Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was undoubtedly one of the greatest composers of not only the classical era, but of all time. On January 27, 1756 in Salzburg, Austria, Mozart was born into an already musically talented family. His father Leopold, a composer and musician, and sister Nannerl toured parts of Europe giving many successful performances, including some before royalty. At the young age of 17, Mozart was appointed Konzertmeister at the Salzburg Court. It was there that young Mozart composed two successful operas: “Mitridate” and “Lucio Silla”. In 1981 he was dismissed from his position at the Salzburg Court. He went on to compose over 600 works including 27 piano Concertos, 18 Masses (including his most famous, the Requiem), and 17 piano sonatas. Mozart was not often known for having radical form or harmonic innovation but rather, most of his music had a natural flow, repetition and simple harmonic structure.
Composed at the age of 6, Mozart’s Minuet in F Major (K.2) was one of his earliest works. Written for piano, this “dance” features a homophonic structure with an upper and lower voice. The right hand plays arpeggiations of each chord while the left hand plays the roots to support the melody.
Mozart’s use of melodic contour and repetitive rhythmic motives make this piece feel very connected throughout. He begins with a two eighth note followed by two quarter note pattern. This pattern is repeated twice more until finally at measure four a new melodic and rhythmic motive is introduced. At measure four a retardation occurs using a half note to delay the resolution to the quarter note, drawing out the resolution as much as possible to create a sense of relief upon arrival. This pattern of three measures of motive “A” followed by one measure of motive “B” stay consistent throughout the 32-bar piece. The only place the melodic contour of the line changes is between measures 5-7, where rather than a descending melodic contour, Mozart chooses an ascending melodic contour through the line. He then at measure 8 introduces a variation of motive “B” by resolving the pitch downward using a suspension rather than the predicted retardation. Again, while melodically these measures may feel like separate motives, they can be seen as simply alterations of the previously existing motives. The melody does not stray from arpeggiations of the chord and the only melodic difference is ascending through the line rather than descending. Therefore measures 5-8 can clearly be seen as restatements of the original motives.
While the melodic flow of the piece may feel repetitive and predictable (with the exception of ascension through measures 5-8), Mozart does introduce several surprising harmonic moments throughout the piece. The first four measures follow a predictable I – IV – I64 – V – I pattern ending on a perfect authentic cadence. The next four measures introduce not only the new melodic contour but also a V – I64 – V7 – I – V6-5 chord sequence ending on a half...