Episode 9: Mozart's Symphony No. 38 in D, 'Prague': Andante

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Symphony No. 38 in D, K. 504, "Prague": II. Andante
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
English Chamber Orchestra
Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Available on ArkivMusic

Mozart’s life was filled with struggle – maybe not the kind of titanic struggle we think of with Beethoven, a musician cursed by deafness. But Mozart had struggles – with his father, who was supportive, but also very demanding and controlling; his boss in Salzburg, the Archbishop, who wanted to keep Mozart more or less in his control. Mozart’s mother died when the two were traveling together in Paris. And later he struggled to make a living as a freelance composer and performer in Vienna.

In his letters, Mozart expresses his anger and bitterness about his struggles. But so much of his music is so positive. Even when he was unhappy, Mozart seemed to be able to retreat within himself and create music that either escapes those struggles or just ignores them. Maybe the music helps us surmount our struggles, too.

Princeton music professor Scott Burnham, author of the book Mozart’s Grace, says that in Mozart that we should listen for that daylight around the corner. You can hear this  the falling darkness and the rising light in this slow movement of Mozart’s Symphony No. 38, the "Prague" Symphony. 

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  • This recording is provided courtesy of Warner Classics/Erato