Allegro Molto, from Symphony No. 1, K. 16 – Arranged by Anthony Granata
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) was a composer whose bold, theatrical music earned him widespread fame during his life. Mozart managed to compose a massive number of symphonies over the course of his career, many of which remain staples in the repertoire.
Mozart’s 1st Symphony was a perfect capturing of Mozart’s prodigal compositional talents. Completed when Mozart was just 8 years old, the Symphony does not necessarily push musical boundaries—the kid was 8, after all—but it does show his ability to weave musical ideas together in a sophisticated way by building on the practices of composers before him, like Bach.
Listen for the confident opening theme, the outline of an arpeggio. The orchestra takes on this idea in turns, with driving consistent eighth notes underpinning and accenting the major chord outlined in the work’s opening. This pulsating eighth note energy would be used often throughout Mozart’s career—little bits of the compositional tour-de-force that was adult Mozart were already in sight right out of the gate.
Symphony No. 8 in G Major, I. Allegro; III. Scherzo
Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904) was a Bohemian composer of wide influence and recognition. Most well known are Dvořák’s symphonies, chamber music, and concertos—his New World Symphony and his Cello Concerto are staples in the symphonic canon.
In his early life, Dvořák was a passionate young musician who lacked the resources to study among the greats. Dvořák studied music by the skin of his teeth—as a child studying in organ lessons his family negotiated with the local schoolmaster, and later making money playing viola in a small-scale dance orchestra. Perhaps it could be said that Dvořák’s music is that of a deep personal love, one passionate and full of both love and suffering.
Dvořák’s 8th Symphony is decidedly more upbeat than the 7th Symphony preceding it. Historians recognize the Symphony as painting the “bucolic wonderment” — the ecstasy and woe that comes from the lacing together of Nature and human life, the tension of our individuality against the massiveness of the world. This clash is captured dramatically across the 8th Symphony.
Despite its G-Major titling, there is a surprising amount of minor-key melodic material across the 8th Symphony. Dvořák opens the Symphony with a reflective and choral-like idea from the low strings. This texture is broken by a lively flute flute solo from the other side of the orchestra. The third movement, probably a waltz, feels somber and yearning from its minor-key employment. There is always a lingering sense of worry and awe in even moments of joyousness
Here’s what one Junior Symphony Orchestra musician had to say about these excerpts from Dvořák’s 8th Symphony:
“The piece is like an emotional roller coaster. In some places, it can be very calm and lighthearted, but then it suddenly becomes harsh and aggressive.” -Alexander Fan, double bass