Mozart's Symphony No. 40 in G Minor Section B

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Symphony No. 40 in G minor 1st movement

By Crystal Wong


Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 (1st movement) is written in sonata form which has been used very frequently in the Classical Period. A movement which is written sonata form has three sections, the exposition, development, and recapitulation. In the exposition, there is a “first subject”, a theme that is established. It is followed by a transition section, with the end of this section marked by a general pause. The accompaniment in this section is more homophonic and is more by simple chords than in the previous subsections.  There is use of imperfect cadences at the end to signify the continuity of the exposition.  The last subsection of the exposition is the codetta, which in this piece, is very similar the first subject of the exposition. However, perfect cadences are repeated at the end of the codetta to signify the end of the Exposition.

The Development section of a typical Classical-era sonata usually refers to where the first subject of the exposition is further explored and developed.  As one can notice, there are uses of contrapuntal texture as well as a variety of key changes which will be explored later. The texture in this section begins as very heavy, with the use of the entire orchestra. However, at bar 140 and until the end of the development section, it begins to be lighter and sparser.

The final section of the sonata is the recapitulation. In Classical-era sonatas, there is a repeat of the exposition. From bars 164 to 184, it features the first subject again with it being short and nicely flowing into the bridge section. The transition, which span from bars 184 to 226, are longer than those in the exposition and have included a lot of staccato notes. The second subject, from bars 227 to 259) appears to be similar to those in the exposition, with key changes (which will be discussed later) and a reduced texture.  The coda, from bars 260-299 (the end), is a repeat of the codetta with minor changes. There is a scalic flourish building to the expected final cadence. However, this passage is suddenly interrupted with some piano woodwind chords at bar 285 during which we hear glimpses of the first subject in the second violins, the first violins at bar 287, cellos at bar 289, the flute, clarinets and bassoons at bar 291

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Unlike the dynamics of the early baroque, Classical music dynamics tended to be a little more diverse, yet without the passion of the Romantic era. There was the range, from the pianissimo to the fortissimo but music of the early Classical era, in which Mozart wrote this piece, lacked the dramatic and sudden changes characteristic of later Classical composers such as Beethoven, who led into the Romantic.

In the first subject of the exposition, the dynamics are at their most basic, quiet, loud or suddenly loud. An example of these three dynamics can be shown at the ...

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This is a well written essay with a lot of detail. I have concerns that the writer does not really understand how keys are explored in the Sonata. The writer talks about dynamics in a clear and accurate manner.