Analysis of Mozart’s Symphony No. 41 1st Movement

Symphony #41 in C major was written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. After Mozart died, the piece was given the name “Jupiter” by the composer Johann Peter Saloman, a composer and concert organizer. It is not certain why, but many believe it was because of its emotional style. Jupiter is the Roman name for the Greek god Zeus- God of all Gods, so therefore, the music represents Jupiter and his power. Later, in 1862, Ludwig Kochel, a writer and composer, published a catalogue classifying all of Mozart’s work, so the piece was eventually named

Symphony No 41 in C Major K551 “Jupiter”.

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The piece was completed on the 10th of August 1788. Mozart was born in 1756 and died in 1791. This means Mozart was 32 when he wrote the piece.

Unfortunately, this was the last known symphony Mozart ever composed.

The years 1750-1820 were known as the classical period. Before the classical period was the Baroque period, during which there were many discoveries by scientific geniuses such as Newton and Galileo. People started to see proof that the churches and religious powers were not always correct, and people started to become more interested in the power of reason, or proof, rather than just faith. The Classical period therefore became known as the “Age of Enlightenment”.

There were certain guidelines composers started to follow when developing a piece so people could understand the music easier. If a person did not understand the music, they were often left feeling humiliated by their peers. These guidelines were called Sonata Form.

Mozart uses the guidelines for sonata form, but often bends or breaks the rules.

During the classical period, most music was written for a “standard orchestra, which included two violin parts, a viola part, a cello part, a double bass part, two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, two trumpets, two French horns, and two timpani.

Symphony #41 was written for this style orchestra.

Nobody knows for certain why the piece was written, but the main thought was that it was written for a series of public performances that Mozart was planning at the time. Unfortunately, Mozart never got to perform this piece in his lifetime.

Style-

Wolfgang Mozart followed a set of guidelines loosely when creating his music. The guidelines set down came under several headings:

Mood

Rhythm

Texture

Melody

Dynamics

Mood-

The guidelines for mood were quite simple- large variations.

This meant that a single piece could go from a dark depressing state to happy and joyful. Not only were there contrasts in mood with new themes, but contrasts of mood within a single theme.

Mozart uses both these effects in his pieces. An example is during the first four bars. We start with a loud full solid sound for two bars, and then drop away to a delicate little melody.

Rhythm-

Once again, Classical music demanded great variety of rhythms, and changes from short notes to long notes. Often syncopation was used as an extra effect, although during this piece, it is not very evident. During bar 84, the violins are playing long sustained minums, but then in bar 85, they move to playing semiquavers.

Texture-

Texture was one of the more flexible elements of classical music. In general, it was basically homophonic, but was free to change to polyphonic when a composer saw fit.

It is often extremely difficult to tell whether Mozart’s music is polyphonic, or just homophonic with very complex backings.

An example of homophonic texture with backing is bars 9-24.

In this piece, theme 2 (56-79) is mainly polyphonic.

Melody-

Good Classical music is among the easiest to remember. Composers had to make a tune that was catchy and easy to remember, because often, the pieces were only heard once.

To me, the piece of music is almost frustrating, because after hearing it once, it stays in my head all day and I just keep humming it.

Some perfect examples of his catchy melody lines are bars 1-16.

Dynamics-

During the classical period, it started to become a custom that dynamics should flow smoothly, rather than the terraced dynamics of the baroque period.

The flow of these dynamics created tension and excitement.

During Mozart’s “Jupiter”, there are many crescendos and decrescendos, but also many terraced dynamics.

An example of a smooth dynamic change is at bar 39, where there is a gradual crescendo.

An example a terraced dynamic is bar 111, where the volume changes from piano to forte instantly.

Form-

The accepted “blueprint” of classical music was called sonata form.

Sonata form was broken up into three main sections-

-Exposition- conflict between themes

-Development- dramatic development of themes

-Recapitulation- resolution, harmony between themes.

The Exposition-

The exposition should consist of 4 clear cut sections:

-Theme 1 in tonic key

-Bridge modulating keys to

-Theme 2 in dominant key – contrasting mood

– A closing section (coda) with a repeat

The first theme is in C major. Mozart basically stays in C major for the first theme, although at many stages, he uses 1 bar in another key, or tries to fool people into thinking he’s changed into another key. Most of the time, Mozart hints towards G major, but also hints at D minor or C diminished.

There is much debate over where the bridge passage is, because unlike most composers, Mozart continues to use ideas from the first theme during the bridge.

It is quite clear that the second theme starts at bar 56, so somewhere between the start and bar 56, is the bridge passage.

My belief is that the bridge passage starts at bar 24 for the following reasons:

1) This is the most obvious change. There is a pause before it, and the mood and attitude changes drastically.

2) Motive 1 and 2 from the first theme is used, but with a very different attitude. A new counter-melody that hasn’t been heard before is played over the top of this by the woodwinds.

3) After several bars, motive 2 starts to be developed, modulated, augmented and changed slightly.

4) When motive 2 is being developed, the keys begin to change every bar or two bars.

During the bridge, we see a musical composition device, called a sequence. It is the one motive repeated and moved up in pitch each time. This starts at bar 39 and goes until bar 45.

Theme two is written to the basic rules. It is in the dominant key (G major), and stays in that key for the whole section. It is quite easy to distinct from the bridge section because it has a full 3 beats rest before it starts, and then comes in with a very contrasting mood to the first theme.

Though this section, the piece seems to turn polyphonic in texture. There is a quaver line running beneath the first violins melody, but then the violin moves onto playing a new melody while the double bass and viola take over the previous violin line.

The end of the exposition is quite clearly cut, because it always has a repeat sign, but from the start of the second theme to the end of the exposition, there are two dramatic changes. At the first dramatic change, the key also changes dramatically, going from a ‘happy’ sounding G major, to a dark sounding C minor.

A coda of the exposition is supposed to stay in the same key as theme two- G major.

For these reasons, it is reasonable to assume that the first dramatic change, bar 81, is the beginning of a new third theme.

At bar 89, we begin to hear another sequence of something very similar to motive two, although twice as fast. This sequence goes for three bars, although the same thing except in a lower range starts two bars later at bar 94.

Another interesting thing about this third theme is from listening to the piece, it seems to be the climax of emotion in the piece. Although it is unusual to have a climax so early in the piece, it is not impossible.

The section gradually gains in pitch and rhythm complexity.

The end of the theme is showed by a strong decrescendo and a single violin descending down a dominant seventh chord.

The coda of the exposition is a very light, easy listening finish, and relives all the tension from the exposition.

It changes back to the key of the second theme (g major) like it is suppose to, although it often hints at changes to a fifth above- D major.

The Development-

-Does not have cut sections as the exposition does.

– Develops themes and motives from the exposition

– Modulates through different keys

Mozart’s development starts off very subdued. It uses the coda from the exposition, except in a very different key- Eb Major.

Several bars in, at 132, Mozart takes the last bar of the coda phrase, and uses the high and low strings to imitate each other, while modulating up through keys, such as F minor and G minor.

While the strings are imitating each other, there is a complex marching rhythm played by the brass and woodwind in the background. The section of the phrase being used gets smaller, and is eventually a 2 beat section repeated and expanded.

Mozart continues to expand and develop the coda section until bar 161, where he suddenly changes to theme 1. This is done to fool people into thinking we’ve arrived back to the recapitulation, but in reality, we are not back into the first key, and also, the attitude is still quiet and subdued.

The theme is repeated, modulating through several keys such as F major, D major and E major.

When we hit bar 171, the first theme seems to have gone crazy. The first motive of theme 1 is used, and mixed with semidemi quavers, while modulating through keys.

The tension and suspense grows and grows, but just when you expect it to explode, Mozart cuts it back down to the quiet modulations on the coda theme again.

This coda theme leads us straight into the recapitulation.

Recapitulation-

-Should be a mirror of the exposition, but all in tonic key (C major)

– relieves all tension between themes

Although Mozart stays roughly in C major, he ventures out quite frequently, although only temporarily, as if to fool us into thinking he’s changed.

For example, when it moves into the bridge, Mozart modulates through several keys before returning back to C for the second theme.

The biggest turn from the tonic key during the recapitulation, is in the third theme. Although nothing is stated in sonata form about the structure of a third theme, we would expect to hear it in the tonic key during the recapitulation.

This time, the third theme comes back in F minor.

Being out of the tonic key creates tension again, which goes against what the recapitulation is suppose to be about, but also by creating this tension again, the coda has a much greater effect, because it is like the calm after a storm.

During the coda, Mozart once again hints towards another key, but this time restricts himself to only hinting at the dominant (G major). This gives the piece a greater feeling of a solid end, because of the “5 to 1” change, or in other words, a perfect cadence.

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