Theory II Listening Assignment – Mozart’s 40th Symphony

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg, Austria in 1756. His musical talent was noticed very early, and his father, Leopold Mozart, taught him music theory and how to play the keyboard and violin. He toured Europe with his father, playing for many royal families. On this tour, he absorbed many national styles of music and was impacted by many composers. Throughout his life he composed many genres of music, primarily selling his works for income. He never had long-term stable employment unlike many other composers of his day. He died in Vienna in 1791.

Mozart’s symphonies were typical of the classical era. They had four movements, each of which had a specified form. The first movement would usually be Sonata-Allegro form, the second a slow ABA, and the third a Minuet and Trio. The finale would usually be a Rondo, although sometimes Sonata form was used.

Mozart’s 40th symphony is unusual for Mozart as it is one of only two symphonies he wrote in minor, the other being the 25th symphony. The four movements are all in sonata form except for the third movement which a typical minuet and trio. The first movement uses a dark, flowing melody as the first theme, followed by a contrasting happy theme in the relative major key of B-flat. The second movement is lyrical and slow in the submediant major key of E-flat. The third movement minuet is in the tonic key of G-minor. It is dark and angry, hardly usable as a dance. The trio section is in the parallel key of G-major and is lyrical and beautiful. The final movement’s first theme is vicious and can barely be called a melody. The second theme is the complete opposite with a lyrical theme in the relative major.


Cliff Eisen, et al. “Mozart.” Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. 6 Mar. 2010

“Symphony No. 40 (Mozart).” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 22 July 2004.
Web. 25 Mar. 2010. <>.

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