Friday, November 25, 2005

 

Mozart: the Prague Symphony

The "Prague" Symphony (D major, K.504) known as the Symphony without Minuet stands upon an equally eminent plane with the great "last three." Many critics esteem it one of the most admirable products of symphonic literature up to the close of the eighteenth century. The work was written at Vienna on December 6, 1786, and had its first performance during January, 1787, at that time Mozart was having tremendous success of his opera "The Marriage of Figaro" at Prague. The symphony was played in a concert given in the opera house, some concerted works followed, and then Mozart, seating himself at the clavier, in response to tumultuous applause, extemporized twelve marvelously brilliant and extremely difficult variations on the theme from the song Non piu andrai from "Figaro."

The symphony scored, otherwise "full", includes no clarinets. It begins with an imposing Introduction, followed by a number of and varied thematic components of the Exposition. Each of the thematic figures (motives) in the principal Theme plays an important part of the formation of the Exposition. The beautiful subordinate Theme, a Period of eight measures, is immediately repeated in the minor mode, with singularly telling effect. Three or four Codettas are added. The Development is an ingenious manipulation of these thematic factors, culminating in a Returning-passage of great beauty, in the minor mode, over a dominant organ-point. The Recapitulation is a nearly exact recurrence of the Exposition, with the usual transpositions.

This Movement is followed by an Andante, and a Presto Finale, both like the first Movement , in the sonata-allegro form.

Cheers,

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