Lift, place bowing: Mozart’s Concerto for Flute and Harp K.299, Andantino

When you watch the violinists at the beginning of this piece, did you notice them lifting and placing their bows?

Did you see their bow holds? What about their shoulders?

Did you notice how the bows are going parallel to the bridge and the end of the fingerboard?

The violinists (and other string player) sometimes wiggle their left hand as they play. That’s called vibrato. (We learn that later on, after we get really good at placing each finger and moving our fingers around the fingerboard.)

Did you notice that everyone waited for the conductor and that the conductor looked to the soloists (the flute and harp players) before beginning the piece?

Did you see that everyone is dressed in black?

This lovely piece of music is part of a concerto, which is a song made up of 3 parts, or “movements.” The movements are named after the feeling or tempo of the part. Andantino means “slightly faster than walking pace.” Do you remember which language these musical terms comes from? Yes! Italian!

Mozart wrote this concerto, and this video is the movement andantino. Can you close your eyes and see if you can figure out the approximate bpm (beats per minute)? Remember that 60 bpm is 1 beat per second, so something slower than one beat per second would be fewer beats per minute and something faster than that would be more beats per minute. Andantino is often around 80 bpm (just a hint!).

The K in the name of this piece (K.299) stands for Köchel, the last name of a man (Ludwig von Köchel) who made a chronological list of all of Mozart’s pieces (“works”). The number stands for the number of the piece in that list. There are 629 works catalogued on his list!

Here’s some trivia for you: notice which fingers the harpist uses when he plays? Never the pinky finger! Also, did you know that flutes can be made out of nickel, silver, brass, and wood, or some are even made of gold! (A famous flutist named James Galway wrote a book about his life and career called The Man with the Golden Flute. He has a photo of himself holding his golden flute on the cover.)

Here is a video of a young harpist playing another Mozart concerto. (Check out the pinkies!) You can just leave this on as fabulous background music if you don’t want to watch it all…