Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and Mozart’s Fortieth Symphony are both written in Sonata form, meaning that each piece is structured with a specific beginning, middle, and end, which are presented as exposition, development, and recapitulation. However, these symphonies have a remarkable structural commonality in that they each feature a single idea that is prevalent throughout the entire work. In the Mozart, this is the first theme, which is initially presented in the violins from measures 1-20. Beethoven’s is the four note “fate knocking on the door” theme, which like Mozart’s is also first introduced at the very beginning of the symphony. Of the two, Beethoven does a better job of convincing the listener of his argument. His argument is more powerfully and passionately argued, and although not quite as logical as Mozart’s fortieth, Beethoven’s fifth symphony utterly convinces the listener of the strength of that argument with a raw force that is lacking in the Mozart.
When analyzed in reference to the Ciceronian model of an effective argument, both symphonies make a case for being well-organized and coherently thought out. According to the above model, a successful argument contains several distinct sections: premise, explanation, support and refutation, summing up, and peroration. When applied to sonata form, these sections can be interpreted as a musical theme or motif, exposition, development, recapitulation, and coda. Both symphonies essentially follow this form. They both introduce the “premise” or main theme right at the beginning, thereby communicating that the idea is very important to the piece. It is this theme that each symphony is attempting to communicate or argue to the listener. In an attempt to do this, they both introduce the idea multiple times in the exposition, reintroduce and vary it in the development, and bring it back for the recapitulation. Like in an effective paper, the composers always tie whatever’s going on back to the thesis, or theme, throughout.
However, though both symphonies do follow this form, Beethoven’s is more effective. It can absolutely be argued that Mozart’s symphony is more logical. It adheres more closely to Sonata form, and follows a logical trajectory that is completely typical of Mozart. It must be noted that just because something is logically argued does not inherently mean it is more effectively argued. Beethoven’s symphony is more effective at arguing its point because it has a strength, passion, and most importantly, unpredictability that the Mozart does not possess. Where Mozart’s symphony is very logical and thus somewhat predictable, Beethoven’s is full of contrast.
The four-note theme reappears in places where the listener does not expect. This element of surprise is very effective in communicating the argument, because it keeps the listener on his/her toes; not only is the argument constantly reinforced, but it is done so in a manner that keeps the listener perpetually engaged. The Beethoven also has more dynamic contrast than the Mozart, transitioning quickly from very soft to very loud. This contrast serves a similar purpose in terms of creating unexpectedness. By not being predictable, Beethoven is ensuring that the listener keeps listening throughout. In comparison, the Mozart is a little more predictable. His symphony is typical of a Mozart piece in Sonata form because it employs multiple themes, all of which are beautiful, melodic and together create the sense of a music journey. While this makes for a remarkable piece, it does not make for one that is effective as arguing as Beethoven is because the multiple sections distract from the main argument. Yes, these varied themes do contrast from each other, but the contrast in Beethoven is a little more inherent and less formulaic.
It must also be noted that when it comes to arguing a theme effectively, the Beethoven has a better theme; it is very short, and though not particularly melodic is incredibly memorable. It could be argued that Mozart’s theme is really just the first phrase (measures 1-9) but this phrase does not stand as well on its own as Beethoven’s. The listener hears it and is led on to the next phrase, and the phrase after that, and so on; Mozart’s argument is very much part of a larger work and is just a piece of that puzzle. A very important central piece, but just a piece nonetheless. The four-note Beethoven theme is intrinsic to the piece as a whole as well, but notably, it also stands alone. This is one of the marks of a good argument. Not only is it reinforced throughout the piece but it is also a substantial statement in and of itself.
Undeniably, both of these pieces are well “argued.” It is evident though that the Beethoven has an edge when it comes to effectiveness. The power of the argument itself, and the unpredictable way in which it is woven throughout the entire piece serve to keep the listener continually engaged. This, to me, is an effective argument. The listener doesn’t have any choice but to pay attention the entire time, and so can’t help but be hit over the head time after time by the strength and power of Beethoven’s argument.
Mozart and Beethoven Symphonies
Music has the power of persuasion. To convey a clear and effective argument, a piece must be recognizable, musically eloquent, and memorable. Mozart’s Symphony in G minor and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 both exhibit these persuasive qualities. But, despite the extreme clarity and musicality of Mozart’s work, the sheer emotional capacity Beethoven presents is simply more convincing. His repeated, impassioned four-note motif induces a raw sense of fear latching on to the most ancient of human emotions. It resonates so powerfully again and again, and haunts the memory of the. For this repetitive quality, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 is more convincing.
Mozart’s Symphony in G minor beautifully exhibits sonata form. This form, in and of itself, is an effective means of communication. Much like Cicero’s outline of a compelling argument in De Oratore, sonata form presents with an introduction (sometimes) followed by an exposition, a development of ideas, and an ending with a recapitulation to bring cohesion and unity to the overall premise.
The claim, though, that Beethoven’s musical argument is more convincing than Mozart’s is best explained through the examination of the first themes of each symphony. Mozart’s first theme begins as octaves in Violin I and II. It is four-bar antecedent/consequent in structure with the first phrase sounding until measure five, the second until measure nine, and a sort of closing material descending in register from then until measure sixteen. This form is relatively traditional. The phrase begins with a musical question left on an unresolved C, followed by a complimentary musical answer ending on Bb – the relative major key of G minor. Mozart uses the fact that the listener expects this sense of resolution to his advantage. That is why melodies of this structure are so popular. One expects something to follow and is thereby satisfied when the complimentary phrase comes.
Beethoven’s first theme isn’t so much of a theme as it is a motive. Often referred to as “Fate knocking on the door”, this descending third has been used over and over again in commercials, cartoons, etc., to evoke a stomach-turning sense of doom. Beethoven does not follow the traditional sonata form, at all. His is, in fact, perhaps the most modified of symphonic first movements. Some may argue that this inconsistency detracts from the symphony’s ability to convey an argument or be convincing. However, I believe that that property is the very thing that contributes to its power the most. He keeps the listener guessing while offering the recognizable four-note motif to grab on to.
The first time I ever listened to this symphony, I could recognize and hum along with the motif instantaneously. I was immediately drawn in as a listener – grabbed by the strings of my emotion and taken on a very human journey. I was not as easily convinced by Mozart. The repetitive nature and raw emotion of Beethoven’s Symphony is what has been engrained into my memory and forever will be.
Cicero said that rhetoric is a science. I would argue that music is, as well. A composer, just like a great orator, has the power to persuade, and one must know the mechanics in order to be effective. Music, as a universal language, can be one of the most effective means of communication that exists. When presented as Beethoven did, through constant repetition, unpredictability, and pure emotion, music is truly convincing.
Musical Arguments: Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 and Mozart’s Symphony No. 40
If one imagines a sonata-form symphonic movement as a formal Ciceronian argument, then the first movements of Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 in G Minor and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C Minor are about as different as two pieces of late-classical musical rhetoric could be. Mozart’s first movement is lyrical and (relatively) stable, favoring long, fluent melodic statements; Beethoven’s is terse and aggressive, tending towards violent shifts and rapid-fire developmental sections. A comparison of the two movements, using Cicero’s De Oratore as a rhetorical model, sheds light on both Mozart’s and Beethoven’s work, revealing how each of their great sonata-form movements makes its case.
Cicero posits that a good argument begins with a statement of premise. Here, already, Mozart and Beethoven part ways. Mozart’s movement begins with a quiet accompaniment figure in the low strings, introducing a piano statement of the main theme in the violins. Beethoven, on the other hand, starts with a fortissimo unison statement of his main motive (not, significantly, the theme itself), thus establishing the fundamental musical material of his sonata both plainly and loudly in just five bars. It is hard to imagine how an argument could begin more strongly than this; if Cicero was listening to Beethoven’s Fifth after Mozart’s Symphony Great Symphony, he would undoubtedly have judged Beethoven’s introduction the more compelling—or at least the more immediately attention-getting.
Yet as both expositions continue, it becomes clear that the whole story is not that simple. Mozart’s first theme proves both controlled and forceful, giving the violins a sustained opportunity for melodic declamation. Beethoven’s first theme (if one considers the symphony’s sixth bar to be the start of the true theme) is fragmented across the violins and viola, working almost entirely in isolated variations on the movement’s initial motive. This can be read as polyphonic compositional virtuosity or as a kind of symphonic schizophrenia; either way, it’s the polar opposite of Mozart’s violin-centered lyricism. The second themes behave in similarly dissimilar ways, reflecting a lucid, gently chromatic melodic sensibility (in Mozart’s case), and an almost obsessive interest in one rhythmic motive (in Beethoven’s case). One becomes less sure what Cicero might have thought.
This ambivalence only deepens as both movements head into their developments. Mozart’s development is the more immediately harmonically adventurous, moving to F# minor after a cadence in Bb major. But Beethoven’s is more structurally audacious, returning to a variation on the fermata-heavy structure that opens the symphony. Both moves strengthen the arguments established in each movement’s exposition, but in completely different ways—Mozart calmly developing a sequence based on his first theme’s first phrase, Beethoven pushing through a variety of keys (circle of fifths!) before returning to his second theme, this time in G Major.
It is at that point, in the second half of each piece’s development, that the largest differences between the two movement become apparent. Mozart’s development never really escapes its first theme, or the pull of G minor (at least after that first shocking slide into F# minor)—the enormous dominant pedal that ends the development is almost begging us to return to the tonic. Beethoven’s, in contrast, includes disorienting variations on both his first and second themes (mirroring the structure of the exposition), and saves its most harmonically far-out material for the end of the development. One gets the sense, when the winds and strings begin to trade chords in bar 196, that Beethoven the rhetorician is really considering the possibility that his argument is wrong—that hey may never return to C minor from the ethereal pulse of his F# minor call-and-response. Yet he does, of course, in stunning fashion, making the beginning of his recapitulation the far stronger Ciceronian “refutation” of the incorrect key center.
In fact, the whole recapitulation seems to belong to Beethoven’s. Mozart’s recapitulation, while beautiful and affecting (clearly, we’re dealing with a genius), feels the slightest bit redundant (given that it’s an almost exact repetition of the exposition), and, simultaneously, underdeveloped, since we’ve only previously heard the second theme once, at the beginning of the piece. (The second theme is also way less compelling in minor, for some reason, at least to my ear). Beethoven, having developed both themes on the foundation of his main four-note motivic premise, gives us both themes again in the recapitulation, with the added bonus of a yearning, time-slowing oboe cadenza and a surprising reorchestration of the second theme in the bassoon. The second theme, by the way, stays in C major, defying the logic of the sonata’s “double return”, which normally demands a statement of the second theme in the same key as the first—C minor, in this symphony. As at the end of the development, Beethoven almost seems to wish that the logic of his dark and violent symphonic sonata is not correct. But it is!, a massive, darkly triumphant coda proclaims, bringing the orchestra back to C minor in a peroration worthy of any speech Cicero might have deconstructed.
Mozart 40th Symphony vs. Beethoven 5th Symphony: A Comparison of Rhetorical Strategies in Sonata Form
Before picking either Mozart or Beethoven’s movement on the basis of persuasiveness, it is important first to address similarities between the movements. The structures of both arguments are comparable. Neither movement has an introduction, so I liken the first theme to the premise of the argument. For both movements, the premise of the argument recurs again and again and plays a prominent role in the development. A striking similarity is how both restate the first theme in the coda such that one is left with a lasting impression on the argument’s premise.
Initially, I found Mozart to be the more “comprehensible”: he demonstrates more tonal and rhythmic clarity through a steady meter and smooth key transitions gestures. Beethoven, on the other hand, creates uncertainty with an unsteady and ambiguous key and meter even in his opening, as well as in his violent, abrupt rhythmic and tonal transitions.
If the sole condition for a convincing argument is overall clarity, then Mozart would undoubtedly be the more persuasive of the two composers. However, I believe that a convincing argument demonstrates not only clarity but also creates resonance with the listener. Beethoven surpasses Mozart in the force of his musical ideas and the way he drives home his argument about the quest and struggle of a persistent seeker. Despite the feelings of insecurity and instability that Beethoven evokes through his violent and abrupt gestures, insecurity and instability characterize his argument’s content (struggle), not the manner in which the argument is delivered. In terms of the latter, Beethoven is no less clear and assertive than Mozart.
Both Mozart and Beethoven assign their first theme a prominent role throughout the movement. However, Beethoven’s simple and memorable four-note motive, which consists only of three short successive notes with one held note, is much more versatile than Mozart’s both harmonically and rhythmically. Beethoven only needs to write three successive sixteenth notes followed by another longer note to remind us of the original premise of the argument. He does so in the second theme, the exposition’s closing, throughout the development, and extensively in the coda. He also distributes the repetition of this four-note motif evenly between various instruments, giving the motif a wide assortment of flavors. In this sense, I feel that Beethoven’s “point” is better supported because of the various forms and contexts it takes on.
Beethoven also develops his argument more thoroughly; his development is longer and certainly more comprehensive than Mozart’s. Mozart is effective in centering his development almost entirely around the first theme motive, but does not go beyond first theme material. In other words, he supports his point but does not do much to refute the argument on the other side. Beethoven supports his argument by “working upon” his first theme motive in various ways, but addresses points beyond his argument’s premise by developing upon the second theme, then fragmenting it, and eventually reducing it into one note that is anxiously passed between the winds and strings (mm.195-227). This fragmentation section creates a state of seeming stagnancy and “losing steam” before the forceful reappearance of a version of the original first theme motive (mm. 227-230), which then leads to the recapitulation. The inclusion of the second theme and the fragmentation upon it is, to me, the equivalent of a thorough refutation of the argument on the other side (stagnancy, as opposed to the urgency that the first theme motive embodies) that makes the reentrance of the forceful-sounding original argument all the more powerful.
In terms of the recapitulation and coda, Mozart elegantly writes his entire recapitulation in the tonic key, and deviates little from the exposition before allowing his opening theme a final reappearance and then concluding. Beethoven’s summing up and closing cannot be more different. His recapitulation allows entry to a seemingly out-of-place oboe cadenza (m. 268). His coda in particular is unusually long and introduces new material (mm. 373 on). One can argue that the unexpected turns of Beethoven’s coda takes reflects disorganization and, as Louis Spohr derisively critiques, “empty noise” (quoting Taruskin’s article), but I see his extended coda as the argument’s peroration that not only concludes the argument, but does so in a new fashion so as to not bore the listeners (who have already been subject to various iterations of the argument’s original premise). After all, when writing our own arguments, are we not often told to sum up our initial arguments but to conclude in a new and original way, leading the reader to greater insights? Case in point, Beethoven’s coda introduces new material (mm.423-439) in form of a new theme – but the treatment of the new is actually familiar: the exchange between winds and strings that occurred in the development appears once again, this time in the form of fragmentation of the new coda theme. Thus, what initially appears to be new is not actually so new, after all. Beethoven does a magnificent job of creating unity through a variety of seemingly unfamiliar material that is actually rooted in some original premise.
Sometimes the most powerful arguments are not those that most closely follow convention, but those that evoke the most resonance with its listeners. Beethoven’s overall structure has enough clarity for its listeners to make sense of the argument. The unusual gestures he adopts, such as abrupt transitions, the oboe cadenza, the new material in the coda, are strategies that he adopts, in defiance of convention, to drive home his argument about the perpetual struggle of the human condition. His manner of insecurity and instability characterizes the argument itself; it is not the way in which he argues. Beethoven’s argument is highly emotional, yet its display of passion is contained within the clarity of the movement’s overall structure. Rationality and emotion are not necessarily mutually exclusive in a convincing argument.
Beethoven’s rhetorical techniques are certainly more controversial than Mozart’s, but in the end he evokes more emotional resonance with his listeners as they embark on a journey with him that takes unexpected turns, climaxes, and forcefully returns home. This is why, despite his comparative complexity and his breaking of certain sonata form conventions, he retains a “hold on the minds and hearts of so many generations of listeners” (Taruskin).
Taruskin, Richard. “C-Minor Moods: The ‘Struggle and Victory’ Narrative and Its Relationship to Four C-minor Works of Beethoven,” Oxford History of Western Music.
Symphonic Arguments of Mozart and Beethoven
Sonata form has many similar attributes to that of a written argument, especially one structured according to the teaching of Cicero in De Oratore. Together, the form’s three main components: the Exposition, the Development, and the Recapitulation, encompass all critical facets of an argument. Whether or not this argument is successful is solely in the hands of the composer. Thus, even by strictly adhering to the guidelines of Sonata form, a piece can still fail to produce a convincing argument. When listening to the introductions of Mozart’s Symphony in G minor and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, and using Cicero’s argument structure as a means of assessment, it is clear that one composer’s work presents and defends its argument to the fullest while the other does not.
Mozart begins his G minor Symphony with his first theme, an eerie and elegant antecedent-consequent structure. This serves as the thesis statement of the piece. While most of theme one is derived from the same three note motif, the way in which Mozart answers the initial a section (p.198, m. 1-5) with first a variation and then a contrasting long and slurred section cadencing on the dominant, allows for a clear and concise thesis on which to premise the entire piece. Next the bridge begins with the first theme, but then crisply transitions and modulates into the second theme. This theme serves as a stark contrast to the first, mainly due to it’s key (B flat major, the relative major of the tonic). This theme is a counterargument to the first theme and creates a debate for the rest of the movement. Eventually Mozart will strive to disprove the counterargument only to strengthen the first argument. The exposition comes to a close with a couple of closing themes and extensions containing other relevant information regarding the argument and calling back to the original motif.
Beethoven tries a different approach. His Fifth Symphony begins with a powerful and abrasive introduction. This could serve as a premise for his argument, yet it leaves much to the listener’s imagination. The key of the introduction and the meaning of the introduction are ambiguous, forming a weak premise. The exposition then begins with a first theme that uses only the motif set by the introduction. While powerful and enticing, the main argument still says very little. As Mozart does, Beethoven moves to other themes, yet these seem to be much more developed and the power of the major mode casts a shadow over the original argument. If Beethoven were trying to argue something in his Fifth Symphony, he sure got off to a shaky start.
Mozart begins his development by returning to the first theme yet modulates quickly, scrutinizing his argument from different angles (keys). The first theme is also fragmented and sequenced, illustrating Mozart taking his argument piece by piece and testing each part’s validity. Beethoven begins his development similarly, yet by this point his premise seems overused. Taking notice of that Beethoven introduces a new argument (p.11 m.194). While this change of pace is greatly appreciated as support for the main argument, it quickly leads to a new section (p.12 m.211) that seems completely foreign to the argument. This is an example of unnecessary information, or perhaps a tangent that should have been edited out, as it does nothing for or against the argument. Beethoven steps out of this foreign territory using the only tools he has, his main motif and blaring trumpets dying to be heard.
Both Mozart and Beethoven begin their recapitulations with their original main arguments. Mozart alters his bridge, forcing it to move to subdominant, as opposed to relative major in the exposition, and gradually has it fall to the tonic for theme two as well as the closing themes. With all counterarguments being swayed into minor after the immense scrutiny of the development, the debate settles in the favor of the first argument.
Beethoven presents a plethora of last-ditch efforts to salvage his ill-founded argument. First a lone voice, the oboe, wounded and defeated, begs for the listener’s mercy in pathetic (not in the negative sense) display. Next the bassoon steals the horns’ beckon for the bridge in hopes of depicting the counterarguments as weaker this time around, yet the second and closing theme all remain in the major mode and unaffected by the development of the first argument. Finally, Beethoven includes a fantastic coda (p.20 m. 380), or conclusion section, that would have functioned perfectly had he done better work on the argument in the exposition and development sections. It introduces brand new themes, based on the initial theme, which would have been of great use earlier to support Beethoven’s argument (one starting at m. 400, another at m. 425). Then he ends the piece bombastically with that same, tired motif.
While both pieces are magnificent in their own ways, when interpreting them as musical arguments Beethoven failed to organize and support his argument adequately. Beethoven relied too much on this powerful premise, which ultimately led him to produce and insubstantial argument. In a written argument, logic must be first and foremost in order to persuade your audience. Beethoven’s argument is one full of pathos and drama. While this may very well be effective, especially since music is tightly connected to our emotions, it does not characterize the first movement of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony as a convincing argument.
Comparing Two Arguments: Mozart vs. Beethoven
Music is typically seen as one of many art forms that serve to entertain while emotionally deepening the human experience. With this model it proves difficult to evaluate one piece of music as better than any other. However by examining two pieces of music through the Ciceronian model of argument, a piece can be deemed more persuasive or effective than another. By looking at Beethoven’s fifth symphony and Mozart’s fortieth in this way, the Mozart emerges as the more comprehensive, clear argument.
Neither of these symphonies of these symphonies have introductions which could be considered the “premise” in Cicero’s model. However, in Mozart’s symphony there at least are three counts of music from the violas before the first theme enters with the violins. These three measures successfully establish the g minor tonality of the piece with the repetition of the g and b, something that is only even loosely established in Beethoven’s symphony in the seventh measure by piano held c in both the bassoons and cellos. So though it is a brief moment in Mozart’s symphony, it sets up the rest of the piece in a way that is lacking in the Beethoven.
The rest of the exposition in both pieces is related to the “explanation” in the Ciceronian model. The Beethoven symphony is certainly much easier to follow than the Mozart. Only a few pages, there are clear breaks (in the form of both half cadences and rests) after the first theme and the bridge. The closing theme also has a notably different texture and is easy to identify. In the Mozart the transitions are less obvious and aren’t marked by pauses or fermatas. Though clarity is certainly important in an argument, I think the flow between points might be even more crucial. Given that the exposition should be an explanation of the composer’s main idea, Mozart’s elegantly carries his themes through the exposition while Beethoven’s are much choppier and leaves less room for nuanced analysis.
The development should work to both support the claim and also refute the argument against it. Both of these pieces do a good job with the former goal, but I believe only the Mozart does any real work toward the latter. Both pieces in the first part of the development do a lot with fragmentation of the first theme. This breaks down the structure of the theme and therefore makes it more understandable and convincing as the impetus for a fully structured sonata. Admittedly, the Beethoven does more work in the development with the second theme, but this almost distracts from the main argument which is his two measure theme. Only the Mozart really works to show the versatility of the theme in the second half of the development. The quiet stretto between the violins and the winds completely changes the tone of the theme, making it more pensive than it has ever been before. This refutes the possible claim that the theme is too one-note and cannot adapt to multiple moods. Beethoven’s similar quiet moment with the sustained notes has nothing to do with the theme so it serves only as a break between iterations of the loud and commanding theme.
Neither of the recapitulations are particularly revolutionary. Both change the bridge to keep the second theme and closing theme in the original key. The only notable feature in either piece is the adagio cadenza in the oboe line in the Beethoven recapitulation, but this serves little purpose in further summing up his “argument” and merely provides some color.
Finally, the coda is where the Mozart truly outshines the Beethoven. This has much to do with the relative simplicity of Beethoven’s main theme next to Mozart’s but regardless of that fact, the stretto in the last page of the Mozart creates an excitement and interest for the listener that Beethoven does not quite achieve with his bombastic chords. Beethoven’s main theme can be distilled to two notes and the triple repetition of eighth notes, the rest is merely transposition. Mozart creates a more complex melody that thrives in the sonata form and allows him to deepen his “argument” in a much more satisfying way.
According to the Ciceronian argument model, Mozart’s 40th symphony proves to be more convincing than Beethoven’s 5th symphony due primarily to the strength of Mozart’s exposition and his reference and support of that exposition during the development. While Beethoven’s exposition is also strong, the simplicity of his initial motif prevents it from sounding immediately recognizable during his support in the development section. Furthermore, the wide spectrum of emotion and intensity during Beethoven’s symphony weakens his argument, as his exposition seems to be divided into two separate, almost contradicting statements. In addition, Mozart’s use of fragmentation during the development section clearly references his initial motif, whereas the brevity of Beethoven’s initial motif prevents him from fragmenting that idea, forcing him to reference later expositional ideas during his development.
Both Mozart and Beethoven rely heavily on a “question and answer” structure during their first theme, allowing for their ideas to be remembered easily by the listener. Additionally, both composers rely on transposition early in their expositions. Beethoven, however, elaborates on his original motif before transposing the idea, likely due to the fact that the initial motif is too simple to sequence. On the other hand, Mozart transposes his original motif without any elaboration. While it can be argued that Beethoven’s initial motif is attention grabbing, it is Mozart’s initial motif that sticks in the listener’s ear and is strong enough to be supported simply through transposition. This proves to be important during the development section when Mozart is able to reference and develop his initial motif, whereas Beethoven must rely on an extension of his initial motif to reference. Due to the strength and independence of Mozart opening idea, his initial theme proves to be more convincing than Beethoven’s.
Both composers make smooth transitions from the original minor key into the relative major during the bridge section, and while Beethoven cleverly incorporates his original motif into the transition before the second theme, the texture and emotion during the second theme differs greatly from the ideas in the first theme and somewhat take away from his overall explanation. While Mozart’s second theme may not be as memorable as his first, the emotion and intensity relate well enough to the original theme that they provide solid support for his initial argument.
During the development section, both Mozart and Beethoven strongly reference and elaborate on motifs from their original themes. Mozart’s use of his thematic material seems to be more convincing in that he is able to fragment and augment his ideas while still making them immediately recognizable to the listener. Even when Mozart limits his fragmentation to a repetition of the first three notes of his theme, the reference is still clear. Both composers navigate through many modulations during their development sections, but through all of the modulations, Mozart’s original theme seems to stand out more clearly than does Beethoven’s.
What is interesting to note about the recapitulation in Beethoven’s symphony is that he omits the original motif that is played at the beginning of the exposition. This suggests the fact that Beethoven may have viewed his second melodic idea as the true theme, and the initial motif may have been a reference to the theme that had yet to come. In the sense that these two symphonies are primarily giant supports of the initial statement, it seems that Mozart, due to the fact that his initial motif was strong enough to carry the entire symphony, is more convincing in his 40th symphony than is Beethoven in his 5th symphony.
Beethoven, Symphony No. 5 in C Minor Versus Mozart Symphony No. 40 in G Minor: A Comparative Analysis of Argumentative Styles
I find both of these two pieces to relate to Cicero’s model quite well. True sonata form is inherently a musical form of argument, complete with a thesis, supporting facts, and a conclusion. Thus, as both of these pieces adhere to this sonata form, they can both be thought of as metaphorical dissertations, each trying to get its point across effectively. The Mozart piece stands out to me as the more straightforward argument of the two in terms of Cicero’s six stages. It is also a more clear-cut example of textbook sonata form, which allows us to see more easily the parallels between the music and the argument that it is enforcing. However, Beethoven, while also putting forth quite a clean and concise argument, also takes great care to incorporate a vast amount of ornamentation and supplemental material to aid the listener and keep them engaged in what he has to say. Thus, while Mozart has displayed a great mastery of the art of musical argumentation, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 strikes me as the more effective argument.
To begin by analysis of the more transparent example, I will explain my take on Mozart’s Symphony No. 40. It enters with a very clear statement of the theme, or in argumentative analogy, Mozart’s “thesis”. It is immediately explained in Mozart’s own words by the bridge, which fits in quite well with the rest of the exposition. The first theme is also complemented well by the more quite, emotional second theme. And the closing theme does very well to summarize all that has happened, both masculine and feminine, during the opening of the piece. After hearing the final repetition of the V-I cadence, we are ready for some further development of the thematic material. In the development Mozart utilizes many of the classic methods to keep the audience entertained such as fragmentation of the theme in new keys and some dynamic variation. It leaves the piece ripe for retransition back into the recapitulation. However this intermediate section marks where I believe Mozart falls short in his argument; he lacks the extensive development of the thematic material that Beethoven makes use of. This leaves his piece relatively stagnant compared to Beethoven’s. It appears to be more technical and less aesthetical.
Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 also begins with a very clear statement of the author’s thesis, which is explained by the subsequent bridge section and complemented by the more fragile second theme in major. The exposition also ends with a summary of the thesis and supporting arguments which come in the form of a closing theme and codetta. What is interesting about Beethoven’s work is the depth of motivic fragmentation and development that he goes into with that one four-note motive. It is as if he is traveling around the world from one country to another by jumping from key to key, instrument to instrument, to evidence his argument from all possible walks of life. Nowhere is this more apparent than the development section, which features repetition of this motive in an almost fugue-like style and takes the rhythm of the motive to develop several one-note lines as well. I find this to be a very effective use of the thesis that Beethoven began with; so simple, but used to such a great effect. Because he develops his argument so well and brings in that extra amount of outside material to back it up, his is the stronger assertion of the two composers’ pieces. He ends his piece with a phenomenal restatement of the already overstated theme, but in this case it works, as it is such a brave and encapsulating theme to begin with.
Upon first listening to each of the pieces with Cicero’s criteria in mind, I originally pictured Mozart’ piece as the more efficient argument because of its direct and straightforward backbone. However, as I listened to them each through again I became more fascinated with the more brazen route taken by Beethoven, and his ability to incorporate such dynamic and melodic variations in so short of a development section. Thus is was the development section for me that made the decision, and Beethoven had the more colorful, interesting things to say, while Mozart was not particularly radical in his defense of his thesis, although it was done quite well all the same. It was truly a tough call and in the end had to be left up to opinion alone.
Piano recital — program
Please look through this list and modify/specify your item on it.
Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, Menuet in G major [or J. S. Bach g minor? ]
Ludwig van Beethoven, Sonata op. 53, “Waldstein,” 1st movement (excerpt)
Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, Menuet in G major [or the J. S. Bach G minor menuet?]
Frederic Chopin, Mazurka, op. 7, no. 2 (excerpt?)
Orlando di Lassus, “Oculus non vidit” (excerpt)
Frederic Chopin, Prelude in E minor (excerpt??)
J. S. Bach, Invention in XXXX
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Sonata in A major (excerpt)
Ludwig van Beethoven, Sonata in A-flat major, op. 110, movement 1 (whole movement?)
Joseph Haydn, Sonata in C (excerpt)
Frederic Chopin, Prelude in E minor (excerpt?)
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Sonata in G major, K283, movement 1 (excerpt)
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Sonata in G major, K283, movement 1 (excerpt?)
Frederic Chopin, Prelude in E minor (excerpt?)
Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, Menuet in G major [or the J. S. Bach menuet?]
Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, Menuet in G major (or J. S. Bach G minor menuet?)
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Sonata in G major (excerpt)
Mozart and Beethoven
Mozart and Beethoven, two musical giants, have very distinct composition styles. This is evident in their highly contrasting C minor Sonatas. Mozart follows the sonata form more closely, but not necessarily easier to analyze. Mozart plays with his first theme a great deal, cutting and transposing it into many places. He almost exclusively uses the first theme in the development. While Mozart is often considered lighter than Beethoven, He does show that he is capable of emotions other than flittering happiness in the recapitulation.
Beethoven has always been known for his darker tone and harmonic complexity. He does not follow the sonata form quite as explicitly as Mozart. He also has a kind of "introductory"/extra theme that sound quite stately. It is also in great contrast to the rest of the piece, which is fast and loud. This introduction is largely soft and slow. Though it does have the same brooding feel, it is not quite as frantic as the ensuing exposition. Beethoven, for his exposition, does follow the standard sonata form. He then introduces the extra theme again right before the development. Like Mozart, he also almost exclusively uses the first theme for the development.
In the recapitulation, Beethoven modulates his first theme into f minor. He then modulate back to c minor for the closing theme. However, this is a trick, as he modulate into a harrowing diminished 7th chord (making us crazy, of course). He then brings in the extra soft theme again and modulates back into c minor. After a short coda, he ends in c minor, resolving all the tension from before.