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W. A. Mozart: 1st Movement ‘Allegro’ from Symphony no. 40 in G minor (1788)

Updated on September 21, 2016

W. A. Mozart: 1st Movement 'Allegro' from Symphony no. 40 in G minor (1788)

Revision notes for the Edexcel GCSE Scheme of work

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is an Austrian composer who was born Salzburg in 1756 and lived in Vienna during his later life. His compositions and works are probably the most famous and is by far the most famous composer of the Classical period.

He was a child musical mastermind - makes you jealous, eh? - and composed and performed for royalty and higher society from his early years. When he was young, he was competent on the keyboard and violin, and composed from the age of 5. At 17, Mozart left home and became a court musician in Salzburg, but always wanted a better position. Throughout his life, Mozart was often in debt and when he died at the tender age of 35 in 1791, he had very little money to his name. however in this short space of time, he composed many many works, including: 41 symphonies, many piano concertos, many piano sonatas, many string quartets, several operas and (although widely unfinished) a requiem.

Key Features

Dates – 1750 – 1810

Instruments of the orchestra:

- Piano invented

- Woodwind, strings and percussion used

- Big orchestras

- Strong string family, very well developed

- Wind section now has pairs of instruments

Musical structures Mozart uses:

- Sonata form

- Symphony – orchestral work that had movements

- Trio & minuet

- Rondo form

Key Features:

- Building up and down of texture

- Changes in articulation

- Different moods in pieces through changing keys – Major -> Minor

- More homophonic textures

- Dynamics depict moods

- More articulation and detailed melodies


What is it?

MAD T-SHIRT is a tip for remembering musical features by going through 9 key parts of any musical piece.

They are:

Melody, Articulation, Dynamics, Texture, Structure, Harmony (tonality), Instrumentation, Rhythm, Tempo


40th Symphony in G minor

Melody (will help if you are looking at the score or listening to the piece to recognise the subjects)

- Subject 1: a repeating 3 note (quaver quaver crotchet) pattern that is then answered by a descending G minor (quaver quaver crotchet rhythm) scale, bridged by ascending interval of a 6th

- Subject 2: descending chromatic scale played in a call and response style, where the strings play first, then woodwind, then strings, then they switch the calling and answering. The melody seems slower due to the [p] dynamics and augmented notes


- Subject 2 uses more legato notes to help create the relaxed feel to contrast the less legato and more staccato sounding notes of the first subject

- Staccato triads in the bridge passage help emphasise the key (Bb) and help keep the beat, as they are all on beat


- Dynamics are used to emphasise a section or part within a thick texture. [p] is normally used in thin textures or to bring in a new subject


- The horns create a very thick texture and helps in most places with harmonising or playing chords


- No introduction, goes straight in with subject 1

- Structure:

- - (Exposition) First subject

- - (Exposition) Bridge passage

- - (Exposition) Second subject

- - (Exposition) Codetta

- - Development

- - Recapitulation

- - (Recapitulation) Coda

Harmony (tonality)

- Starts in the key of G minor - sad atmosphere, but combined with the high pitches of the first subject, it seems joyful

- Switches to Bb major in second part of exposition for subject 2

- Development explores a range of new keys: Em, Am, Dm, Gm, C, F, Bb

- Recapitulation starts off in Gm, briefly going to Fm and Em before going back to Gm for subject 2 (which is in Gm for the recapitulation)


- Subject 1 - strings

- Subject 2 - strings and woodwind first, then switch

- 1 flute, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 horns (one Bb one G) violins, violas, double bass/ cello


- Whole piece is in 4/4

- Counter melodies are used during the bridge passages to create a anticipating and excited feel


- The piece is the 1st movement, so is alway Molto Allegro


- For all those words you didn't understand and more! -

Sonata - a piece from soloist (or two players) in three or four movements

Sonata form - a musical form made up of Exposition, Development and Recapitulation sections

Concerto - a piece for a soloist and orchestra, usually 3 movements

Symphony - a piece for an orchestra, often with 4 movements

Minuet and Trio - a ternary form, often used in the third movement of a symphony or sonata

Rondo Form - a way of structuring music where you start with one tune, go to a new one, go back to the first one, on to another new one, back to the first... as many times you wish

1st Subject - first theme or melody

2nd Subject - second theme or melody

Bridge passage - a section of music that bridges 2 different themes, linking between sections.

Ornamentation - extra notes added to decorate a tune (Trills, acciaccaturas, turn, and mordents)

Augmented -- the note values uniformly increase

Tonic - the first note in the scale, followed by supertonic

Dominant - the 5th note in the scale

Listen - Get the track!

See if you can apply what you've just learnt!


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