Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Symphony No. 40 in G Minor, K. 550 Sample

Table of Content

I. Work Analysis

Bing an supporter of the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. I chose to analyse Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 in G Minor. An early analyst and critic of Mozart’s music. Otto Jahn called the Symphony No. 40 “a symphonic music of hurting and plaint. ” Another critic said it was “nothing but joy and animation” ( Kramer 480 ) . While these two comments may be used as utmost ways to construe the symphonic music. its character and temper are capturing and touching.

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The standard instrumentality for this piece includes woodwinds ( flutes. hautboies. clarinets. and bassoons ) . strings ( fiddles. violas. cellos. and basses ) . and brass ( horns ) . The instrumentality does non include any percussion or heavy brass. The horns are used meagerly. merely to add denseness to the tone or stress the crescendos and sforzandos.

The symphonic music itself is comprised of four motions:

Movement One – Molto allegro

Movement Two – Andante

Movement Three – Allegretto

Movement Four – Allegro assai

The first motion of the symphonic music opens in a minor key with a piano but agitated chief subject that repeats itself throughout the motion. Such an gap is non a usual one ; a hearer may hold expected some kind of an debut to predate such a subject. but Mozart decides to exclude any preliminary. thereby set uping a certain feeling of restlessness or anxiousness. The first motion exhibits frequent interchanges between piano and strong suit. Of all the subdivisions of the first motion. merely the development is played in a major key with disjunct gesture. This. combined with other expressive elements. farther contributes to the movement’s general uneasy temper. The metre here is double simple. and it remains changeless throughout the motion. The first motion is presented in the Sonata-allegro signifier. with a motivic construction quality in the chief subject. and a homophonic texture.

Obediently following the sonata program. Mozart slows down his 2nd motion to andante. Violas play the chief subject and are subsequently joined by the first and 2nd fiddles. copying one another. The ascendant strings maintain kineticss within scope of piano. but sforzandos are contributed by the basses. The metre in this motion is double compound. and like in the first motion. this one is composed in sonata-allegro signifier. Homophonic concomitant in an E-flat key supports a wide-range. but conjunct-motion tune that is characterized by regular periodic constructions.

The 3rd motion is in ternary simple metre with the orchestra one time once more dominated by the strings. The minuet and three signifier of course divides the motion into three subdivisions with different keys. kineticss. and a district attorney capo. The minuet subdivision and its a district attorney capo are played strong suit and in a minor key. while the three is soft and in a major key. The pacing remains allegretto throughout the full motion. Unlike the 2nd motion. the gesture of the tune is disjunct and wide-range. structured in regular periods. The motion begins in a G minor key and so alterations to G major. The texture remains homophonic throughout the full motion.

The concluding motion of the symphonic music is once more dominated by the strings. The pacing of this motion is allegro assai. which combined with disjunct melodious gesture in the parts played strong suit. maintains the nerve-racking. nervous temper of the symphonic music. These subdivisions are interchanged by 1s played piano and adagio. with a narrow melodious scope and conjunct gesture. This motion is composed in sonata-allegro signifier with a double simple metre. The gesture is largely conjunct. except for subdivisions played presto. where the gesture is disjunct and the scope is broad. The key of this motion is G child. and the texture is homophonic.

II. Composer background.

At the clip of this symphony’s composing. in the first half of 1788 when Mozart’s originative powers were at their extremum. his mundane life all of a sudden began to deteriorate. Although he had late been appointed a composer to the Court of Emperor Joseph II. the wage was meager and the responsibilities were light. Two or three old ages antecedently Mozart’s concert agenda was busy and an copiousness of pupils provided him with an equal income. He had triumphed in Prague with The Marriage of Figaro in 1786 and Don Giovanni in 1787. Now his lucks went into a slack. When Don Giovanni was performed for the first clip in Vienna. on the 7th of May. 1788. it aroused assorted reactions. Although it was given 15 times that twelvemonth. it does non look to hold been regarded as a success in Vienna. In the spring of 1788 Mozart could non obtain adequate endorsers to a set of three threading quintets. and the projected publication was postponed and so abandoned. In June Mozart planned a series of public concerts. but these seemingly did non happen. After 1788. Mozart would ne’er once more execute a public concert in Vienna. and his despairing fiscal state of affairs made him compose letters to relations and friends. inquiring for money ( Broder seven ) .

However. Mozart continued to compose with his characteristic and inspiration. The failures of his public presentations and the attendant fiscal adversities took a heavy toll on Mozart’s already fragile wellness. The deficiency of committee or public acknowledgment. nevertheless. did non halt Mozart from composing. Mozart composed his last three symphonic musics ( Nos. 39. 40. and 41 ) in merely two months. without committee or payment. Furthermore. at least two of these symphonic musics were ne’er performed during his life-time. As to why they were non performed. some people believe that Mozart had such an intense inner demand to show himself that he could non wait for a frequenter from whom to bear down committee. Possibly these were the fortunes that inspired such a feeling of insecurity. anxiousness. and urgency in Symphony No. 40. The composer needed success. acknowledgment. and merely money.

IV. Personal Reaction.

On a personal degree. I was besides inspired with the same unexplained feeling of urgency and anxiousness while listening to this symphonic music. The first motion creates this temper with its really first motivation. However. it seemed difficult for me to follow through the full piece without holding lost some of this feeling to the more hushed 2nd and 3rd motions. Possibly Mozart’s emotions at the clip were excessively complex for me to understand at this point ; after all. these two motions were non composed merely to make full the nothingness between the first and the last motions. But possibly Mozart knew that the hearers would be exhausted if the same temper prevailed throughout the full symphonic music.

Either manner. my personal penchant remains with the more sonically and emotionally powerful productions of such composers such as Chaikovsky. Prokofiev. Grieg. and Wagner who managed to present likewise strong emotions through shorter. more concise pieces of music. For illustration. Chaikovsky’s celebrated ballet The Nutcracker is comprised of several short suites. each one with its ain feeling. temper. and character The full work feels like a fantastic subject park. instead than a long. devouring labyrinth that comes to mind with Mozart’s Symphony No. 40. Edward Grieg in his In der Halle des Bergkonigs and Richard Wagner’s The Ride of the Valkyries fascinate and animate me to a much greater extent. despite their much smaller continuance. Of class. it should non be forgotten that the pieces I listed are all operas and concert dances and have really small to make with the symphonic music in general. but they are still the music I prefer thanks to their every bit high power and better comprehensibility.


Broder. Nathan. erectile dysfunction. Mozart: Symphony in G child. K. 550. New York: W. W. Norton & A ; Company. 1967.

Kramer. Jonathan D. Listen to the Music: A Self-Guided Tour Through the Orchestral Repertoire. New York: Schirmer Books. 1988.

Steinberg. Michael. The Symphony: A Listener’s Guide. New York: Oxford UP. 1995.

Unger-Hamilton. Clive. erectile dysfunction. The Great Symphonies. New York: Facts on File.Inc. . 1983.

Zaslaw. Neal. Mozart’s Symphonies: Context. Performance Practice. Reception. New York: Oxford UP. 1989.

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Symphony No. 40 in G Minor, K. 550 Sample. (2017, Nov 03). Retrieved from


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