Mozart’s last symphony picked up its nickname “Jupiter” in London around 1820. Some think it’s a reference to the loftiness of Mozart’s ideas. Others point to the opening of the symphony and say that they hear the “thunderbolts of Jupiter.”
But as impressive as this opening movement may be, the real news is in the last movement, whose concluding section is a masterpiece of the art of counterpoint, weaving together the musical fabric from individual strands of melody.
Mozart learned that art from Bach, thanks to Baron van Swieten, a diplomat in Vienna. In those days Baroque music was old music, not in wide circulation, but at the baron’s house Bach and Handel were very much in fashion. Soon after Mozart arrived in Vienna, he started going every Sunday at noon to the baron’s home.
Mozart’s study of Bach enabled him to incorporate the legacy of Baroque counterpoint into the structure of the Classical symphony.
The last movement of the Jupiter introduces five simple themes:
These themes mix and mingle until finally they are all combined. A late nineteenth century writer commented: “[The five themes], all in perfect harmony, are enough to give Bach a headache.”
Alan Chapman, in addition to his weekday morning program, is also the host and producer of two weekend programs: Modern Times and A Musical Offering.
After receiving his undergraduate degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he earned a Ph.D. in music theory from Yale University. He is currently a member of the music theory faculty of the Colburn Conservatory. He was a longtime member of the music faculty at Occidental College and has also been a visiting professor at UCLA and UC Santa Barbara. His analytical work has appeared in the Journal of Music Theory and in The New Orpheus: Essays on Kurt Weill, winner of the Deems Taylor Award for excellence in writing on music.
Well known as a pre-concert lecturer, Alan has been a regular speaker on the L.A. Philharmonic's "Upbeat Live" series since its inception in 1984. He also works closely with the Los Angeles Master Chorale and Pacific Symphony. His lectures have been presented by virtually every major performing organization in southern California. He has been heard globally as programmer and host of the inflight classical channel on Delta Airlines.
Alan is also active as a composer/lyricist. His songs have been performed and recorded by many artists around the world and have been honored by ASCAP, the Johnny Mercer Foundation, and the Manhattan Association of Cabarets. His children's opera Les Moose: The Operatic Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle was commissioned by LA Opera for its 1997-98 season. Alan frequently appears in cabaret evenings with his wife, soprano Karen Benjamin. They made their Carnegie Hall debut in 2000 and performed at Lincoln Center in 2006. Their recent CD, Que Será, Será: The Songs of Livingston and Evans, features the late Ray Evans telling the stories behind such beloved songs as "Mona Lisa" and "Silver Bells."
Sign Up For Our Free Newsletter
Receive our weekly email newsletter filled with special highlights & much more.