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Mozart's 'Jupiter': A Symphony of Light?

Author(s): Ian Woodfield

Source: The Musical Times, Vol. 147, No. 1897 (Winter, 2006), pp. 25-46
Published by: Musical Times Publications Ltd.
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Mozart's 'Jupiter': a symphony of light?

For many years scholars have puzzled over the celebrated conclusion
to Mozart's career as a the scale and
symphonic composer. Indeed,

originality of the fugal finale of K. 5 51 raise many questions, notably:

what led Mozart to conceive such amovement? At the risk of joining the end
of a very long queue, I should like to propose a new conjecture. This has two
related parts: (i) that against the background of his growing association with
the performance of Handel oratorios in Vienna, he derived the themes for
the last movement of K. 551 from the aria 'Father of Heav'n' which comes at
the start of Act III of Judas Maccabaeus; (ii) that his reason for doing so was
because the text of this aria contains imagery strongly redolent of Masonic
ideals. The related and much debated question of the purpose of his last three

symphonies will not be considered

here, but ifmy hypothesis is true, then the

composer perhaps had something rather out of the ordinary inmind for what
was to be his last work.
I shall a thematic as
begin by presenting comparison and, always in such
cases, the reader will have to make up his or her own mind as to whether the
claimed relationships are credible or not. A sceptic might easily dismiss them
as random similarities of the kind that constantly occur in any generally

accepted lingua franca. The resemblance between the four-note theme of the
i. Alec
Hyatt King: Mozart in finale of K.551 and the opening of the aria 'Father of Heav'n' was noted in
retrospect: studies in criticism
and bibliography (Oxford,
passing by Alec Hyatt King in his list of composers who made use of this
motif in their works.11 suggest, however, that Mozart derived from this aria
1955), p.264. A fragment
with the four-note theme was all five themes that are eventually combined in the fugal finale (ex.i). The
identified by Alan Tyson as
to the
resemblance is least exact in the case of theme four, with its characteristically
perhaps belonging
finale of K.551. See Alan
Baroque outline. The fact that these five themes come together in the famous
studies of the
Tyson: Mozart:
contrapuntal climax raises the question of compositional method. It is not
autograph (Cambridge,
Mass. & London, 1987), likely that Mozart could have created the dazzling display which concludes
p. 143. In his catalogue of the symphony from elements that he had not previously
the sketches, Ulrich Konrad investigated with
to their combinational It seems more
terms it
'Kontrapunktische regard possibilities. likely that he first
Aufzeichnung in C'. See worked out a cell, inwhich the combination of the themes was demonstrated
Ulrich Konrad: Mozarts
Studien ^u den (ex.2). The character of these motifs would thus be determined not only by
the nature of any original source, but also
Werkautographen, Ski^en by the stringent contrapuntal
und Entw?rfen
requirements of the final section.
1992), p.276. While noting
identification he is Itwas the perceptive Tovey who noticed that there was something unusual
cautious, pointing out that about the themes in the 'Jupiter':
there are many differences
In the last we reach what is an
between the finale of K.551 symphony, really the final subtlety of immensely experienced
and this sketch. artist are not
[...] Most of the themes
only formal, but are actual formulas. There are

the musical Times Winter 2006 25

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S) -a 3 ^


Look with
an_ bles
eye - sing_down
of_ And

<^ ij.
?ip ^^
of_Heav'n nj.
-we Thy
^> J -^fgf

^^ ^ PF ^

Fa 4
m ?e
i 2 3 5
I Theme Theme
Theme Theme Theme

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^ m

mm i^^ p^?

^ p? ?0?


who mistake this for a failure to achieve

originality. They,
as Mark Twain pointed
out, whistle or hum the melodies to show their culture, 'and
during operatic performances,
their funerals do not occur often enough.'2

The formulaic nature of the thematic content is of course parti

of K.551

cularly evident in the finale, with its strong preponderance of scales and
four-note themes.

With all the themes freely invertible, itwas possible to write permutation

counterpoint of the kind described by Leonard Ratner.3 His numerical re

presentation of the permutations is shown in fig. 1.

violin 1

violin 2



double bass

Fig.i: Permutation in the finale of K. 5 51

counterpoint fugal

2. Cited
by Elaine R.
Sisman inMozart: theJupiter
Another point of comparison between the aria and the finale is that the
sequence in which these five themes appear during the course of Mozart's
Symphony (Cambridge,
1993), P-33 movement, matches come in Handel's
the order in which aria. If the
3. Leonard G. Ratner: suggested thematic borrowing did indeed take place, then it represents a
'Ars combinatoria: chance
compositional approach without obvious precedent inMozart's oeuvre, not
and choice in eighteenth
century music', in Studies perhaps problematic assumption per se, in view of the unique nature of this
in eighteenth-century music,
edd. HC Robbins Landon &
No amount of historical can ever prove a
Roger E. Chapman (London, background hypothesis of this
1970), pp. 343-63. kind, yet Mozart's circumstances in the summer of 1788 at least provide

the musical times Winter 2006 27

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2 8 Mozart 'sJupiter ':a symphony of light?

a context. In the three main issues will be

plausible following discussion
covered: (i) the growth in Vienna of the tradition of performing Handel
oratorios; (ii) Mozart's involvement with these performances and with Judas
Maccabaeus in particular; (iii) a musical on a leaf containing
sketches that could suggest some kind of connection with this
oratorio. Almost all of the documentary evidence concerning Mozart's asso
ciation with the Viennaperformance traditions of Handel oratorios has long
been known, but the discovery by Rachel Cowgill of a hitherto unknown

manuscript arrangement of Judas Maccabaeus attributed to Mozart provided

a new and context.4
The pivotal figure in the promotion of Handel oratorios inVienna during
the 1780s was van Swieten. His taste for the works of Handel and Bach
to host were held at noon every
inspired him private performances which
was an eyewitness to some of these informal sessions:
Sunday. Joseph Weigl
At that time the Director of Studies was Baron van Swieten, who was at once a great
connoisseur of music & had himself studied with the famous Prussian
at 12 noon there was music at his apartments.
Kapellmeister Kirnberger. Every Sunday Only
Haendel & Graun, & the earliest & most famous masters were
compositions by Bach, by
at the Salieri, Starzer, Teiber & the Baron sang.
given. Mozart accompanied fortepiano,
No one can this To hear Mozart most difficult scores with his
imagine pleasure. play the
own inimitable skill, & sing the while, & correct the mistakes of the others, could not but
excite the greatest admiration.5

Thesecond paragraph was expanded further by Eduard von Lannoy in his

manuscript biography of Weigl:

Those who never saw Mozart scores of 16 or more staves with inimitable
play Handelian
dexterity, and at the same time heard him sing and correct the other singers' faults, do not
know him thoroughly, for he was as great there as in his compositions. One always heard a
whole orchestra.

1780s, in the wake of the Handel commemorations

In the mid in London
4. Rachel Cowgill: 'The
Halifax Judas: an unknown and Berlin, van Swieten decided to promote performances of Handel orato
Handel arrangement by rios inVienna on a larger scale, under the patronage of a group of aristocrats
Mozart?', in The Musical
Times (Spring 2002), known as the Gesellschaft der Associierten Cavali?re. The works performed
pp.19-36. for this society are listed in fig.2.7
5.Otto Erich Deutsch:
a Handel
1786 Judas Maccab?us
Mozart: documentary
biography, 2nd edition Hasse
1787 La conversione di S. Agostino
(London, 1966), p.519. CPE
1788 Bach Die und Himmelfahrt Christi
6. ibid., p.520. H 9andel
178 Der Messias
1790 Der Messias
7. This table is taken from
H andel
Sue Morrow: Concert Alexandersfest
s Vienna: aspects Ode auf den Tag der heiligen C?cilia
life inHaydn
a Mozart
of developing musical and 1792 Requiem
social institution (Stuyvesant,
New York, 1989), p.u. Oratorios the Gesellschaft der Associierten Cavali?re
Fig.2: given by

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The director of this association was Joseph Starzer, and it is
first musical

very probable that in the early performances Mozart played the keyboard

continuo, as he had done at van Swieten's informal Sunday gatherings.

Following Starzer's death in 1787, Mozart took over the role as director. A
brief description has survived:

Vienna, February 1788. On this day and on March 4, Rammler's cantata Die
und Himmelfahrt Jesu Cristo in the excellent of the
composition incomparable Hamburg
Bach was at Count an orchestra of 86 in the presence
performed Esterhazy's by people
and under the direction of that great connoisseur of music, Baron van Swieten, with
the general of all the distinguished personages present. The
approbation Imperial
Hr. Mozart directed concert and had the score, and the
Royal Kapellmeister [was master]
Hr. Umlauf the Among the singers were
Imperial Royal Capellmeister played harpsichord.
Mme Lang, the tenor Adamberger, the bass Saal, [and] 30 choristers. On the 7th the same
was in the Court Theater.
piece performed Imperial Royal

as the
o? Judas Maccabaeus
The choice inaugural work of this series in
1786was influenced by the ready availability of performing materials, as this
was the one Handel oratorio to have been ar
already given in Vienna. An
rangement by Joseph Starzer himself had been performed on 21 and 23March
1779 at tne Tonk?nstler-Societ?t.9 A manuscript score, almost certainly,
associated with these performances, is in the ?sterreichische National
bibliothek (S.m.3239). It consists of four volumes, one for each of the three

acts, with an additional copy of the third act only. The titlepage of the first
volume reads: 'Judas Makkab?us / Erste Abtheilung. / Die Vermehrung der
Instrumente idest. / Fl.: Oboe. Clarinetti. Fagotti: / sind extra geschriben.'
There are in fact no parts for clarinets. These must therefore have been
written out on separate leaves, which
subsequently became separated from
the main score. Two hands are identifiable, neither of which, in the absence
of comparable material, can be identified as Starzer's.10 Whoever was re

sponsible for this arrangement, drastically the original Handel score:

about a third of itwas cut.
The connection of this source with the Starzer performances
at the
Tonk?nstler-Societ?t can be established from an extant libretto:
Machab?us / ein / geistliches Singspiel. / Nach der H?ndelischen Musik /

ausgef?hrt / in dem K. K. Theater n?chst dem K?rntnerthor / von der

errichteten Tonk?nstler-Gesellschaft / zuWien. / 1779.' Apart from a small
8. number of later additions in the score, the libretto coincides exactly with the
reduced text of the Viennese manuscript. Its provenance - it once belonged
9. ibid., p.246.
to the Haydn-Verein, successor to the Tonk?nstler-Societ?t ? reinforces this
10.Andreas Holschneider:
'Die "Judas-Macchab?us" link. Andreas Holschneider suggested that these performances were
der ?sterreich
ischen Nationalbibliothek', in
financially unsuccessful, bringing in only modest receipts. This, he argued,
why it was almost a quarter of a century before there was another
Mozart-Jahrbuch 1960?1961,
p.174 complete Handel oratorio performance at the Society, the apparent

the musical times Winter 2006 29

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3o Mozart 'sJupiter ':a symphony of light?

' j J ?.ru *=
PP P?P p,!
ft- Va ter und_Gott!
WirL? Se-gen
- blick her - ab

?p=p y >plp^J- J^ mm -
I???? Va ter und Gott! Wirf ei- nen Se -
gen blick her - ab

b- ? r ss^?
Va ter und Gott! ^*pp? Wirf ei- nen Se - blick
gp? her - ab

> r e ^^ m5?? ?rjv ? J* >

\h- Va - ter und Gott! Wirf ei-nen Se- gen-blick her - ab

Ex. 3 a Ex.3b

success of the works the Gesellschaft der Associierten

promoted by

Of the three later additions to the Viennese score of JudasMaccabaeus, the

third is relevant to the present In Starzer's 1779
investigation. original
version, the fine aria 'Father of Heav'n' was omitted from the start of Act
III, which began instead with the following recitative: 'Seht! seht! es bricht
aus dem Altar hervor'. This is how the libretto starts, and it is
quite clear from
the first page of this recitative in the manuscript score that this was indeed
the intended beginning: it is headed 'Judas Maccab?us. Dritte Abtheilung'.
At some later date, however, a short chorus was added to the start of this act.
Itwas on a four-sheet
gathering which was stitched in at the front of
Volume III. The chorus has the text:

Vater und Gott, von deinem Gnadenthron,

wirf einen
Segenblick herab,
auf unser Opfer hier.

This is an abbreviated translation of the first section of Handel's aria text,

and it is immediately apparent that the chorus is a version of the first (or last)
section of the aria.Whoever responsible for this rather undistinguished
on Handel's
piece of work based his version string parts, adding four pairs of
wind instruments: flutes, oboes, bassoons and horns. The manner inwhich
the chorus is derived from Handel's solo vocal line is surprising. The melodic
line sometimes appears at the top of the texture (ex.3a); at other times it
migrates the inner voices (ex.3b). The ending is abrupt since the
final ritornello was cut and replaced with one bar of tonic, followed by a
ii. ibid., p.179. dominant seventh leading directly into the following authentic recitative.

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Despite its shortcomings, the newly-composed chorus at least restored to the
a rather essential moment in the original story: the invocation of God's
on the new altar.
It is not possible to establish exactly when this chorus was added to the
score o? Judas Maccabaeus inVienna. As aworking hypothesis we might as
sume that Starzer's 1779 score was used for the 1786 and
with the new at that stage, but in the absence of a libretto there
supplied piece
is no proof. Not until 1794 is there firm evidence of its existence. In that

year Vienna saw a further performance of the oratorio, which, according to

Zinzendorf, took place on 15April at the residence of Prince Lichnowsky. A
libretto in the ?sterreichische Nationalbibliothek (O.T.4, 7347g) relates to
this performance, and it shows the inauthentic chorus in place.12 This version
of the opening of Act III is also seen in amanuscript score o? Judas Macca
baeus in the Staatsbibliothek Preussicher Kulturbesitz in Berlin (Mus. ms.
9014/2), which
begins with the chorus Vater und Gott' and continues with
the recitative. Since the manuscript once to Georg P?lchau, who
also owned the original scores of Mozart's re-orchestrations of Acis and

Galatea, Alexander's feast and Ode to St Cecilia, Holschneider suggested that

this score once belonged to van Swieten. None of this demonstrates Mozart's

knowledge of the aria 'Father of Heav'n', but what it does do is to suggest

that this aria in its arrangement as a chorus occupied a distinctive
position in
the early Viennese no
reception o? Judas Maccabaeus later than 1794 and
as as
perhaps early 1786.
Some time in the late 18th or early 19th century, confusion arose over the

authorship of the Viennese arrangement of Judas Maccabaeus, and at this

was attributed toMozart. Manuscript copies which state
point it erroneously
this as uncontested fact include the Berlin score mentioned above and one in
the Bibliothek der Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde inWien (Signatur III /
1890).13 The latter includes an appendix of the movements omitted in the
Starzer version, with the following comment: St?cke aus der
original Partitur
enthaltend, welche in verstehender
Bearbeitung Mozarts
ganz hinweg gelassen worden sind'.14 Following this tradition, Ludwig
Hellwig's 1820 keyboard score is entitled: 'Handel's Oratorium / Judas Mac
cab?us / nach Mozarts Bearbeitung / im / Clavier Auszuge / von / Ludvig

Hellwig.' This edition presents the complete oratorio rather than the ab
12. Reinhold Bernhardt: breviated Starzer version, with the inauthentic chorus after the opening aria
'Van Swieten und seine Judas of Act III. The text is as follows:
in Zeitschrift f?r Musik
wissenschaft xvii (1935), p.540.
Jehovah, sieh von deinem Thron,
i3.ibid.,pp.539-4o. erbarmend auf dein Volk herab.
'The Halifax Der schon so manche Wohlthat
14. Cowgill: gab,
n.n. uns der
Judas\ gieb langen Knechtschaft Lohn!

the musical Times Winter 2006 31

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32 Mozart 'sJupiter ;a
symphony of light?

Dann t?nt dir deines Volkes Dank,

dann die Lust
jeder Brust
jauchzenden Triumphgesang.

Vater und Gott, von deinem Gnadenthron,
wirf einen herab,
auf unser Opfer hier.

Handel's text was in effect now distributed between the aria and the
chorus. Surprisingly, with this extra material to play around with, reference
to the 'Feast of Lights', which is the whole point of the opening of Act III in
the original oratorio, is omitted altogether.
In the preface to the Chrysander edition of Judas Maccabaeus (1866),
reference is made to this German tradition, in relation to the
added chorus:

air of the third part, 'Father of heaven in the German

opening [...] is succeeded vocal
scores a chorus on the same theme ? a clever work first printed in
by by Ludwig Hellwig,
the edition published him in 1820, and to follow Mozart's treatment.
by professing

As can now be seen, this was incorrect in several respects. The chorus in fact
dates back to the Viennese reception history of the oratorio in the late 18th
century, and was not composed by Hellwig himself. To be fair to him, his own
not claimed chorus followed Mozart's treat
preface had explicitly that the
ment, only that his edition was 'nach Mozarts Bearbeitung', doubtless fol
one of the In
lowing manuscript copies inscribed with this false information.
all of this we see the steady growth of a legend with Mozart replacing Starzer
as the author of the Viennese arrangement. That his name should over time
have become associated with this piece is hardly surprising in view of his
other Handel arrangements.
Mozart's hitherto rather shadowy association with Judas Maccabaeus
became international news Cowgill's discoveryRachel
suddenly following
of a full score containing an unknown arrangement of the oratorio with
additional wind parts attributed toMozart. The appetising words on the title
von W: A: Mozart'.
page were: 'Mit Begleitungen f?r Blasinstrumenten
When the initial furore had died down, it became clear that a number of
to be addressed: was the arrangement by Mozart and could the
questions had
attribution be supported through analysis of the musical character and tech
nical quality of the arranger's work? If it was not by Mozart, was this
nonetheless the Viennese
arrangement that had given rise to the persistent
a work existed? All these issues were carefully considered
legend that such
by Cowgill in a preliminary article on her discovery.15 She concluded that
15. ibid. while Mozart's authorship could not be entirely ruled out, itwas likely that a

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less skilled musician was
responsible, possibly working with preliminary
materials left by Mozart, but in any event using theMessiah arrangement as
a model.

It seemed initially that the absence of any sketch material relating toJudas
Maccabaeus inMozart's autograph legacy an obstacle to this
might provide
idea, but there is in fact one tiny fragment, which is especially tantalising in
the context of my hypothesis that themes in the finale of K. 5 51were derived
from this oratorio. Only days after completing his last
symphony, Mozart
noted in his catalogue the completion of a set of six canons.16 On a sheet
one of these (K.558) iswritten the
containing autograph sketch material for
beginning of the four-part chorus 'Thine be the glory', which comes shortly
after the aria 'Father of Heav'n'. The brace contains six staves, the first four
of which have the clefs appropriate to a four-part choir. The two staves under
this are blank. Only the first two-and-a-half bars of the soprano part are
written out. On the remainder of this page are several
autograph sketches for
K.558. On the other side of this sheet, again inMozart's hand, are three short
but complete contrapuntal pieces in 16th-century style. In the index of the
NMA edition of the sketches, the source of 'Thine be the as
glory' is listed
Joshua, its original location in Handel.17 Although the Handel fragment is
assumed in the NMA to be inMozart's hand, this was questioned by Richard
Kramer.18 He tentatively suggested that the hand might instead be that of
Franz Jacob Freyst?dler, who arrived in Vienna on 13May 1786 to take a
course in counterpoint with Mozart. The leaf itself is
impossible to date
precisely. The three polyphonic fragments could have been written down
some time earlier, studies in 1782. Yet the appear
perhaps during Mozart's
ance of hand it is his) together with Mozart's use of the sheet
Freyst?dler's (if
to sketch material for K.558
16. Alan Tyson & Albi certainly suggests that the leaf could have been
lying around the composer's work-room some time
shortly before, during or
Rosenthal: Mozarts
eigenh?ndiges IVerk
immediately following the completion of the symphony. This fragment is
ver?eichnis, Neue Mozart
Ausgabe, Serie X, thus rather frustrating in our quest to demonstrate some kind of connection
33, Band 1
Werkgruppe between Mozart and the oratorio Judas Maccabaeus around 1788. In the end
(Kassel, 1991).
no firm conclusions can be drawn from it.
17. Ulrich Konrad: Ski\\en,
If this fragment merely tantalises, there is at least some
Neue Mozart Ausgabe, Serie general support in
X, Werkgruppe 30, Band 3 the historical record for the idea that late in his life Mozart started to find

inspiration for his own compositions

(Kassel, 1998). in the oratorios of Handel.
18. Richard A. Kramer: Novello records the views of Mozart's son, that his father 'contemplated
review inNotes lvii
writing oratorios in the style of Handel'.19 Maximilian Stadler described how
(September 2002),
pp. 188-93. Mozart had derived themes directly from Handel for use in the
19. Rosemary Hughes, ed.:
A Moiartpilgrimage: Just as Mozart took the motive for the Kyrie from a Handel oratorio, so too he took the
the travel diaries of Vincent & motive for the from Handel's Anthem for the Funeral of Queen
'Requiem' Caroline,
in the year 1737 [...] He found a very
Mary Novello in theyear 1829 composed apt idea for a requiem in this anthem; used
it as some sheets [now
(London, 1955), p.113. lost] among his papers testified; worked it out in his own
style; added

the musical times Winter 2006 33

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34 Mozart's a
Jupiter': symphony of light?

the Kyrie in the manner

suggested by Handel's idea; and then, when he received the
commission for the Requiem, he sought out his old sketches, put everything into his new

score, and it all in

developed masterly style.20

Christoph Wolff suggests that Mozart selected from Handel 'individual,

key ideas', which he then developed independently.21 Any thematic transfer
of this kind between an oratorio aria and a symphony would constitute a
much more striking crossover, but the compositional procedure would have
been essentially the same. It is also worth noting that Stadler implied that this
thematic mining of Handel had taken place some time before 1791, and that
Mozart was making use of 'old' materials.

If the hypothesis that Mozart used 'Father of Heav'n' as a source for

the themes of the K.551 finale is valid, the further question would then
arise as towhether he had any specific reason for choosing this particular

piece. One possibility is that he saw in this text a vivid expression of Masonic

symbolism. Itwould indeed be hard to find in the libretto o? Judas Macca

baeus (or for that matter else inHandel) a text so full of
anywhere appropriate
Father of Heav'n! from Thy eternal throne,
Look with an eye of down,
While prepare with holy rites,
To solemnise the feast of lights.
And thus our grateful hearts employ;
And inThy praise
This altar raise,
With carols of triumphant joy.

The background to the text is the Feast of Dedication, otherwise known

as the Feast of In order to undermine the Jewish faith, Antiochus IV
had ordered the Temple at Jerusalem to be dedicated to another god:
Not sent an old man of Athens to the Jews to from
long after this, the king compel depart
the laws of their fathers, and not to live after the laws of God:
And to also the in Jerusalem, and to call it the of
pollute temple temple Jupiter
(2 Maccabees, VI, 1?2)

Having driven out the Syrians, Judas Maccabaeus purged the Temple by
In Handel's the Israelitish Man en
pulling down the pagan altar. libretto,
courages the destruction:
Ye of God,
Down, down with the altars, down;
Hurl Jupiter Olympius from his throne,
Christoph Wolff: Mo?art's Nor reverence Bacchus with his ivy crown
Requiem: historical and And rod.
analytical studies (Oxford,
1994), pp. 78-80. Having cleansed the Temple of any residual relics of paganism, the Jews
21. ibid.,
set about building a new altar:

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Then took whole stones to the law, and built a new altar according to the
they according

And upon the altar they burned incense, and the lamps that were upon the candlesticks they
lighted, that they
might give light in the temple.
(i Maccabees, IV, 47,50)

was the first to record that the commemoration of this eight-day

act of rededication had become known as the Feast of
Lights. An eight
branch candlestick (known as the Hanukkah a
lamp) is placed in window
near a door, and one additional candle is lit for each so that
day of the festival,
is a of is
by the end there brilliant blaze candlelight. This the feast celebrated
in Handel's text, and it is hard to imagine that Mozart could have missed so
concentrated expression of Masonic imagery: the figure of the supreme
being ('Father of Heav'n'); the all-seeing eye above, which radiates light
downwards on tomankind ('Look with an eye of blessing down'); the prepa
ration necessary to progress through the various degrees of the order ('while
we prepare with
holy rites'); the symbolic burning of specified numbers of
lights ('to solemnise the feast of lights'); the building of an altar ('this altar

raise'). In addition to these specific resonances, however, there could hardly

be amore evocative expression of what was a central Masonic objective: the

progression from darkness into light. One phrase inHandel's libretto, 'Look
with an eye of blessing down', would have had an especially strong signifi
cance for amember of one of the Viennese
lodges. The 'all-seeing eye' re
presents deity, but in Vienna itwas additionally interpreted
as a
symbol of
the universal moral law and its expression in good, enlightened government.
As such, itmade a powerful symbol of the In the
Josephian enlightenment.
engraving Triumph of Emperor Joseph's liberal idea, for example, the eye ap
pears in a double-triangle star above
Joseph II, bathing the whole scene in
If Mozart became interested in 'Father of Heav'n' for this reason, then the
finale of K. 551might itself have been intended in some way as an expression
of Masonic symbolism. The belief that the finale could have such conno
22. inMaynard
Solomon: Mozart: a a
tations has history. In his book on the Mozart operas, Dent discussed this
(London, 1995), p.333. possibility and included the following off-hand comment as a footnote: 'Mr
23. Edward J.Dent: Mozarts Herbert J. Ellingford, F. R. C. O., informs me that the last movement of the
operas, 2nd edition (London, is Masonic.'23
'Jupiter' Symphony incontestably
This isolated
and unsupported assertion carried no weight.
24. Alfred Einstein: Moiart,
Only after the publication of Einstein's celebrated did the idea
his character, his work monograph
(London, 1946)^.245. that Mozart's last symphonies might have Masonic overtones gain wider
was at
25. Katharine Thomson: currency.24 This theory developed greater length by Katharine Thom
'Mozart and Freemasonry', son.25 Her aim was to demonstrate that a number of musical characteristics
inMusic & Letters lvii (1976),
to be found in Masonic are also in Mozart's mature
pp.25?46; The Masonic thread overtly pieces present
inMoiart (London, 1977). instrumental compositions, and that aMasonic 'thread' thus runs through a

the musical times Winter 2006 35

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36 Mozart's a
Jupiter': symphony of light?

oeuvre. She discussed the three last sym

significant part of the composer's
context of the
phonies in the composer's difficult personal circumstances in
the summer of 1788, arguing that they should be viewed as a 'trilogy', and
that the full impact of K.551 is lost when heard in isolation: 'To appreciate

fully the message of confidence and triumph of this symphony, it is necessary

to hear all three in succession.'26
The chief difficulty with this field of study is not that Masonic thinking is

inherently unlikely
to have
an extra-musical influence on some of
Mozart's instrumental compositions, but that it is so difficult to define its
extent and significance, since all the features that might be identified as
Masonic were part of the common currency of 18th-century musical
no means of the one from the other, Thomson
language. With distinguishing
inevitably found that the Masonic 'thread' of her title wound extensively
through Mozart's instrumental works. Clearly, however, if the thesis pro
posed in the present study is correct, her intuition that K. 5 51 is work with
Masonic symbolism was very well founded. In her recent on the
'Jupiter', Elaine Sisman, while critical of
some of Thomson's ideas, re
mained open to the of further Masonic interpretations of the

The proposal that Handel's aria 'Father of Heav'n' was the source of the
thematic material of the finale of K.551 provides it with a hidden verbal
'text'. The two central themes which dominate the movement are 'Father of
Heav'n' and 'Look with an eye of down'. The latter in particular is
It acts as a in combination with
all-pervasive. unifying device, appearing
both the main subjects, and it rounds off every main section (fig.3).

bars key
19-27 C unison first statement
64-70 D dominant in canon
77-80 G combined with themes 3, 4 ?Si 5
135-45 G in contrary motion

151-57 G over codetta

158-225 extensive melodic, and tonal
Development rhythmic
the theme, always preceding or
a statement of the four-note theme
262-68 G tonic preparation; in canon
276-78 C combined with themes 3,4 & 5
334-44 C in contrary motion
C over codetta
350-56 pedal
Coda 357-60 F in contrary motion

385?402 combined with themes 1, 3,4 & 5

26. ibid., p.127.
C unison statement
409?18 closing
27. Sisman: Moiart: the
p.35. The use of the scale theme in the Finale of K.551
Jupiter Symphony, Fig.3:

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It is not likely that there was any detailed programmatic intent on Mozart's

part, but to anyone in the know the ubiquitous use of this theme would send
an the finale is symbolically bathed in the 'light' of
unambiguous message:
Divine Providence streaming down from the 'eye', rather like the shafts of
so inMasonic
sunlight popular iconography.
If this seems rather fanciful, it isworth recalling that inDie Zauberfl?te
Mozart also acknowledged the concept of the all-seeing eye. At the start of
the trial scene, which is replete with Masonic symbolism of all kinds, he com
a chorale two men in black armour with fiery helmets. The
posed prelude for
choice of a Lutheran chorale was
perhaps intended
to reflect the Masonic

respect for all religions, but of all the available melodies, Mozart picked one
of which the first line, both inmeaning and structure, is virtually identical to
that of Handel's aria and the Viennese chorus:
Ach Gott, / von Himmel / sieh' darein.

of Heav'n, / from an eye of

thy eternal
Father throne, / look with blessing down.

Vater und Gott, / von deinem Gnadenthron, / wirf einen herab.


It seems likely that Mozart first encountered this chorale melody in 1782,
while studying Kirnberger's Kunst der reinen Satzes in derMusik, inwhich it
serves as a cantus firmus.28 A of a
string quartet inwhich Mozart
placed this tune (in B minor) in the viola line under the 'cantus
firmus' is thought to date from this period.29 There is no reason to suppose
that at that point his interest was anything other than as a student of counter

point, yet nine years later the melody reappears in Die Zauberfl?te, in a
location with undoubted symbolic significance. Interestingly, it seems that
Mozart first considered a different tune. One of the sketches for the opera
includes amelody which he decided not to use, followed immediately by the
well-known chorale tune, now into C minor as in the Did
transposed opera.30
he change his mind specifically to allow for the
symbolic expression of the
Masonic reverence for the supreme being and the 'all-seeing eye '?Were such

concepts of personal importance to the composer and those in his immediate


In considering the possibility that other elements of Masonic

in the finale of K. 5 51, the con
symbolism appear following discussion
centrates on: (i) Masonic 'knocks'; (ii) the use of counterpoint; (iii)
28. Kramer: review inNotes, of darkness into light, or chaos into order; (iv) number
symbolism. The idea that a three-note 'knocking' rhythm might represent an
29. NMA: Skiiien, initiate rapping on the doorin order to gain admission to the brotherhood,
Skb 1782g /recto.
a classic
provides example of how difficult it is to distinguish between the
30. NMA: Skiften,
Skb 1791b /fol.9 verso des
normal building blocks of late 18th-century style and the deployment of
Konvoluts. those same features as 'topics', in other words as elements of musical

the Musical TIMES Winter 2006 37

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3 8 Mozart 'sJupiter ':a symphony of light?

Horns in C

6- P: Elf
Trumpets in C

.4" }' g If
Timpani J. -M.I


language which have the specific intention of encouraging extra-musical

associations in the minds of listeners. Where the context is unambiguous, as
in some passages inDie Zauberfl?te, the pictorial use of rhythmic fragments
to knocking is undisputed. Few would question that the three-fold
are In an
repetitions of the wind chords anything other than symbolic.
instrumental movement, however, it is obviously far harder to establish any
such association. In the finale of K.551, the three-note dotted rhythm is
as it forms the start of the scale theme. Only
constantly reiterated descending
in the development section is this motif to the fore and heard in
relative isolation. Here the wind/timpani choir initiates each statement of
texture as shown
the scale theme, punching decisively through the attenuated
in ex.4. There are nine statements of this knocking motif, the final one
to the recapitulation, but nowhere else in the movement is this
leading back
ever heard
in the wind /timpani choir as a distinct entity, although

obviously in
it is incorporatedlonger phrases. Whether there was the
deliberate intention here of a pictorial reference (the knocking
let alone a one (nine-fold repetition), remains very much
rhythm), symbolic
open question.
The idea that counterpoint had a special Masonic significance is an
comes from the
interesting one. A passage sometimes cited in support of this
address made by Joseph von Holzmeister on the occasion of
Haydn's entry
into the Zur wahren Eintracht Lodge on 11February 1785:

The happy of music is emotional and One all the

purpose pleasurable. gathers together
marvellous instruments of the Art, and one executes the most songful
of melodies: and yet,
to which it is assigned, does not also heed the
if every instrument, apart from the duties
effect of the other instruments, at times his own to that of the others, the
subduing strength
of the whole will be missed, and instead of moving and delightful music there will be
an of regulated but tones.31
impossible cacophony unpleasant

Holzmeister was using this musical analogy to praise the benefits of awell
31. H C Robbins Landon:
regulated, harmonious brotherhood, free from schism. Good ensemble per
Haydn Esterh?^a is an ideal worth emulating; each individual listens to what others
ij66-ij9o (London, 1978),
p. 507. are doing.

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The question of the contrapuntal style chosen by Mozart in the finale of
K. 5 51 is pertinent to any discussion of its possible Masonic symbolism. In her
recent analysis of the movement as
symphony, Elaine Sisman discussed this
a fusion of the use of the learned
galant and learned styles.32 Of the style',
she argued that a distinction should be made between 'Classical counter
on 'motivic imitation,
point', which depends together with other thematic
and motivic combinations, counter melodies, and and fugue
or which uses stile or textures.
fugato imitation, legato alia breve Only the
latter, she argues, 'maintains the sense of quotation or importation, whether
of something consciously archaic or learned or "elevated" \33 The first

overtly fugal passage in the finale (bars 36?52) is the only section of the
movement that could be described as being in the stile legato manner (ex.5).
It is, moreover, the only point at which Mozart's four-note subject assumes
the identity of the well-known six-note theme, which was, as Susan Wollen
berg has shown, the basis for whole series of keyboard ricercars and fugues
in Vienna.34 This theme is thought to have been derived from the plainsong

hymn 'Lucis creator' (ex.6). As Mozart had studied counterpoint with the
help of Fux, the possibility that he made the connection with the 'light' of the
text cannot be ruled out. The short stile
plainsong legato passage in K. 5 51
could be seen as a stylistic homage to this fugal tradition (restoring the two
notes so it is a
lopped off the theme in the four-note version), but if only brief
acknowledgement. No trace of the cool, cerebral traditions of ricercar-style

writing is to be found in the remainder of the movement, which, even in its

most intricate sections, is dominated
contrapuntally by the thematic lan
guage of the Here he achieved a remarkable
galant. truly synthesis: dazzling
displays of fugal and canonic virtuosity combine the alia breve subject with
galant themes, and these are offset by brilliant C major trumpets and drums
and unison scale The intentions remain
flamboyant gestures. composer's

unknowable, but the sheer intensity of the final fugal section does suggest
something exceptional.
Masonic initiation rituals are concerned
with the progression of the ap
32. Sisman: Moiart: the a state of darkness into one of
plicant from light. Candidates have their eyes
Jupiter Symphony, pp.68?74.
covered; they move from darkened rooms into lighted ones. Masonic
iconography often represents this idea visually by directing the viewer's eye
34. Susan Wollenberg: 'The a dark
new on through foreground to the light to come, as in the frontispiece of Die
Jupiter theme: light
its creation', in The Musical Zauberfl?te.35 A well-known musical representation of the progression into
Times cxvi (1975), pp.781-83.
light using the highly apposite concepts of dissonance and harmony comes
in The Creation. In the words of Daniel Heartz:
'Haydn's God granted light
35. Reproduced inDaniel
Heartz: Mozart's operas to the world in the Masonic of C a
(Berkeley, Los Angeles &
key major.'36 Here, of course, there is text
to the and it would be to seek to
Oxford, 1990), pp.262, clarify imagery, quite wrong identify the
from dissonance to consonance as a Masonic
topic in routine
36. ibid., p.269. instances. Only when the character of a dissonant passage seems

the Musical times Winter 2006 39

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40 a
Mozart's Jupiter': symphony of light?

Violin I

ffmL jfr f m?
Violin II

IP? ^m


Double Bass

p?w p^? ^ ^m m

1*" \\m 0

??? ftfM ??


Lu - Cre - a tor_ - ti - me_

eis_ op


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^Jk_^L_ , no_t_




extreme or its location seem useful to consider the pos

unexpected does it
sibility of extra-musical pictorial representation.
One passage in the finale of K.5 51 does stand out as a
potential depiction
of the darkness-to-light or chaos-to-order It is the passage of
what has aptly been termed 'wild' tonality, which occurs shortly after the
start of the (ex.7). In structural terms it replaces and greatly
abbreviates the long section in the exposition that includes the first fugal
treatment of the subject. It is very rare in Mozart to find such extreme and
concentrated levels of dissonance. Towards the end of the passage a sense of
tonal disorientation builds up, and only the perception that the music con
tinues to move through
cycle of fifths, however bizarrely, reassures the
listener that, if the tonal objective is for the moment wholly obscure, at least
the procedures are still comprehensible. The sense of strangeness is further

the musical times Winter 2006 41

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42 a
Mozart's Jupiter': symphony of light?

use of a Elaine Sisman

enhanced by the 'learned-style' counter-melody.
viewed this passage as an attempt to express Kant's rhetoric of the sublime:

Writers after Kant his ideas on the sublime to music, and tried to come up with
musical for and enormous One of the
equivalents overwhelming grandeur complexity.
best of these was Michaelis, who Kant's aesthetic theories to music
a comment of late-eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century he
representative thinking,
identified the sublime in music as either so great that it almost
arising 'by uniformity
excludes or too much in many
variety' 'by diversity [...] (as polyphonic compositions
[...]) [so that] the imagination
easily and calmly integrate the diverse ideas into a
coherent whole without strain.'37

She argued that in this work Mozart 'magnified to specific rhetorical ends,
the full union of figures for intellect and imagination'. In doing so, 'he cap
tured the essence of the mathematical sublime.' Of the characteristics of this

passage, 'The passage is disordered and obscure, massive and re

she wrote:

(all terms that appear in discussions of the sublime). It is also

fleeting: Mozart magnifies the drama of magnitude by denying us the leisure
to it.'38
Perhaps the striking feature of the dissonant passage is its location.
A mere eight bars after the recapitulation, conventionally the moment for a
measured re-establishment of the tonic after the peregrinations of the

development, Mozart undermines the security of the tonal return to C major.

Both because of its exceptional dissonance and because of its remarkable

situation, the possibility of extra-musical symbolism is a real one. If Mozart

was attempting to depict the Masonic progression from darkness into light,
then this passage clearly represents the state of disorder and obscurity. In
Masonic ritual the moment of revelation usually occurs in the form of a

dazzling burst of light. Haydn dispels the shadows of chaos instantaneously

with a great chord of C Major at the words: 'And God said: Let there be
Light. And there Light.' In similar fashion the clouds of dissonance, that
so a fashion in this passage of 'wild'
have been piling up in disturbing
an instant, to be
tonality, vanish in replaced by the language of consonance,
which dominates the remainder of the movement.
It is also worth considering whether the final fugue should be seen as
another depiction of this progression from disorder to order. Sisman, argu

ing for the incomprehensibility of the sublime, wrote:

Finally, the coda of the 'Jupiter' finale [...] is a peroration encapsulating and reversing the

dual exordium, from chaos to the confident closure of the galant. For
moving contrapuntal
a brief span, it is a simultaneous of nearly every one of the many
frustratingly presentation
themes and motives of the movement
a double fugue
on the first and second theme, a
canon on every one of the a reassertion of the four-note
important motives, triumphant
37- Sisman: Mozart: the its measured tread in every bar. But the mass of
theme, present simultaneously
Jupiter Symphony, p. 76. at all levels and in all instruments, with the relentless
fragments, rhythmic background
of the four whole notes, cannot be taken in. It reveals vistas of infinity.
38. ibid., p.77. contrapuntal

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The coda thus creates a exhaustion born of sheer magnitude. It makes vivid the
mathematical sublime.39

characterisation of the celebrated contrapuntal tour de force as 'a
mass a
of writhing fragments' and 'contrapuntal chaos' is striking, and if
Masonic resonance was intended, it was a dramatic one indeed: a final
resolution of a babble worthy of the Tower of Babel into the linguistic uni
son of the descending octave theme. Yet this does not seem
convincing. The disorder is superficial characteristic; in reality, it is re
markable that so complex a thematic apotheosis is achieved with such musical

lucidity and intellectual clarity.

a part in the of
Any claim that numerical symbolism played composition
the finale of K.551 seems certain to stir up controversy, yet the use of
numbers to represent ideas in Freemasonry is universal, and it would be

wrong to the because its demonstration is so

ignore possibility merely
The number three is central to Masonry; it finds in
problematic. expression
numerous triads: the Three Degrees; the Three Knocks; the Three Tenets;
the Three Jewels; and the Three Lights. Multiples of three merely enhance
theirsignificance: 9 (3+ 3+3); 18([3+3] x 3); 27 (3X3X3);36 ([3+3] x [3+3]).
The number four was
sometimes taken to represent God. The 18th century
intrigued by the fact that God was usually a four-letter word: Zeus; Jove;

Lord; Theos; Isis; Dieu; Gott. From Judaism, Freemasonry borrowed the

tetragrammaton J H V H, representing the name of Jehovah.

Two numbers were especially associated with light: five, symbolised by the
39- ibid., p.79. and the number of days that it takes the
five-pointed star; 14, representing
40. A fascination with black disk of the new moon to be transformed by the rays of the sun into a
numbers certainly ties in
with the composer's lifelong glorious golden globe of light.
interest in ciphers, riddles As a Freemason himself, Mozart would have had at least some awareness
and word puzzles of all kinds. of the symbolic uses of number, but there is no evidence at all as to the extent
A document inMozart's
hand, which perhaps dates of his knowledge in this area, let alone the degree to which such thinking
from between February 1786 influenced compositional decisions. Yet it is clear from his letters that he
and February 1788, purports
to be a statement of his enjoyed recreational number play.4?
cash position. He notes his Itwill be worth starting with several instances where number symbolism
expenditure in a variety of
currencies: 'in the course of
is generally agreed, because of the extra-musical dramatic context. Die

Zauberfl?te has been the focus of intense numerological analysis, much of

this year [I] have disbursed
the following: 99 Imperial which probably goes beyond the bounds of plausibility, but the significance
ducats; 55 Salzburger; 33
Holland; 66 Souverains; 88 of the number three is clear throughout the plot: three ladies; three boys;
Thaler at 2 fl.30; and
beyond three temples. In certain musical too, numbers are also deployed
this another 539 fl. 56kr.'
This certainly appears to symbolically: the repeated wind chords: 3 x 3 = 9; the solemn chordal intro
show Mozart playing around duction to the chorale prelude: 3 + 6 + 3 + 6 = 18.Away from these widely
with numbers, and in a period
instances, however, the existence of number sym
not very accepted establishing
long before the
composition of K.551. bolism is very problematic: the numbers three and four are so fundamental

the musical times Winter 2006 43

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44 a
Mozart's Jupiter': symphony of light?

to not a bar anywhere

18th-century musical language that there is probably
inwhich one or other can not be discerned.
In considering whether number symbolism is present in this movement, I
have taken the view that it is very unlikely that there is any large-scale,
numerical design. There may, however, be simpler representations of ideas

by number. It is interesting, for example, that the two main themes of the
movement both have the numerical values as numbers
of notes)
associated with
their accompanying 'topic': 'Father of Heav'n' with four
notes an eye of notes
(deity), and 'Look with blessing down' with 14 (light).
The two themes add up to a thoroughly 'Masonic' 18 notes. It is hard to know
how far to take the search for number patterns that may underpin readily
audible musical depiction. In the development section, the writing is shorn
of anything other than the alternations between the alia breve theme and the
scale. Only the insistent 'knocking' rhythms intrude. The four-note theme is
now in an ethereal orchestration on
high wind instruments alone, quite
possibly with pictorial intent. But should one look further at numerical
combinations? In Pythagoran
number symbolism, much admired by Free
masons, the right-angled triangle (3:4:5) equated with morality. Were
the little wind chorales inwhich one instrument always has three notes, one
four and one five, supposed to represent this ancient equation (ex.8)? Or is
this just one of those passages in which the concision of Mozart's musical

language takes on an almost mathematical purity, entirely free from


There remains
one obvious historical question to be addressed. Was
the inauthentic title 'Jupiter', given to the symphony in the early 19th

century, the result of any vestigial knowledge of the work's

was seems to
conception? The tradition that the sobriquet English in origin
be well established. In German-speaking countries itwas usually known as
the symphony with the fugal finale. King summarised a significant amount
of circumstantial evidence:42 (i) Vincent Novello was told by Mozart's son
41. Kofi Agawu: 'Prospects
for a theory-based that the title was coined by Salomon, who died in 1815;43 (ii) itwas used in the
of the instrumental music',
programme of a concert given at the Edinburgh Music Festival on 20
inWolfgang Amad? Mozart
October 1819; (iii) itwas used in the programme of a concert given by the
essays on his life and music,
ed. Stanley Sadie (Oxford, Philharmonic on 26 March 1821; (iv) the London correspondent of
theAllgemeine Musikalische Zeitung, writing in June 1822, stated 'Das dritte

42. King: Mozart in retrospect, am 25ten M?rz, unter und Potter's Anordnung,
[Konzert] Spagnoletti's
p.264. so sehr beliebten, und unter dem Namen
begann mit der hier Jupiter
ed.: A Mozart
43. Hughes, bekannten Sinfonie in C dur von Mozart'; (v) Scholes, without citing any
pilgrimage, p.99.
source, suggests that JB Cramer may have been the originator of the title;44
44. Percy Scholes: Oxford
(vi) Muzio Clementi published an edition of the 'Jupiter' in 1823with the title
tomusic, 9th
edition (Oxford, 1955), p.689. and an illustration on the titlepage of the figure of Jupiter.

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1> &

? p


Zaslaw cites a further source, a review of Clementi's which

edition, ap

pears to confirm that Salomon coined the title:

This derives the name of Jupiter, now first publicly to it upon

splendid symphony given
like an from a orchestral who, un
any thing authority, very distinguished performer,
in conversation remarked, that such a title would well denote its
premeditatedly, majestic
We record this little anecdote for the purpose of saving Mozart from any future
it ever be supposed that he himself
charge of vanity that might be advanced, should gave
so an to one of his own works.45
high-sounding appellation

If the background to the finale of K. 5 51was as I have suggested, the title

while in a sense appropriate to the concept of deity, is not without
a certain irony. Handel's oratorio libretto is to the
packed with references
God of the Old Testament: The great IAM; The Lord of Hosts; The Lord;

Father; The Deity; Almighty Jehovah; Heaven's Almighty King; Jehovah;

God; Father of Heav'n. The figure of Jupiter appears just once, when he is
45- Zaslaw: Mozart's
hurled from his throne, as the Temple is purged of the false heathen rites of
symphonies, p.442; The
Harmonicon i (1823), p.83. Rome. With the Handel aria as its original source, the work might with more

the musical times Winter 2006 45

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?fi Mozart's a
Jupiter': symphony of light?

justification have been termed the 'Jehovah' symphony. But the classical

God, whose destruction was celebrated in the Feast of Lights, was not so
to an off-the-cuff
easily put down. Thanks, it seems, remark by Salomon, the
the which it retains to this
symphony gained Olympian imprint day.

Ian Woodfield is Professor in Historical at the The Queen's

University Belfast.

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