Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Symphony No. 38 in D major ("Prague"), K. 504

    Description by Brian Robins

    On May 1, 1786, Mozart's new opera Le nozze di Figaro received its first performance at the Burgtheater in Vienna. Enthusiastically received by connoisseurs, the long and complex opera puzzled many of the general public and it received only eight performances. Early in December, Figaro was staged at the National Theater (today known as the Tyl Theater) in Prague, where it became such a triumphant success that Mozart was induced to visit the Bohemian capital to see the production for himself. When he and his wife Constanze arrived on January 11, 1787, he had with him a new symphony which had been completed early in December (it was entered in Mozart's thematic catalog on December 6). The symphony was included in the concert Mozart gave eight days later, resulting in the first performance of a work which would subsequently become irrevocably associated with the city in which the composer witnessed his greatest triumph in later years. A decade after the concert, the Prague schoolmaster Franz Niemetschek (who educated Mozart's son Carl after the composer's death in 1791) testified to the symphony's enduring popularity: "The symphonies he composed for this occasion are real masterpieces of instrumental composition....This applied particularly to the grand Symphony in D, which is always a favorite in Prague, although it has no doubt been heard a hundred times."

    Such connections have led to the general assumption by Mozart's biographers that the "Prague" symphony was composed for his visit there, but this cannot be the case -- Mozart composed the work before he received the invitation to visit the city. Indeed, a letter of his father's (November 17, 1786) clearly shows that at the time of composition Mozart was planning a visit to England, a visit which never took place becase Leopold refused to look after the composer's two young children. It therefore seems perfectly reasonable to suggest that the work was composed with Mozart's projected London visit in mind -- what we know as the "Prague" symphony might have become Mozart's "London" symphony had his plans come to fruition. An unusual feature of the symphony is that it is in only three movements; it is the only major symphonic work from the Classical period to lack the usual minuet and trio or scherzo movement. But there is nothing small-scale about the work; it amply justifies Niemetschek's epithet "grand." The opening movement, a broad, imposing Adagio introduction followed by a hugely powerful Allegro, is one of the most impressive of all Classical symphonic movements, with dramatic qualities that foreshadow Don Giovanni and a mastery of counterpoint hitherto restricted to Mozart's chamber works. The central Andante utterly transcends the easygoing implication of such a heading; it is a movement of profound, songful depth and contrapuntal skill. The final Presto also shares some of the demonic power of Don Giovanni, the opera Mozart would shortly compose for Prague, while at the same time inhabiting a world in which, for all the bright major-mode music, tragedy never seems too far away.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Adagio - Allegro
    2. Andante
    3. Finale. Presto

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2017 Deutsche Grammophon 4797477
    2017 Opus KURA OPK-2118/19
    2016 Deutsche Grammophon 4795805
    2016 Deutsche Grammophon 002894795516
    2016 Warner Classics 0825646400713
    2016 Deutsche Grammophon 4795553
    2016 Weitblick SSS 01842
    2015 Deutsche Grammophon
    2014 Deutsche Grammophon
    2014 Testament SBT2 1498
    2014 Andromeda ANDRCD 5041
    2014 Warner Classics 545072
    2014 Naxos 8572841
    2013 Decca / Mercury 4785092
    2013 Dacapo 8201201
    2013 Zebralution
    2013 Elatus 49828
    2013 MDG
    2013 Dacapo 6220545
    2013 Naxos 8501109
    2013 Deutsche Grammophon 002894791046GB41
    2012 Naxos 8501060
    2012 Supraphon SU 40812
    2012 Bella Musica / Zebralution
    2012 Archipel ARPCD 0483
    2012 MDG / Zebralution
    2012 Harmonia Mundi HMX 2901958
    2012 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099995593
    2011 Music & Arts MA 1255
    2011 Brilliant Classics 94295
    2011 Royal Philharmonic Masterworks / RPO RPM28510
    2011 Apex 2564673024
    2011 Audite 21408
    2011 Helicon Classics 02.9631
    2011 EMI Classics
    2010 Denon Records
    2010 Opus KURA 7051
    2010 Deutsche Grammophon
    2010 Denon Records
    2010 Denon Records
    2010 Denon Records
    2010 Decca
    2010 Denon Records
    2010 Decca
    2010 Documents / Fab Four 233022
    2010 Denon Records
    2010 Sony Classical 7712902
    2009 Profil - Edition Günter Hänssler 7057
    2009 Telarc Distribution 80759
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Denon Records 00795041928429
    2009 GLOR Classics 8151
    2009 World of Classic / Zebralution
    2009 Denon Records 00795041947024
    2009 Denon Records 00795041940827
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Documents / Membran 232540
    2009 EMI Classics / EMI Classics France 2126812
    2008 Universal Classics & Jazz
    2008 Brilliant 93162
    2008 Bella Musica / Zebralution
    2008 Haenssler 93230
    2008 Haenssler 93214
    2008 Deutsche Grammophon 4777925
    2008 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099921295
    2008 ZYX Music 10319
    2008 Maestro Music 4694525
    2008 Decca
    2008 Archiv Produktion 001142602
    2008 EMI Classics 3458102
    2008 Sony Classical Essential Classics 728690
    2008 Linn Records 308
    2008 VAI Audio 3
    2008 Brilliant Classics 93669
    2008 Telarc Distribution 80729
    2008 Membran 231668
    2008 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099951203
    2008 Philips 4646602
    2007 Deutsche Grammophon 004400734325
    2007 Testament 1403
    2007 Berlin 8403
    2007 Harmonia Mundi 2908250
    2007 Decca 4758473
    2007 Oehms Classics 580
    2007 Novalis 150730
    2007 L'Oiseau-Lyre 4758711
    2007 Decca
    2007 Decca 4759120
    2007 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099950083
    2007 Harmonia Mundi 901958
    2007 Rca Red Seal 74321846022
    2007 EMI Classics 87894
    2007 Deutsche Grammophon 000958402
    2007 Brilliant 93178
    2006 Haenssler 93140
    2006 Testament 2126
    2006 Edel Classics 2612
    2006 Decca / Deutsche Grammophon / Philips / Universal Classics & Jazz
    2006 Oehms 559
    2006 Philips 000707702
    2006 Philips 000764802
    2006 Deutsche Grammophon 002894776134
    2006 Philips 4647702
    2006 Supraphon 38292
    2006 Warner Music 62334
    2006 Berlin Classics 0013802
    2006 EMI Music Distribution 45815
    2006 EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics 0946350917
    2006 Warner Music 63067
    2006 Philips 426283
    2006 Brilliant 99715
    2006 COE Records 806
    2006 Brilliant 92864
    2006 Philips
    2006 Weitblick 34
    2005 Brilliant 92702
    2005 Deutsche Grammophon 4775296
    2005 Trumpets of Jericho 203309
    2005 Decca
    2005 Warner Classics
    2005 Haenssler 93152
    2005 Deutsche Grammophon 000551902
    2005 Erato
    2005 Brilliant 92543
    2005 Brilliant 92110
    2005 EMI Classics
    2005 EMI Classics 76891
    2005 Mercury 4756862
    2005 Berlin Classics 0183972BC
    2005 Deutsche Grammophon 4775756
    2005 Decca / Deutsche Grammophon
    2005 Brilliant 92540
    2004 Arts Music 47700
    2004 Art One 222338
    2004 Orfeo 629041
    2004 Document 203184
    2004 Oehms 343
    2004 EMI Music Distribution 85813
    2004 Resonance 501
    2004 Arts Music 47650
    2004 Brilliant 92388
    2004 Naxos 8501107
    2003 Delta Distribution 40039
    2003 EMI Music Distribution 85589
    2003 MDG 9400967
    2003 Berlin Classics 0090512
    2003 PentaTone Classics 5186119
    2003 EMI Classics
    2003 EMI Classics
    2003 Telarc Distribution 80148
    2003 Testament 1305
    2003 Supraphon 3713
    2003 Sony Music Distribution 87989
    2003 Deutsche Grammophon 000048602
    2003 Opus KURA 2032
    2003 Tahra 1
    2003 IMG Artists 75465
    2003 Sony Music Distribution 87963
    2003 History 45515
    2003 Deutsche Grammophon 4744002
    2002 Philips 470540
    2002 Virgin 562010
    2002 Archiv Produktion 471666
    2001 Music Digital 40502
    2001 Archipel 17
    2001 EMI Music Distribution 567333
    2001 Sony Music Distribution 28882
    2001 EMI Music Distribution 74185
    2001 History 205241
    2000 Delta Distribution 33107
    2000 Delta Distribution 49385
    2000 MDG MDG340 0967-2
    2000 Essential Archive 5001
    2000 Arkadia 78522
    2000 T-Rax 25
    2000 Arkadia 78505
    2000 Urania 153
    2000 Warner Classics
    2000 Deutsche Grammophon 469608
    2000 Unesco 70644
    2000 Seraphim UK / Warner Classics 7243574013
    2000 Naxos 8550119
    2000 EMI Music Distribution 66099
    1999 Sony Music Distribution 6494
    1999 IDIS 299/300
    1999 Philips 422500
    1999 MDG MDG605 0858-2
    1999 Deutsche Grammophon 447398
    1999 Past Perfect / Trumpets of Jericho 203300
    1999 Berlin Classics 0011682
    1999 BBC Music 4027
    1999 Angel Records 73631
    1998 Supraphon 3367
    1998 Denon Records 17003
    1998 Orfeo D'Or 486981
    1998 Grammofono 2000 78793
    1998 Intersound 2851
    1998 Novalis 150148
    1998 Digital Sound 1024
    1997 Mercury 434387
    1997 Philips 454085
    1997 Deutsche Grammophon 453046
    1997 Teldec 18957
    1997 Arts Music 47364
    1997 Point Classics 265052
    1997 Decca 4489242
    1997 452496
    1997 Testament 1094
    1996 Vox Box 5524
    1996 Gemini Collection 614
    1996 Deutsche Grammophon 4532312
    1996 Deutsche Grammophon 447416
    1996 Multisonic 310151
    1995 Preiser Records 90115
    1995 Sony Music Distribution 66248
    1995 Art of Classics 885907
    1995 Philips 446224
    1995 Classical Creations 63019
    1995 Lydian 18082
    1995 Seraphim UK 568531
    1995 Sony Music Distribution 64474
    1995 London 444323
    1995 Royal Classics 6480
    1995 Philips 446 222-2PB25
    1994 Orfeo 206891
    1994 Teldec 90866
    1994 Capriccio Records 10269
    1994 Naxos 8003
    1993 Naxos 505004
    1993 Denon Records 8081
    1993 Naxos 550119
    1993 Philips 438333
    1992 Teldec 77596
    1992 Denon Records 74176
    1991 Telarc Distribution 80300
    1990 Deutsche Grammophon
    1990 Deutsche Grammophon 429668
    1990 Deutsche Grammophon 429521
    1990 Philips 422 502-2PME6
    1990 Laserlight 15865
    1989 ASV 647
    1989 Philips 422476
    1984 Deutsche Grammophon 419427
    Deutsche Grammophon 435321
    History 204561
    Delta Distribution 15865
    RCA 68364
    Magic 48028
    EMI Music Distribution 63912
    Disques Montaigne 332
    Musicbank
    Denon Records 79728
    IMP Classics 9
    Sony Music Distribution 23976
    Originals 808
    Document 203185303
    Vivace 314
    Erasmus 128
    Supraphon 110621
    SEL Classics 01.02-073
    Sony Music Distribution 46511
    Pearl 9940
    Philharmonia of the Nations 03
    Deutsche Grammophon 435334
    EMI Music Distribution 67301
    Deutsche Grammophon 431039
    Deutsche Grammophon 413735
    EMI Music Distribution 63856
    Deutsche Grammophon 431270
    ASV 806
    ASV 510
    Iron Needle 1400
    Erato 45857
    EMI Music Distribution 575799
    Tring 059
    CBS Records 38473
    Diamante/Nuova Fonit 2039
    EMI Music Distribution 67010
    Arlecchino 75195
    Seven Seas 2073
    Eurodisc 69253
    Agora Musica 003
    Brilliant 92625
    Brilliant 99715/5
    Brilliant Classics 93669/5
    Brilliant 92110/10
    Brilliant 93178/4
    Brilliant 92625/10
    Brilliant Classics 8635/10
    Brilliant 92543/10
    Brilliant 92388/5
    Arte Nova 37317
    L'Oiseau-Lyre 410233
    Philips 426231
    Brilliant 92702/3
    Brilliant 93162/3
    Grammofono 2000 78609
    Digital Masterworks 71831
    Multisonic 310078
    CBS Records 42027
    RCA 77529
    Erato 88093
    EXL 4219
    Pickwick 11028
    Donau 8082
    EXT 3008
    IMP Classics 892
    Musicbank 6030
    Berlin Classics 0092712
    CBS Records 45676
    Philips Classics 412994
    Florilegium 421085
    CBS Records 44648
    Hunt Productions 572
    Arlecchino 163
    Laserlight 35851
    Stradivari 6082
    Stradivari 6123
    Discover 920201
    Amado Classics 01038
    History 205242
    Esso
    Deutsche Grammophon 423086
    Virgin 61678