Mozart – Symphony No. 40

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Painting by Alex Katsenelson

Today I want to share with you Symphony No. 40 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Symphony 40 was composed in the summer of 1788. Stunningly, Mozart composed three symphonies, 39, 40, and 41, in the space of just a few weeks. (Most accomplished composers “only” managed to write nine or fewer symphonies: Mahler 9, Beethoven 9, Tchaikovsky 6, Rachmaninoff 4). Mozart composed three in just a few months!

Mozart is often called a “genius.” I struggle with that word because to me it robs the composer of the incredible dedication and hard work he put into developing his skill. Genius implies that the talent was inborn and that the only thing Mozart had to do was sit down pen in hand, and the music would flow out of his mind and onto the paper. Mozart started composing when he was five years old. The music of young Mozart was not original; he was copying other composers, and through copying he was honing his own skill. Mozart was 32 years old when he composed his 40th symphony, but at that point he had been composing for 27 years.


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