Classical Music Library Free Download of the Week

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Every two weeks, Alexander Street offers a free music download from our popular online music collection. This download is freely available, regardless of whether or not your library subscribes to the collection.

Symphony No. 40 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

It’s no secret that Mozart was remarkably prolific during the thirty-five years of his life, but a particularly significant period was the short span from June 26 to August 10, 1788. In just over six weeks, Mozart accomplished his Symphonies No. 39, 40, and 41, three of his most famous symphonies that would also be his last. It’s hardly fair to say that Mozart’s symphonic writing was meager at the time, but his rate had definitely slowed from the previous decade when he completed around thirty symphonies; he completed “only” eight from 1780 to 1788. His time was spent writing quite a bit of vocal music in the 1780s, notably many songs, Die Entführung aus dem Serail, and his Da Ponte collaborations Le nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Così fan tutte.
Symphony No. 40 is significant for the time in Mozart’s life when he wrote it, but also because it is one of the two symphonies he wrote in a minor key, specifically G minor. The other is from fifteen years earlier, the Symphony No. 25, which is also in G minor. Symphony No. 40 is scored for more winds than Symphony No. 25, but neither have timpani nor trumpet. In addition to the tragic tone of G minor, the orchestration lends these symphonies a more contemplative mood without them.
This recording is performed by the Orchestre Symphonique de Radio-Télé-Luxembourg under the direction of Louis De Froment.

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