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Mozart and His Piano Sonata in a Minor

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Born on January 27th, 1756, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart grew up in a musical home in the oldest city of Salzburg. His father was an exceptional violinist within the City Court Orchestra and a composer whilst his mother was also a music lover who plays several bowed instruments. Mozart has shown incredible musical talent since childhood and has been travelling to Europe since he was 6 years old with his parents. Mozart was not only a musical genius but also a pre-eminent genius in the western music world. As a leading figure in the classical period, he has greatly prompted the development of European music.

But unfortunately for him, he died in an early age on the night of 5th of December 1791 with the cause of death being ‘hitziges Friesel Fieber’ which means severe military fever. Although he died at the age of 35, Mozart was still able to create a vast variety of compositions with more than 500 works and opera being one of his main creative genres, a total of 22. Symphony is an important aspect of his instrumental music creation, with a total of 49. There are also many more such as piano concertos, piano sonatas, chamber music and unfinished vocal sets, ‘Requiem’.

In all of the pieces he composed, sonata is one of the most important genres. Mozart’s piano sonata No. 8 in A minor, KV310 was written in the summer of the year 1778. It is very different from the original and optimistic image of Mozart’s previous works due to him being ‘under pressure’ when he composed this sonata. At the time, Mozart left the Salzburg court and went to find a new job in Paris with the accompaniment of his mother, but unfortunately, his mother died of an illness which made Mozart grieve in sorrow. This can be seen when he broke the news of his mother’s death to his friend, Abbe Bullinger, back in Salzburg. He started off his letter with ‘Mourn with me, my friend!…’ . with his father reacting to the death of his wife strongly and put the blame on Mozart even though Mozart himself was worried for his father and therefore written a letter to his friend beforehand to ‘support and be there for his [my] father when he receives news of her death’.

This sonata was created under such circumstances. In spite of fact that there was no clear indication from Mozart that it was dedicated to his late mother, however, according to analysis from the method of sonata theory that is projected by both Hepokoski and Darcy in their book, ‘Elements Of Sonata Theory’, it was very evident that Mozart purposefully composed a sonata that differs from the tradition simply to show the inner turmoil that he experienced at that time. Mozart’s piano sonata No.8 in A minor, KV310 consists of 3 movements which are Allegro maestoso, Andante cantabile con espressione and Presto respectively. But I am going to be looking at the first movement in my assignment.

Due to his rarity to compose a piece in a minor tune, he approached in a conventional way and produced a melody that contrasts in structure when compared to his previous 7 sonatas. In the first movement “Allegro”, he was able to express his inner feelings in a formal and rigorous form. Although Mozart’s time has passed for many years the wonderful music that he left to the world is still infinitely fascinating and nourishing to the world bringing unspeakable joy and beauty of the world to live in his music. As said by Tchaikovsky himself, ‘Mozart is the musical Christ’.


  • Liu Wei. Music masters and world-famous works [M]. Beijing: China Renmin University Press, 1995.
  • Zheng Xingsan. Research on Mozart Piano Sonata [M]. Xiamen: Xiamen University Press, 2004.
  • James Hepokoski and Warren Darcy. Elements of Sonata Theory, 2006
  • Mozart, (Johann Chrysostom) Wolfgang Amadeus. By Cliff Eisen and Stanley Sadie. Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online.
  • J. Lane. The Life and Letters of Pete Ilich Tchaikovsky, London. 1906
  • Hans Mersmann. Letters of Mozart, Translated by M.M. Bozman.
  • Thomas, Derek. “The Formal Structure and Biographical Significance of Mozart’s Sonata No.8 K.310 Movement I Allegro Maestoso” (PDF). Belmont University, 2015. 

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