Sunday, October 12, 2014

Mozart - Symphony No. 29 In A Major K. 201/186a

 The traditional number of symphonies attributed to Mozart is 41, but modern scholarship places the number closer to 68, as some of the earlier ones were not numbered, as well as some of the works traditionally referred to as divertimentos could be classified as symphonies. He was  about nine years old when he wrote his first symphony, and by the time he wrote his 25th symphony he was only seventeen years old. Symphony numbers 14-30 of the traditionally acknowledged symphonies were written while he was in Salzburg. It was within this group of middle symphonies that his first acknowledged masterpiece, Symphony No. 25 In G Minor was written. It was soon followed by another masterpiece, the 29th Symphony In A Major, composed in Mozart's eighteenth year, shortly after his return to Salzburg from a trip to Vienna.

Mozart made the trip to Vienna with his father to try and get an appointment at the Court there. Nothing came of the hoped for appointment, but the trip was not without value as Vienna was the capital of European music, and Mozart heard music by some of the current masters. Mozart always made the most of what he heard and absorbed influences like a sponge. By this time in his life he was an experienced composer and performer whose genius allowed him to use those influences as the building blocks to create his own voice. 

Symphony No. 29 In A Major is scored for two oboes, two horns and strings, and is in four movements:

I. Allegro moderato -  Mozart opens the movement with a downward octave interval in the first violins that is the beginning of the first theme:
This theme grows in volume and is played a second time by the violins with echoes of the theme played by the lower strings. The second theme is marked by trills and less space between the notes, in contrast to the skips of the first theme. A short thematic motif is played after the second theme which leads to transition material, and the exposition is repeated. The short  development section includes some examples of the octave skips of the first theme along with the string tremolos heard at various places in the exposition. The recapitulation revisits the two themes after which a short coda restates the first theme and the movement ends.

II. Andante -  The movement begins with the gentle warmth of muted 1st violins playing a theme in double dotted rhythm. The 2nd violins take up the theme as the 1st violins play a counter melody. The movement is in sonata form, but Mozart blends the separate pieces into a graceful whole, and a short coda ends the short movement with more volume and mutes off.

III. Menuetto: Allegretto - Trio -  The first theme of the minuet is played piano by the 1st violins with comments by the 2nd violins in dotted rhythm. The last two bars of each phrase is repeated at a louder volume and becomes part of the next phrase, a subtle playing with phrasing. The next section of the minuet extends the theme and then takes it up with the same scheme of soft and loud as before.  The trio is in E major and is not as heavily accented, after which the minuet repeats, with no coda. The movement ends with the oboes and horns up in the air as they play dotted rhythms A's by themselves.

IV. Allegro con spirito -  The symphony comes full circle as the first theme of the finale mimics the octave drop of the opening of the first movement along with string tremolos. The horns play a prominent part in the movement. The second theme is in contrast to the opening. Another short theme leads to violins playing a racing upward scale with a full stop before the section repeats.  The exposition deals with a working out of the first theme which leads to the violins once again racing upwards and coming to a full stop. The recapitulation repeats the themes and a coda parades the first theme once more before another violin scale leads to the closing chords. 

1 comment:

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