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The famous tune towards the end of the first section is a direct quote from his arietta Un bacio di mano for bass and orchestra, composed three months before the Jupiter. Self-quotation is unusual in Mozart, whose melodic inspirations never ran dry. That is intentional, as Mozart wrote as many as five voices simultaneously in the coda. You can watch this for an excellent explanation of how counterpoint works in this movement. As you can see, each string section passes on, one by one, the five subjects introduced earlier in the movement - and this happens four times in the coda.

That might sound simple enough, but a fugue of this scale had never before appeared in a symphonic movement of sonata form.

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Although it reflects the musical aesthetics and traditions of the time, it takes things a step further. So, as you can see, the dialogue between the relentless Jupiter and the frail man passes through the entire movement.


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The second movements are always the most inward for Mozart. But this was not enough for Mozart. Shocking thrills are emerging in this intimate, affectionate romance. Consequently, wholly shocking contrapositions and thrills develop in the intimate and affectionate romance of the slow movement. The same, as Mozart composed it. Well, this is the difference between geniality and ordinariness. A usual romance turns into troubled dialogue.

So these contrapositions, naturally supplemented with plenty of dialogues and other elements, ferment the otherwise traditional romance in the second movement. The third movement is the only really regular movement. So from then on, in Beethoven, Schubert and the symphonies of the Romantic era, we hear scherzos — whether identified or in their character. This means that, for the last time, Mozart presents us with the minuet, with all its elegance and traditional character.

Here the trio [10] hides some surprise again. In general, the trio is more intimate and mostly simpler than the main part. This time it starts just as general, but later something happens to it, as Mozart happens to turn to minor in the trio and develops some dramatic moments to contraposition the traditional elegance of the minuet.

The fourth movement is one of the most genial movements ever composed in music history.

Mozart Symphony no. 41 in C major 'Jupiter', K. 551

He composed fugues of this and that kind, with two or three themes. But he did not compose the one with four themes. He started, then discontinued it. According to the legend the pen fell out of his hand. However, Mozart composed such a moment in the fourth movement. Not a true four-theme fugue, but he composed an extract with four themes.

Four different themes, and he opposes these themes with one another under the rules of fugue editing and counterpointing. Art has had a try for a great lot of things which compelled it to balance at the borderline of impossibility, from a professional point of view. But no one has ever tried to put four themes one above the other. As if the whole movement, including its regular editing, thematic richness and the ending that completes the whole piece with technical feat were a summary of the musical approaches of the preceding centuries.


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The themes themselves are also extraordinary. The main theme is the so-called Jupiter theme, which is an immensely simple motif originating from a Gregorian song, a Magnificat melody.

Program Notes: Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony

And yet another melody. There you are: now we also hear an ascending scale sequence. This is the 56th beat, and will the first violin play it only, please. A different kind of scale, but just have a look at it: first a descending, and now an ascending scale. So then there was a descending scale, and another one ascending. What do you think the fourth will be?

Symphony No. 41 “Jupiter”, K. 551

What should the fourth be? If the second and the third themes reflect each other, the fourth should then somehow be linked with the first, Jupiter theme. And if the tones of the Jupiter theme were ascending, later descending, then the fourth theme should first be descending and then ascending. This rounds off to perfection. This is the 74th beat, and will the string instruments play only, please.

Try to notice that the melody is just as if it were the inverse of the Jupiter theme, with minor changes. Additionally, whatever will still happen to these four themes is wholly unbelievable. Here you are. The simple Jupiter theme seems to develop into a Bachian fugue. Not elaborated, still, the most complicated polyphony edited.

So then… the 36th beat, as recorded. The ascending scale melody suddenly turns into polyphony, the melody is played in a canon with itself. The inverse Jupiter theme is not sounded in itself, either, but as the counterpoint of the two scale melodies.

Mozart, Symphony No. 41 in C Major K. 551 “Jupiter”, Chamber Orchestra of New York - S. Di Vittorio

To be simple, three themes are played at the same time. We reach the climax of the piece when the four known themes are jammed onto one another. Whatever happens in this coda is quite out-of-the-common, even in the light of the above.

New York Philharmonic | Scores > Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus

Mozart gives a sound to all the rugged musical thoughts and intertwining contrapositions that he had expressed with the multitude of melodies and gestures and with incredible technical feat in the movement. What Mozart created here with this complicated editing style can in practice perfectly reflect the mythological relationship between humans and gods.

In the end, gods are merely humans and man also possesses the divine dimension. And what did we hear a lot? Just listen: something immensely special is happening. All this can be considered a mythological situation, as there are so many similar moments in mythology. You might notice that the scale melody falls into the previously heard appealing musical motif. And as this motif is played twice in succession, it remains open both times. Mozart was also very special in being amazingly unsparing with melodies. This is not typical of any other composer — neither in Classicism, nor in Romanticism.

For that matter, this is mostly why we like Mozart. Here in this movement he abundantly presents us with melodies again. Excellent melody, going just by the book.

This is what composers tend to save on. This third theme is typical of Mozart.