Part of the Frankfurt orchestra playing the Jupiter Symphony
I’ve never heard Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony. Can you believe that? After all these years, it has avoided me. I’ve heard Mozart’s Haffner Symphony at least three times. I’ve heard his Symphony No 29 twice. I’ve a few other Mozart symphonies once but the Jupiter, not at all.
- Thursday, October 22, 2020, 8 p.m.
Del Mar Fairgrounds,
2260 Jimmy Durante Boulevard,
$45 - $60
I can’t recall it being programmed in San Diego. Now, it is completely possible that the Jupiter was programmed in the past 10 years and I simply missed it. That would make more sense than for it to not be performed.
I now have my chance at Mainly Mozart’s Drive-In concert on Thursday, October 22, at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Granted, a drive-in format isn’t ideal but I’ll take whatever I can get at this point.
I’m referring to Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony but it would be more accurate to call it his Symphony No. 41. The Jupiter moniker arrived long after Mozart’s death.
Performed by the Frankfurt Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Paavo Jarvi
Here’s the crazy thing. It’s not clear if Mozart ever heard this symphony performed live. Mozart composed his Symphonies Nos. 39, 40, and 41 during the summer of 1788. He completed No. 39 on June 26, No. 40 on July 25, and No. 41 on August 10.
This rapid succession has led some to theorize that these three symphonies are actually one meta-composition. Mozart could have been composing them for a series of concerts that never materialized.
My relationship with No. 41 started in the summer of 1990, 202 years after it was written. I had a cassette tape with No. 40 on one side and No. 41 on the other. I also had a job cleaning the Bureau of Land Management in Medford, Oregon. We called it “The BLM”.
Every weekday night I would vacuum for hours and hours and listen to that cassette tape. I must have listened to both those symphonies at least 120 times over the course of that summer. I never got tired of it.
This might not make Mozart happy but if you want to get some work done around the house, I recommend the Jupiter Symphony as a soundtrack. It is, to me, a piece of music that signifies movement and activity.
The opening chords strike with an energy that is different from but no less impressive than Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3. In fact, Mozart’s No. 41 wasn’t surpassed in terms of scale and grandeur until Beethoven’s No. 3 which came 25 years later.
Mozart’s No. 41 is the quintessential classical symphony. Haydn may have exceeded Mozart with sheer numbers. Beethoven’s Symphonies Nos 1 and 2 are substantial but the Jupiter Symphony rules them all.