Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik: The Analysis

Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, written in 1787, has four movements and is typically played by a string quartet or a chamber orchestra. The piece has four movements: Allegro (sonata-allegro form) in G major, Romanza (rondo form) in C major, Allegretto (minuet and trio form) in G major, and an Allegro (sonata-rondo form) in G major.

The first movement is in sonata-allegro form and G major, so it is composed in three major parts: the Exposition which contains two themes, the Development which is in a number of keys, the Recapitulation, and the Coda. The first theme of the sonata-allegro starts with a cheery, slightly aggressive, ascending theme with similar, repeated phrasing. There is a short transitional passage which modulates to the second theme. The second theme, contrastingly, is graceful and less rushed. The second theme is in D Major, the dominant key, instead of G major which is the tonic key. The entire exposition is repeated, and there is a short transition to the development.

The development is very short, and begins in D major. The development twists and turns, the two keys “battling it out” and finally settles on G major, the tonic key, in which the Recapitulation and Coda will be played. In the Recapitulation, the first and second themes (both in G major) are played, and then there is a closing theme between the second theme and the coda. The coda is extended and full of fanfare, and ends with a couple chords played by the full orchestra, maintaining the cheery cheery tone presented at the beginning of the movement.

The second movement of Eine Kleine Nachtmusik is also quite short compared to other pieces of the Romantic era. The second movement is gentler, with a slower tempo. There is a recurring section (A) and a similar B section. The movement opens with A section which is a serenading melody in two parts, each repeated. The first violin carries the faster movements at the beginning of the second part of A, marking a transition to the B section. The B section is more rhythmic, and uses variations of the A section, and even repeats parts of the A section towards the end. Like the A section, the B section also has two sections which are marked by repeats. The A section is repeated once more, and played in the tonic without repeats. There is a short coda of three orchestral hits that extend the idea of theme A and bring the second movement to a close.

The third movement is played in a minuet and trio form, and is played in the tonic key of G major. The minuet opens with the theme, a accented triple meter and two main themes that are each repeated. After the minuet theme, the trio theme is explored. This theme is more connected and lyrical, the strings slurring more notes to give a lull to the movement. The trio also has two sections which are each repeated. Both sections of the minuet are repeated, but this time without repeats as the music transitions to the fourth and final movement of Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.

The final movement of this symphony is played in the tonic key of G major, and is played in the sonata-rondo form with two main themes played in alternation. Like the sonata-allegro, the sonata-rondo has an Exposition, Development, Recapitulation, and Coda. The exposition of the fourth movement opens with the first theme, a quick-paced rocket theme that gives a merry impression to the listener. There is a short transition the second theme, which begins to a downward leap that is juxtaposed to the tone of the first theme. The first theme returns one more time with slight variation and then the first and second themes are repeated once more. The development takes the shape of the first theme for the most part, but ends once again in the tonic theme of G major. The Recapitulation repeats the first and second themes in the tonic key, and the coda returns as theme one from the exposition played in G major, ending the symphony in a downward cadence and three grand chords that end the piece in the same cheery, fast-paced, tone that started off the first movement.

BMSB Music Magazine

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