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Understanding Music

 

MUS 100

 

Work Report

 

by: Vladislav Exxx

 

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

 

Symphony No. 40 in G Minor, K. 550

 

Instructor: Dr. Timothy M. Crain

 

DePaul University

 

11 November 2002

 

I. Work Analysis

 

Being an admirer of the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, I chose to

analyze Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 in G Minor. An early analyst and

critic of Mozart’s music, Otto Jahn called the Symphony No. 40 “a

symphony of pain and lamentation.” Another critic said it was “nothing

but joy and animation” (Kramer 480). While these two remarks may be used

as extreme ways to interpret the symphony, its character and mood are

captivating and touching.

 

The standard instrumentation for this piece includes woodwinds (flutes,

oboes, clarinets, and bassoons), strings (violins, violas, cellos, and

basses), and brass (horns), The instrumentation does not include any

percussion or heavy brass. The horns are used sparingly, only to add

density to the tone or emphasize the crescendos and sforzandos.

 

The symphony itself is comprised of four movements:

 

Movement One – Molto allegro

 

Movement Two – Andante

 

Movement Three – Allegretto

 

Movement Four – Allegro assai

 

The first movement of the symphony opens in a minor key with a piano but

agitated principal theme that repeats itself throughout the movement.

Such an opening is not a usual one; a listener may have expected some

sort of an introduction to precede such a theme, but Mozart decides to

omit any prelude, thereby establishing a certain feeling of restlessness

or anxiety. The first movement exhibits frequent interchanges between

piano and forte. Of all the sections of the first movement, only the

development is played in a major key with disjunct motion. This,

combined with other expressive elements, further contributes to the

movement’s general uneasy mood. The meter here is duple simple, and it

remains constant throughout the movement. The first movement is

presented in the Sonata-allegro form, with a motivic structure quality

in the principal theme, and a homophonic texture.

 

Obediently following the sonata plan, Mozart slows down his second

movement to andante. Violas play the principal theme and are later

joined by the first and second violins, imitating one another. The

dominating strings maintain dynamics within range of piano, but

sforzandos are contributed by the basses. The meter in this movement is

duple compound, and like in the first movement, this one is composed in

sonata-allegro form. Homophonic accompaniment in an E-flat tonality

supports a wide-range, but conjunct-motion melody that is characterized

by regular periodic structures.

 

The third movement is in triple simple meter with the orchestra once

again dominated by the strings. The minuet and trio form naturally

divides the movement into three sections with different keys, dynamics,

and a da capo. The minuet section and its a da capo are played forte and

in a minor key, while the trio is piano and in a major key. The tempo

remains allegretto throughout the entire movement. Unlike the second

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