Double Mozart on Symphony @ 7 For His Birthday

Undeniably one of the greatest composers who ever lived, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born on this date in 1756.  It is still a miracle when we consider the astonishing quality of music he left us, all written in the brief 35 years he had on this earth.  And there was plenty of it, too.  The sonatas, chamber pieces, concertos, symphonies, operas, and more.

This evening on Symphony @ 7, we have just two works for you.  One is a less often heard symphony, No. 20 in D, written in July of 1772 in Salzburg.  It shows the 16 year old composer paying close attention to his older and famous contemporary Franz Joseph Haydn.  Haydn’s Symphony No. 42, also in the key of D major, seems to have been a model for the younger Mozart.

The other composition this evening, is the Sinfonia Concertante for Violin, Viola and Orchestra in E flat from a few years later, in 1779 when Mozart was on a tour ot Europe that included Mannheim and Paris.  It just happens to be the greatest work written for this combination of instruments. It’s a kind of hybrid symphony/concerto and is one of his earlier masterpieces.  Mozart played both instruments himself, as well as being a fine pianist.

The heavenly singing quality of these two instrumental voices, soaring and intertwining, is beautifully evident in this video of a great performance, recorded quite a few years back, with a very much younger, Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zukerman, and conductor Zubin Mehta.  The violin and viola enter about three minutes into the music: