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"Paris" Symphony No. 31 in D

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)

Yes! It was written there, and was first performed privately on the 12th June 1778 at the residence of the Ambassador of the Palatine (Mannheim), six days before its successful public debut. This was performed, after a nerve-rackingly bad rehearsal, for the Concert Spirituel, the leading music society in Paris. It was responsible for regular musical presentations: a precursor of the Proms, perhaps. Upon conclusion of the concert, Mozart celebrated with an ice cream at the Palais Royal.

He was in Paris on this occasion, from March to September, at the insistence of his father Leopold. He had been there at least five times between 1762 (when at the age of six he coyly proposed marriage to the future queen Marie Antoinette) and 1778. On his departure he proclaimed “I am glad to leave Paris, which I loathe”.

The Symphony is in three movements. The first is in the not unfriendly key of D, but it is far from comfortable to play, being marked Allegro assai and demanding exactitude in ensemble of the highest order. The second short movement, Andante, is in the key of G, and the third movement reverts to D major. It is considered to be the most mature of his symphonies at the time it was written, assimilating aspects of the national style, such as the famous “premier coup d’archet”.

Programme notes for BHSO performance, Nov 2006
Written by Alan Holdsworth

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