Mozart wrote 41 symphonies (according to original numbering) and some are arguably better than others. Number 41, nicknamed the “Jupiter Symphony”, is rated by many critics as among the greatest in classical music. Number 40 is another of his most famous works. But there’s something about Symphony No. 25 that is truly gripping, that helps it stand out from the rest, and that made it the perfect opening music for the film Amadeus.
Perhaps it’s the minor key or the dramatic style. Regardless of the reason, there’s definitely more to this work than its unassuming name. Here are 6 interesting facts about Mozart’s Symphony No. 25.
It has been called the “little G minor symphony”.
Symphony No. 25 is one of only two symphonies Mozart composed in G minor. The other was Symphony No. 40 (written 15 years later). While it might not sound like anything of note today, composing in G minor was unusual at the time. It is considered the key thorugh which Mozart best expressed sadness. Thus, the symphony is often called his first “tragic” symphony. Though Mozart used other minor keys in his symphonies, G minor is the only minor key he used as a main key for his numbered symphonies.
It was written when Mozart was 17 years old.
Although the story is unsubstantiated, it was supposedly completed just 2 days after he completed his Symphony No. 24. Many critics regard this as one the moments when Mozart transformed from entertainer to artist – from wunderkind to great composer.
It was written in a Sturm und Drang style.
Sturm und Drang (Storm and Stress) is a style characterized by emotional extremes and sudden changes in tempo and dynamics. The opening movement begins with a particularly dramatic repeated syncopated pattern in the violins and violas. This rhythm returns again in the final movement. Haydn’s Symphony No. 39 (also in G minor) is another example of the Sturm und Drang style and may have served as an inspiration for Mozart’s Symphony No. 25.
The occasion it was written for is unknown.
Lost to history is what occasion the symphony was written for. Nothing in his life at the time justifies the minor keys. Perhaps after a recent tour of Europe, he longed to explore the previously mentioned Sturm und Drang style popularized by Haydn which began as a German literary movement to break free from the ultra-rational and ultra-objective ideals of the Enlightenment. Again, there’s nothing that directly points to that intent.
It used to be relatively unknown.
The “little” in its nickname was in deference to what was considered the more sublime of his minor symphonies (no. 40). While history suggests that the work may have been popular in Mozart’s time (it was performed several times and Mozart even rescored the work for different instruments), by the 19th century, Symphony No. 25 was little known and rarely performed. It wasn’t performed in the United States until 1899 and after that, it wasn’t performed again until 1937. What changed all that? Amadeus.
It may have inspired Beethoven’s 5th Symphony.
Ludwig van Beethoven knew the symphony well, copying 29 bars from the score in one of his sketchbooks. It is thought that the opening theme of the Symphony No. 25’s final movement may have inspired the third movement of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony.
The Parker Symphony Orchestra will perform the first movement from Mozart’s Symphony No. 25 as part of Blockbusters at the PACE Center in Parker, Colorado on May 3 at 7:30 PM.