Mozart Symphony Number 40


 The Sonata:

These idealized visions of musical forms show their presence in the Classical and Romantic period symphony known as the Sonata. The predominance of this symphony form owes to the contributions to A.B.Marx, a music theorist from the 19th century.

Opening with an exposition, the sonata presents its primary main theme, in a tonic key, leading to a second theme/group through a transition, which is presented in a dissimilar character or key area. Exposition can also be sometimes made to follow a starting introduction, allowing the listener to prepare for what is to follow. Tonal and thematic conflicts are worked out in what is known as the development. Using a variety of keys, with tonal tensions brought to a musical high point, resolving the conflict in the recapitulation allows the first theme to stand out as the winner. Following is a second theme in the same tonal key as the first, or a short coda. Also known as the tail, it vigorously backs up the tonic key, providing a sturdy tempo.

Sonata forms were composed long before their actual, formal codification. Although it is not easy to find compositions with strict sonata codes, interesting combinations occur as musicians struggle to interpret the restraints in the sonata.


Without making comparisons to his predecessors, Mozart’s 41 symphonies with the inclusion of their undeniably high quality are a marvel, with an actual total accounted to between 55 and 71 (depending on the varied definitions of symphony). Towards his end, Symphony 40 was a piece composed that stood out from the rest of Mozart’s work.

As is tradition, in comparison to Symphony Number 9, Mozart’s Symphony Number 40 is known to be a true depiction of its Romantic period. Written in a minor key (G minor), which has an innate quality to exhume a sense of pathos that is seen to be a true depiction of the inner dimensions of the “artist”. In true essence of Romanticism, this symphony becomes the thoroughfare into the artist’s very soul, reflecting upon Mozart’s character. But truly, these discourses originating out of contextual interpretations of music are certainly insignificant, and are overshadowed by the formal significance of a masterpiece that Mozart’s 40th symphony indisputably is.


Things To Note:

Unlike its contemporaries, Symphony Number 40 starts in media res, its quick lower string motion and turbidity of its melody making mellow of the listener. The first theme is reminiscent of aria agitate; a strong, agitated character.  A contrasting second theme, takes a colorful transition from strings to winds and then back to strings. Presenting modulations that are pieces from the first, the second theme gives a sense to listeners that the recapitulation will follow; a more plaintive and chromatic feel. The recapitulation, instead, surprise with the lone entrance of the violins.

Duality or shift between the two main themes place emotion and control at the heart of the symphony. The sensitive grace of the second theme owes to its ABA form and the delicately used chromaticism. Third movement, a clasic minuet and trio, creates a contrast between minor-mode minuet (with polyphonic imitation), and the well used horns in the pastoral trio. This is a sinister comparison to the minuet of Eine Kleine Nachtmusik..

An unexpected fourth movement is in rondo form, expressing a modification of the conventional, more serious form of the sonata. A profound sense of unease is achieved through a varied combination of sonata with rounded binary (ABA’) form, instead of traditional exposition, development and recapitulation.

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One Response to “Mozart Symphony Number 40”

  1. Linda Welch says:

    I have been learning about Mozart in school. Im getting obsessing about his music and I’m not even a big music fan. I love this

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