Symphony No. 38, КV 504 Prague

Among Mozart’s earliest symphonies, considerably influenced by Joseph Haydn’s remarkable specimens, the first that was stylistically crystallized and to a greater degree oriented toward individual solutions, was the SYMPHONY No. 38, КV 504 Prague. In the end of 1786 the composer finished the symphony, which, as the title shows, is dedicated to Prague and its residents. Notable for its lyrical melodic treatment, motivic concentration and symmetrical structure, it was created almost simultaneously with two of Mozart’s operatic masterpieces, The Ma­rriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni, which naturally share some melodic material with the Prague Symphony.

Mozart approached the sonata form of the first movement of the symphony from the perspective of Haydn’s models, which treat one single subject, though taken in different keys. The second movement, which omits trumpets and timpani, seems unusually set, even more so because the composer chose to discard the traditional minuet. The Prague Symphony is famous for the characterization “the symphony without a minuet”. The finale in particular is that bridge connecting the symphony with the two parallel operas, to the comic personages of Susanna, Cherubino and Figaro.

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