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MyWikiBiz, Author Your Legacy — Monday April 22, 2019
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Albrechts Example.png

You can buy a Symphony in C major from eBay and have it dedicated to a special someone in your life. It is the perfect gift for that special someone who already has everything: a brand-new Symphony in C major dedicated to them, just like the old monarchs of the 18th Century. On eBay, just search for "symphony in c major dedicated to you" and it'll come up. The modern twist here is that the buyer would go down in history as the first person ever to commission a Symphony through eBay.

Within a month of purchase, Alonso del Arte will write a brand-new Symphony in the style of Mozart and his contemporaries, with trumpets and drums, lasting around 20 minutes, and mail you the dedication score. Then, within 3 months, he will travel to the nearest major city near you, and assemble an orchestra to premiere the new Symphony either at your mansion or in a suitable concert hall in the nearby major city, as well as perform a couple of old Symphonies from Mozart's time. Optionally, the concert may be delayed up to a year to fall on that special someone's birthday, name day or anniversary.

Sure you can hire a famous composer to write it, but the problem with most famous composers today is that they are far more concerned with asserting their originality and individuality than with crafting the kind of status symbol which the great composers of the Classical era, such as Joseph Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart were able to create. Of the famous composers today, perhaps John Williams is the only one professional enough to put the assignment first, ahead of his own personality, but his price tag would surely be greater than US$100,000.

Al has carefully studied many Symphonies in C major from the Classical era, and not just by the famous Mozart but also by many of the contemporaries from which Mozart obtained inspiration and ideas for his own work: Michael Haydn, Franz Asplmayr, Johann Georg Albrechtsberger (Beethoven's teacher), Christoph Graupner, etc., and of course Joseph Haydn, the Father of the Symphony.[1]

What was so special about a Symphony in C major in those days is that trumpets and timpani were limited to a few notes: the trumpet to notes of the harmonic series starting on C, and the timpani to just two notes, C and G. Because of the regal sound that trumpets and drums added to music in which they were included, the Symphony in C major was reserved for royalty. The most famous example of this is perhaps the Symphony in C major which Joseph Haydn wrote for the Empress Maria Theresia when she "visited Esterház in the early autumn of 1773."[2] Though there has been some disagreement as to which of the C major "trumpet-symphonies" (to use H. C. Robbins Landon's term) was meant for the empress, there is no doubt that any of those Symphonies would be eminently suitable as tribute to today's VIPs.

Of the Symphonies studied, about half have three movements and half have four movements. The first movement of course is in sonata form. It may have a slow introduction, as is the case with Joseph Haydn's Symphonies No.s 50 and 97[3] or Friedrich Witt's "Jena" Symphony (once thought to be by Beethoven) or not, as is the case with Michael Haydn's Symphony in C major, Perger 31, and Mozart's "Jupiter" Symphony, K. 551 (both written in 1788, the latter inspired by the former).

It is plain to see that Witt modeled his "Jena" Symphony on Joseph Haydn's Symphony No. 97:

Haydn 97 Example.png

This first movement theme finds somewhat of an echo in the Jena Symphony:

Jena Symphony Example.png

This shows that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was not the only imitator in the Classical period, but there is still no doubt that he was the best imitator.

The slow movement would perhaps be best as a simple binary or ternary form as is the case with the C major Symphonies by Asplmayr and Albrechtsberger which were studied for this purpose. Typically in F major, the slow movement may also be in G major.

The third movement may be a grand, stately Minuet, suitable for dancing.

The finale, whether third or fourth, may be a fugue; both Mozart and Al have studied instrumental fugues by Michael Haydn. As two of Michael Haydn's C major Symphonies close with fugatos, it was to be expected that Mozart would also close his last Symphony in C major that way, though "not by any means a strict fugue but a sonata form piece"[4] with sonata form elements.

Perger 31 Example.png

Though Mozart's "Jupiter" fugato theme is not based on this theme from Michael Haydn's last Symphony in C major, it does owe to an earlier Haydn Symphony in D major, which Mozart copied out in his own hand and which Al has also studied.

The example of Schubert's last Symphony in C major has been kept in mind as well, but owing to its "heavenly length" and its status as a classical symphony "and at the same time a romantic symphony, the greatest of the romantic symphonies,"[5] it proved less suitable as a model for a Symphony fit for a King.

  1. ^ Harold Truscott, "Joseph Haydn" in The Symphony Volume One: Haydn to Dvořák, edited by Robert Simpson, Drake Publishers Inc, New York (1972) p. 49
  2. ^ H. C. Robbins Landon, Haydn Symphonies (from BBC Music Guides) University of Washington Press (1969) p. 28
  3. ^ Ethan Haimo, Haydn's Symphonic Forms: Essays in Compositional Logic, Clarendon Press, Oxford (1995) p. 210, Table 9.1
  4. ^ Robert Dearling, The Music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: The Symphonies. Farleigh Dickinson University Press (1982) p. 159
  5. ^ Bernard Shore, Sixteen Symphonies Hyperion Press, Westport, Connecticut (1979) p. 79