Brahms- Piano Quintet in F minor - 3rd Movement

HideShow resource information


  • At the beginning, there is a pedal on the cello accompanying music in octaves in violin 1 and viola
  • The third theme in C major, from the end of bar 22 is homophonic style whilst the instruments are also homorhythmic
  • The central section of the scherzo from nar 67 is in fugal style
  • The music builds to five part texture at stretto beginnng at bar 93. The top line is doubled at the unison by the two violinsm wheras the two piano lines are frequently doubled in octaves. A stretto features entries of the theme coming closer together
  • the main theme of the trio use mel-dom-hom
1 of 6


  • The tonic key is C major though it rarely stays in one key for long, there are frequent modulations
  • related keys like the dominant are used (e.g beginning of the fortissimo section section at bar 57)
  • the tonic major key is used frequently, e.g the their main tune as well as the trio. Alternation between tonic minor and major was a common device in Romantic music
  • Pedals reinforce the key e.g tonic pefal at the beginning of the scherzo and end of the trio
  • Distant keys like E flat minor (found in the fugato) occur often
2 of 6


  • Chromatic harmony; soon after the beginning, the introduction of the chromatic F sharp in the piano part introduces harsh dissonance with the F natural in the violin 1 and viola at bar 7
  • The chord being built up in bar 5 is a German augmented 6th (A flat - C - E flat - F#) though we don't hear all the notes at the same time at this point. It is clearly heard though in bar 39
  • Diminished 7th chords are used (e.g bar 232 (F# - A - C - E flat). There is additional dissonance added by the dominant pedal note G
  • Despite the frequency of chromatic chords, there are passages of straightforward diatonic harmony with mainly root position chords, as in 3rd theme from bar 22
  • Even at the end of the main sections, Brahms prefers a plagal cadence to a perfect cadence. At bars 189-190, the plagal progression also includes a tierce de picardie
3 of 6


  • The 1st theme begins in broken chord style, before a phrase is repeated in rising sequence
  • the melodies are highly motivic
  • The first phrase fo the tune above contains two motifs, the first has four repeated notes the 2nd is a brief semiquaver turn-like idea rotating around the same note G. Both motifs are used extensively in this movement
  • The falling mino 2nd is an important feature of the movement  as a whole and is constantly repeated, as at the end of the scherzo (bars 190-192)
  • The three notes at the beginning of motif b are altered to the major key and augmented from semiquavers to dotted crotchets at the beginning of the 3rd tune (bars 22-23)
  • Chromatic passages are frequent e.g  bars 166-169 where the 1st violin moves up chromatically from E natural to A natural
4 of 6

Rhythm and Metre

  • The metre is in duple time throughout but varies from compound duple as at the beginning to simple duple e.g bar 13
  • Syncopation is immediately apparnt at the first note played by the Violin 1 and viola in bar 2 where they enter on the weak 6th quaver beat
  • There is often a distinctive march rhythm employed, particularly for the 2nd theme (from bar 13) where semiquaver rests and staccato markings add to the detached, spiky nature of the music
  • Off beat accentts are emphasised by sforzanso markings in the 3rd theme at bars 26-8
  • The first countersubject in the piano at bar 67 has a continous staccato quaver pattern
  • Augmentation is used at the beginning of the 3rd theme (bars 22-25) where the semiquavers of the 2nd theme are replaced by dotted crotchets
5 of 6


  • The overall form of the movement is Scherzo and Trio, using large scale ternary form
  • The scherzo itself has a complex ternary structure with three main themes and a central fuagto section
6 of 6


No comments have yet been made

Similar Music resources:

See all Music resources »See all UNIT 6 resources »