Symphony No. 33

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Symphony No. 33 in Bb major


About this work

According to the date inscribed on Mozart's manuscript of the Symphony No. 33 in B flat major, K. 319, the works was completed on July 9, 1779, in Salzburg. It was the second symphony Mozart composed after returning to Salzburg from his lengthy, fateful trip to Mannheim and Paris.

Scored for paired oboes, bassoons, horns, and strings featuring a divided viola part, the symphony was originally in three movements; the Minuet and Trio was added for performances in Vienna. Artaria published the four-movement version in Vienna in 1785, as Op. 7, No. 2, along with the Symphony in D major, K. 385 ("Haffner"). Throughout the Symphony in B flat major, the writing is of a "chamber-music" nature in its detail and procedures. This is probably why Mozart chose this particular work when Sebastian Winter, the Mozart family's former servant, requested in 1786 a work from the composer that would be suitable for Prince Fürstenberg's small orchestra in Donaueschingen.

Each of the original three movements of K. 319 has a development section that begins with new material that, in each case, is thematically related to the material at the equivalent spot in the other movements. Overall, Mozart's handling of the woodwinds and orchestration in general is as advanced as we find in his later symphonies.

The opening Allegro assai, in sonata form, is set in an unusual triple meter. Its quiet, hesitant opening, with sudden, forte outbursts, suggests a youthful playfulness. Strikingly jolly in mood, the movement does not have a repeated exposition and the development section is relatively brief. A rising and falling four-note motive, not a part of the exposition, figures prominently in the development and looks forward to the finale of the "Jupiter" symphony of 1788.

The E flat major Andante moderato closes with a "mirror image" recapitulation, in which the secondary theme appears first and is resolved to the tonic before the appearance of the primary theme. This device, used often by the very Mannheim composers Mozart had recently visited, is not so much an innovation as it is a nod to earlier binary movements in which the principle theme does not appear at all. The delayed return of the primary theme sounds very much like a coda and the "rounding" effect is pure, high-Classical rhetoric.

In 1782, Mozart added a Minuet and Trio to the symphony, placing it in third position. The generally dark mood is an unusual trait of this B flat major movement. The Trio tune slightly resembles the second theme of the first movement and does nothing to lighten the atmosphere.

Cheerful energy supplants the ominous Minuet at the opening of the Finale, marked Allegro assai. Passages that remind us of Mozart's later operas appear at numerous places in this sonata-form movement, filled with abundant energy and endless musicality.