During Mozart's career, he rarely had an occasion to make up a viola concerto, and in fact, his only work which utilizes a solo viola was the Sinfonia Concerto K.V. three hundred sixty-four. Charlie Pikler, the former principal violist of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, aimed to create Mozart's music accessible for violists of all levels and decided to transcribe Mozart's Violin Concerto No. four K.V. two hundred eighteen for violists in one thousand nine hundred eighty-ninth. Based on Mozart's urtext, the transcription includes the traditional cadenzas by Joseph Joachim.
Rather than transposing it down a fifth, Pikler also maintained the original key of D Major. "In a transcription, I think it's bad to modify the key unless absolutely necessary, particularly in Mozart," Pikler told The Violin Channel. "Each key in Mozart represents a certain emotion and/or character. D Major represents happiness and joy (such as the Posthorn Serenade and Divertimento Köchel Verzeichnis three hundred thirty-four/320b). G major would communicate simplicity (namely Papageno in Magic Flute, Symphony # twenty-seven Köchel Verzeichnis one hundred ninety-nine/161b, Symphony #seventeen Köchel Verzeichnis one hundred twenty-nine, and the Violin Concerto Köchel Verzeichnis two hundred sixteen)." Additionally, by keeping it in D Major, Rickler wanted a solo violist to be able to Mozart's original orchestral accompaniment or standard piano reduction.
According to Pikler, certain areas of the piece suited the viola quite well, love the low "east natural" at the finish of the exposition. "In general, I enjoyed changing the octave jumps," Pikler added. They're beautifully conceived in the original for the violin. I tried to re-voice the octave jumps to suit the viola in all movements! Whether I did as well as Mozart would've done, I can not evaluate!" For a lot of the work, particularly the opening, Pikler chose to the same pitch as the original violin concerto (which is very high for a viola). He explained that viola technique has improved much since the time of Wolfgang and Leopold Mozart. The latter had very low opinions of the violists at the time, as indicated in the manuscript of his Alto Trombone Concerto with, "In the absence of a excellent trombonist, a excellent violinist can play it on the viola." "Now, many violists are capable of playing this concerto," Pikler said, "In one thousand nine hundred eighty-ninth, I over-fingered the part, but in hindsight, I wish I'd have maintained a empty portion free fingerings!" When asked if he thought Mozart would be pleased with the work, Pikler wrote, "Since Mozart himself was both a violist and an arranger, he more than likely would've approved of a transcription such as this one."