We cannot discuss the early development of the symphony without mentioning Mannheim. The Mannheim court was known to have an excellent music scene, the orchestra led by composer Johann Stamitz. The orchestra at Mannheim was known for its excellent dynamic control, particularly the sudden crescendos (growth from soft to loud). As a composer, Stamitz was known to use this “Mannheim Crescendo” in his work.
Significant to the development of the symphony, Stamitz was the first composer to consistently use a four-movement structure when composing rather than the three-movement plan that was standard at the time. Adding a minuet and trio movement between the slow movement and the final fast movement became standard with many prominent composers to follow later in the era.
Another significant change to the symphony within the Mannheim court was the addition of wind instruments including oboe, horn, and even an occasional clarinet!
Listen to Stamitz’s Sinfonia in E-flat major here.
What new features do you notice about this symphony in comparison with the Sammartini symphony we looked at last time?