The summer of 1782 was a busy time for Mozart. He had left Salzburg and
was now living in Vienna. He was moving house in preparation for his
forthcoming marriage to Constance Weber and had other important work
deadlines to meet.
He received a request from his father on 20th July to write a new serenade to
mark the occasion of the young Sigmund Haffner’s ennoblement ceremony
later that month. The Haffner’s were a prominent Salzburg family known to
the Mozart’s through the elder Sigmund Haffner, a former mayor of Salzburg.
After his death in 1772 the families remained in contact. The younger Haffner,
having been a childhood friend of Mozart’s, had earlier in 1776 commissioned
Mozart to write a serenade for a family wedding. This had been successfully
received. Mozart actually completed the new serenade before his own
wedding on august 4th, but not in time for Sigmund’s ennoblement.
It was this party serenade for Salzburg that later formed the foundation for
Mozart’s grand new Vienna, Symphony no 35, the ‘Haffner’ written in D
major. The key is evidence of the work's serenade origins; favourable for wind
instruments and also preferred by his father. Mozart reworked the piece,
discarding an opening march and a minuet. He gave it a fuller sound by
doubling the flutes and clarinets in the first and last movements.
The Haffner Symphony was first performed on March 23rd 1783 in Vienna
and was tremendously received.
1. Allegro con spirito. 4/4 Mozart wrote to his father that this movement was
to be played with fire. It is permeated with the leaping octaves and the dashing
rhythms of the initial figure. It is written in sonata form with a rich, dramatic
and tirelessly inventive development section. The movement ends with a short
2. Andante. 2/4 The G major second movement returns to a slow, tranquil and
traditional serenade style with graceful melodies announced by the woodwind
section. It is written in an abridged sonata form. A brief chorale style passage
is introduced by the woodwind instead of a development. The rhythmic
structures of the first theme and second theme provide subtle contrast. The
first has a slow sixteen note accompaniment whilst the second has a busier
thirty-two notes structure. The chorale-like passages are punctuated with a
syncopated accompaniment from the strings.
3. Menuetto. 3/4 The bright and lively D major minuet provides a sharp
contrast in mood from the slow and serious andante. There is a steady pull
between the two main chords - the tonic and dominant keys. The flowing
trio section leads immediately on from the minuet and provides a pleasant
and quieter contrast with effective use of sforzandos throughout.
4. Presto, 2/2 The final movement, again in D major, is as fiery as the first.
It is reminiscent in character of the overture to ‘The Marriage of Figaro’.
Mozart gave performance instructions that his Presto be played ‘as fast as
possible’. The Presto begins at a quiet, brisk pace then there are three beats
of silence followed by a sudden explosion of sound. The movement is
written in sonata-rondo form and is full of musical surprises such as rapid
dynamic shifts and sudden silences.
Mozart was very pleased with the reception his new symphony received at
its first performance and proudly noted that even the emperor apparently
applauded enthusiastically and uncharacteristically stayed for the entire
Programme notes for BHSO performance, Nov 2014
Written by Margaret Somers
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