Symphony no 41 is the last in a set of three that were all composed in the
summer of 1788. It is the last symphony he ever composed and is also the
longest. It may have been that all three were originally intended to be
performed as one work as no 39 has an introduction whereas no 41 has a
grand finale. There are several different theories why this has been nicknamed
“the Jupiter” but it is thought that the impresario, Johann Salomon, referred to
it as such in an early arrangement for the piano. It is an apt name for such a
magnificent work considering Jupiter was the King of the Gods in Greek
mythology. The symphony is scored for flute, two oboes, two bassoons, two
horns in C, two trumpets in C, timpani in C and G and strings. Mozart does not
include the clarinet on this occasion.
First movement allegro vivace 4/4
The first movement is in sonata form. The main theme consists of two brief
motifs – two bars of orchestral tutti followed two bars of a lyrical string motif.
The opening bars are then developed by the orchestra with a counter melody
rising above the main theme played by the flute and oboes. The second subject
is introduced by the 1st violins. After this an attractive little rhythmic theme is
introduced before we hear the development section in the key of Eb Major.
During this the theme is developed in sequences until it finally leads back to
the opening music this time in F Major. In the recapitulation Mozart uses all
the ideas he has utilised so far and through use of clever modulation moves
from the Key of C minor back to C Major.
Second movement andante cantabile
This movement is also written in sonata form and is styled on the French
Sarabande – a bit like those J.S. Bach used in his keyboard suites. It opens in
3/4 time with a serene theme in the key of F Major given to the upper strings
and then passed over to the lower strings who have a syncopated version of it.
The second theme is broader though treated to some chromatic progressions
and the recapitulation cleverly weaves together all the previous motifs and
themes from the exposition. The coda is a short variation on the opening bars.
Third movement Minuetto: trio – allegretto 3/4
This movement has similarities to a landler. It begins with the first violins
introducing the main theme which is then repeated. The second theme is
stronger and is also repeated before the trio appears. In the trio the four note
motif that forms the main theme of the last movement is introduced but on the
seventh degree of the scale rather than the first and in a minor key rather than a
major key. after this the minuet is heard again this time without repeats.
Fourth movement Molto allegro
This movement is also in sonata form. Four completely new themes are
introduced. It opens with the 1st violins introducing the first theme of the first
subject followed by the second theme which develops through the use of
imitation. Two more themes are introduced in the second subject and the first
is, once again, given to the 1st violins. This is combined with descending
passages and a six note figure in the woodwind. Then a four note motif from
the oboes leads into the Development section. During the Development
Mozart plays with the four new themes treating them all as miniature fugues.
The recapitulation begins with the opening statement from this movement.
After treating this using chromatic sequences Mozart very cleverly brings all
the themes together in the five voice fugal coda at the end of this movement
which is a very unusual characteristic of the symphony at this time.