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W. A. Mozart – Symphony No.

40 in G minor
First Movement

Even though Mozart had personal difficulties during the time he wrote
the symphony in G minor, the resulting work was not necessarily a
product of his state of mind. Mozart has been known to write very
upbeat works during very dark times. But, according to Nicholas
Kenyou, author of Faber Pocket Guide to Mozart, the G minor
symphony “is the conventional idea of the symphony turned into a
drama of the largest scale” – which was a foreshadowing of things to
come from Beethoven. Kenyou goes on to say, “from the opening bars
there is a sense of turbulences; not a full melody, but a half melody.”

Tonight we will explore the first movement and its musical format – the
Sonata Allegro form.

Sonata – Allegro Form

According to Robert Greenberg, the Sonata-Allegro Form was strictly a
creation of the Classical Era. The form evolved from the operatic idea
of two or more dramatic characters that interact with each other and
results in a transformation of one or all characters. There are four basic
sections and sometimes five:
1. Introduction (optional)
2. Exposition
3. Development
4. Recapitulation
5. Coda
Exposition (introduction of characters) – generally played twice.
• Theme (character) 1 – typically dramatic and forceful. Tonic key
• Modulating Bridge – contains melodic fragments and changing
harmonic centers
• Theme (character) 2 – typically quiet and lyrical. Contrasts
Theme 1. New key.
• Codetta (cadence material) – brings the character introductions to
a conclusion. – in key of Theme 2

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W. A. Mozart – Symphony No. 40 in G minor
Development – action sequence displaying musical tension, contrast,
interaction, and drama. Typically starts in key of Theme 2 but displays
great harmonic and rhythmic instability. Fragments of one or all Themes
from the Exposition may be heard in various forms. The development
moves toward the home key near the end in preparation for the
Recapitulation – the Themes return in their original order though
altered harmonically.
• Theme 1 – Just as it appeared in the exposition. Tonic key
• Modulating Bridge – altered from the exposition so that the key
does not change from the tonic key.
• Theme 2 – Typically the same as it appeared in the exposition but
harmonically altered to the tonic key.

Coda – the coda comes after the final cadence of the recapitulation and
used to firmly establish the tonic key and bring the movement to a clear
and decisive conclution. It usually contains fragments from other parts
of the movement and ends the movement with a perfect cadence (V – I)
in the tonic key.

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