Berlin, at Die Stadt Paris.
The Haydn symphony (No. 14), with
which the concert of 1 December opened,
and which contains the sweetest cantabile
that has ever passed from the heart into the
speech of music, made an admirable effect,
especially by being so correctly and
beautifully performed. It is as if sweet song
had been graciously infused into the gentle
and sustained tones of the wind instruments.
It is, in my opinion, a pity only that the
humorous Haydn, inexhaustible in invention,
and who, in his mischievous fancy, teases this
instrument, then another, always considers
it worth the trouble to insert minuets into the
greater part of his symphonies. Yet one would
wish that these things, which for a decade have
found their way rather intrusively into our
symphonies (Pleyel, who follows in so many of
Haydn’s footsteps of genius, has also brought
out much in this style), would finally for
once be done away with!*
*Those who understand the art by which Haydn, Dittersdorf, Mozart, among others fashion their
minuets, may well not share the above opinion.
. . . n
[Translation by Janet Page]
The author of this review (“C. S.”) is Carl Spazier (1761–1805), a frequent contributor to the Musikalisches Wochenblatt. The review concerns a concert on Thursday, 1 Dec 1791 in the hotel the Stadt Paris in Berlin at which a symphony by Haydn was performed (on the Stadt Paris, see the entry for 5 Mar 1792). The reference to Mozart is found in a footnote to Spazier’s complaint about the ubiquity of minuets in contemporary symphonies. The footnote is signed “. . . n”, most likely Friedrich Ludwig Æmilius Kunzen (1761–1817), the principal editor of the Wochenblatt. Kunzen (if it is he) disagrees with Spazier’s opinion of symphonic minuets, writing: “Those who understand the art with which Haydn, Dittersdorf, Mozart among others fashion their minuets may well not share the above opinion.” Spazier countered with a longer article, “Über Menuetten in Sinfonien,” that appears in issue XII (91–92) of the Wochenblatt (for a translation and discussion of Spazier's article, see Zaslaw 1989, 415–16).
The identity of the Haydn symphony is uncertain. Different publishers in the eighteenth century used different numbering systems for Haydn’s symphonies, and there was not one universally recognized “No. 14” at the time. However, the review makes clear that the symphony must have a movement that could reasonably be described as “cantabile” (although that word need not appear in a tempo marking); it must have a minuet; and it must have been composed (and probably published) before 1 Dec 1791. It was also likely one of Haydn’s more recent symphonies rather than an older one. Two candidates are:
- Symphony in B-flat Major, Hob. I:85, “La Reine,” composed in 1785–86, published by Forster as “Overture” no. 14
- Symphony in G Major, Hob I:88, composed in 1787, published as no. 14 by Artaria in Vienna in 1789.
On the Musikalisches Wochenblatt, see the Notes to our entry for 10 Oct 1791. Deutsch (Dokumente, 358) includes a report from Vienna on Die Zauberflöte dated 9 Oct 1791 from page 79 in this same issue of the Wochenblatt, but he seems to have overlooked this reference to Mozart in a footnote on the very same page (X:79). Deutsch also omits a reference to Mozart in an article by Bernhard Wessely on the preceding page of this same issue (X:78; see the first entry for 5 Dec 1791). Schwob (2015, 189–190) includes the report by Spazier transcribed above, without reference to its publication on our site in 2014.
Schwob, Rainer J. ed. 2015. W. A. Mozart im Spiegel des Musikjournalismus, deutschsprachiger Raum 1782–1800. Beiträge zur Mozart-Dokumentation, vol. 1. Stuttgart: Carus Verlag.
Zaslaw, Neal. 1989. Mozart’s Symphonies: Context, Performance Practice, Reception. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
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First Published: Sun, 14 Sep 2014
Updated: Sun, 15 Jan 2023
Edge, Dexter. 2014. “A reference to Mozart’s symphonic minuets (5 December 1791).” In: Mozart: New Documents, edited by Dexter Edge and David Black. First published 14 September 2014; updated 15 January 2023. https://www.mozartdocuments.org/documents/5-december-1791b/
Edge, Dexter. 2014. “A reference to Mozart’s symphonic minuets (5 December 1791).” In: Mozart: New Documents, edited by Dexter Edge and David Black. First published 14 September 2014; updated 15 January 2023. [direct link]