Conducted by Reinhard Goebel, the SWR Symphonieorchester (Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra) performs Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Symphony No. 31 in D major, K. 297/300a, better known as the Paris Symphony. This performance was recorded on May 21, 2022, in the Rococo Hall of Schwetzingen Castle.

Conducted by Reinhard Goebel, the SWR Symphonieorchester (Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra) performs Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Symphony No. 31 in D major, K. 297/300a, better known as the Paris Symphony. This performance was recorded on May 21, 2022, in the Rococo Hall of Schwetzingen Castle.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Symphony No. 31

Mozart’s Symphony No. 31 in D major, K. 297/300a, known as the “Paris” Symphony, marks a significant point in Mozart’s symphonic output, reflecting both his genius in composition and his understanding of the musical tastes of different European cities. Composed in 1778 during Mozart’s stay in Paris, the symphony was intended to appeal to the Parisian audience’s preferences for grand and lively orchestral works. Its creation was part of Mozart’s efforts to establish himself in Paris, a city known for its vibrant musical scene and discerning audiences.

The “Paris” Symphony is distinguished by its innovative orchestration and the effective use of dynamics and thematic development, showcasing Mozart’s ability to adapt and excel within the stylistic conventions of the time. The symphony was written during a period of personal turmoil for Mozart, following the death of his mother, who had accompanied him to Paris. Despite these circumstances, he managed to produce a work that was both a critical and popular success.

One of the notable features of this symphony is its orchestration, which is grander and more expansive than many of Mozart’s earlier symphonic works. It includes a larger wind section, with flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons, horns, and trumpets, alongside timpani and strings. This expanded orchestration allowed Mozart to explore a wider range of colors and textures, and to create a more powerful and impressive sound, in line with the expectations of the Parisian audience.

The premiere of the Symphony No. 31 was a significant event, and by all accounts, it was very well received. Mozart himself wrote about the success of the performance, noting the enthusiasm of the audience, particularly for the innovative use of a large orchestral force. The work’s reception in Paris was a testament to Mozart’s ability to capture and engage his audience, blending the sophisticated musical elements with the grandeur and energy that the Parisian public admired.

Beyond its immediate success, the “Paris” Symphony is significant for its place in Mozart’s symphonic oeuvre. It demonstrates his evolving compositional style, marked by greater complexity and emotional depth. The symphony also reflects Mozart’s keen sense of musical drama and his ability to convey a wide range of emotions within a single work.


With the start times in the video above:

  1. 00:00 Allegro assai
  2. 07:52 Andante
  3. 11:47 Allegro

1. Allegro assai

The first movement of Mozart’s Symphony No. 31 in D Major, known as the Paris Symphony, is marked “Allegro assai” and embodies the vibrant and grandiose style that Mozart deliberately cultivated to appeal to the Parisian audience. This movement is a splendid demonstration of Mozart’s skill in blending dynamic energy with elegant melodic lines, a hallmark of his mature symphonic compositions.

Structured in the sonata-allegro form, a common architectural framework for the opening movements of symphonies in the classical period, this movement showcases a clear delineation between the exposition, development, and recapitulation sections, each serving its distinct role in the thematic and harmonic progression of the piece. The sonata-allegro form allowed Mozart to present and then intricately develop his musical ideas, demonstrating both his compositional prowess and his ability to engage and surprise his listeners.

The exposition opens with a bold and energetic theme that immediately captures the listener’s attention, characterized by its rhythmic drive and the bright timbre of the D major key. This is followed by a contrasting second theme that offers a more lyrical and graceful counterpoint to the initial energetic opening. Mozart’s orchestration here is masterful, utilizing the expanded wind section to enrich the textural palette and enhance the contrast between the themes.

In the development section, Mozart manipulates and explores these themes further, modulating through various keys and showcasing his ability to weave complex harmonic textures. This section is a testament to Mozart’s creative genius, as he takes the listener on a journey through a series of musical explorations, building tension and anticipation.

The recapitulation brings back the main themes, now transformed and enriched by their developmental journey. Mozart ensures that the return to the home key of D major is triumphant and satisfying, providing a sense of closure to the movement. The movement concludes with a coda that reinforces the energetic and jubilant character of the opening, leaving a lasting impression of vitality and exuberance.

Throughout the first movement, Mozart’s use of dynamics, orchestration, and thematic development is calculated to impress and delight. His understanding of the Parisian taste for grandeur and spectacle is evident in the bold orchestral gestures, the dramatic contrasts, and the overall sense of excitement that pervades the movement. It is a vivid representation of Mozart’s mastery of the symphonic form and his ability to adapt his compositional style to the preferences of his audience, making the “Paris Symphony” a celebrated work in his symphonic repertoire.

2. Andante

The second movement of Mozart’s Symphony No. 31 in D major, K. 297/300a, known as the “Paris” Symphony, exemplifies Mozart’s skill in crafting lyrical and expressive slow movements. Unlike the energetic and grandiose first movement that was designed to capture the attention of the Parisian audience with its vibrancy, the second movement shifts towards a more introspective and nuanced expression.

This movement is typically characterized by its elegance and melodic beauty, showcasing Mozart’s ability to create deeply emotional music within the classical framework. The orchestration, while more restrained compared to the first movement, still makes effective use of the orchestra to provide a rich, textured backdrop for the unfolding melodies. The strings play a central role, with the woodwinds adding color and depth to the harmonic landscape.

Mozart’s second movements often serve as a contrast to the outer movements, offering listeners a moment of calm and reflection amidst the more dynamic and dramatic elements of a symphony. In the case of the “Paris” Symphony, the second movement continues this tradition, providing a space for more intimate musical conversation. The movement’s structure and thematic development reflect Mozart’s mastery of form, with a keen attention to detail and a subtle interplay between the orchestral sections.

While the exact nature of the second movement can vary depending on the version of the symphony being performed (Mozart was known to revise his works based on the audience and occasion), the essence of Mozart’s slow movements remains constant: a focus on melody, emotion, and the beauty of sound. The second movement of the “Paris” Symphony, with its graceful lines and expressive nuances, offers a perfect example of Mozart’s artistry in creating music that speaks to the human experience, balancing complexity with accessibility.

3. Allegro

The third movement of Mozart’s Symphony No. 31 in D major, K. 297/300a, the “Paris” Symphony, is a lively and spirited finale that encapsulates the essence of Mozart’s symphonic brilliance. This movement is marked as “Allegro,” and it follows the tradition of the classical symphonic finale, aiming to conclude the work on a high note with energy and vivacity.

In keeping with the conventions of the time, this movement often employs a sonata-rondo form or a simple rondo form, which is characterized by the alternation of a main theme with one or more contrasting themes. The main theme is typically bright and catchy, designed to be memorable and to provide a sense of closure to the symphony. Mozart’s skill in thematic development and variation is on full display in this movement, as he expertly weaves together the different themes, creating a complex and cohesive musical structure.

The orchestration in the third movement is robust, making full use of the expanded orchestral forces that Mozart had at his disposal for the “Paris” Symphony. The inclusion of clarinets, along with flutes, oboes, bassoons, horns, and trumpets, adds color and depth to the texture, enhancing the festive and celebratory mood of the movement. The strings provide the driving force, with their energetic rhythms and lively melodies, while the winds add layers of harmonic and melodic interest.

Mozart’s ability to balance complexity with clarity is evident in this movement. The music is intricate, with rapid passages, dynamic contrasts, and intricate counterpoint, yet it remains accessible and immediately appealing to the listener. This balance is a hallmark of Mozart’s mature symphonic style, reflecting his mastery of the classical idiom and his ability to engage and entertain his audience.


M. Özgür Nevres

Published by M. Özgür Nevres

I am Özgür Nevres, a software engineer, a former road racing cyclist, and also an amateur musician. I opened to share my favorite music. I also take care of stray cats & dogs. This website's all income goes directly to our furry friends. Please consider supporting me on Patreon, so I can help more animals!

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