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The Story Behind Mozart’s “Bonus” 41st Symphony


KUSC’s Alan Chapman has a lot to say about music, but can he say it in 60 seconds? That’s the Chapman Challenge. We ask a question and Alan has a minute to answer it.

Today’s question is from David in Los Angeles, who writes, “First, let me say that I’m a big fan of Mozart in the Morning. My question has to do with Mozart’s symphonies. Everybody talks about his 40 symphonies, but the “Jupiter” is number 41. Please explain.”

Hit play below to listen to this week’s Chapman Challenge on Arts Alive.  
The Story Behind Mozart’s “Bonus” 41st Symphony
  The story begins with a wedding. Mozart married Constanze Weber in August of 1782, but it wasn’t until the fall of the following year that he took her to his hometown of Salzburg to meet his father. On their way back to Vienna, they stopped off in the Austrian town of Linz, where he was invited to give a concert. He didn’t have one of his symphonies with him, so he composed a new one in the space of four days, No. 36, the “Linz” symphony.

He also presented a symphony by his good friend back in Salzburg, Michel Haydn. And he added his own slow introduction to the symphony.

So with a manuscript in Mozart’s own hand, the entire symphony was taken to be Mozart’s work, and it went into the catalog as Symphony No. 37. It wasn’t until 1907 that an expert caught the mistake. What had been listed as No. 37 was not a Mozart symphony, but all the subsequent ones retained their numbers. So if you bought a set of Mozart symphonies and it’s missing No. 37, it’s not defective. That’s just the way it is.

That’s today’s Chapman Challenge. Is there a question you’d like to have answered in 60 seconds? Send it to us at [email protected].

Written by:
Alan Chapman
Alan Chapman
Published on 09.18.2019

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