Piano Sonata No. 18 (Mozart)

The piano sonata in D major, K. 576, was composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart as part of a set of six for Princess Friederike of Prussia in 1789. It is often nicknamed "The Hunt" or "The Trumpet Sonata", for the hornlike opening.[1] The sonata, having a typical performance duration of about 15 minutes, is Mozart's last.

Date of the sonata

In a letter to a fellow Freemason Michael von Puchberg, dated 12 July 1789, Mozart wrote "meanwhile I am working on six easy piano sonatas for Princess Friederike and six quartets for the King". Hermann Abert believed K. 576 to be one of these sonatas; however, Wolfgang Plath and Wolfgang Rehm stated in the Neue Mozart-Ausgabe that they doubted this, as K. 576 is demanding to play, often considered one of Mozart's hardest sonatas, due to its technically difficult counterpoint passages. Charles Rosen offered a moderate viewpoint, considering that Mozart may have considered these passages easy (as they are in two parts, one in each hand), even if they are not actually so in practice.


As was typical of the time, the work is in three movements, in a standard fast, slow, fast order:

I. Allegro

The movement is in sonata form, and begins with both hands in unison, followed by some trills and a repeat in e minor. This material is used and varied for the first theme, and finally cadences to the dominant, where the second theme provides a more graceful contrast to the grandness of the first. The development section includes many different keys, but starts in the dominant, using counterpoint and harmonic imbalance and exploration. This gives a feeling of tension, which is then resolved before returning to the recapitulation in the home key.[2] Tension and release was a key aspect of the classical era, as it provided composers with a chance to interrupt cadences, and to really draw out the tension part, in order to create an exciting piece. It also helped to extend melodies as a new theme could be made after the release, as is shown in this movement.[3]

II. Adagio

The middle movement is in the dominant key of A Major, and includes many scale passages as well as counterpoint. Mozart uses harmonic exploration throughout the sonata such as suspensions, and dissonances. There are some chromatic elements in this movement, which is common in many of Mozart's later works. Diminished chords are used to help modulate frequently, and a series of keys are cadenced into. These harmonies can also allow more melodic techniques to be used.[4]

III. Allegretto

The last movement has a playful mood and is light in texture, however the articulation is marked carefully and precisely, in order to keep it sounding clear, as was common of the time. It has a playful mood, and is not in sonata form, like the first movement. It is a mix of a rondo and a sonata form. A first theme if followed by a number scalic passages, and then a short series of arpeggios. The same material is used for the rest of the piece, although there are some differences towards the end. There is little harmonic exploration; however the key does modulate a little throughout the piece.[5]


  1. Hiroshima, Grant. "Sonata in D, K. 576". LAPhil. Retrieved 20 February 2016.
  2. Manheim, James. "Piano Sonata No. 17 in D major ("Trumpet", "Hunt"), K. 576". AllMusic. Retrieved 19 February 2016. (Mistitled as Mozart's piano sonata No. 17, the article refers to his 18th piano sonata)
  3. Saindon, Ed. "Tension and Resolution". Berklee College of Music. Retrieved 20 February 2016.
  4. Wigmore, Richard. "Piano Sonata in D major, K576". Hyperion Records. Retrieved 20 February 2016.
  5. "Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Sonata in D major, K. 576" (PDF). Seattle Symphony. Retrieved 20 February 2016.

External links

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