GCSE MUSIC - Mozart Symphony No. 40 and Classical Era

All about Mozart's 40th symphony (first movement) and classical era - AoS 1

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  • Created by: Angharad
  • Created on: 19-04-11 15:36

Key Features of Classical Era

  • 'Question and Answer' Phrases
  • More contrasts within a movement compared to the Baroque Period
  • Development in instruments - more wind instruments
  • Changes in dynamic can now be gradual
  • Composers now use crescendos and diminuendos 
  • Textures are simpler than baroque - more homophonic feel
  • Harpsichord is replaced with the piano
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Mozart (and other important composers)

  • Important composers in the Classical period were Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven

 Mozart was a child prodigy and toured Europe at the age of seven. He lived in Salzburg, Paris and Vienna. He died when he was 35, but left 600 compositions behind!!

Mozart's 40th Symphony was one of his last symphonies and was written in 1788.

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Structure and Tonality

This piece is in Sonata form, in the key of G minor


First Subject A melody is characterised by a falling motif played by strings at first in G Minor

Second Subject Melody with descending chromatic patterns. Shared with strings and woodwind. In B flat major - relative major

Development - based on the first subject, but is developed and fragmented. Moves through various keys but starts in F sharp minor

Recapitulation - First and second subject are repeated with some variation and are both in G minor

Coda Repeated perfect cadences in G minor finish the piece

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  • Most melodies are made up of balanced, four or eight bar phrases that sound like questions and answers
  • Scalic phrases are common (melodies based on scales)
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The harmony is diatonic and functional and is based on standard major and minor triads. There are also - 

  • Chromatic chords such as the diminished 7th and augmented 6th
  • Circle of fifths progression in second subject
  • Pedal notes which the cellos play before the second subject starts
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Rhythm, Metre and Tempo

  • The metre is 4/4 throughout
  • Tempo is 'Molto Allegro' - very fast
  • Short rhythmic ideas are repeated to create unity 
  • Rhythms are fairly simple, although there are some dotted rhythms and syncopation to help create momentum and add interest
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Mostly homophonic - there are also examples of:

  • Counterpoint and imitation in the development
  • Octave doublings are frequently used
  • Dialogue between the woodwind and strings at the start of the second subject
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Exposition The first subject is quiet apart from a short passage in the middle. The transition is loud. The second subject begins quietly and gets louder towards the end.

Development has a loud section in the middle but starts and ends quietly

Recapitulation similar dynamics to exposition

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  • Mozart uses a chamber orchestra made up of strings, woodwind and horns
  • Strings are used constantly. They play a variety of material
  • The woodwind don't play so much. Woodwind have more sustained notes. They share part of the second subject with the strings
  • The horns are in different keys. (One in G and the other in B flat) which maximises the number of notes they can play between them. The horns mostly play held or repeated notes to sustain harmonies.  
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thank you it helped a lot x

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