The Autograph Manuscripts and Early Performances
Mozart's "Paris" Symphony, K. 297 (300a) *

By Hideo Noguchi (Kobe/Japan)

1. Introduction

Although the "Paris" Symphony was edited by Hermann Beck and published by the Neue Mozart-Ausgabe in 1957 in volume IV/11/5, the relationships among the several autograph manuscripts, the earliest editions, and the early performances have not been completely explained. This article attempts to clarify these relationships, taking into account relevant passages of Mozart's letters. In order to make much progress in this discussion, it will be necessary to treat the development and transmission of the three movements of the "Paris" Symphony as three distinct problems to be solved (see Figure 1).

2. Developments prior to the premiere

This symphony was commissioned in mid-1778 by Joseph Legros, the director of the Concert spirituel, while Mozart was staying in Paris. Several months earlier, Legros had requested of Mozart a sinfonia concertante, but the completed score (K. 297B) was lost without its ever having been copied or performed. Relations between Legros and Mozart had not been good since this incident, but the request for the symphony was made after they restored their damaged relationship. It is not hard to imagine that, because of the incident with the sinfonia concertante, Mozart was prudent this time and took self-protective measures. It seems that these measures included keeping the original manuscript of the symphony while giving Legros a fair copy manuscript, which, as Figure 1 suggests, may have been used for the premiere on June 18. The three movements as they have come down to us in the manuscript that Mozart took home with him to Salzburg (A and D, now in Berlin) comprise somewhat altered versions of the first and third movements as they appeared in the first edition (E) published in Paris by Sieber, and a middle movement in 6/8 completely unrelated to the one in 3/4 in the print. Legros's fair copy itself was lost, as Mozart had apparently anticipated. (This was more likely a set of parts than a score, and may have served as the basis for the Sieber edition.--NZ)

Let us take a closer look at the surviving autographs for the "Paris" Symphony. As for the first movement, Allegro assai (A), it seems that Mozart asked somebody to make a copy as he wrote, but that this copy was never completely finished. He may once have intended the copy (C, now in Salzburg) to be a fair copy, but later, wishing to make further revisions, he ended up having to alter both the autograph manuscript (A) and its copy (C). However, as the ideas for revisions grew more substantial, Mozart needed to rewrite the entire movement, and he started writing Allegro vivace and some wind and viola parts with solo indications.

As for the second movement, it began as an Andantino (A) in 6/8 in rondo form. Had this plan been carried to conclusion, the movement would have been 160 measures in length; however, Mozart deleted the middle part and the movement finally settled into a binary form 98 measures in length. According to his letters dated July 3 and 9, 1778, however, the tempo of the second movement at the first performance was not Andantino but Andante. Possibly the tempo was changed from Andantino to Andante when the fair copy was being made.

The only other autograph material (aside from a trumpet part mentioned below) is found on a single leaf (Z) containing measures 136-42 of the third movement. This leaf, discovered at the Einsiedeln Monastery in Switzerland by E. Hess, was reproduced and discussed by him in the Mozart-Jahrbuch for 1965. This score is considered to be a sketch, because it lacks indications of the clefs, tempo, and instrumentation, except for instructions about the bassoon joining the bassline at measures 136-38. Most important for present purposes, the first violin is tied over from the last measure on the previous page, as seen in Figure 2. This makes it reasonable to assume that the section of the movement from its beginning to measure 135 had already been written on another page that has gone missing. Nothing is written after measure 142, and the verso was left blank. Mozart may have made the fair copy used for the premiere from this unfinished manuscript. (By the courtesy of Father Lukas Helg of the Einsiedeln Monastery I confirmed that the tie, which is difficult to differentiate from the brace in the Mozart-Jahrbuch facsimile, is clearly written on the sketchleaf itself.)

3. Between the First and Second Performances

Commenting on Legros's criticism after the first performance that the second movement Andante was "too long," Mozart wrote in his letter of July 9 that "Contrary to what Legros says, it is very short." We suspect that what Mozart wanted to say here in rejecting Legros's criticism is that he had already abandoned the idea of having the long Andantino and had employed the shorter version. Following Legros's complaint, Mozart probably wrote down the Andante con moto sketch at once, using the empty verso of the abandoned sketch for the finale (Z). I think the sketch was written around this time because, as mentioned before, the last page of the interrupted manuscript of the third movement was left empty. But Alan Tyson and Neal Zaslaw claim that the order of completion of the two middle movements was the other way round. As supporting evidence they mention the fact that the second movement was almost completed, as Figure 3 shows, even if the third movement was well under way, as Figure 2 shows. That is, the second movement in 3/4 was composed prior to the third movement. However, if we believe that Figure 2 is an interrupted draft, and that the fair copy was made separately, then the chronological order reverses itself. It is difficult to believe that the version in 3/4 was composed prior to that in 6/8 because, if Mozart's goal was to satisfy Legros with a shorter, simpler movement, could he really have thought of an enormous rondo like the Andantino in 6/8 as improving upon the shorter Andante in 3/4?

Under Tyson's and Zaslaw's view it is also difficult to explain why the first edition published by Sieber in Paris in the 1780's as "Du Repertoire du Concert spirituel" contains the Andante in 3/4. Taking possible connections with Les petits riens into consideration, Tyson thinks that the sketches of two dances in the lower half of Mozart's sketchleaf (Figure 3) were composed before the premiere of that ballet on June 11, 1778; however, since this dance music is not included in Les petits riens, we don't necessarily have to connect the sketches to it; rather, we ought to consider the possibility that Mozart had a chance to compose dance music again in the summer after June 18 while he was staying in Paris. They might have been composed during the same period as the dances, K. 299c and K. 300, which are on Parisian paper but not precisely datable.

On July 3 Mozart's mother, who had traveled to Paris with him, passed away. In the letter to his father Leopold reporting this tragedy, Mozart commented on the progress of the "Paris" Symphony, and in the letter dated the 9th he wrote that the new Andante was completed. This, I believe, is the Andante in 3/4, which we can see today in the first edition published by Sieber (E). Basing it upon the Andante con moto of the sketchleaf, Mozart changed the melody a little bit. I would like to suggest that part of the change in this melody is related to the death of his mother.

The passage in question is the main theme, illustrated in Figure 4a. The opening theme in both versions appears on the left, their melodic profiles are abstracted on the right. Upon close examination we can see that the final version was changed so that it will fit the melody of the "Incipit Lamentatio Jeremiae," which is sung on Good Friday. The main characteristic of the melody of the "Incipit Lamentatio Jeremiae" is that the third note repeats itself over again, as can be seen on the second line from the top in the original chant as reproduced in Figure 4b. In this regard, the Mozart's melody became identical to the chant after his revision. Mozart used this melody as the cantus firmus of his Maurerische Trauermusik, K. 477 (479a), and as M. E. Bonds points out in the Mozart-Jahrbuch for 1980-83, he may have borrowed it from Michael Haydn's Requiem. Even if this is true, it does not mean that Mozart did not know the "Incipit Lamentatio Jeremiae" at first hand. He had, after all, already had used it in the Grabmusik, K. 42 (35a), and he must have known well that it was a melody to express lamentation (see Figure 4a).

There is evidence that Mozart may have thought in terms of such private musical memorials. In the upper margin of one page of the autograph score of the Piano Concerto in E flat, K. 449, Mozart wrote the letters "D. M." and the numbers 1, 2, 3 and 4 in a circle (Figure 5). Since, as Tyson points out, this movement was begun at the end of 1782 and then interrupted for a while, these letters, standing for the Latin Diis Manibus ("For the soul of the dead"), can be thought of as related to the death of Mozart's first child R. Leopold two months after birth. The numbers are thought to indicate the order of making the sign of the cross. (As Philippe A. Autexier points out, K. 449 may also be related to the Free Masons, but we must also note that it is the first entry in his catalogue of his own works.)

In addition to this, there also occurred two instances when, as an expression of his lamenting the deaths of composers he had loved and respected, Mozart would incorporate into his own work quotations from theirs--in the middle movement of the concerto K. 414 (385p) at the time of Johann Christian Bach's death, and in the finale of the violin sonata K. 526 at the time of Carl Friedrich Abel's.

Given such practices, it may have been natural for Mozart to express his lament in some way in the new Andante in 3/4 of the "Paris" Symphony, which may have been the first work to be completed after his mother's death. The Andante in 3/4, which has Incipit Lamentatio Jeremiae incorporated into it, was completed like this and played on the August 15, the day commemorating the Ascension of the Virgin. Such circumstances may be related to the fact that Mozart in comparing the two Andantes wrote in his letter of July 9 that "Both are well made. These two have different characteristics. However, I like the latter one better."

Finally, Hermann Beck concludes in Neue Mozart-Ausgabe that the Allegro assai was used at the first Parisian performance and the Allegro vivace at the second; but I think that possibility is slim since Mozart did not say anything about the necessity of revision of the first movement.

4. After Leaving Paris

Mozart left Paris after he sold (to Legros) the fair copy of the "Paris" Symphony, which had been used for both Paris performances. On the homeward journey, he wrote in a letter of October 3 to his father in Salzburg: "I will not bring back anything completed except my sonatas, for the two overtures [one of them is the "Paris" Symphony] and the sinfonia concertante were bought by Legros. He thinks he alone has them, but that's wrong. They are very much alive in my head, and I will recomplete [wieder aufsetzen] them when I return home." As suggested in Figure 1, Mozart had the autograph scores of the first and the second movements (A) and the copyist's score of the third movement (D) with him when he wrote this. However, they had apparently not been completed and needed "recompletion" when he returned home, according to this letter. We estimate, therefore, that both the Allegro assai (A) and Andantino (A) were in incomplete form at that point. The reason for only the third movement being a fair copy could be that Mozart had had the manuscript copied before he sold it to Legros because the autograph manuscript went only as far as measure 142.

Because an opportunity arose to perform the "Paris" Symphony in Strasbourg where he stopped on the way home, Mozart made some additions and corrections on the manuscripts (A) there, before he got back to Salzburg. Mozart seems only to have needed relatively minor revisions in the first movement for the Strasbourg orchestra, although the changes do differentiate this version from that found in the first edition (E). As for the second movement, however, the additions and corrections to the Andantino (A) were so extensive that the score became too messy to read, and Mozart made a new fair copy (B, now in Berlin). Tyson has shown that the paper used for this fair copy (B) was made in Basel, Switzerland, and this fact supports my theory of a Strasbourg revision. We can only speculate how much (B) overlaps with the lost Andante of the premiere in terms of its contents. We can also only speculate why after all he chose the one in 6/8 even though he could have made a copy from memory of the Andante in 3/4, which he had claimed was his favorite.

What we can conclude from the above is the fact that Mozart himself did not have a chance to hear the Andantino (A), although we have been listening to it for a long time through performances based upon the old Mozart Gesamtausgabe and the widely-used Breitkopf and Hartel score and parts derived from it.

5. Subsequent Performances

As for performances which were conducted before the death of Mozart, there may have been performances in London, Prague and Vienna. The scores or sets of parts used for these performances were presumably derived from Mozart's manuscript now in Berlin: the first movement in Allegro assai (A), the second movement in Andante (B) and the copyist's third movement (D). Tyson reports that there may have been a plan at one time to use the finale of the Prague symphony for the third movement, but it was not probably realized. He also points out that a trumpet part from the 1780s survives in Mozart's hand, which contains a version of the "Paris" Symphony subtly different from any of the versions yet discussed in this article. It is conceivable that Mozart revised the work each time it was performed. We must pay attention to all these matters if we hope to have a modern edition of the "Paris" Symphony in any version that Mozart's made use of, rather than an inauthentic conflation of several versions.

6. Summary

The following is a summary of the main points of the foregoing discussion of the "Paris" Symphony:
(1) The fair copy which is lost today may have been used for the two performances in Paris;
(2) The first movement may have been the Allegro vivace both in the premiere and the second performance;
(3) The second movement, Andantino, may never have had a chance to be performed at all;
(4) The second movement might have been in 6/8 at the premiere but in 3/4 at the second performance;
(5) The Andante in 3/4 quotes the Incipit Lamentatio Jeremiae to express a lament for the death of Mozart's mother;
(6) The autograph of the first movement, Allegro assai, may contain some revisions made in Strasbourg.

I conclude by pointing out that it would be desirable to clarify the order of the revisions in the autograph manuscripts and the grouping of the revised parts by analyzing the content of the inks Mozart used.

* The original Japanese version of this article was presented at "1991 International Mozart Symposium" at Kunitachi College of Music. After the presentation this is kindly translated by Takashi Nakajima and edited by Neal Zaslaw. Author would like to say great thanks to their cooperation.


(1) Neue Mozart-Ausgabe IV/11/5, Sinfonie in D ("Pariser Sinfonie") KV297(300a) edited by Hermann Beck (1957)
(2) H. Beck, Zur Entstehungsgeschichte von Mozarts D-Dur-Sinfonie, KV.297 in MJb 1955 (Salzburg 1956)
(3) E. Anderson, editor, Letters of Mozart and his Family (London 1938; rev.3/1985)
(4) E. Hess, Ein neu entdecktes Skizzenblatt Mozarts in MJb 1964 (Salzburg 1965)
(5) A. Tyson, The Two Slow Movements of Mozart's "Paris" Symphony, K.297 in: Mozart Studies of the Autograph Scores (Harverd Univ. Press 1987)
(6) N. Zaslaw, Mozart's Symphonies, Context, Performance Practice, Reception (Clarendon Press, Oxford 1989)
(7) M. E. Bonds, Gregorian Chant in the Works of Mozart in MJb 1980-83 (Salzburg)
(8) A. Tyson, The Mozart Fragments in the Mozarteum, Salzburg in: Mozart Studies of the Autograph Scores (harvard Univ. Press 1987)
(9) P. A. Autexier, Les Œuvres Temoins de Mozart (Editions Alphonse Leduc 1982)
(10) A. Tyson, New Dating Methods : Watermarks and Paper-Studies in: Mozart Studies of the Autograph Scores (harvard Univ. Press 1987)

Sound:Paris Symphony D major K.297 (300a) - Andantino 6/8 - the first draft reconstruction, [Return to text]
Parts; CH1: Flauto, CH2: Oboi, CH3: Fagotti, CH4: Corni in Sol, CH5 :Violino I, CH6 :Violino II, CH7 :Viole, CH8: Violloncello, CH9: Basso

Sound Generator; Roland SC-88VL


  • Bar 1-40: AMA bar 1-40,
  • Bar 41-50: NMA p.137 a) with supplement by Noguchi,
  • Bar 51-58: AMA bar 41-48,
  • Bar 59-103: NMA p.137 b) with supplement by Noguchi,
  • Bar 104: added by Noguchi,
  • Bar 105-106: added by Noguchi from NMA p.138 c),
  • Bar 107-112: added by Noguchi from AMA bar 43-48,
  • Bar 113-146: AMA bar 49-82,
  • Bar 147-148: NMA p.138 c),
  • Bar 149-164: AMA bar 83-98


Author: Hideo Noguchi
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(Originally uploaded:1998/2/8)