Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 4.djvu/36
century. Mozart having mastered the principle upon which the mature art-form of symphony was to be attacked, had greater freedom for the expression of his intrinsically musical ideas, and could emphasise more freely and consistently the typical characteristics which his inspiration led him to adopt in developing his ideas. It must not, however, be supposed that this principle is to be found for the first time in these works. They find their counterparts in works of Haydn's of a much earlier date ; only, inasmuch as the art-form was then less mature, the element of formalism is too strong to admit of the musical or poetical intention being so clearly realised. It is of course impossible to put into words with certainty the inherent characteristics of these or any other later works on the same lines ; but that they are felt to have such characteristics is in- disputable, and their perfection as works of art, which is so commonly insisted on, could not exist if it were not so. Among the many writers who have tried in some way to describe them, probably the best and most responsible is Otto Jahn. Of the first of the group (that in Eb), he says, ' We find the expression of per- fect happiness in the charm of euphony' which is one of the marked external characteristics of the whole work. * The feeling of pride in the consciousness of power shines through the mag- nificent introduction, while the Allegro expresses the purest pleasure, now in frolicsome joy, now in active excitement, and now in noble and dignified composure. Some shadows appear, it is true, in the Andante, but they only serve to throw into stronger relief the mild serenity of a mind communing with itself and rejoicing in the peace which fills it. This is the true source of the cheerful transport which rules the last movement, rejoicing in its own strength and in the joy of being.' Whether this is all perfectly true or not is of less consequence than the fact that a consistent and uniform style and object can be discerned through the whole work, and that it admits of an approximate descrip- tion in words, without either straining or violating familiar impressions.
The second of the great symphonic trilogy that in G minor has a still clearer meaning. The contrast with the Eb is strong, for in no symphony of Mozart's is there so much sadness and regretfulness. This element also accounts for the fact that it is the most modern of his symphonies, and shows most human nature. E. J. A. Hoffmann (writing in a spirit very dif- ferent from that of Jahn) says of it, Love and melancholy breathe forth in purest spirit tones ; we feel ourselves drawn with inexpressible long- ing towards the forms which beckon us to join them in their flight through the clouds to an- other sphere.' Jahn agrees in attributing to it a character of sorrow and complaining ; and there can hardly be a doubt that the tonality as well as the style, and such characteristic features as occur incidentally, would all favour the idea that Mozart's inspiration took a sad cast, and maintained it so far throughout; so
that, notwithstanding the formal passages which occasionally make their appearance at the closes, the whole work may without violation of prob- ability receive a consistent psychological ex- planation. Even the orchestration seems appro- priate from this point of view, since the prevailing effect is far less soft and smooth than that of the previous symphony. A detail of historical interest in connection with this work is the fact that Mozart originally wrote it without clarinets, and added them afterwards for a per- formance at which it may be presumed they happened to be specially available. He did this by taking a separate piece of paper and rearranging the oboe parts, sometimes combining the instruments and sometimes distributing the parts between the two, with due regard to their characteristic styles of utterance.
The last of Mozart's symphonies has so obvi- ous and distinctive a character throughout, that popular estimation has accepted the definite name ' Jupiter ' as conveying the prevalent feel- ing about it. In this there is far less human sentiment than in the G minor. In fact, Mozart appears to have aimed at something lofty and self-contained, and therefore precluding the shade of sadness which is an element almost indis- pensable to strong human sympathy. When he descends from this distant height, he assumes a cheerful and sometimes playful vein, as in the second principal subject of the first movement, and in the subsidiary or cadence subject that fol- lows it. This may not be altogether in accord- ance with what is popularly meant by the name 'Jupiter,' though that deity appears to have been capable of a good deal of levity in his time ; but it has the virtue of supplying admirable con- trast to the main subjects of the section; and it is so far in consonance with them that there is no actual reversal of feeling in passing from one to the other. The slow movement has an appro- priate dignity which keeps it in character, and reaches, in parts, a considerable degree of passion, which brings it nearer to human sym- pathy than the other movements. The Minuet and the Trio again show cheerful serenity, and the last movement, with its elaborate fugal treat- ment, has a vigorous austerity, which is an ex- cellent balance to the character of the first movement. The scoring, especially in the first and last movements, is fuller than is usual with Mozart, and produces effects of strong and clear sound ; and it is also admirably in character with the spirit of dignity and loftiness which seems to be aimed at in the greater portion of the musical subjects and figures. In these later symphonies Mozart certainly reached a far higher pitch of art in the department of instrumental music than any hitherto arrived at. The characteristics of his attainments may be described as a freedom of style in the ideas, freedom in the treatment of the various parts of the score, and indepen- dence and appropriateness of expression in the management of the various groups of instruments employed. In comparison with the works of his predecessors, and with his own and Haydn's