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Music with Ease > Classical Music > Concert Guide: Classical Era > Symphony in C Major ("Jupiter") (K 551) - Mozart


Symphony in C Major ("Jupiter")
(K 551)

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
(1756-91)



1. Allegro vivace.

2. Andante cantabile.

3. Minuet and Trio. Allegretto.

4. Finale. Allegro molto.

Among all the symphonies of Mozart not one can equal the dignity, loftiness, and skill of the symphony in C, the last from his pen, which by common consent, as it were, has been christened the "Jupiter," both as compared with his other symphonies and with the symphonic works of other composers before Beethoven appeared with his wonderful series. It was composed within a period of fifteen days, and completed August 10, 1788.

It has no introduction, but begins at once with the principal theme of the Allegro, which is constructed upon two subjects -- the first strong and bold in character at times, and again restful; and the second gay, even to the verge of hilarity.

The first theme is as follows :

[Music excerpt]

The second theme is given out by the strings, and its hilarity is intensified by the following episode, which dominates the whole movement, so far as its expression is concerned:

[Music excerpt]

The Andante is highly expressive. The materials which compose it are exquisite melodies whose beauty, especially that of the first, with muted violins, must appeal even to the dullest ear. The opening theme is as follows:

[Music excerpt]

After a repetition of four bars by the basses a new melody appears in the bassoons, which leads up to the second theme, given out by the oboes and full of rest and contentment. A charming Coda brings the beautiful first part of the movement to its close. The second is devoted to the contrapuntal development of all this melodious material, which is accomplished with marvelous skill, and at the close returns to the original key and melody.





The Minuet is one of the happiest and most charming of all his numbers in this rhythm. There is a swing, an elasticity of movement, at once light and free, and a gaiety and freshness which belong almost exclusively to Mozart. It begins with the following theme:

[Music excerpt]

The trio is in the same key, and is equally happy in its expression of naivete and cheerful humor.

The Finale is the masterpiece of the symphony. In combinations of the most astonishing contrapuntal skill with freedom of movement it will always remain a monument to the genius and knowledge of the composer. It is built up on four themes developed in fugal treatment. Colossal figures of counterpoint are combined with the most graceful motives, each thoroughly individual in character and all fitted together in every variety of union, but never at the sacrifice of that grace and fancy for which Mozart is so conspicuous. The first theme is an old church-music phrase which was a fovorite with him:

[Music excerpt]

The second theme is announced at once:

[Music excerpt]

At its close the first is treated as five-part fugue, after which the third theme appears in the violins:

[Music excerpt]

The fourth theme enters in graceful fashion:

[Music excerpt]

These are the materials with Mozart elaborates with marvelous skill. As the development proceeds he inverts the second theme, giving a fresh melodic subject, which enters into the combinations as clearly and individually as its companions. Thus on into the Coda, which again reveals the masterly skill of the composer and the ease with which he treated the most intricate contrapuntal difficulties.





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