Symphony No. 36

in C Major, K. 425 ("Linz"), Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

In 1783, Mozart traveled to Salzburg with his new bride (Constanze) to reconcile with his father over his disapproval of their marriage. Unfortunately for the composer and his wife, no reconciliation was reached (a matter that would plague Mozart for the rest of his life). As they traveled back to Vienna in late October, the newlywed Mozarts spent time in Linz at the home of Count Thun-Hohenstein, a close family friend. The composer discovered that there was to be a concert in Linz just a few days after their arrival and he decided to write a brand new symphony in time for the performance. The result was his Symphony No. 36, nicknamed the “Linz” for the place it was written and first performed.

A precocious and unpredictable composer, Mozart’s ability to write an entire new symphony in just a few days is not surprising in the least and has been the source of fascination for historians. Despite the impossibly short time frame, the symphony is as complete and sophisticated as any of his other works composed over longer periods.

Mozart had likely gained considerable confidence in his compositional abilities since his relocation to Vienna. His tense relationship with his father and the unsatisfactory appointment he had held in Salzburg had not encouraged him to explore fully his personal style. The first movement of this symphony bears evidence of this shift in his career, boldly inserting a slow introduction before a fast-paced, spirited tempo prevails. Mozart also wrote in the score that the fourth (and final) movement should be played “as fast as possible,” and thus is a breathtaking finish to an accomplished work. Perhaps his inspiration for the breakneck speed of the final movement came from the incredible haste with which he composed the symphony.

The ISO’s last performance of Symphony No. 36 (“Linz”) was November, 2014 conducted by Nicholas McGegan.

© Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, 2016.

See all Program Notes

Program Notes