Symphony No. 27 in G Major, K. 199

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Born in Salzburg, Austria, January 27, 1756; died in Vienna, Austria, December 5, 1791

 

If you've ever been to Mozart's birth city of Salzburg, you undoubtedly noticed that virtually every window in its picturesque Baroque center boasts images of the composer, especially on the festive red-and-gold wrapped candies that are made locally. Would that Mozart had been so beloved when he actually lived there for the first 25 years of his life! Although Salzburg nurtured its famous native son well when he was a child, it ultimately proved stifling to his talent when he grew up. Eventually, he found that only Vienna could give him the scope and opportunities he needed, and he left his hometown forever.

However, when he was a teenager, it looked as though Italy might offer him a more expansive career. Three extended trips to Italy with his father between 1770 and early 1773 brought Mozart much acclaim as a performer as well as commissions for operas. Of these, the opera seria Lucio Silla, premiered in Milan in December 1772, was a major success and may have led to requests for several symphonies for Milan, including the one we’ll hear at these concerts: No. 27 in G Major, written in April 1773 when Mozart was 17.

This is a charming though brief work composed in the spirited galant style that was so popular at this time. In keeping with the Italian sinfonia form, it has only three movements: two fast movements surrounding a slower one.

Opening with three forceful repeated chords, the first movement is a vivacious Allegro in traditional sonata form. Its graceful, winding second theme is particularly attractive and presages the mood of the slow movement to come. The development section further explores this romantic mood.

In D major, the Andante grazioso slow movement is a lovely nocturnal serenade with the violins playing with mutes to increase the hushed atmosphere. The shimmering color of flutes contributes prominently to this world of shadows and romantic trysts.

An angular four-note motive launches the Presto finale and, with its many entrances, even seems ready to generate a little fugue. Instead, however, it soon expands into a smoothly lyrical melody and continues to animate nearly every measure of this sparkling jig-like music.

 

Instrumentation: Two flutes, two horns and strings.