Programme Guide

“Representing no occasion, no immediate purpose, but an appeal to eternity” is how his biographer Alfred Einstein characterised the creation of Mozart’s last three symphonies, which opened the Berliner Philharmoniker’s 2013/2014 season under the baton of Sir Simon Rattle. The transfiguring image of the immortal Mozart, “darling of the gods”, who wanted to erect a symphonic monument for himself and the history of music, has stubbornly persisted.

He probably composed them for the three “academies in the casino” he mentioned in a letter to his friend and lodge brother Michael Puchberg. What is certain is that he created three of the crowning masterpieces of Classical symphonic writing, works that differ from one another in every aspect, even instrumentation. It is as though Mozart wanted to display the entire spectrum of the artistic means at his disposal.

The E flat Symphony K. 543, in the words of E. T. A. Hoffmann, leads “into the depths of the spirit realm” – its astonishing radiance and its high spirits notwithstanding, touching on the dark and demonic sphere as well. The beloved G minor Symphony K. 550, by comparison, is a locus classicus of architectonic balance, its Andante acting as a lyrical island between the dramatically charged minor-key movements. And the mastery of form and compositional technique exhibited by the Jupiter Symphony K. 551 suggests the quintessence of every apparent possibility for instrumental music during Mozart’s lifetime.

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