Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Symphony Number 41 in C-Major “Jupiter”

“A phenomenon like Mozart always constitutes a miracle that defies all explanation. But how could divinity find time to make miracles if it didn’t conduct its research by creating from time to time extraordinary individuals whom we admire and can not understand?” Goethe

Mozart wrote the Symphony Number 41 in C-Major in 1788, just three years before his death and in an outburst of energy that saw him also writing it along with the 39th and 40thin a period of three weeks.

On the sleeve of my old vinyl recording, conducted by Karl Bohm, the anonymous notes describe the first movement thus:

“The masculine, self-confident first motive and its gentle, feminine continuation which make up the principal subject are representative in their duality of the mastery of this Symphony, in whose classically clear structure there is a place for both strength and lyricism, for “gallant” and learned elements-truly a concluding work of Olympian greatness!”

I used to read this quote and laugh. There certainly are two “flavors” to the first movement between which the orchestra moves. However, the author calling one masculine, strong and gallant, the other feminine, lyrical, and “learned” seemed a bit beyond the pale. Of course, now that I study Tai Chi, which is based on the principal of Yin and Yang, I can see how these two elements are woven in an out of each other in a perfectly balanced way. I’m just not sure that I want to call one “Hoss” and the other “Betty.” And why is “learned” feminine? Referring to the Olympian greatness also smacks a bit too much of Germanic scholasticism.

I don’t want to criticize too much fellow musical journalists. What I do want to say is that Mozart’s genius can be proved just by looking at his prolific output during the year 1788. In that one year, he wrote symphonies number 39, 40, and 41, the 26th piano concerto, and numerous dances, songs and minuets.

Let’s see, he was 32 at the time he wrote the Symphony Number 41, and from all accounts this was a difficult time period for him. In June, Mozart’s fourth child, Theresia, died of intestinal cramps. Despite the unhappiness in his life at this time, the 41stwas one of the most ebullient symphonies he wrote. It stands in contrast with to the 40th, in which you hear more struggle. The 41st just soars!

Nowadays, all many of us have to do is break a fingernail and it spoils our whole day. Maybe the lesson Mozart was channeling from God was that art is a way of dealing with the events that life sends our ways. Sure you can be a victim when something bad happens, or you can create something beautiful that will last for centuries.


About kurtnemes
Writer and Education Professional. Specialties include Ethics, Personal Memoir, Classical music, Tai Chi, Stress Reduction, Meditation, Coping, Classical Music, Aging, Love, Joy, Compassion and Equanimity (& what interests me.)

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