Symphony No. 32

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Symphony No. 32 in G major


About this work

This short symphony was the first Mozart wrote after his return to Salzburg after his disastrous trip to Paris, during which his mother died and his only major output was the Symphony No. 31 "Paris". Because the Symphony No. 32 is in the form of an opera or operetta overture, some commentators have concluded that it was written as the "sinfonia," or overture for one of the stage pieces that Mozart was working on during 1779, such as Thamos, King of Egypt, K. 345/336a or Zaide, K. 334/336b. Ludwig Ritter von Köchel, editor of the Thematic Catalogue of Mozart's Work (1862) appended the subtitle ("Ouverture"). But Köchel was probably reflecting nineteenth century views, which considered overtures a separate type of composition from a symphony, whereas in Mozart's time there was little distinction between the two. Some commentators conclude that of Zaide and Thamos, one was too early and the other too late for this composition to be connected to it. The symphony is for strings, pairs of flutes, oboes, and bassoons, four horns, two trumpets, and kettledrums. It is Mozart's only symphony in G that calls for trumpets. It does not have a continuo part: the bassoons, cellos, and at times the double basses have independent parts. The first movement is in sonata-allegro form, but it stops short with a full-orchestra pause just where the main material should come in for a recapitulation. At that point the Andante starts, in a rondo form of ABA'CA"B'. (The apostrophes indicate that the recurring sections are varied.) This, too, does not come to a conclusion; note that a final repeat of the "A" material is missing. Now Mozart returns to the opening tempo and finally opens the recapitulation, but actually begins six measures before the return of the second subject. Having gotten through the foreshortened recapitulation, the symphony would naturally end with a coda; the surprise here is that the coda is the opening subject that was "missing" from the recapitulation. The symphony is quite brief, being in a compact, continuous style, but it is very inventive in form and highly attractive in its ideas.