Mozart’s Linz Symphony

Germany - Scott #1691 (1991)
Germany – Scott #1691 (1991)

On November 4, 1783, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Symphony No. 36 was performed for the first time in Linz, Austria. The Symphony No. 36 in C major, K. 425, (known as the Linz Symphony) was written by Mozart during a stopover in the Austrian town on his and his wife’s way back home to Vienna from Salzburg in late 1783. The entire symphony was written in four days to accommodate the local count’s announcement, upon hearing of the Mozarts’ arrival in Linz, of a concert. The composition was also premièred in Vienna on April 1, 1784. The autograph score of the “Linz Symphony” was not preserved.

Symphony No. 36, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

The symphony is scored for 2 oboes, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, timpani and strings. There are 4 movements:

  • Adagio, 3/4 — Allegro spiritoso, 4/4
  • Andante in F major, 6/8
  • Menuetto, 3/4
  • Finale (Presto), 2/4

Every movement except the minuet is in sonata form.

Detail of the face of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Cropped version of the painting where Mozart is seen with Anna Maria (Mozart's sister) and father, Leopold, on the wall a portrait of his deceased mother, Anna Maria. Painting by Johann Nepomuk della Croce, 1780-1781.
Detail of the face of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Cropped version of the painting where Mozart is seen with Anna Maria (Mozart’s sister) and father, Leopold, on the wall a portrait of his deceased mother, Anna Maria. Painting by Johann Nepomuk della Croce, 1780-1781.

The slow movement has a siciliano character and meter which was rare in Mozart’s earlier symphonies (only used in one of the slow movements of the “Paris”) but would appear frequently in later works such as No. 38 and No. 40. The next symphony by Mozart is Symphony No. 38. The work known as “Symphony No. 37” is mostly by Michael Haydn.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born on January 27, 1756, in Salzburg, Austria, and baptized as Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart, He showed prodigious ability from his earliest childhood. Already competent on keyboard and violin, he composed from the age of five and performed before European royalty. At 17, Mozart was engaged as a musician at the Salzburg court but grew restless and traveled in search of a better position. While visiting Vienna in 1781, he was dismissed from his Salzburg position. He chose to stay in the capital, where he achieved fame but little financial security. During his final years in Vienna, he composed many of his best-known symphonies, concertos, and operas, and portions of the Requiem, which was largely unfinished at the time of his early death at the age of 35. The circumstances of his death have been much mythologized.

Drawing of Mozart in silverpoint, made by Dora Stock during Mozart's visit to Dresden, April 1789.
Drawing of Mozart in silverpoint, made by Dora Stock during Mozart’s visit to Dresden, April 1789.

Mozart composed more than 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, operatic, and choral music. He is among the most enduringly popular of classical composers, and his influence is profound on subsequent Western art music. Ludwig van Beethoven composed his own early works in the shadow of Mozart, and Joseph Haydn wrote: “posterity will not see such a talent again in 100 years”.

The Federal Republic of Germany released a souvenir sheet bearing a single 100-pfennig stamp on November 5, 1991, to mark the 200th anniversary of Mozart’s death (Scott #1691). Designed by Joachim Rieß, the sheet was printed b offset lithography in a print run of 14,573,500. It was perforated in a gauge of 14.

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