1816: Schubert: Symphony No. 5 in Bb major (Motzartian), age 19

Mr. Peabody Says:

You can start here: 22:52 IV. Allegro vivace, Bb major

But I’ve never introduced this symphony to anyone who did not like it, and it just does not matter which movement you choose to listen to first. It’s all fantastic and easy on the ears.

This sounds so much like Mozart, it’s absolutely amazing. Schubert at the age of 19 was consumed by Mozart’s music, and among other things you can clearly hear the influence of the 40th symphony in G minor. This is light, utterly playful, but the 3rd movement is strikingly in G minor.

Andrés Orozco-Estrada

Franz Schubert’s Symphony No. 5 in B♭ major, D. 485, was written mainly in September 1816 and completed on October 3, 1816. It was finished six months after the completion of his previous symphony.


  • one flute, two oboes, and two bassoons
  • two horns in B♭ and E
  • strings

Of all of Schubert’s symphonies, it is scored for the smallest orchestra. It is the only one of his symphonies which does not include clarinets, trumpets or timpani.

1st Movement:

This is Schubert’s first symphony to not start with a slow introduction. It’s light and very much reminds me of Mendelssohn, who may not have heard his symphonies but must have heard other things by the 12 years older composer.

2nd Movement:

The slow movement, in Eb major, has modulation to Cb that is very characteristic of Schubert, even at age 19. That appears to be more radical than it is, since Eb morphs to B with just two slips, and Cb is the same key.

3rd Movement:

The menuetto has the chromaticism though not the polyphony of the menuetto of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Symphony No. 40. The progression used mid-way through the movement to modulate is borrowed almost directly from Mozart — using the same approach (a gradual layering of instruments) to a dominant seventh chord. The trio is quiet throughout, and only gradually accumulates instruments, beginning with only bassoon and strings, and with a subtle suggestion of a pastoral mood over held lower string notes.

4th Movement:

The finale is the shortest of the four movements.

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