" Muzio Clementi, Introduction
to theArt of Playingon thepianoforte(London,



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Everythingwhich may contribute to add charm and emotion of the

senses to an instrument,should not be neglected; and in this context
skilfullyemployedpedalsprovidegreatadvantages.The pianofortecan
prolong the vibrationonly for the time intervalof one bar, and still its
sound decreasesso fastthatthe earhasdifficultyin graspingand hearing
it. Since the pedals remedy this defect and even help to prolong the
sound with equal strength for several bars, it would be wrong to
dispensewith theiruse.
If some people reproachthose performerswho use the pedal only to
impressmusicalignorantsor to hide the mediocrityof their talent, we
shall agree; but those who use them with discretion in order to
embellish and sustain the sound of a beautiful tune and a beautiful
harmony,certainlydeservethe praiseof connoisseurs....
The grand pedal should be employed only for long, very slow
consonantchords;if these chordsarefollowed by others which change
the harmony, one has to damp (&touffer= extinguish)the preceding
chord and put the pedal on the following chord again,making sure to
lift it at every new harmony.
One feels easilythat if one were to applythe pedal to a theme of a fast
movement intermingled with scales, the sounds would confuse
themselves in such a way that the main voice could not be heard.
Nothing producesa worse effect than to use this pedal while playing
chromaticscalesor scalesin (parallel)thirds.
It is a proof of badtasteto use the pedalindiscriminatelyfor allpassages.
While one canbe sureto pleasewhile usingit only occasionally,one can
be likewise certainto displeaseusingit in the oppositeway.
This pedalis much more agreeablein orderto expressthe soft and the
sweet, but one should take care to strikethe keys with much delicacy,
softer even than if one would play without the pedal. Naturallythe
sound of the instrumentis louderwith the damperraised,andone single
key makesthe other stringsvibrateif playedtoo loud.
One should use the pedal only for singing, pure harmoniouspassages
where the sounds continue for a long time, such as pastoralesand
musettes,tenderandmelancholyairs,religiouspieces andin generalfor
all expressive,ratherslow passages.
Adam speaks also of the use of other pedals and the combination of two
pedals together.


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In the last resort it is the music itself which must lead to the answers,
tentativelyor definitely.Before we enter into this musicaldiscussion,we
have to returnto the initialquestion- is it possibleto playMozartwithout
pedal?The answeris: Yes, it is possible,granteda few exceptions.'"But is
it right, historicallyor aesthetically?The following discussionwill show
thatthatit is probablywrong or atleastvery improbable.(Sincein practice,
Mozart'sleft knee lever is identicalto our rightpedal,from now on I shall
use for the convenience of modernreadersthe term 'pedal'in the modern
senseinsteadof the clumsyexpression'damper-liftingdevice').
Let us firstdealwith the most obvious placesto use a pedal:
As the very namesuggests,the word 'arpeggio'is derivedfrom 'arpa',harp.
It is commonly known thatthe harphasno dampermechanismbut thatthe
harpisthas to damp the vibrationof the stringswith his hands.Broken
chords can be played on it over the full tonal range and are sometimes
afterwardsdampedwith the hands. There exists hardlyany 18thcentury
composerwho did not write this sort of 'harpimitation'when composing
works for stringedkeyboardinstruments.Since the harpsichordhas no
'pedal', arpeggioshave to be sustainedby the fingers only. The most
meticulous notation of meeting this necessity was given by Johann
SebastianBach, e.g. in his ChromaticFantasy,BWV 903 (bars18-31):

In the lasttwo chords,there is an unavoidablegap of one octavebetween
the two hands which a real harp would have undoubtedly filled with
additionalnotes. However, it we look at similararpeggiosin Mozart's
pianowriting, we can notice thathe did not feel impededby suchrestraint
andwrote the harmoniesout in full. Examplesarenumerous,e.g. D-minor
Fantasia,K 397 (385g).Actuallythisone passagecould be playedwith hand
leversaswell, becauseit is surroundedby rests.
Iplayit 'with
' Infact,whenI studyaworkbyMozart(orbyearliercomposers),
fingersonly', thus developinga better controlof articulationand phrasing.
However,onceit soundswell, I addthe kneelevers(orthepedal)in appropriate
placesto makeit evensoundbetter.

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Fantasia,K 396, the firstarpeggiowould
opening the
still be playedwith handlevers, though the dampingafterwardswould be

Example 5

But frombar8 on the handleversarecertainlyinsufficient.

In the Fantasiein C major, K 394, b. 46, the use of the pedal strongly
commends itself to every pianist.To play all these arpeggioswithout any
pedalwould sound odd, not only by modern standards.

Sonatain C minor, K 457/II, Adagio, bar.16

In similarpassages
with arpeggioBeethovenandlatercomposersinvariably
pedal:Althoughthisis no proofit suggeststhatMozart'sapproach
havebeensimilarorelsehe wouldhavesteppedoutof thecentury-old'harpeggio'



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The firstbar of this examplerefersto repeatedportatonotes, see later,ex.
In the following example from Mozart'sSonata in A minor, K 310/II,
b.83, only a very largehandcan sustainthe low note c beneaththe second
trillwithout the help of a pedal.


It is significantthatat the parallelpassagein bar49 Mozartnotatedthe low
note as an appoggiatura,apparentlywith the 'pedal'in mind."7


" Notations of this kind are frequentin works by Beethoven and Chopin and

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88 C



Sonatain D major,K 311, second movement, Andante con espressione,
Dr. Maunderfeels thatEva Badura-Skoda'sexamplefrom the SonataK
311, once more reproducedhere, is not a convincing proof for Mozart's
wish to use a pedal.As an argumentwhy thispassage'failsto convince', he
arguesthat 'bassnotes do not need to be sustainedfor their full values
(which C.P.E. Bach teachesus would be incorrect)'.To cite C.P.E. Bach
as an authority for Mozart is a little far fetched, anyway. However, if
Maunder mentions a sentence from C.P.E. Bach's treatise, he should
considerit in its context. I rememberhaving myself quoted this C.P.E.
Bach remarkin my book 'InterpretingBach at the keyboard' (Oxford
UniversityPress,1993), where on p.98 I addedas a commentary:'Taken
out of context, thispronouncementcan easilybe misunderstoodand often
is. C.P.E. Bach's reduction of the note-value by half is an extreme case.
Eighteenth-centuryFrench composersfor the organ recommend only a
slightreductionof the note-value'. And then I continued, that only a few
pages earlierC.P.E. Bach statedthat 'restsas well as notes must be given
theirexactvalue'andremarkedalsothatone should'learnto think in terms
of song', andthat 'the tendernessof adagios'is expressed'by broad,slurred
notes' (see C.P.E. Bach, Versuch...trans.W. J. Mitchell, Essay...(London,
1949), pp.149-151).
Mozart's father Leopold in his treatise on violin playing expresses
repeatedwarnings againstthe shortening of notes. He says in the first
chapter(thirdsection, end of ? 7), and then also on p.46 (in ?18): 'It may
be playedthis or thatway but alwaysone mustbe atpainsnot to shortenthe
second note, for this is a common fault'.WolfgangMozartwas trainedby
his fatherto be precisein his notation of note values.Therefore,it is hard
to imaginethatthese bassnotes in K 311 shouldbe playedshortened;they
rather express 'the tenderness of adagios' of which C.P.E. Bach was
But let us assume,for the sake of argument,that Mozart, ignoring his

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father's advice, was following C.P.E. Bach to the letter, and that he
have considered a performance of this passagewithout the
'pedal'. Alas, not
even half of the note value can be sustained by the fingers only because the
5t' finger has to leave the lower key as soon as the 2nd or 3rd crosses over:

Example 12
Thus, the bass notes, if played without pedal, would become not half but
only a quarter of their value - an absurdity, (As mentioned earlier, Mozart
had not yet acquired a pedal pianoforte when he composed these works).
However, there is no need to worry. If Mozart could not perform
passages like these on his Walter fortepiano, all he had to do was to pay a
visit to the countess of Thun who owned a Stein piano with knee levers.
In certain types of passages the piano strings should not be 'beaten'
by the
hammers, but put into gentle continuing vibration, e.g. in Sonata in A
minor, K 310/I1, bar 64.

Example 13
A similarexample is found in the Adagio, VariationVIII, bar 3, of the
I)uport Variations,K 573.


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Such portatonotes are alsofound in the C-minor SonataK 457/II, bar 15
and at the end of the movement. (See alsoEx. 8).
Even on a modernpiano with its double escapementaction it is difficultto
renderthiswell without pedal.These softlyrepeatednotes (tenute)mustbe
well distinguishedfrom the 'real'staccato,where the use of the pedal is

prohibitive e.g. in the A-minor sonata, K310/II, bar 15:

A fine exampleof these is found in the Concerto in D minor, K 466, 2nd

Here the use or non-use of the pedal makes a remarkabledifferencein
soundvolume. If this Concerto is playedwith orchestraon an 18th-century
piano, in my experience the passageis even more in need of achieving as
much resonanceaspossiblethanwhen playedon a modern concert grand:
therefore,thispassageneeds pedalling.
What about the following examples from the Romance of Mozart's
Concerto in D minor, K 466?


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Example17, bb. 113-116.


Example18, b.142
Whose feet would not itch to use the pedalhere?
Dr. Maunder takes issue with Eva Badura-Skoda'sexample from the
Variationmovement of the Piano Sonatain A major,K 331. He did no
find her argumentconvincing, thata lifting of the dampershelpsto rendei
this passagesatisfactorily.
Var. IV





D)r.Maundercomparesthis example with the hand crossingsfound in
many Scarlattisonatas.Though in the following examplethe similarityis
striking, there is an importantdifference: In the Scarlattisonatasthese
cross-overs'occur-as far as I know-always in fastmovemlents,e.g. in
the 1)-majorSonata,Longo 415, bb.81-87





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In Mozart's variation movement from K 331, however, this hand

crossing passageis not found in a fast movement but in an 'Andante
grazioso',and in addition,this variationfeaturesa legato touch. Here the
high notes in the thirdbar sound more 'gracious'with a bell-like quality
produced by pedal. Yet, if hand crossings occur in Mozart's fast
movements, such asin the thirdmovement of his Piano Concerto K 450,
or in variousvariationworks for piano solo K 352, K 455 and K 460, no
pedaluse is necessary.
This aspectof pianoplayingis often overlooked,yet it is of vitalimportance
in performance.A singlenote playedwith pedalhasmuch more resonance
than without it. This is due to the sympatheticvibrationsof other strings:
not only more resonance,but a longer durationof sound is achieved.This
hasbeen clearlyobservedby L. Adam,see earlierabove.
A few examplesmay suffice:

Example21: Concerto, K 466/II, b.40.

Ex. 22: Concerto, K 595, 2nd movement, bb.17 and 90:

Andante cantabile
con esprqssione

Ex. 23: K 310, 2nd movement, beginning:


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To another kind of long notes which get more resonance through

pedalling belongs the first entry of the piano in Mozart's C-minor
Concerto, K 491.

Some specialistsbelieve, however, that singing tone or pedalledhigh
notes hardly constitute evidence of historical practice and may be
inconsistentwith the 'speaking'qualitiesof the earlyViennese fortepiano.
Some of the examplesquoted here may seem to be influencedby certain
conventionsof modernpianoplaying.But the singingtone of the pianois
not thatmodern- repeatedlyMozartasksfor it! Severalslow movements
have the indication 'Andante cantabile' (K 310, 330, 333), The slow
variationNo. 11 in the SonataK 284 (which accordingto Mozartsounded
so well on Stein'spiano) is marked'Adagiocantabile',and in manyof his
violin sonatasthe piano hasto compete with the melodiesof the violin, not
only in the 'Andantinocantabile'from K 306 but in the Andanteof K 454
as well.

On the other hand the word 'parlando'(speaking),
never appearsin
Mozart'spiano works.
To sum up: D)r.Latcham'sstatementthatMozart'sconcert pianomadeby
Walterhad originallybeen conceived with handlevers only, is a valuable
contributionto the historyof the fortepiano.His theory,however,thatthe
knee levers were installedlong after Mozart'sdeath, is based mainly on
examinationof wooden partsandconstructiondetailsandis not sufficiently
supportedby documents.On the other hand,there existsampleevidence
that Mozart counted on the use of knee levers in his piano music.
Therefore,the occasionaluse of the pedalin Mozart'sworksis historically
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