Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 (K. 550) is one of his best known masterpieces. It is unusual for Mozart in that it is one of only two minor-key symphonies that he wrote. Symphony No. 25 is known as the “Little G Minor” while No. 40 is known as the “Great G Minor”. Symphony No. 40 was written in 1788.
Sinfini Music has created an overview of the symphony and a very useful 8-minute podcast that serves as a listening guide to Symphony No. 40. If you scroll down either page, you will see two playlists that have been developed with No. 40 in mind: what to listen to next (it includes the symphony), and an “if you liked that, you’ll probably like this” playlist (both via Spotify, if you’re into that).
The page for Mozart’s Symphony No 40 on Wikipedia provides a surprising detailed description and a full performance of the symphony by the Fulda Symphonic Orchestra (other works performed by the orchestra are available via Wikimedia Commons here).
If you would like to see the symphony performed, have the bandwidth, and are willing to sign up for a free account, the Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Sir Simon Rattle is offering a free concert featuring Mozart Symphonies 39, 40, and 41 until the end of 2015. Perennially available for free on the website is a program featuring Schumann Symphony No 1 and Brahms Symphony No 1.
If you click on the Berlin Philharmonic links above, you’ll have an opportunity to set up a free account and have access to the free materials on the website, which are substantial (mainly artist interviews and children’s concerts). When you register, you’ll have to go to your email inbox and confirm your registration. Registering means you will receive regular emails on upcoming concerts, most of which require a paid subscription (for a week, a month, a year as desired; student and music teacher discounts available). If you will find such emails annoying, under Settings (the gears), then My Account (key), there is an Email Newsletter box where you can click “do not send.” However, the emails do include interesting information on the music being presented on the programs.
Do be aware there will be a delay between registering and getting your email (maybe five minutes) and another delay as they set up the account. And you may need to refresh a program page to get the little “play” arrow. If you are patient with the site, you will be rewarded.
Once you get to the music, if your internet is fast enough (you can check on this page; scroll down), the audio and video are gorgeous. Here’s a trailer for Symphony No 40 with the Berlin Philharmonic.
No time for website wrangling? Here’s the full first movement on YouTube performed by the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra.
I hope you’ll have an opportunity to listen to this fascinating and fiery symphony! Let us all know what you think.