Tag Archives: Roger W. Smith Mozart’s Jupiter live (thoughts inspired by)

Mozart’s “Jupiter” live (thoughts inspired by)


Last night I saw a performance of Mozart’s symphony no. 41 in C Major (“Jupiter”) by the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra at Carnegie Hall.

I dashed off my thoughts last night during intermission and on the subway and bus home. The following notes of mine were written on the fly.


The “Jupiter” symphony. Probably not my personal favorite.

I love the “Linz,” no. 36, a personal favorite of my Mom; and no. 40 in G major, a personal favorite of my father and mother, an early favorite of mine from around age six.

The “Jupiter”: Awesome. Magnificently, brilliantly constructed. Such power. Such “musical intellect” (aka genius).


With Mozart, the music seems to be coming from somewhere else, from a celestial source, from the spheres — not from the quill pen of a living, breathing composer hunched over a sheet of parchment.

Regarding the preternatural quality of Mozart’s music: He developed musical knowledge and virtuosity at such a young age. Almost simultaneously with the development of consciousness. Not long after developing the ability to talk. So that his brain must have been “wired” musically.

He could, I would imagine, think musically the way you and I run thoughts through our heads and take doing so — being able to cogitate in the form of thoughts which take the shape of words and sentences — for granted

His music almost seems to take shape naturally, effortlessly — like breathing — the way our thoughts form in our brains and take shape as sentences and paragraphs without our thinking much of or about it.

The third movement of the “Jupiter” symphony (Menuetto: Allegretto) begins with a theme that seems to have originated in the deep “musical subconscious.”


Another fact which occurred to me while listening to the “Jupiter” symphony. It’s something that is fully applicable to a composer like Mozart, whom I have just been describing as “otherworldly.”

What a difference hearing instruments live makes.

Music is music. It’s sound, not a math problem.

The acoustics. Vibrations. Timbre. Loudness when called for.

The first movement of the “Jupiter” symphony was played loud. As it should be.

Not tinny.

Loud strings, blaring horns, percussion.

The strings sure do a lot of work, pull their weight.

You appreciate the various instruments heard live. On a recording, sometimes it’s a mishmash.


I emailed my thoughts to friends and relatives.

My older brother wrote: “I’m always jealous of such genius — people who are born with innate abilities amaze me, Mozart more than just about anyone else.”

I replied:

In my case, the ability to recognize it extends to writers and composers; I am out of my depth in other fields, such as painting and sculpture or science.

Apropos this — or perhaps apropos nothing — the film “Amadeus” presented Mozart as a characterization of genius: a cartoon character. Things were made up out of whole cloth, such as his relationship with Salieri and the circumstances of the composition of his Requiem. (“Wolfie’s” wife was also a ridiculous character worthy of “The Honeymooners.”)


The Orpheus Chamber Orchestra will be performing Mozart’s symphony no. 40 in February.


— Roger W. Smith

  December 8, 2017