Symphony No. 36

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Symphony No. 36 in C major

K425 • “Linz”

About this work

Mozart's marriage to Constanze Weber in Vienna on August 4, 1782, left relations with his father strained. After stalling for nearly a year, Mozart and his new wife made the journey to Salzburg in order to effect introductions in July 1783, remaining until October 27. Their journey back to Vienna was broken in Linz, where they stayed three weeks during which Mozart gave a concert in the Ballhaus. The genesis of the symphony he composed for the occasion, and which has since born the name of the city for which it was composed, is explained in a letter written by Mozart to his father on October 31. After giving details of the journey and the hospitable reception accorded to him and his wife by their hosts, the Thun family, Mozart continues: "On Tuesday, November 4th, I an giving a concert in the theatre here and, as I have not a single symphony with me, I am writing a new one at breakneck speed, which must be finished by that time." No details of the remaining program are extant, but it probably followed the format of the Mozart's concerts in Vienna -- one or two piano concertos, arias, and the solo keyboard improvisations for which he was famed. After the Mozarts returned to Vienna, the "Linz" Symphony was again performed at Mozart's concert at the Burgtheater on April 1, 1784.

The symphony is scored for strings, timpani, and pairs of oboes, bassoons, horns, and trumpets. Cast in the usual four movements, K. 425 is the first of a trio of symphonies (the others are the "Prague" Symphony No. 38 in D, K. 504, and the Symphony No. 39 in E flat, K. 543) in which the main allegro (here marked Allegro spiritoso) is prefaced by a slow Adagio introduction, to which may be added the Adagio maestoso Mozart added to a Symphony in G by Michael Haydn (P16) when he was in need of new works during the height of his Viennese concert promotion activities. (The work was long accepted within the canon of Mozart's works as his Symphony No. 37 in G, K. 444). Also unusual is the introduction of trumpets and drums in the Andante, a rare incursion in slow movements in symphonies of this period. The brilliant Presto finale is a close relative of that of the "Haffner" Symphony of the previous year, with the additional interest of contrapuntal passages to contrast with the prevailing homophonic texture. The symphony as a whole is Mozart's most successful essay in the form so far, showing little sign of the haste with which it was written.