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Chapter 12: The Symphony: 

Chapter 12: The Symphony The symphony is a large, substantial piece, played by an orchestra. Symphonies were first written in the Classical period, and they are considered the crowning achievement of Classical music.

Symphonic Form: 

Symphonic Form Classical symphonies have four movements: The first movement is in a fast or moderate tempo. It is often the most substantial movement is in sonata form. The second movement is slow. The third movement is a minuet. The fourth movement is the fastest, in sonata or rondo form.

Sonata Form: 

Sonata Form Sonata form is the most important form of the entire Classical period (and perhaps the most important in the history of Western music.) Sonata form provides lots of opportunity for contrasts, which Classical composers liked. Sonata form is also very flexible, and can be used in many different ways.

Exposition (A): 

Exposition (A) A piece in sonata form begins with an exposition, made up of several parts: The first theme, begins the piece in the tonic key. A bridge or transition modulates to a new key, often the dominant. A second group is presented in the new key, sometimes this is called the second theme. A cadence theme or closing theme makes a solid ending.

Development (B): 

Development (B) In this section, the themes from the exposition get developed, and there are many modulations to various keys. The development is musically unstable and turbulent. At the end of the development, there is a retransition which prepares us for the recapitulation (in the tonic again.)

Recapitulation (A'): 

Recapitulation (A') The recapitulation is the same as the exposition, except the whole thing is in the tonic key. There is a transition to the second group, but this time it stays in the tonic key. At the very end, there is often a coda—and added on bit of music to create a more final ending. Coda is Italian for “tail.”

Sonata Form: 

Sonata Form The exposition is always repeated in sonata form, so the overall form is usually: A A B A' Sometimes the development and recap. are also repeated, giving: A A B A' B A'

Mozart, Symphony No. 40: 

Mozart, Symphony No. 40 Listening (2: 15-20) Mozart, Symphony No. 40, mvt. I This is the first movement of Mozart's most famous symphony. This was his penultimate symphony, and one of his last large works, written in 1788. It is in clear sonata form, as outlined on p. 185.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: 

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Mozart (1756 – 1791) is remembered as perhaps the greatest Classical composer. Mozart was born in Salzburg and showed extraordinary musical talent at a young age. His father trotted Wolfgang and his sister Nannerl all over Europe as musical prodigies, performing in courts and salons.


Mozart In addition to being a keyboard prodigy, Mozart also composed from an early age. His first minuet was written when he was 5, his first symphony just before his 9th birthday, and his first opera at age 12. In his 35 year life he composed over 600 compositions.

Mozart, early career: 

Mozart, early career After Mozart becomes a young man, he is no longer a child prodigy, so starts working for in Salzburg (where his father worked.) Mozart hated Salzburg, and left for Vienna in 1781, where he quickly entered the limelight. The Vienna public idolized Mozart as a pianist and a composer, and he lead a busy life as a freelancer.

Mozart, late career: 

Mozart, late career In his last ten years of life, Mozart studies with Hadyn and discovered Bach. This makes his later work more complex and contrapuntal. After living in Vienna for several years, the public tired of Mozart, and he began to have money problems (he always spent more than he earned.)


Mozart There was also tension with his father after he married Constanze Weber, a singer. Mozart had wanted to marry her sister, Aloysia, a more famous singer, but was rejected. After The Magic Flute was premiered, it looked like Mozart was on the rise again, but he suddenly died in 1791.


Mozart Near the end of his life, Mozart composed two last symphonies (out of around 60) that were not commissioned. Symphony No. 40 and the Jupiter Symphony are his most complex and most famous orchestral works. When he died, Mozart was in the middle of writing a Requim Mass (a mass for the dead) commissioned by an anonymous patron.

Classical Variation Form: 

Classical Variation Form A Classical theme and variations begins with a theme in two parts, with each part repeated. Usually a a b b or a a ba ba The theme is followed by variations in the same form as the theme (such as a’ a’ b’ b’, and a’’ a’’ b’’ b’’) Haydn favored variation form, and wrote some of the most clever theme and variations of the Classical period.

Minuet and Trio Form: 

Minuet and Trio Form Often just called minuet form. A minuet is a stylized dance in triple meter, and was the only dance form to survive from Baroque dance suite in the Classical period. Minuet form involves two major parts, the minuet, and the trio. The trio is usually calmer and provides contrast from the minuet. The basic (Baroque) minuet form is: aa bb cc dd a b

Minuet and Trio Form: 

Minuet and Trio Form In the Classical period, minuet form becomes: a a ba ba c c dc dc a ba or a a ba’ ba’ c c dc’ dc’ a ba’ Repeats aren’t written out in the music, the music only contains: a b a’ c d c’ Or, for a Baroque minuet: a b c d The performer adds the appropriate repeats during performance.

Rondo Form: 

Rondo Form The book says “rondo form is a relatively simple form with popular leanings.” Rondo form is often used for closing movements in Classical music, and is usually in a light style (as opposed to the heavier sonata form.) A rondo has a main theme, really a full fledged tune, which recurs again and again.

Rondo Form: 

Rondo Form Rondo form is usually denoted as: A B A C A A B A C A B A A B A C A D A and so forth Rondos sometimes also have a coda at the very end. The “A” section always returns in it’s entirety and in it’s original key.

Franz Joseph Haydn: 

Franz Joseph Haydn Haydn (1732 – 1809) had a long career, and his music establishes and defines the Classical period. Haydn became a choir boy in Vienna, but had to leave when his voice changed. Eventually, he entered the employ of Prince Paul Anton Esterhazy, who was a lavish patron of music.


Haydn Haydn remained in the service of the Esterhazy family (as Kapellmeister) for many years, and left their service only at the end of his life. Haydn had many responsibilities, including organizing all the court musicians, repairing and maintaining the instruments, composing music, and performing. Haydn wrote a huge amount of music: 104 symphonies, 20 operas, 83 string quartets and lots more.


Haydn Haydn was very well balanced (unlike Mozart.) Haydn was modest, but received praise well. He was generous and hard worker, but also shrewd and practical. Haydn is famous for his sense of humor, and many of his pieces contain jokes, both obvious and veiled.


Haydn At the end of his life, Haydn had become internationally famous as a composer. He moved to London, which had a large music-loving public. The music he wrote in London is the most highly developed an experimental of all his output.

Haydn, Symphony No. 95: 

Haydn, Symphony No. 95 Listening (2: 21-35) Haydn, Symphony No. 95 This is one of two complete symphonies on the CDs. The first movement is in sonata form, the second is a theme and variations, the third is a minuet, and the fourth is a rondo. See pages 187 – 196.

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