What is your favorite Mozart symphony?

Most people would agree that the last three symphonies of Mozart (no. 39 -41) would be his greatest symphonic compositions. But it is so interesting to realize the perspectives on this subject from conductors. In one interview, Karl Bohm stated that Symphony No. 9 in C major has the originality of some later great works. Another case is Eugen Jochum who performed Symphony No. 33 in B falt major (121 times) more than Symphony No.40 (60 times) or Symphony No. 41 (87 times) in his career.

It would be equally or more interesting to collect your opinions. What would be your favorite Mozart symphony? What would be your most admired performance/recording of that composition?

Happy Listening!

I feel Nos. 40 and 41 are Mozart's masterpieces, but two of my favorites are:

The "lighthearted" Symphony No.24 in B flat major and
Karajan's Symphony No. 35 in D major, "Haffner."
I usually prefer Mozart performed by a small orchestra, but I like Karajan's touch on this one.
35, 36, 39, 40, 41.

Although I prefer his operas, concerti and particularly love his string quintets. I have these on vinyl by The GRUMIAUX TRIO plus two players on a nice sounding Philips release.

His clarinet concerto--yes!
My two favorites are the Haffner #35, and the Jupiter #41. Probably the most recognizable is the G Minor 40th, his only symphony in a minor key I believe which gives it a different feel from the rest. Agree with Jetxexpro they're all great from the 35th - 41st. Mozart's Symphonies are often overshadowed by Beethoven's however the last movement of the Jupiter is one of the most uplifting pieces of music I've ever heard. You have to imagine Beethoven was greatly inspired to follow-up in the manner he did as was Mozart inspired by Bach to write it and a great example of how music builds upon what came before.

Neville Marriner and the Academy of St Martins in the Field are excellent performances of these works and my favorite of the one's I have. I too would like some other recommendations, always looking for great performances of masterworks.
I imagine 41 will get the most votes,and rightly so.

My personal love is no. 36 "Linz" played by the definitive
Mozart Band, the Vienna Phil., with the Great Istvan Kertesz at the helm.
Various releases on Decca .
I've never warmed to his symphonies but I enjoy his piano concertos very much. His clarinet concerto is also excellent.
My personal affection is No. 36 "Linz" as well.

However I was curious that Jochum performed No. 33 so many times in his career so I printed out the scores and listened to it with scores. I found that the second movement (andante moderato) is so profound. That stirred my interest to collect more recordings to see different readings of conductors.

Below is a list of my current collection for your reference:

Abendroth / Radio Symphony Orchestra / '56
Bohm / Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra / '66
Jochum / Bavarian Symphony Orchestra / '56
Jochum / Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam / '61
Jochum / Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam / '86
Erich Kleiber / West Deutsche Radio Symphony Orchestra / '53
Carlos Kleiber / Vienna Symphony Orchestra / '67
Carlos Kleiber / Bavarian State Orchestra / '96
Mravinsky / Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra / '83
Klemperer / Philharmonic Orchestra / '62
Suitner / Dresden State State Orchestra / '75

Happy Listening!

Thank Lowrider's suggestion on No. 24. I will look into it.

Also agree with Jetxexpro, the string quintets are lovely with the additional viola to balance the tone dominated by two violins which by Mozart's point of view is too "thin".

Happy Listening!

As with Rja, I've never totally warmed to his symphonies. It may be because I believe Mozart loved the solo voice (the melody) and understood the push pull/give take of that voice better than he did the symphonic voice.

In many of his fist movements he gives a superficial nod to the crucial development section. Listen to a Beethoven 1st movement development and then compare it to a Mozart development and you may see what I mean. My wife and I have had this discussion and she disagrees with me. She doesn't disagree that a Beethoven development is more interesting, she hears Moazart's symphonic developments as being perfectly balanced to his overall symphonic architecture while I hear them as superficial given the amount of amazing musical material that preceded said development. Bear in mind I am not saying his symphonies are not works of genius...Anyway, interesting food for thought.
since I bought the Bohm complete set on cds (collectors edition) I do not listen to any other...
Jetexpro, listen to your wife !
Interesting that no one has so far mentioned the "Little" G Minor symphony, #25. Definitely one of my favorites, along with the last six.

A favorite Haydn symphony thread would be interesting. I'll start that discussion off with #48, the Maria Theresa, and I of course must mention #31, the Horn Signal....#80 is a particular favorite of mine as well.
Yes #25 is excellent, I should have included that with my #24 choice.

OTOH, I could listen to Haydn all day long and sometimes do, but his body of work is so vast, is it better to have it's own thread? I could list at least 10 favorites right now.
Just played Bohm's recording of No.24, I found the wind section in the 2nd movement is very delightful. Thank you, Lowrider.

On the other hand, Symphony No. 25 is too "rush" for me. I am more included to the music with long and cumulative build-up. To certain degree, I concur with Jetrexpro's remarks regarding the development section of Mozart's symphonies. Some development sections of Mozart's symphonies seem imposed. For example, Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 has a development section of 103 measures while Mozart's Symphony No. 36 has a development section of only 19 measures.
Prcinka or anybody else in the know...

Is the Karl Bohm "Collector's Edition" a newer remastered version of Bohm's Mozart or is it the same as the DG single CD releases from the 1990s?
A much under rated and overlooked Mozartian is Jane Glover
and her London Mozart Players .
If you enjoy sprightly performances she's right up there with the big boys .
:) Will do Schubert...good advice.

Last night I was listening to Sym No40 Cleveland/Szell and was reminded what great music this is.

Love Bohm/Vienna Phil doing Mozart! Something very elegant and relaxed about their performances
I have the complete set on Phillips which is, I think all performances by Neville Mariner. That has been virtually my entire exposure to many of the Mozart symphonies. Anybody else familiar with that set that could comment on how it stands up with other box sets?
The term Genius is GREATLY overused .
You do not have to be a genius to write works of genius nor
does being one mean everything you compose will be same .
Bach himself, the greatest of them all, said anyone could
do what he did if he worked as hard as he did.
Anyone is a stretch , and IMO he had he divine help-but his entire life he worked incredibly hard.As did other greats like Haydn. Beethoven and Brahms etc etc. All these were men of high IQ to be sure but Einsteins 99%/1 % ratio was in play.
The only composers I would consider true geniuses are
Mozart and Schubert. perhaps Mendellsonn as well.That these were all child prodigies seems telling IMO .
77jovian, IMO Mariner is good but Mackerras on Telarc is better and, if you like original instruments aka historically informed performances, Pinnock with his English Consort is the best of all .
Learsfool, I bought the complete Hayden Sym. box on Sony (Stuttgarter Kammerorchester/ Dennis Russel Davies)few months back, been thru it and keep coming back to 6,7, 8.
Perhaps because the best Hayden live performances I've heard live were 6,7, 8 by Masur/Gewandhaus and Davies/ St Paul CO back in the 70's .
Thanks, Schubert
Hi Schubert - yes, I also love those early Haydn symphonies you mentioned.

Your post about geniuses, on the other hand....OK, I agree with Mozart, and perhaps Schubert. But Mendelssohn?? Child prodigy, yes. However, his later output never quite matched up to the brilliance of his earlier work. Geniuses keep developing, getting better and better. Another qualification would be at least originality, if not an iconoclast. So for me, Mendelssohn does not come close to qualifying for the genius tag. To add just a few, I would say Beethoven, Wagner, Stravinsky, Bartok. When we add back in Bach and Mozart, it would be hard to find another to equal those six in sheer compositional craft. Perhaps Richard Strauss, who once hilariously bragged he could set a laundry list to music. There are of course many levels and types of genius. The music to Midsummer Night's Dream is possibly the greatest piece ever written by a teenager. I suppose this is really a silly topic, but a fun one to discuss anyway.
Below is the information for Lowrider.

The collector edition was issued in 2006 and used the original-image bit-processing technology mastered by Emil Berliner Studios.

The more recent release of "Karl Bohm: The Symphonies" in 2013 doesn't mention the mastering processes at all.
Many thanks, Yu11375. I've been listening on YouTube and Bohm really has a way with Mozart that I like very much.
Learsfool, I guess that's why I said perhaps with Mendelsssohn.
Obviously all you mention were great masters of the compositional art but I still maintain of all those you mention only Mozart and Schubert had true genius even
though Bach was the greatest .
I have about 10 of the Mackerras/Prague/Telarc CDs and the performances are very good, and the sonics are outstanding. When Telarc gets it right, it's like you are in the middle of the concert hall.

Which version were you recommending?
Lowrider, I don't know what version I had, I gifted my box to a young couple who wanted to play classical around their baby . A worthy cause if ever there was one .
In any event these days I'm pretty much a original instrument guy who listens to Pinnock and English Consort
and some long term faves like Kertesz and Jane Glover .
For Lowrider,

If you like the performances of Bohm on YouTube. The ensemble for those recordings is Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra while the ensemble of 2006's collector edition or 2013's "Karl Bohm: The Symphonies" is Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.

The recordings on YouTube are recently released under the title "Karl Bohm: Late Recording" in 2015. It only complies Symphony No 29, 35, 38, 39, 40 and 41.

There is another early release in 2005 "Karl Bohm: Mozart and Strauss" complies Symphony No. 26, 32, 34, 36, 38, 39, 40 and 41. The ensembles are Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra (No. 34, 36 and 38) and Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam (all others).

I am lucky enough to collect them all.

Happy Listening.

Hi Schubert - I guess what I meant to ask, but didn't, is what is your personal criteria for genius that only Mozart and Schubert fit? Or fit all of, as the case probably is?
@ 77jovian,
These are the Charles Mackerras/Prague/Telarc CDs in Box Set or individual CDs.
Small orchestra, modern instruments, DDD. Mackerras has a great feel for Mozart, I've collected many of the Cds.
To Yu11375...

Thanks for all the info. I found some Berliner CD recordings on YouTube, btw.

So it looks like there was no additional remastering done to make the box set, they used the digital masters from the 80s and 90s. I expect that there will be some brash highs typical of that DG period, but most importantly do the strings sound smooth?

Thanks for your help!
(I have Bohm's 1972 Vienna/Beethoven cycle on CD, no remastering, and it sounds fantastic).

Forgot something: Box Set and individual CDs.

Thanks Lowrider, ordered them today
Lear, I'm an oral communicator unable to express myself as well in written word, plus I'm elderly and have little energy .
I suspect we are more talking past each other than we would disagree in person . Your little toe has forget more about music than I know .
The only way I can think to expresses it is when you hear
a LvB or Bach masterwork you are excited about what a great work they have put together .
In hearing a Mozart masterpiece you remain calm knowing at some level it could be no other way .

BTW, I've heard a number of world-class German classical
players express great admiration for Brahms craftmanship,
would you put him below the composers you mentioned in that regard ?
Hi Schubert - Brahms is an interesting case. Unlike most composers, one must remember that he literally tore up half of what he wrote. So yes, what is left is the very well crafted stuff. He was very careful to destroy anything he did which he felt was not his best effort. Imagine his output being doubled! Surely a great deal of it was still very fine music.

And by the way, I have said the same thing you did many times about my written communication. There's a reason I am a musician and not a writer. I suspect you are right that we agree more than it appears.

I am going to paraphrase what you said, and let me know if it is indeed what you meant. I think another way to say what you are saying would be that with Beethoven and Bach you hear the effort which went into the composition, whereas with Mozart it seems so effortless. This is sometimes the case with Schubert as well, definitely in the songs (though not at all with the symphonies or piano music or opera). This makes your comparison (the placing of Schubert with Mozart, I mean) make a little more sense to me, if I have indeed hit on what you mean.

This is of course not to say that it was actually effortless for Mozart, as the movie Amadeus implies. It is very well documented that he worked his butt off, in fact probably even harder than Bach and Beethoven. His output certainly would have at least equalled Bach's had he lived as long. I have said here before that I consider Mozart's the most tragic early death in the entire history of the arts.
To Lowrider,

The only recording I have for fair comparison would be the Requiem KV. 626 by Bohm recorded in 1971. The first one was released in 1983 as single CD and the second one was released earlier this year under the collection titled "Karl Bohm: Late Recording". By my personal perception, the newly release represents more live "music hall" experience which some claim it's fake.

Again it depends on your personal taste. Tone comes first as Furtwangler once commended on the topic of performance. For my daughter (a conservatory student)Bosendorfer piano sounds dull but for me Steinway piano sounds bright.

Hope it helps.

Yes, you have said what I mean but it seems apparent only
to SERIOUS listeners and musicians . Only a complete fool would think Mozart did not work to his limit, the difference is he could make his work sound as it just fell whole from heaven .
Schubert did not always have that, but his originality is overwhelming ,to me anyway . I've read long tomes
comparing Mozart and Schubert outputs to age 31 where acknowledged masterworks count fell in Schuberts favor .
At 8 years old the top teacher in Wein threw up his hands
saying he was learning more from the boy than he from him.
I've heart several of the worlds most famous pianists praise Schubert's late Pn. Sonatas to the skies, one said
to me personally they were the greatest in the canon .

I don't know if the most tragic early demise was Schubert
or Mozart but for sure they are the top two disasters .
Hi Schubert - let me clarify something I said. I did not mean that Schubert's Piano Sonatas are not great - they are! I meant that they do not show that seeming ease of composition we are speaking of with Mozart, and with Schubert's own songs. Schubert's late piano works are very complex in a similar manner to Bach. It takes a great deal of concentration for even a very serious listener to follow them, so in this sense the craft is very obvious, though of course fantastic. Hope this makes sense - it is really only in his song composition that Schubert has that "falling from Heaven" quality you describe, though personally I think that is a poor description which belittles the composer and his craft. That is one of the only bad things about the movie Amadeus, that it perpetuates this notion that God did it, not Mozart.
Right, I didn't think you meant anything else ,that's why
I said serious listener.I must have heard D.960 live at least 20 times and I only bothered with the top-rank players. I've listened to it hundreds of times at home and have the score, and I think I still have a way to go but thank God for the journey .
God helps some composers , not in some mystical way, but by the fact that really devout composers don't waste much energy in worry, the most useless activity we humans engage in .
Poulenc wrote about this effect after his conversion .
Bach writing" To the Glory of God" on every work was no empty gesture .

I have a lot or respect for Symphony players, not least because I listened to a conversation where a half-dozen
Players from the Berlin RIAS Orch were bemoning the fact
they had a hard time just listening to music because they
were listening to technical matters in general and their parts in particular .

When speaking of his music the one that "falls from heaven" to me at least, is Symphonia Concertante K364 for Violin/Viola written when he was 23 years old. The interplay between the violin and viola in the 2nd movement is just brilliant, I never tire listening to this piece.
I'm glad you mentioned that piece, Tubegroover. May I describe it as "heavenly?"
It just might be my favorite Mozart composition of all.
Yes thank you Tubegroover. Mozart Sinfonia concertante in E flat Major, K 364 - manna from heaven. Mozart truly loves the interplay between the solo voices and the full group. I can feel his heart in a piece like this.

It gives me the same feeling when I listen to Bach's church music. There is a extra special light shining thru Mozart's concerto/chamber/opera music and Bach's church music.
Yes, sometimes it is very difficult for professional musicians to turn off the critical side of themselves when listening to music. Fortunately, I can usually do this when I am sitting down to listen for pleasure, in the sense that I don't necessarily listen just to my own part. But, as my teachers all said, one can and should learn something every time you hear anyone play - even if it is only one more way not to do it - so that side of our listening is really never turned completely off.

We also have to spend so much time listening for study that there is often not a big block of time available to listen for pleasure. For me, this generally happens in the summertime, and perhaps during the holiday season, when most musicians do get some vacation time, around and after all the holiday concerts.

The thing is, as I have preached on this site many times before - the more study one does of music, the more one enjoys it when one is listening for pleasure. The knowledge always increases the pleasure of listening, and this can often more than balance out the inability to turn off the critical ear.
Amen !
No. 41, performed by Klemperer/Philharmonia and Szell/Cleveland, though I pefer the Piano Concertos, Clarinet Concerto, Sinfonia Concertante and a number of his chamber works over the Symphonies. My favorite Mozart piece is the String Quartet No. 20, the "Hoffmeister".