Symphony No. 30

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Symphony No. 30 in D major

K186b, K202

About this work

This festive Symphony No. 30 of Mozart was written for an unknown occasion in Salzburg. Mozart symphonies in C, D, or E flat often were, for technical reasons, the only ones that might include trumpets. Accordingly, this symphony is written for an orchestra of pairs of oboes and horns, two trumpets, kettledrums, strings, and a continuo of bassoon and harpsichord.

While the previous symphony attained a noble serenity and the one before that (commonly designated "No. 25") was the first truly tragic Mozart symphony, this one seems more interested in lightness and good times. This caused Romantic-era commentators to view it as a step backwards in that it was a less "serious" work. In the variety of its musical ideas and the cleverness of their treatment, it actually is the equal to the other two. How important "seriousness" is as a determinative musical quality is left to the listener.

The work is unified by the fact that both the first and last movements begin with a melody tracing the D major chord downward: D, A, F sharp, D. In the first movement, this is preceded by some introductory chords and figurations, including one that includes a simple little trill. In the course of the exposition, this trill grows and grows in importance until the whole orchestra is dominated by its buzzing.

The second movement is in a small-scale sonata form. It is scored for strings alone. It is rich in cantabile melodies, and exhibits the composer's care to keep all four voices interesting. Thus, it is very rich listening. The minuet movement is one of the more dance-like among those of Mozart's more mature symphonies. The final movement, again in a full sonata-allegro form, nicely contrasts a quick-march opening figure in dotted rhythms with a contrasting lyrical idea. The development section is in a rather serious vein, but the coda of the movement stops short in a musical joke.