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Mozart Symphony No. 41, also known as the “Jupiter” symphony, was composed in 1788 and is the last of Mozart’s symphonies. It is also the longest of his symphonies. The name “Jupiter” is said to have been coined by Salomen, perhaps because of its size and overall energetic quality.
Mozart stays true to classical form by composing the first, second and fourth movements in sonata form, with the third movement being a minuet. The final movement is considered fugal, built on a four note theme that eventually branches out in the Coda to include five different melodies blended into massively layered musical counterpoint. This blending of themes is also referred to as musica combinatorial. The final fugue is one of the hallmark features of the “Jupiter” Symphony, and what sets it apart in Mozart’s repertoire as well as in the Western classical music canon.
The symphony No. 41 is actually the third of the final three symphonies that Mozart wrote in his lifetime, and the most complex. It came after the Symphony No. 40, the G minor symphony (one of only two symphonies Mozart wrote in a minor key.) It was as if Mozart knew that this would be his last symphony, and he wanted to make sure it was memorable. Although, it is debated as to whether it was performed in his lifetime.
In my opinion, the “Jupiter” Symphony is one of Mozart’s most exciting works. There is so much going on inside of it, especially in the last movement. I see this as his crowning achievement in symphonic works, along with the G minor Symphony No. 40. I agree with Robert Schumann, who said “About many things in this world there is simply nothing to be said—for example, about Mozart’s C-Major symphony with the fugue, much of Shakespeare, and some of Beethoven.”
Mozart's 'Jupiter': A Symphony of Light?
The Musical Times, Vol. 147, No. 1897 (Winter, 2006), pp. 25-46
Published by: Musical Times Publications Ltd.
Article DOI: 10.2307/25434420
Article Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25434420