Viennese Minor-Key Symphony in the Age of Haydn and Mozart

By: Matthew Riley

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In late eighteenth-century Vienna and the surrounding Habsburg territories, over 50 minor-key symphonies by at least 11 composers were written. These include some of the best-known works of the symphonic repertoire, such as Haydns Farewell Symphony and Mozarts Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K. 550. The driving energy, intense pathos and restlessness of these compositions demand close attention and participation from the listener, and pose urgent questions about meaning and interpretation. In response to these questions, The Viennese Minor-Key Symphony in the Age of Haydn and Mozart combines historical perspectives with recent developments in music analysis to shed new light on this distinctive part of the repertoire. Through an intertextual, analytical approach, author Matthew Riley treats the minor-key symphony as a subgenre of several strands, reconstructing the compositional world it occupied. His work enables signals to be understood, puts characteristic strategies in clear relief, and ultimately reveals the significance this music held for both composers and listeners of the time. Riley gives us a fresh picture of the familiar masterpieces of Haydn and Mozart, while also focusing on lesser known composers.
Publication Date:
08 / 05 / 2014

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