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Symphony is a type of music invented during the classical era that encompasses music composition aspects outlined in the sonata principle (Sadie 76). It is usually a long and very complex sonata composition that qualifies to be referred to as orchestra. It is composed of a minimum of a single movement.
Most symphonies are composed of four movements, with the first one derived from the sonata principle. That is the basis for referring to symphonies as a form of classical composition. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a prominent music composer from the classical music era (Sadie 89). His works were much diverse and comprise of operas, symphonies, concentrate and choral music. He is one of the greatest music composers of the classical era and of all time.
General overview of the genre
The symphony genre of music refers to musical pieces of the western classical music developed for orchestra and that is comprised of four movements. These movements include allegro (executed in the sonata-allegro form), a slow movement, a scherzo movement or the minuet and the finale, that is characteristic of allegro or rondo (Dearling 24).
Symphonies composed in earlier years comprised of only three movements and were shorter than the present day symphonies. They run for a period of 10-20 minutes. This genre evolved largely during the classical era and by the dawn of the Romantic period, symphonies had incorporated an extra movement to make up a total of four and were a little longer (Dearling 31).
They went for a period of 30 minutes to one hour and a few of them lasted for more than an hour. Today, the symphony is a popular genre among music composers and the typical four-movement symphony is usually altered to accommodate other musical aspects.
Mozart was born in the year 1756 and was a highly creative music composer who lived in the Classical era (Sadie 18). He composed many music pieces, over 600, and comprised of several genres: opera, chamber, concertante, choral and symphony. His success in the genre of symphony started early as he showed excellent abilities in playing the keyboard and the violin. This saw him start composing at the tender age of five.
Mozart wrote 41 symphonies all in the same key except symphony 25 and 40, which are in G minor key (Sadie 28). His music received criticisms because of its complexity. It was comprised of many notes that it was hard to comprehend. Mozart was famous for integrating pieces of music together to develop strong and complex pieces. He often took lines from a piece of music and inserted them in to another piece.
Mozart wrote 41 symphonies that developed the emotional reach and sophistication of the symphony genre at the time (Zaslaw 43). The major aspects of classical music are present in Mozart’s symphonies. His symphonies are characterized by complexity, clarity and balance.
However, the simplicity of his compositions cover the finesse that is observed in some of his masterpieces such as the symphony number 40 that was written in the G minor key.
Mozart had a gift of recognizing good music pieces and adapting some of their aspects into his own compositions. He borrowed greatly from Baroque in composing his symphonies. For example, symphony number 29, composed in A major K.201 is comprised of a theme that is borrowed from other Baroque compositions.
All the symphonies composed by Mozart are in the period between 1764 and 1788 (Zaslaw 38). Reports by music researchers indicate that Mozart may have composed more than the 41 symphonies attributed to him. They approximate about 68 symphonies that Mozart may have composed.
However, the numbering of these symphonies is the same and therefore, the last symphony is number 41. Some symphonies were revised from their original versions. They are divided into three categories according to the time they were composed. The three categories include the childhood symphonies, Salzburg-era symphonies and the late symphonies.
These were composed between 1764 and 1771 (Zaslaw 46). They include symphony number 1 to number 13. These symphonies were composed in different keys but some were similar. Symphony number 4, 7, 8 and 11 were composed in the D major key. Symphony number 1 and 3 were composed in the E-flat major while Symphony 10 and 12 were composed in the G major key.
Symphony 2 and 5 was composed in B-flat major, symphony 6 and 13 in F major key. In this category are other symphonies attributed to Mozart and were assigned umbers from 41.
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These were composed between 1771 and 1777. They are sometimes grouped into early and late symphonies or German and Italian symphonies (Cliff and Stewart 39). This category composes of symphonies from number 14 to number 30.
|Number of symphony||Key|
Other symphonies in this category attributed to Mozart are assigned numbers from 41. They are thought to be Mozart’s own compositions because they incorporate several aspects of Mozart’s operas. In addition, three more symphonies are founded on three serenades composed by Mozart. They include symphony K.204, k.250 and k.320 and they are all in the D major key.
Symphonies in this category were composed between 1778 and 1791 and numbered from 31 to 41(Cliff and Stewart 41).
The last three symphonies were published after his death and speculations suggest that he intended to publish them together a single opus before his death. Symphony 37 was thought to be Mozart’s own composition but was later established that he wrote the introduction only. Michael Haydn composed it with little help from Mozart.
The symphony genre of music refers to musical pieces of the western classical music that was developed for orchestra and that is comprised of four movements. These movements include allegro (executed in the sonata-allegro form), a slow movement, a scherzo movement or the minuet and the finale, that is characteristic of allegro or rondo.
Mozart wrote 41 symphonies that developed the emotional reach and sophistication of the symphony genre at the time (Cliff and Stewart 72). The major aspects of classical music are present in Mozart’s symphonies. His symphonies are characterized by complexity, clarity and balance. Mozart is recognized today as one of the greatest music composers of all time.
Cliff, Eisen and Stewart Spencer. Mozart: A Life in Letters. New York: Penguin Books, 2006. Print.
Dearling, Robert. The Music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the Symphonies. New Jersey: Farleigh Dickinson University Press, 1982. Print.
Sadie, Stanley. Mozart Symphonies. New York: Ariel Music, 1986. Print.
Sadie, Stanley. The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. London: Macmillan, 1998. Print.
Zaslaw, Neal. Mozart’s Symphonies: Context, Performance Practice, Reception. New York: Clarendon press, 1991. Print.