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1750 - 1791

Fantasy in F Minor, KV 594

arranged by Mark Starr for orchestra
from Mozart's original work for mechanical organ (1790)

[unfinished portrait of Mozart]

link to biography of Mozart

A demo recording of this arrangement -- realized with digital musical sounds -- will begin to play automatically upon opening this page.  If you do not wish listen to it, please click on the STOP button (or the PAUSE button) on the media player, below. You may wish to adjust the volume on your computer to a more comfortable level.


KV 594 is one of two fantasies that Mozart composed in 1790 (the year before his death) on commission, for a mechanical organ (with a cylinder mechanism similar to both music boxes and the later player-pianos.)  With this work and the Fantasy in F major K. 606, Mozart became the first recording star in musical history. 

Both of these works enjoyed considerable commercial success  in 1791 on the mechanical instrument newly installed at the Muller Exhibition Hall in Vienna.  According to a published newspaper account, the works drew large crowds to the "well-illuminated" hall who marvelled at the performerless mechanical organ, and admired the music of Mozart (who, in the report, was erroneously given the title of Kapellmeister.)  A few months later, Mozart followed up these two recorded hits with yet another mechanical fantasy: K. 616 -- this one for a flute clock. 

Mark Starr has orchestrated all three of these mechanical works.  Below are links to the other two on this website:

     link to Mozart's Fantasy in F minor, KV 606, orchestrated by Mark Starr

     link to Mozart's Fantasy in F major (The Flute Clock,) KV 616, arranged
     for flute solo and orchestra by Mark Starr

It should be noted that Haydn also composed works for flute clock and for mechanical organ.  But Haydn composed these works during the 17-month interlude between his great London sojourns of 1791-1792 and 1794-1795.  Mozart's mechanical pieces came first.  Beethoven, too, produced several works for flute clock (now numbered as WoO 33 in his catalog) during the years 1794-99.  Haydn's and Beethoven's mechanical pieces are all rather slight in musical interest.  Mozart, however, produced three complex masterpieces.  Musically they rate among the most significant instrumental movements from his late period.

The problem for posterity has always been: how can we listen to this music today? Attempts to rebuild a suitable mechanical organ have been little more than historical curiosities.  Mozart hated the tinny, miserable sound of the original instrument.  It is clear from his scores that,  in his imagination, he sought sounds that extended way beyond the limited sonorities and dynamics that produced by the "little pipes."

Attempts to perform the work on church organs have proven similarly ill-advised. Knowing that he was writing for a machine, Mozart went far beyond the technical limitations of mere organists, equipped with only two hands and two feet.  Inevitably, organists slow down the allegro section to an allegretto just to handle all the notes; and even then, many notes are unreachable on a keyboard when played by one performer.

When first published, KV 594 was transcribed for piano 4-hands.  But this is not piano music. It sounds terrible on the piano (and even worse on a fortepiano.)

KV 594 has also been transcribed by musicologists for woodwind quintet -- on which it sounds feeble and homogenized.  A woodwind quintet lacks the power and differation of color to realize all the nobility, drama, brilliance and rich textures that are part of this long and varied work.

It is the contention of Mark Starr, the arranger of this orchestration, that what Mozart really had in mind when he composed all three of these mechanical pieces, was the orchestra. In this work, for the first time in his musical career, Mozart was freed from the technical limitations of performers and primitive instruments (such as the brass and timpani) -- much the way composers of MIDI and electronic music are ttoday.  Using a large orchestral ensemble that Mozart often employed in his last symphonies, Starr was able to realize all the instrumental possibilities inherent in this work, with no compromises in terms of instrumental technique,  color and emotional impact.

Here is a photo of the cylinder mechanism and pipes on a modern (motorized) mechanical organ located in Salzburg, Austria.


duration:  8 minutes




2 flutes

2 oboes

2 clarinets

2 bassoons

2 horns

2 trumpets





The full score for Mark Starr's arrangement of Fantasy in F Major, KV 594, is available online for perusal, audition, purchase, downloading and printing.  Here is a link to the full score




Orchestral parts are available on rental from Noteworthy Musical Editions for public performances and/or commercial recordings.