Hail Jupiter

I hadn’t planned to post a Music Monday this week. Right now it’s 10:30 PM New York time and I’ve decided to squeeze one in just under the wire because of a video I came across on Classic fm, a UK-based classical music site I visit from time to time. In the post, “The awe-inspiring counterpoint in Mozart’s final symphony”, musicologist Richard Atkinson provides an analysis of the symphony’s breathtaking and majestic finale. The symphony, No 41, is known as the “Jupiter” symphony, and it was Mozart’s last and longest. The Jupiter is universally adored and held in the highest esteem as one of the greatest symphonic works ever composed. It’s hard to argue with that status, which is probably why nobody ever does.

I have blogged about Mozart previously. That post touched upon a particular aspect of his genius. The video below illustrates the actual complex workmanship that Mozart employed. Atkinson uses the language of music theory to show us precisely how Mozart achieved the brilliant musical effects he did, with a nuts-and-bolts breakdown. He also uses color coding to highlight the recurrent themes and motifs which I found helpful. Back in my piano studying days my teacher would give me worksheets in music theory, and the more advanced they became the more confused I got! Challenging for mere mortals like me, but simple oxygen for Mozart. But I do love the vocabulary of music theory: counterpoint, intervals, triads.

The Jupiter symphony is a piece that, when you listen to it, you want to shout, “Go Wolfgang, go!! Yeah!!“. Pure joy. Pure uplift. The gleaming musical diamond atop the canon of Western civilization.

I know my fellow classical music geeks will appreciate this. And I also think everyone can enjoy the feeling of underachieving slackerdom and inferiority that comes when exposed to Mozart’s genius. Just kidding! I kid 😉


For those less inclined to classical music deconstruction, something else from Classic fm – a doodle by Mozart on his music sheet. The lovely lady was his pupil, Barbara Ployer. I wonder if Mozart taught her any counterpoint?


14 thoughts on “Hail Jupiter

  1. kdmedina says:

    Funny! I had no idea that you had studied so much music, but then, it makes sense.

    • artmodel says:


      I’ve forgotten quite a bit! It was a long time ago. But it’s amazing how much of it can come back with refreshers.

      Thanks for your comment!


  2. Bill says:

    So it says that Ms. Ployer was his pupil, but Mozart wrote Piano Concerto No. 23 for her. Would this make her his Muse as well?

    It really does spoil it for the rest of us. Even in a romantic context, we generally present some flowers, perhaps some perfume or wine. This guy gives the lady an original Mozart piano concerto — and his intentions may well have been disgustingly honorable. Kind of raises the bar a bit for the rest of us.

  3. Jennifer says:

    An interesting piece – am not musical at all so will aim to study this further when i’m back home (I tend to read your blog on my phone, which I don’t find as easy to comment via, but i’m still there with you! I thought I would try a phone comment this time.) hope you’re feeling okay in the NYC heat and also during the quieter period of your modelling year, which does so much to keep your spirits up at what seems to be a difficult time for you. All the best – thinking of you. Xx

    • artmodel says:


      Wonderful to hear from you. We had a pleasant break from the summer heat but now it’s returned for some last licks before Labor Day. And full time art modeling is just around the corner.

      I hope things are well with you and your family. Thanks for commenting via phone 🙂


  4. Grier Horner says:

    I feel like I just spent 15 minutes in a composing class at Juliard. I never realized it was so complicated and yet so easy to understand in his charting. Thanks for posting it.

    • artmodel says:


      And thank you for listening! Atkinson did a great presentation. The color coding is everything. I checked out his YouTube page and he has many other videos.

      Good to hear from you!


  5. johndrob says:

    If you ever want to start an argument, just ask a classical music fan, preferably with another classical music man standing nearby: “What is the best version of [fill in the title/number of a symphony, concerto, etc]”? Then stand back while they argue that Conductor X is way too slow, and Conductor Y is way too fast…

    • artmodel says:


      This is so true! You can even see it in the comments on classical music discussion boards. We are an opinionated bunch! And yes, the conductor topic is particularly a source of arguments.

      Thanks for commenting!


  6. Dave says:

    That was an amazing video, Claudia, thanks so much for posting it. I have loved the Jupiter symphony, and especially the last movement for decades. I’ve listened to it scores of times while remaining blissfully ignorant of why it’s so moving. Now I can appreciate it even more.

    • artmodel says:


      I remember your comment on my original Mozart post, about how much you loved the Jupiter! And yes, the last movement is especially worth the analysis. I’m so glad you enjoyed the video!


  7. Claudia,

    Thank you for introducing me to this awesome piece and its deconstruction! I’ve always been a fan of classical music, though my only instrument is my voice and my studying music has been limited! I enjoy hearing the complex sounds of the great composers as a novice listener. I have never seen the complexity so clearly and cleanly explained. Weaving all of those themes together and making a piece that is so beautiful is simply incredible. If I had composed it, it would probably sound like taxis honking in New York City at lunchtime! But maybe then, maybe I could have been John Milton Cage Jr.!

    All the Best,


    • artmodel says:


      Happy to have introduced you to the Jupiter Symphony! A sublime Mozart masterpiece. Normally I wouldn’t post something so technical and heavy on music theory, but this one was really well done. Even if us regular folk can’t follow it to the letter, Mozart’s genius and meticulous construction comes through loud and clear.
      And I honestly believe you’d do better than honking NYC taxis, as I have heard them thousands of times in my life and can tell you there is nothing musical about them at all!

      Thanks for commenting.


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