From its Beginnings to Beethoven I


"Die Symphonie" (The Symphony)
(Painting by Moritz v. Schwind)


A few  Initial Questions

The Development of the Symphony in the 18th Century:

Social Aspects
Recording of the Works
Key and Form
Vienna and Salzburg
Other Centers
Haydn (Part 2)
A few Initial Questions:

What is a  Symphony?

(French simphonie, symphonie; Ital. sinfonia) Today, this term serves to describe a longer composition for orchestra.  According to Grove, during the 18th century, the symphony developed into the most important compositional genre of instrumental music, while the adjective "symphonic" points towards a longer, compositionally fully developed work.  

Where does the word come from?

According to Grove, the word "Symphonie" is a combination of the ancient-Greek word "sýn" (together) and "phoné" (sound) and became known in its Latin form as "Symphonia" during the Medieval age.

Who used it first?

In this form, it was, for example, used by Giovanni Gabrieli as "sacrae symphoniae" in 1597 or, in 1629,  by Heinrich Schütz  as "symphoniae sacrae", but also by other musicians, namely for concert-motets (usually for voice and instrumental accompaniment). In the 17th century, the term "sinfonia" was mainly used for introductory movements to operas, oratorios and cantatas, but also for instrumental introductions to arias and ensembles.  In this context, the "common denominator" was that the "sinfonia" was performed as one of several works in an "academy concert" or in church performances.   

What is the immediate forerunner of the symphony?

Grove reports that with respect to the immediate forerunner of the "modern" symphony, one generally refers to the "opera sinfonia" that, in the 18th century, consisted of three parts: fast--slow--fast (eventually also in dance rhythm).  Alessandro Scarlatti and his contemporaries used this form very often, but also outside of Italy, particularly in Germany and England, this form was very common. The terms "overture" and "symphony" were still exchangeable respectively synonymous, at that time.  

Gala Concert in Venice (Francesco Guardi [1712 - 1793]) Munich, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen
The Development of the Symphony during the 18th Century


In the 18th century, the symphony was intensively developed, as Grove reports. For example, the Catalogue of 18th Century Symphonies lists more than 13,000 of them!  At that time, every Court had its collection of symphonies.  Such collections were found all across Europe, from Finland to Sicily, to Kiev, and even in Salem, North Carolina, in the United States.  In this practice, the Hapsburg monarchy was leading, followed by Germany, Italy, France and England, but also the Netherlands, Scandinavia, Spain, Poland and Russia were active collectors.  A second important aspect is -- as Grove reports -- the continuity of the development of the symphony from the late 17th century on up to the balanced classical style and its instrumentation, at the end of the 18th century.   The public character of the symphony might also have lent it its importance due to the fact that it was not dependent on the skills of a few solo performers.  Due to this, it made its way into the catalogues of the publishers, very soon, and was strongly represented in these, yet it was also discussed by musical theorists such as Scheibe, Riepel, Burney, Schulz, Koch, and others.

Social Aspects

According to Grove, the symphony made its way into many areas of social life, such as into state ceremonies, banquets, receptions, church services, but mainly into the concerts.  At first, however, these concerts were focussing less on the musical experience but rather on social activities such as tea parties and card games.  Grove relates that, in his memoirs, Louis Spohr reported that the Duchchess of Brunsvik insisted on the music being played quietly so that the card game would not be disturbed.  Moreover, public concerts in restaurants and coffee houses gained in popularity, but also the amateur and benefit concerts of the second half of the 18th century contributed to the success of the symphony.  At such events, the symphony often played an introductory role, after which the soloists' performances would make up the major part of the concerts.  Grove states that the fact that, in London, Haydn's symphonies were not played at the very beginning of a concert but rather at the beginning of the second part (so that also late arrivers would hear them!) is evidence for the fact of how far the symphony had evolved during the 18th century, and that to no small degree due to Haydn's efforts in this musical genre, by which they had gained so much in prestige. 

Recording of the Works

In the 18th century, according to Grove, symphonies were normally recorded in separate parts and not in form of entire scores, and that more in manuscript form than in printed form.  Thus, copying was one of the daily chores at courts, monasteries and other institutions.  However, one could also buy symphonies directly from copyist, as from those in Vienna.  Publishers such as Breitkopf in Leipzig and Ringmacher in Berlin issued catalogues in which the beginnings of symphonies were featured.  Grove reports that around 1750, symphonies had become so popular that Breitkopf in Leipzig and publishers in Paris, Amsterdam and London published symphonies in series.  At that time, symphonies were published by using various terms for them, such as 'sinfonia', overture, introduzione, intrada, präludium, sonata, trio, quartet  or quadro, quintet, concerto, concertino, parthia, divertimento, cassation, serenade and pastorale.  Due to this, men like W.S. Newman, for example, aimed at finding a clearer definition.  As Grove reports, a further problem was that of the authenticity of the works, whereby discoveries of this kind reached the greatest publicity with respect to Haydn's works, but also the works of other composers and their confusion is reported as having lead to serious misconceptions with respect to the stylistic development of the alleged author of a work in question.  For example, an expressively classical symphony was assumed to have been written by M.G. Monn (1717 - 1750) of Vienna.  However, the work turned out to have been written by the Regensburg composer F.X. Pokorny. Grove reports that, ever since this has been discovered, musicologists have an easier time at researching M.G. Monn's stylistic development.  


The earliest concert symphonies wer only orchestrated for string instruments, whereby the harpsichord and often also the bassoon were used as part of the continuo group.  Although four "parts" were the norm (two violins, viola and bass, the latter consisting at least of cello and contrabass), in the early stages, also trio symphonies for two violins and bass were not seldom. Symphonies "a 4" were still written and played well into the 18th century, particularly by composers who worked at smaller courts and with smaller ensembles, but under special circumstances these were also written and played by such well-known composers as C.P.E. Bach, whose six symphonies for strings, from the year 1773, were written for Gottfried van Swieten. However, around 1730, also symphonies "a 6" developed, for 2 horns or oboes (although more seldom), and a little bit later, the standard instrumentation for the "a 8" overture for strings and 2 horns and 2 oboes developed, which, from about 1740 up to the 1770's, could be regarded as the standard orchestra for symphonies.  The horns could either be replaced by two trumpets or kettledrums or supplemented by them, and that either for the entire symphony or only for the slow movement.   Bassoons also began to play an increasingly concert-style role, and from about 1750, clarinets were also used.   However, the development of this ensemble into the full "classical" symphony orchestra (of strings, 2 each of flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons, horns, trumpets and kettledrums and often also the harpsichord)  was not a continuous one, but rather according to the circumstances.  For example, in 1778, Mozart wrote his symphony, K 297,  for the large orchestra of the Concert Spirituel in Paris.

Key and Form

As Grove reports, most of the symphonies of the 18th century were written in Major, and only about 7 - 8% in minor.  The fast-slow-fast sequence of the movements had been taken over from the baroque concert, and that particularly outside of Vienna.  Mannheim stood out for its addition of the minuet and trio as fourth movement of the symphony.  It is possible that, by doing so, Stamitz and his colleagues wanted to accord the finale greater weight.  In this context, reference should also be made to the German-Austrian Parthia, but also to German symphony suites, that, due to their character, combined abstract and dance movements, from the beginning.  A further advancement of the form was the introduction of the slow introduction around 1750, which gave the composer an opportunity to introduce some main themes before the  Allegro. The first movement of the 18th-century symphony and, on occasion, also the last movement, were mainly designed on the basis of one of two basic schemes, as already J.A. Scheibe pointed out in his work,  Der critische Musikus  of 1739.  What gained great importance was the grand-scale, dualistic form, be it in simple, in asymmetic, in rondo form or in sonata form. Both parts of such a movement were usually repeated, althoug, after 1770, the repetition of the development and of the recapitulation were often left off.  From 1740 on, many fast symphony movements, particularly in Mannheim, left both repetitions off, which Grove ascribes to the influence of the Italian opera overture and to the ritornello structure. In contrast to this form, some of the earlier symphonies and many of those written in more conservative centers applied a more through-composed structure without double bars and repeat signs. This structure was related to the ritornello structure of the  concerto. The sonata form that appeared in the 18th century existed in many variants, so that Grove describes it as a rather flexible collection of characteristic processes and techniques.  Three popular forms were (10 the dualistic form, particularly in the early symphonies, that was also preferred in Manheim, (2) the so-called movement form, in which the recapitulation begins in another key than the tonic, and 93) the so-called "exposition-recapitulation form", that appeared in overtures from about 1735 on.   According to Grove, the classic symphony amalgamated all individual characteristics into a synthesis at a higher level.  Also the remaining symphony movements, reports Grove, showed a variety of forms, from the dualistic form to the sonata form to the variation, to the rondo and to the refrain form. However, during the course of the century, the final movement gained more weight and was, as was the first movement, held in sonata form.   Of the various forms of final movements such as the fugue-style finale, the theme and the variation, the most important are those that are based on the rondo principle.  This form still prevailed in France towards the end of the first half of the 18th century, while in the Vienna of the 1750's, the rondo finale appeared, and in the 1770's, the sonata-rondo finale. 


Grove reports that in the early 18th century in Italy, Naples had the best conservatories, Bologna the best voice school, Lombardy, however, had the best instrumental music, and it is referred to the early Lombard symphonists G.B. Sammartini and Antonio Brioschi.

G.B. Sammartini

Sammartini, Giovanni Battista, 1700 or 1701 to 1775, was the son of a French oboe player who had settled in Italy.  Sammartini spent his entire life in Milan where he gained a good reputation as maestro di capella at the St. Entierro church, very early, and where he worked for many years.  He is considered the most important Italian symphonist of his time who made essential contributions to the development of this compositional genre.  Also outside of Italy, he gained a good reputation and influenced Mozart, J.C. Bach and Haydn.   Unfortunately, not many of his works have been preserved.  

The symphonies that both wrote in the early 1730's, such as Sammartini's 'Introduzione' to the second act of his opera Memet (1732) and the overture to this opera (that was also played separately during this time0 and Brioschi's Hebrew Cantata of 1733 and two further symphonies, were already so thoroughly worked out in detail that it is very likely that both composers already wrote symphonie in the 1720's.   Also the Lombardian Andrea Zani published his op. 2, which consisted of six 'sinfonie da camera', as early as in 1729.  (With respect to Lombardy it should not be forgotten that, at that time, it was governed by the House of Hapsburg and that through this connection, a very lively musical exchange took place between Vienna and Milan.)  Sammartini's approximately 20 symphonies that  that were written before 1740 consist, for the most part, of three movements and are written for string instruments only (a 4 or a 3).  The majority of the first movements is reported as written in dualistic form or in sonata form, while of Zani's op. 2, four symphonies applied the ritornello form of the ripieno concerto and two works were written in dualistic form.  From this, argues Grove, one could conclude that Milan was involved in shaping the basic form of the symphony that would be in use for the most part of the 18th century, right from the beginning,   Sammartini's style is reported as having developed from its use of the Baroque idiom in the style of Vivaldi's ripieno concerto in his early symphonies, to his very own early classical style, thus transforming baroque techniques into his own classical idiom.   

However, the Italian symphony was not only developed in Lombardy.  Already in the early 1730's (as Grove reports), two works by the elusive Alberto Gallo from Venice were published in Paris by Boivin and Le Clerc, namely 12 symphonies each a 4.  According to Grove, Gallo's symphonies from about 1724 have been written in a late-Vivaldian style and consist of three movements each, and the slow movement often merely serves as a brief transition between movements.   South of Milan and Venice, the symphony was developed by Padre Giammbattista Martini who wrote 24 symphonic works from 1736 - 1777. 

Padre Giammbattista Martini

Martini, [Padre] Giovanni Battista, was born on April 24, 1706 in Bologna and died there on August 3, 1784.  This Italian composer and music teacher, on the occasion of his death, was described as 'Dio della musica de' nostri tempi'.  He was one of the most famous figures of music in the 18th century.   He received his first musical instruction from his father, a violinist and cellist, and subsequently joined the Order of the Franciscans, was ordained as priest and mainly worked in Bologna.   He was mainly known as a learned contrapuntist who became a member of the Accademia dell' Istituto delle Scienze di Bologna in 1758, at the age of 52.  Of the German-speaking composers that received instruction from him, J.C. Bach and Mozart are certainly the most well-known.  Although not much biographical detail is known about Padre Martini, his active life and contribution to music became a vital part of music history.  He was known as a tireless worker, with a wide range of interests and full of energy, yet, at the same time, also as very friendly.  

The symphonies of this great contrapuntal teacher are reported as having been mainly written in a homophonic style that also incorporated baroque motivic tradition. 

During this period, Italian composers such as Leonardo Vinci, Leo and G. B. Pergolesi continued to develop both genres of the Italian opera, opera seria and opera buffa.   Their overtures, in turn, had a strong influence on symphonic development  (these overtures were also used and played as concert symphonies) in that their style was explored in symphonic composition.  Vinci's overture to his opera Artaserse (Rome, 1730) as well as Pergolesi's overture to Olimpiade (Rome, 1735) call for an a 11 orchestra and begin with un-marked, gradually rising crescendo passages which, with their homophonic texture, create a stunning effect in large theaters.  The first movement of Leo Pergolesi's overture to Lucio Papirio (Naples, 1735) is mentioned by Grove as an early example of a type of form that would be prevalent in the Italian overture for the better part of the 18th century.   Here, the original material, the transition and the closing material was fully differentiated and marked in each part.  

Niccolo Jommelli

Jommelli, Niccolo, born on September 10, 1714 in Aversa, died on August 25,  1774 in Naples. This Italian composer played an important role in the reform of 18th-century Italian opera that was dominated by singers.  His style combined German complexity with French decorative elements and Italian Brio, which made a great dramatic effect.  According to Grove, with him originated, at least in part, the  Crescendo-Decrescendo that was later known as Mannheimer Rakete.

Grove reports that, in the 1740's and 1750's,  both B. Galuppi and Jomelli began to work on their basic style of overtures and to build on it.  Both incorporated dynamic effects and, particularly from the 1740's on, featured marked crescendo passages.  Grove comments that these passages are often referred to as Mannheim Crescendo without any reference to Jommelli.  Although Mannheim is reported as having displayed the greatest interest  in this overture style, few European composers were not influenced by it.  

The next generation of Italian symphonic composers can also count the two important composers Luigi Boccherini and Gaetano Brunetti as belonging to them, however, they worked mainly in Spain.  It was the reverse with Johann Christian Bach who, from 1754 to 1762 lived and worked in Italy, or with Vaclav Pichl who worked in Milan from 1777 - 1796.   Further Italian composers who worked in their homeland were Pugnani  (1731 - 1798), F. P. Rici (1732 - 1817), P. M. Crispi (ca. 1737 - 1792) and Gaudenzio Comi (ca. 1775 - 1785). Pugnanis over 40 symphonies were mostly written in four movements and are characterized by their flat, lyrical style that is laced with cantabile material.  Grove notes that the Italian composers of the second half of the 18th century did not fully exploit the potential of the symphony and that very likely due to the serious style that symphonic writing developed into.  On the other hand, the masterworks of Haydn and Mozart contain cantabile material that pays tribute to the Italian tradition.   


Grove reports that the Dresden court furthered relatively few independent  symphonic works.  Of the most important Dresden instrumental composers such as J.D. Heinrichen (1683 - 1729), J.G. Pissendel (1687 - 7155) and J.G.G. Neruda (appr. 1711 - 1776),  only the latter is reported as having written more than a few symphonies.  Of four works of Heinichen that could possibly be relevant as concert symphonies, two are described as sonatas, yet, they called for a double contingent of string players, while the third work had no title, at all.  All three works were written for a full contingent of wind instruments and consisted of a through-composed first movement, a short adagio or largo and of a dualistic final movement. Each first movement is reported as having ended with a surprising transition into an adagio or largo, the concept of which had been derived from the Neapolitan overture and which would later be prevalent in may North-German symphonies.  The fourth work, described as a sinfonia, is described as a symphony suite of a type that was very prevalent in Middle and North-Germany:  a series of French dances were combined into a work consisting of three movements.  Grove contends that, in the event that these works were not merely detached overtures, they would have to be counted among the earliest concert symphonies.  

J.A. Hasse

Johann Adolf [Adolph] Hasse, born on March 1699 in Bergedorf near Hamburg, died on December 1783 in Venice.  Composer.  For a few decades, he was the most admired composer of opera seria in Italy and Germany.  His best operas, which he wrote from about 1725 up to the late 1760's, are, according to Grove, written in a very systematic, rational style and were staged by the leading opera houses. In the Vienna of the 1760's, festive operas and chamber music works were composed for weddings and similar occasions, where Hasse collaborated with the librettist Metastasio.  With respect to his oratiorios, his Dresden style is described as neo-classical, but also his sacred works for Venice and his works for flute can be described as belonging to the neo-classical style.   Hasse was able to compose at a rapid speed and, as opera composer, he was able to adapt very well to the requirements to the soloists. In his bel canto, his first consideration was the showcasing of the human voice.  

As Grove reports, this most important Dresden court composer apparently did not write independent symphonies, although his overtures were circulating in all of Europe, as independent works.   These influential works contained many of the formal and stylistic basic characteristics of the North German symphony of the 18th century.   All consisted of three movements, that were often connected to each other.  Hasse's first movements are reported as featuring clear ritornello forms that he had learned in Italy during the 1720's and 1730's, and which he, from 1740 on, had enriched with new thematic differentiation.  However, Hasse's baroque modulations, with their repetitiveness, turned into try repetition in the classical homophonic style. However, he is also reported as having shown originality, as, for example, in the minuet rondo finale of his overture to  Asteria (1737) and in the application of a new tone coloring (two English horns in the overture to  Il trionto di Celia (Vienna, 1766 -- the use of the English horn, as, for example, in Haydn's Symphony no. 22 of 1764, is described by Grove as a Viennese tradition).

However, Dresden's most important contribution to the development of the early concert symphony did not come from the court, itself, but from the private orchestra of the influential Saxon cabinet minister, Count  Brühl, who employed Bach's later successor, Gottlob Harrer (1703 - 1755) from 1731 - 1750.  During this period, Harrer wrote more than two dozen symphonies, of which scores have been preserved for 19 of them.  Of these, 13 show as their date of composition the years 1732 - 1747, so that they can be counted as belonging to the earliest concert symphonies.  According to Grove, the consistent use of the name  sinfonia by Harrer ist also notable.  While Italy used a variety of terms to describe this compositional genre, Germany, very often, preferred the term sinfonia. Harrer's works range from smaller works for string instruments to larger suite-style works in which also oboes, flutes and three horns were employed.  His style is reported as having leaned towards the Italian style (in the 1720's, he had studied in Italy), whereby his first movements were composed in ritornello form.  


Frederic the Great and his Court Orchestra

C.H. Graun (1703/4 - 1759), Kapellmeister at the court of Frederic the Great of Prussia, mainly dedicated his work to opera; however, his overtures, like tose of Hasse, were circulating as separate works.  His brother,  J.G. Graun (1702/3 - 1771), concert master at the same court, according to Grove, serves as a further example of a German composer whose style was formed in Italy during the late 1720's and maintained its basic characteristics.  Grove confirms this style as also having been that of Frederic of Prussia.  Graun's nearly 100 concert symphonies are described as important since they helped establish the symphony as an important compositional genre in Berlin, and on the basis of their quality.  While they, outwardly, appeared to be very much like the overtures of Hasse and of his brother, they showed a more secure sense of classical balance.  Other Berlin court composers, such as Franz Benda, followed his example.  However, they did not write as many symphonies.  

C.P.E. Bach
Here in Hamburg
with Pastor Christian Sturm

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, born on March 8, 1714 in Weimar, died on December 14, Dezember 1788 in Hamburg. This composer, church musican and son of  J.S. Bach from his first marriage with his cousin, Maria Barbara, was, according to Grove, the mot important composer in Protestant North Germany during the second half of the 18th century and was highly esteemed both as composer and as piano teacher.  He began his career as court cembalist at the court of Frederic of Prussia in Potsdam (in the above title picture, he is depicted sitting at the harpsichoard) and later worked in Hamburg. 

According to Grove, C.P.E. Bach had written 8 of his 18 symphonies for the Berlin court (one in 1741, seven during the period of 1755 - 1762), and ten after his relocation to Hamburg in the year 1767.   Of these, four were string symphonies written for Baron Gottfried van Swieten (1773), while the remaining six were written for larger orchestras,  which were published in Leipzig around 1775 - 1776 and in 1780.  Considering the long time span, in which these symphonies were written, they are surprisingly consistent in their style, reports Grove.  As is further mentioned, few of them were widely known and, since few of his contemporaries were able to pick up his idiosyncratic style, C.P.E. Bach's influence on other composers as a symphonic writer was concentrated on only a few composers, however, on these, his influence is described as intensive.  Grove sees the special characteristics of Bach's style as being his peculiar combination of baroque, classical and pre-romantic elements.  Bach's polyphonic texture points to the influence on him of his father, while his motivic treatment was really classical in its style.   In the outer form of his symphonic writing, Bach is reported as leaning towards the North-German style, while his mastership in development and contrapuntal execution and his new harmonic coloring points far beyond his own contemporaries, towards Haydn and Beethoven.   In its ornamentation, Bach's empfindsame (sensitive) style pointed even towards Romanticism.  However, since he often changed the mood in his compositions, his works still lacked the breadth of the later classical style;  his mood switches were not based on an overall concept.  His style was, therefore, more influential in Romanticism than in the 18th century.  


Grove reports that Mannheim's symphonic striving, contrary to that of the realms of the Hapsburg monarchy, where a real variety of symphonic activity prevailed, concentrated on a single court and on a single orchestra, and even found its beginnings with a single outstanding composer, Johann Stamitz.  

Johann Stamitz

Johann (Wenzel Anton) [Jan Waczlaw (Vaclav) Antonin] Stamitz, born in Havlickuv Brod in today's Czech republic, baptized on June 19, 1717, and died in Mannheim around the 27th of March, 1757.  Composer, violinist and music teacher.  He is regarded as one of the most important pre-classical composers and symphonic writers who was very instrumental in  developing Mannheim into a leading center of orchestral music and composition.  

Being an exceptionally motivated and talented musician, Stamitz surrounded himself with virtuosos to build his orchestra which astonished all listeners. Although, according to Grove, the famous "Mannheim" effects such as the  Crescendo (also known as "Mannheimer Rakete") and the sforzando-piano were actually of Italian origin, the Mannheim orchestra was able to create the impression that it had created a new, distinctive style.  This style subsequently became widely known due to the circulation of a great number of symphonies that were performed in Mannheim.  The orchestral virtuosos that played in the Mannheim orchestra, were also active as composers and together, they introduced the Italian novelties that originated with Jommelli and Galuppi, and they created new symphonic concepts that, in part, left the strivings of the yearly Viennese symphonic composers Monn and Wagenseil far behind them.    

Grove reports that Stamitz first recognized that larger classical dimensions also called for broader contrasts, which then led to a stabilization of the main tonal coloring of his orchestra as the basis for it.   In contrast to this, Stamitz offered musical ideas with rhythms that created momentum that also transitional mechanisms that were designed in such a manner that every musical phrase almost appeared to be impatiently leading over into the next.   

From a formal point of view, Stamitz and his Mannheim colleagues appeared to prefer the dualistic style over the sonata style with full recapitulation.  Most of the first and last movements of the symphonies written in Mannheim up to the late 1740's  featured double-bars and repetition signs.  Subsequently, very likely under the influence of the Italian opera overture, Stamitz began to leave recapitulations off in the fast movements, in order to achieve more direct transitions into the development sections. 

Accoring to Grove, it was also Stamitz who, from about the mid 1740's on,  expanded the symphony from three to four movements by inserting a minuet with trio before the final movement.  However, his successors are reported as having returned to the old symphonic style with three movements, in the 1760's.  

In addition to Stamitz, to the first generation of Mannheim symphonic composers also belonged two further musician who were older than he, namely F.X. Richter (1709-1789) and Ignaz Holzbauer (1711-1783).  Both came to Mannheim when they had already been successful as composers, namely Richter from southern Germany, in 1749, and Holzbauer from Moravia, via Stuttgart, in 1753.  Both Richter and Holzbauer are reported as already having been very active as symphonic composers before their arrival in Mannheim.  Already by 1744, Richter had published 12 symphonies a 4 in Paris, while of Holzbauer, many symphonies have been preserved in Czech and Austrian libraries, some of them having been written as early as in the 1730's, others during his work in Vienna, prior to 1750.  The symphonies that Richter wrote in Mannheim are reported as having been the most conservative Mannheim symphonies, while Holzbauer worked as the Kapellmeister of the Mannheim Theater and therefore, as composer, mainly wrote vocal music, particularly in the genre of opera seria.  Therefore, it is not surprising that his symphonies leaned towards the Italian style.  

The second generation of Mannheim symphonic composers are reported as having all been pupils of Stamitz and therefore, their works showed more consistency than those of the older composers.  To these pupils of Stamitz belonged, for example, the Bavarian cellist Anton Fils (1733 - 1760) with his symphonies written in a clear Mannheim style, but more particularly, his successor as director of the Mannheim orchestra,  Christian Cannabich.

Christian Cannabich

(Johann) Christian (Innocenz Bonaventura) Cannabich, born in Mannheim in 1731, baptised there on December 12 of that year, died on January 20, 1798, in Frankfort.  Composer, violinist and conductor, son of Matthias Franciscus Cannabich. He is regarded as one of the most fertile composers in Mannheim. He was conductor of the Mannheim orchestra during the time of its greatest fame. 

Cannabich who, according to Grove, not only preserved the quality and disciplin of the Mannheim orchestra but also increased both, wrote 73 symphonies that were strongly influenced by Jommelli's overtures, with whom he had also studied.  Of these, many are reported as not having been of exceptional quality until his later creative period and also as having applied many Mannheim characteristics in a stereotypical manner.   Only the symphonies that he wrote after the orchestra had moved from Mannheim to Munich, thus those of the 1780's and 1790's, were more complex and featured melodic beauty and inventiveness in their development sections.   His early works consisted of four movements, but in the 1760's, he returned to the three-movement-style.  

In addition to Cannabich's Mannheim concert master, Carl Joseph Toeschi (1731 - 1788), according to Grove, many of the composers that are nowadays connected with the second generation of Mannheim symphonic composers, actually only had rather loose connections with it.  Of these, Grove lists, for example,  Franz Beck (1734 - 1809), who was born in Mannheim and who studied with Stamitz but who subsequently worked in France (in Marseilles und Bordeaux), but also Stamitz' sons, Carl (1745 - 1801) and Anton (1750 - between 1796 and 1809) who left Mannheim in 1770 and went to Paris.  

Vienna and Salzburg

Grove refers to Vienna's traditional role as mediator between various European cultural realms and also to the fact that the vastly spread-out Austro-Hungarian monarchy of the 18th century provided a treasure trove of musical talent to this empire.  This also led to the culmination of a wealth of ideas and creativity that made its impact on the development of the symphony.   Although, according to Grove, Mannheim and Paris outshined Vienna with the brilliance of their musical performances, on the other hand, Vienna attracted a heretofore unknown number of musicians and composers who were not only able to reply on the Hapsburg court for employment, but also on literally hundreds of musically enthusiastic families of the nobility who resided in Vienna during the winter and at their own estates during the summer and who often traveled back and forth with their own private orchestras and/or ensembles.   During the winter season, these families also provided the greater number of concert visitors in Vienna which, during the second half of the 18th century, gained in importance as a musical venue.   In such a climate, every talent could hope for success and in it, every musical genre could also thrive. 

The early Viennese symphony features a strong influence of three musical genres that were closely linked to Austrian Baroque.   The first genre was that of opera and the serenade types connected with it.  According to Grove, the Viennese overtures of the period of 1700 - 1740 included a variety of types, including French overtures of different styles, poly-choral works, often with up to eight trumpets, concerti grossi, overtures with one or two movements, and standard overtures of the Italian type with three movements.  These and the Northern-Italian symphony formed the basis for the Viennese concert symphony.  While the majority of these overtures had first movements that applied ritornello techniques without repetition signs, the majority of them had dualistic first movements and thus formed an almost perfect balance to the Viennese concert symphony.  Grove lists as example Francesco Conti's overture to Palade trionfante of 1722.  Grove further reports that during the 1740's and 1750's, this type of overture was very common, as, for example, in Wagenseil's works.  Due to this, they could easily be transferred from the opera house to the concert hall.  Grove further points out that, in general, during the 18th century, the Italian opera prevailed in Vienna.  From approximately 1760 on, many Viennese symphonies are reported as having imitated the syle of the  opera buffa . (Grove's example: Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro and his Prague Symphony, K 504).

Two further important genres for the Viennese symphony were the church sonata and the Parthia or Partita and compositional types related to it.  The church sonata that was often played with a double contingent in all instruments, together with the French overture, was a source of the many fugue-style movements in Austrian symphonies, and also for the four-movement-cycles that began with an adagio or largo, whereby abstract movements and dance movements were combined and served as a model for the insertion of dance suites into the overture, which then slowly led to the symphony that had four movements.  Due to this, argues Grove, the 25 symphonies a 4 of one of the earliest Viennese symphonic composers,  W.R. Birck or Pirck (1718 - 1763) followed precisely this above-described type:  All of them consisted of three short movements of the church sonata type, with the second movement written in a fugue-like style.  Among these works could also be found three samples of the standard four-movement symphony with minuet and trio.  

More coherent in style, so Grove, were the many symphonies that Holzbauer wrote in Vienna prior to 1750 and those of his slightly younger contemporaries, M.G. Monn, G.C. Wagenseil and J.P. Ziegler.

Wagenseil, Georg Christoph, born in Vienna on January 29, 1715, died in Vienna on March 1, 1777. Austrian composer, pianist and music teacher.  He is regarded as one of the most important composers with respect to the development of the classical style in Vienna, and his career spanned a period that reached from his teacher Fux to Haydn and Mozart, whose predecessor he was, in a certain sense. 

Wagenseil began his career at the Viennese court in the 1740 as a fertile Italian-style opera composer.  His overtures to these operas, and later his symphonies, were published in France and England.   With perhaps one or two exceptions, his symphonies consisted of three short movements, with a fast 3-8 or  Tempo di Menuetto finale. Grove describes Wagenseil's first symphonies as typically Viennese in their excellently worked out recapitulations.  His rhythmical liveliness made these works were easy to listen to, however, they remained very unprofiled. 

The second generation of Viennese symphonic composers began, according to Grove, with  Karl von d'Ordonez (1734- 1786) who composed more than 70 symphonies, of which about 75% consisted of three movements.   

Gassmann, Florian Leopold, born in Brüx (now: Most) n May 3, 179, died in Vienna on January 20, 1774. Bohemian (today: Czech) composer.

Gassmann started his career as an opera composer in Venice and later served at the Viennese court as Kapellmeister.  In his concert symphonies that were mostly written in the 1760's, more operatic lyricism prevailed than in Wagenseil's symphonies, and they also contained lively, fast movements.  Gassmann constantly experimented with the form of his first movements and developed dualistic movements, but also movements with complicated thematic plans.  Otherwise, Gassmann also shoed a good control over the rhythmic design of his symphonies.  A further symphonic composer worth mentioning of this period is, according to Grove,  Franz Aspmayer (1728 - 1786) with over 40 symphonies written. 

In the Vienna of the second half of the 18th century, in addition to Haydn and Mozart, three symphonic composers, namely Leopold Hoffmann, Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf and J.B. Vanhal helped further the development of the symphony.  The symphonies of Hofmann  (1738 - 1793), which were mainly written in the 1760's, were, according to Grove, almost as widely-known in Europe as the symphonies of Haydn and Pleyel.   In half of his approximately 50 symphonies, he applied the traditional three-movement-form and, in at least 20 of his symphonies, the four-movement-form.  According to Grove, Hofmann was active at the right time in order for his symphonies to already express the classical style. 

Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf

Dittersdorf, Carl Ditters von, born in Vienna on November 2, 1793, died in Neuhof (today: Novy Dvur in the Czech Republic). Austrian composer and violinist.  After a promising start of his career in Vienna, he settled in Bohemia as a movest Kapellmeister and administrator.   In addition to his many occupational duties, he was still able to compose many works.  With his well-crafted style, he gained a good reputation as composer of the classical Viennese school of music.  

Dittersdorf wrote more than 120 symphonies in which, according to Grove, many repetitions can be found, on the other hand, also good structure and some inventive spirit.  As did Haydn, Dittersdorf sometimes imitated sounds of nature and applied a sense of humor that was close to that of Haydn.  Of his symphonies, the "descriptive" ones are of less interest, comments Grove.  

Dittersdorf's contemporary Vanhal, whose works were published in London, Paris, Berlin, Den Haag and Amsterdam, was very popular in Northern Europe.  All of his symphonies were written between 1760 and 1780 and conceptualized very solidly.  The real reason for his popularity at that time was, according to Grove, the pathos in these works.  More than Hofmann and Dittersdorf, Vanhal was aiming at reaching the classical flow of Haydn in his works.  In his applied Italian lyricism he is considered as being close to Mozart.   

In the two decades from 1780 - 1800, the year of Beethoven's creation of his First Symphony, in addition to Haydn and Mozart, there still worked in Vienna three symphonic composers of note, namely the composer and later Leipzig music publisher, F.A. Hofmeister  (1754 - 1812) and the two Bohemian composers,  Paul Wranitzky (1756 - 1808) and Adalbert Gyrowetz (1763 - 1850), whose works, however, followed the high-classical Mozartean style but did not reach it and did not contain any new, ground-breaking material.  

Referring to Eisen (1994) Grove contends that the Arch-Diocese of Salzburg has only lately been recognized as a center of symphonic activity, and that, on the one hand, on its own accord and, on the other hand, on account of Mozart's development there as a composer.   As composers that were active in Salzburg, Grove mentions Leopold Mozart (1719 = 1787) who started his musical career there as court musician as violinist, before he was appointed as vice-kapellmeister in 1763.   As Grove explains, in their development, his symphonies followed the general symphonic development of his era.  As early as 1750, he is reported as having written four-movement symphonies, thus earlier than the Viennese symphonic composers.   He predominantly used the minuet and trio as second movement instead of as third movement, as Haydn did in his string quartets Op. 9 to Op. 33 and in five of his symphonies.   After his appointment as vice-kapellmeister, Leopold Mozart obviously did not write any further symphonies.   

1763 is also reported as the year in which Michael Haydn's brother was appointed as concert master and court composer by the Salzburg court. He had received his training in Vienna.  According to Grove, many of his works contained a baroque-style rhythmic continuity.  A further conservative element was his frequent use of contrapuntal textures, and even some of his later symphonies which he wrote from 1788 - 1789, contained fugue-style final movements.  Grove describes his music as very impressive due to the wealth of its harmony and its unusual modulations and chromatic passages that are reminiscent of Mozart.   


Grove reports that during the second half of the 18th century, Paris had become the leading center in Europe of musical performance and of music publishing, but not that of symphonic composition and that the surprising number of over 1,000 works Brooks had collected also included works in the Symphonie Concertante form which was rather more of Concerto genre than a symphony in the modern meaning of the word.  

As Grove further reports, the earliest French symphonies could not betray their Italien influence on them of Sammartini and Brioschi. The works of these composers were known in Paris both in printed and in manuscript form.   Paris also had at its dispodal some famous collections, such as the large collection of the Fonds Blancheton from about 1740, which contains dozens of works of these Italian composers.  The publiscation of the VI simphonies dans le gout italien en trio Op. 6 by L.G. Guillemain (1705 - 1770) in the year 1740 demonstrates, according to Grove, that the beginnings of the French symphony itself go back to the same time as the beginnings of symphonic development in Vienna and in Mannheim.  In these symphonies and in his next symphonies, Op. 14,  Guillemain applied the Italian three-movement symphony style.  

A decade later, Francois Martin (ii)(1727 - 1757) published six works with the title  Simphonies et ouvertures Op. 4 (1751). These overtures, writes Grove, are French overtures, while the symphonies are three-movement symphonies in the Italian style.  Grove mentions F.-J. Gossec as the most important symphonic composer in Paris. 

F.-J. Gossec  - 1734 - 1829

Gossec, Francois-Joseph, born in Vergnies on January 17,1734, died in Passy, Paris, on February 16, 1829.   This musically talented French-Belgian already sang in the church of Walcourt at the age of 6, and subsequently in the Chapel of  Ste. Aldegonde in Mauberge, subsequently received instruction in violin and harpsichoard playing, harmony and composition at the chapel of St. Pierre by Jean Vanderbelen. In 1742, he became a member of the choir of the Antwerp Cathedral, where he received further musical training from  Andre-Joseph Blavier. In 1751, he came to Paris and first worked in the private orchestra of A.-J.-J. Riche de La Poupliniere as violinist and contrabass player, took over the position of conductor from Johann Stamitz, which he then held up to the year 1762, the year of Poupliniere's death.  For almost fifty years, Gossec incluenced the musical life of Paris and also worked in the genre of symphonic composition, as further described below.  

According to Grove, during his long and productive life, Gossec made a great contribution to the establishment of the symphony in Paris.  In his first six works (Op. 3 from 1756), the Italian influence can not be overheard.  All of these symphonies consist of three movements and are very rhythmical.  All of them except the last are written for strings a 4.  Grove further reports that in his Op. 4, Gossec then also incorporated classical elements already known at that time, into this work, including the dynamic effects of the Mannheim style.  In his Op. 5, he even came close to the Viennese development in clear delineation and in express thematic contrast.  However, in his fast movements, the Mannheim influence prevailed (as also Mozart expressed them in his Paris Symphony, K297). Gossec's symphonies are mostly held in a serious tone, which is also reflected in the great number of his works being written in a minor key.   With this, they stood in clear contrast to the lighter Paris opera overtures of his contemporaries.  From his Op. 6 (appr. 1762) on, he abandoned the four-movement style and introduced unusual instrumental comtinations and designes, including the use of fugue-style movements. 

Grove further reports that, due to the lively development of the classical symphony during the second half of the 18th century, it was not easy for Paris composers to develop and maintain a particularly French style symphony.  First, the so-called Mannheim Invasion had its influence on symphonic music in Paris; subsequently, however, Haydn's symphonies were the ones achieving the largest sales figures in printed scores.  Although one can not recognize a particularly French style in the Paris symphonies, argues Grove, competition from outside has spurned Paris composers on to strive for high quality in their compositions.   

The Italien influence that can be noted in the early Paris symphonies gained new momentum with the arrival of the Roman flautist Filippo Ruge (ca. 1725 - nach 1767), who not only composed but also brought with him a large number of Italian works.  Another important foreign composer who settled in Paris was Carl Stamitz  (1745 - 1801), Johann Stamitz' oldest son..  He came to Paris from Mannheim in 1770.  His thematic material combined good balance and rhythm with a melodic charme that can not easily be described, although in this, as Grove reports, he sometimes used cliches.  He is reported as having achieved his noblest expression in his slow movements.  

From approximately 1770 on, the symphonie concertante gained momentum in Paris, and many composers wrote exclusively in this genre.  One who did not join the ranks of the others in this was Simon Le Duc l'aine (1742 - 1777); however, he did not live long enough in order to fully develop his own style.  

Ignaz Pleyel - (1757 - 1831)

Pleyel, Ignace Joseph [Ignaz Josef], born in Ruppersthal on November 14, 1757, died in Paris on November 14, 1831.  Composer, music publisher and piano maker.  He founded an important musical publishing firm and an influential piano factory, and during his life time, his compositions were very popular both in Europe and North America.  It should also not be forgotten that he had received his first musical training from Vanhal, but from 1772 on, he was Haydn's pupil and later published many of Haydn's works.  It was also he who accompanied Haydn on his second journey to England and not  Beethoven.

The Haydn pupil Pleyel became the most important symphonic composer in Paris at the end of the 18th century.  He re-introduced the four-movement-style symphony and, from 1780 to the early 19th century, he wrote many works.  Some of his most important novelties were, for example, the insertion of a fast passage in a slow movement or the insertion of a briet transition between the trio and the returning minuet (as in Haydn's Symphony No. 104 and others).  His talent for thematic variation is reported as having been remarkable and his orchestration adjusted well to each specific musical material, and he treated string instruments and wind instruments not only as instrument groups, but as flexible combnations, by, for example, putting a wind instrument next to viola and bass in a thematic wind instrument passage.   


Grove reports that the history of the symphony in England, up to approximately 1760, can only be described as a history of the overture that was, as a matter of course, also separated from the main work it belonged to and performed separately.  Also, up to the end of the 18th century, in England, symphonies were often still referred to as overtures.   From the end of the 17th century on, the influence on this overture was mainly that of the French overture which Handel also preferred for his operas and oratorios.  However, here, the development also overlapped.  Thus, Francesco Mancini's overture to  Hydaspe fedele of 1710 is reported as alredy having been patterned in the "fast-slow-fast" pattern of the Italian sinfonia, while on the other hand, as late as in the year 1751, of T.A. Arne's Eight Overtures in 8 Parts six were written in French overture form, and also William Boyce's Eight Symphonys in Eight Parts, Op. 2 (of 1760), in which, however, also works from 1739 were included). Five first movements of this series of symphonies are written in French overture form.  Only from about 1760 on did these composers begin to include so-called galant elements, as  particularly in Arne's  Four New Overtures or Symphonies of 1767.

As Grove reports, London had opened its doors to composers from abroad for many centuries, and thus it should not be surprising that foreign composers made important contributions to the development of the symphony in England, such as C.F. Abel and J.C. Bach.  

C.F. Abel - (1723 - 1787)

Karl Friedrich Abel was born in Cöthen on December 22, 172 and died in London on June 20, 1787.  This composer,  viola da gamba player and son of Christian Abel started out as his father's pupil; however, after his father's death in 1737, he turned to the befriended Bach family for help and very likely went to Leipzig for his further musical training.   As early as in 1743, he was already a member of the Dresden court orchestra.  During the destruction of the city by Frederic the Great, he left Dresden either in 1757 or in 1758 and took up traveling.  Very likely, he visited Mannheim and Paris.  During the next season, namely that of 1758 - 1759, he went to London where he would spend the rest of his life.   In London, Abel proved his skill as a  viola da gamba player, but already in 1760, he received the Royal privilege to publish his music in London.  His collaboration with J.C. Bach began in 1753.  On February 29 of that year, they performed together in public, for the first time in a concert.  Out of their initial collaboration they soon developed the famous Bach-Abel concerts.   

Abel was best known as a viola da gamba virtuoso, but he also published series of symphonies that became very popular.  Grove reports that all of them consisted of three movements.  A few of these symphonies featured minuet finales of the Italian type of the middle of the 18th century.   Grove further reports that, as a composer, Abel was a very thorough craftsman who wrote symphonies full of energy, clear form and strong texture.  Thematically and developmentally, these works were very progressive and that they were rather more solidly constructed than they were inspired.  However, their slow movements featured beautiful long passages and delicate chromatic appogiaturas here and there, which later would have been described as Mozartean. 

Johann Christian Bach

Johann Christian Bach, born in Leipzig on September 5, 1735, died in London on January 1, 1782.  This youngest son of J.S. Bach was the most versatile composer of all Bach sons and the only one who wrote Italian operas.  Very likely, he received his first musical training from his father, but also from  Johann Elias Bach who lived in the household of the Bach family.  Shortly before his father's death, he also took on some duties as copyist and secretary of the latter.  After his father's death, he went to Berlin  and received further training at the harpsichord and in compositon from his half-brother  Carl Philipp Emanuel. He completed his musical training under Padre Martini in Italy, converted to Catholicism and finally settled in London.  He had an important influence on the young Mozart and, together with Abel, he was a pioneer of public concerts in England.  

Grove reports that J.C. Bach received a very thorough training from his brother Emanuel and from Padre Martini.  His symphonies reflect his vast operatic experience -- which he mainly gained in Italy, thus before his settling in London -- in the exceptional lyricism of his andante movement and in many of his allegro themes.  Before Mozart, no-one but he was able to underline the rising and falling of a wonderful melody as beautifully as Mozart.   At the same time, many little imitations in the bass voices or in other parts have lent the texture a special charm, which is also reminiscent of Mozart's light touch in this respect.  Grove further points out that J.C. Bach's combination of inventiveness and technical mastery enabled him to achieve a broad variety and subtle nuances in his thematic ideas.  According to Grove, Bach and Arne started collaborating very soon after their respective arrivals in London  (Abel: 1759 and Bach 1762).

Grove then discusses the younger generation of more mature British composers and mentions, for example, Thomas Erskine, the Earl of Kelly (a pupil of Johann Stamitz, 1732-1781) with his Six Symphonies Op. 1 of 1761, or William Smethergell with two works, Op. 2 of about 1778 and Op. 5 of about 1790, or  J.A. Fisher (1744 - 1806), with his Six Simphonies in Eight Parts (1772), and John Marsh (1752 - 1828). However, in conclusion Grove opines that during the second half of the 18th century, native British symphonic composition was rather meager and that, perhaps, England's most important contribution to the development of the symphony might have been in providing an audience with a great musical taste whose love and support of this compositional genre also facilitated the composition of many great works by J.C. Bach and Haydn. 

Other Centers

Grove also discusses other European centers of music that made contributions to the development of the symphony.  For example, it is mentioned that as early as in 1738, a public concert featuring symphonic works of Sammartini and Agrell, but also that Amsterdam had its own symphonic composer, A.W. Solnitz (ca. 1708 - 1752/3) who, in 1739, published 12 symphonies a 4; mention is also made of Friedrich Schwindl (1737 - 1786) who, however, not only worked in Amsterdam but also in Germany, Switzerland and in Brussels.  Brussels, so Grove, also provided an opportunity for the symphonic composer Pierre van Maldere (1729 - 1768) who was in the service of Charles of Lorraine, as violinist and composer, and who also, according to Grove,  "wrote symphonies good enough to be confused with Haydn",.

With respect to Sweden, Grove reports that J.H. Roman (1694 - 1758) profiled himself very early with about 30 symphonies which he wrote in the late 1730's and which were still inspired by the Baroque style.  Later, Sweden is reported as having found a further prolific symphonic composer in the German J. M. Kraus (1756 - 1792), who served there as the much-admired kapellmeister of King Gustav III.  His symphonies, of which some have not been preserved, were held in esteemed by Haydn.  

In any event, it should not be forgotten that two very important symphonic composers worked in Madrid:  Luigi Boccherini (1743 - 1803) and Gaetano Brunetti (1744 - 1798).  The symphonies that these two composers wrote were composed between 1770 - 1790.  Of these two composers, Boccherini is known as an excellent melodist.  However, argues Grove, it should not be overlooked that he also had a good control of other musical means of expression, such as, for example, his often very lively and humoresque phasing.  In contrast to this, in Brunetti's rather stormy symphonies, of which some have been written in minor keys, one can find many abrupt rhythms, and jagged melodic lines.  After completing his six "overtures" in three movements each, written in the year 1772, in his further symphonies, he applied a unique four-movement layout in which the third movement was often a quintetto for wind instruments.   

As--hopefully--polite Bavarian, this writer found it appropriate to mention her own native city, Munich, last, before moving on to Mozart and Haydn.  With respect to Munich, Grove mentions, that the symphonic development during the first half of the 18th century was more lively than at the beginning of the second half and names as important composer the chamber composer  Joseph Camerloher (1740 - 1743), whose works, however, have often been confused with those of his younger brother Placidus.  Grove reports that these symphonies were still very much inspired by the Baroque style, while the works of his brother Placidus Camerloher already contained very homophonic features and turned towards the classical idiom.   Also Wenceslaus Wodiczka (between 1715 and 1720 - 1774) made an important contribution with his 26 symphonies, of which 24 have been preserved in one score from 1758.  In the decades before the move of the Mannheim Orchestra to Munich, however, Grove notes a lesser interest in Munich in symphonic music.  Grove also refers to the Regensburg classical symphonic composer,  F.X. Pokorny (1729 - 1794), who was already mentioned here in connection with the Viennese symphonic composer Monn.  


Grove reports that already at the age of eight, in the year 1764, Mozart wrote his first symphony while staying in England, thus a quarter of a century before Haydn would write his London symphonies there.  This means that Mozart's symphonic work stretches over almost 25 years, whereby he, however, was not constantly writing symphonies, but rather sporadically.  This, argues Grove, depended to a great deal on the environment in which Mozart found himself.  

In the England of the 1760's, Mozart met up there with the already mentioned two German composers,  J.C. Bach and Abel, whose style influenced him, of course.  Grove calls this style "warmly italianite", lyrical and graceful, to which, however, already the young Mozart, in his own works, based on his Austro-German heritage, added harmonic depth, texture, subtle phrasing and orchestral virtuosity.  Grove lists as his first symphonies K16, K19a (which was recently re-discovered), K19, K22 and K45a, all three consisting of three movements with a 3/8 final movement.  Every first movement, reports Grove, is written in a dualistic form, in which only the second half of the exposition, beginning with the secondary theme, is repeated.  Some of these works were also written between 1764 and 1766 in the Netherlands.  

Note Sample from K16 from the Köchel Catalaogue

In one of these "Dutch" symphonies, in K22, reports Grove, Mozart applied already more counterpoint and chromatic style.  During his stay in Vienna from 1767 - 1768, Mozart had an opportunity to work on further symphonies,  K43, K45 and K 48. As one can imagine, he already applied the Viennese four-movement style in them and Grove points out that in these works, the combination of Italian and German style elements was increased.  For example, so Grove, each transition features Italian tremolos, and, overall, the andantes and 3/8, 6/8 and 12/8 finales of these symphonies are very "cantabile", but the works also contained themes reminiscent of contrapuntal exercises.  Grove describes K48 as the best of these works, whose similarity to Haydn's symphonies No. 3 and 13 is obvious.  

During the years 1769 - 1771, Mozart went to Italy with his father, namely on three journeys.  During his first journey, reports Grove, four symphonies were written, namely K74, K81, K 84 and K95, of which K74, K81 and K84 were again applying the Italian three-movement style; however, in K74 and K95, each first and second movement are combined.  The symphony that Mozart wrote in-between in Salzburg in 1771, K110, shows an increased fusion of the styles and is written in the German four-movement style.  The first movement is in full sonata style and the work also features a lively minuet and an invigorating last movement. 

The symphony that Mozart wrote in Milan in November, 1771, K112, is, as Grove writes, less influenced by the Italian style than the works he wrote there during his first stay.  Grove summarizes that from 1771 on, Mozart's symphonies began to fully work out the difference of the Italian and German style.  

Note Sample from K95 from the Köchel Catalogue

Mozart's stay in Salzburg from December 1771 to August 1772 yielded at least another eight symphonies, amongst which were also K132, K133 and K 134.   Grove discusses these works briefly and mentions that of these, K133 and K134 still featured the sonata form in which the recapitulation was held back almost until to the end.  However, argues Grove, these works should still be played more often, today, since they represent Mozart's best symphonies of this period. In K132, argues Grove, Mozart shows, for example, how Italian temperament can successfully be applied in the sonata form.  

After his third journey to Italy (for the purpose of completing and staging of his opera, Lucio Silla in Mila) from November 1772 to March 1773, within a period of only one and a half months, Mozart wrote four symphonies in Salzburg, K161a, K162b, K181 and K184, which, according to Grove, cannot hide a strong influence.   For example, they did not contain a minuet, trio and transitions between the movements.  However, as Grove further reports, they also feature Mozart's application of counterpoint and thus prove that he had, to his own dismay, spend some time in Salzburg, again.  

According to Grove, the fall of 1773 marks Mozart's maturity as a symphonic composer.  After a ten-week-stay in Vienna, he wrote two works, K183 in g minor (dated October 5, 17730 and K201 in A Major.  In these works, argues Grove, Mozart was, for the first time, able to reconcile all earlier style conflicts and to increase the length of the works and the strength of their expressive power at the same time.   The first movements are held in full sonata style and contain two sharper thematic contrasts.  

The symphony that is held in the minor key, its syncopated introduction are, according to Grove, reminiscent of Haydn's  Lamentatione (No. 26 in d minor) and the work also contains two humorous passages, the first at the end of each minuet half, whereby oboes and horns insert two measures in parody, and in the final movement, where the violins, in the exposition, cause a storm that appears to be arising out of nowhere and are led to heights out of which they can only be brought back down at the very last possible moment.  

Note  Sample of K183 from the Köchel Catalogue

After the completion of these works, Mozart found his next opportunity to write symphonies in Paris, namely his "Paris" Symphony, K297, which was composed in June, 1778.  This was followed by three further symphonies, K318, K319 and K336, which he wrote in Salzburg at the beginning of 1779.  Grove argues that  these reflect his Mannheim and Paris experiences which found reflection in their orchestration (in which he, for the first time, uses clarinets), in their conceptualization in three movements and in the leaving off of double measures and repetition signs in their first movements. .

Note Sample of K297 from the Köchel Catalogue

As Grove reports, after his move to Vienna, Mozart's composition of symphonies became even more sporadic; however, the symphonies that he wrote from 1781 belong, of course, to the master works of music history, such as K385, The Haffner Symphony of 1782, K 425, the Linz Symphony of 1783, K504, the Prague Symphony of 1786, as well as his three great works of the year 1788, K543 in B Major, K550 in g minor and K 551 in C major, the Jupiter Symphony.  

Grove explains that of these works, which, in addition to their extraodinary spaciousness, originality, emotional depth, refinement and craftsmanship, particularly the last four, can be regarded as prime examples for the different modes of expression that a Mozart work can display.   

Grove further explains that Mozart's nature and his unique gifts, particularly his fine sense of color and balance, provide for a number of differences between his and Haydn's works.   Thus, for example, his sense of musical coloring guides him to a more regular use and dispersion of wind instruments and often also to a more idiomatic compositional style.  Mozart's sense of musical coloring can also be seen in his treatment of the development (sections).  His resorting to modulation, and that also often without a thematic change, had caused some critics to see less substance and seriousness in the musical development of Mozart's symphonies than in Haydn's symphonies.  However, as Grove further argues, the character of Mozart's exposition, to a certain extent, calls for quite special solutions, and that later in each movement, so that a meandering motivic development would obscure his carefully prepared differentiated thematic treatment.  

Grove further argues that in Mozart's music, the word symmetry is often used to easily and with not enough thought.  After all, argues Grove, it stands for coordination and balance.  In even the minutest detail of Mozart's music, the activity of each musical element is normally coordinated to a high degree, which, in turn, results in a very sophisticated balance of activity between individual musical phrases. 

Two further characteristics of Mozart's later symphonic style should also not be forgotten, argues Grove.  On the one hand, certain aspects of his rhythmic control, that is outwardly not as apparent as that of Haydn, contribute a great deal to the movement in his works.  On the other hand, it is often overlooked, that Mozart's treatment of his final movements shows serenity and brilliance, at the same time.  


The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Second Edition. Edited by Stanley Sadie. Executive Editor John Tyrrell. London: 2001, Macmillan Publishers Limited.

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