6 Interesting Facts About Mozart’s Symphony No. 25



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.


Legends of The Abduction from the Seraglio

Abduction from the Seraglio
Mozart was just 26 years old when he was commissioned to write the opera Die Entführung aus dem Serail or The Abduction from the Seraglio and it was not only a huge success, but also a trendy work the likes of which hadn’t been seen before. Everything Turkish was all the rage and not only did Mozart set the opera in a Turkish harem, but he also flavored the music with unconventional instruments like cymbals, triangles, and big drums to evoke the Janissary bands of Turkey. The poet Goethe said that it “knocked everything else sideways.” But it was the words of the Emperor Joseph II (who commissioned the work) that are forever associated with the opera.

In the movie “Amadeus”, the Emperor said of the opera, “Too many notes. Just cut a few and it will be perfect.” While there are many aspects of the film that are at the very least, exaggerated, this quote is actually based somewhat in truth (although disputed). Reportedly, the Emperor complained to Mozart that the work was “too fine” for his ears, remarking that “there are too many notes” to which Mozart replied, “There are just as many notes as there should be.” The exchange was recorded in Bartlett’s Book of Anecdotes, but some scholars doubt the authenticity of the story because the reference book contained the original German and the translation was dubious. Still, whether true or not, the legend has stuck with the work and certainly comes to mind when listening to even just the overture (which you can hear us perform on February 23!).

Another interesting legend around “Abduction” is the similarity between the story in the opera and Mozart’s personal life, almost like he purposely infused his own experiences into the work. At the time he was commissioned to compose it, Mozart was trying to take his life into his own hands. He had just moved to Vienna after being dismissed by his employer, the Archbishop of Salzburg Hieronymus Colloredo, a man he was said to have “hated to the point of madness”. He rented a room from the Weber family, and fell in love with the family’s daughter Constanze. Much like the the opera’s female protagonists who wish to be rescued from their harem, Mozart himself knew the feeling of being confined and wishing for freedom.

During this time, Mozart was also waging a battle via letters with his father. His father continued to try to exert influence over him while he attempted to convince his father to agree to his marriage with Constanze Weber. This is very much like the hero, Belmonte, who struggles against Pasha Selim to win freedom and the right love Konstanze. It’s also worth noting that the opera’s heroine bears the same name as the composer’s love interest (and future wife). Perhaps the composer was making a statement about his own life in writing “Abduction” or maybe he was just drawing on it for inspiration.

The Abduction from the Seraglio was a triumph from its opening night, becoming Mozart’s most popular and legendary work in his lifetime. It greatly raised Mozart’s standing with the public as a composer. The first two performances brought in a large sum and the work was repeatedly performed in Vienna throughout the rest of his life. It is firmly ensconced in the opera repertoire today and there are at least 52 complete recordings in circulation.

Be sure to hear us perform the Overture from The Abduction from the Seraglio on February 23 at 7:30 PM.