Which symphonic movements are clear examples of sonata-allegro form?
February 1, 2008 2:14 PM   Subscribe

Which symphonic movements are clear examples of sonata-allegro form? (Exposition - Development - Recapitulation.) I'm looking for movements with really catchy, memorable themes, interesting development sections, and clear differences in the recapitulation.

I'm giving a series of presentations on classical music, and I'm about to tackle sonata-allegro form with a roomful of classical newbies. I'm looking for symphonic movements, preferably in the Classical Era (ie, the time of Haydn and Mozart), that clearly demonstrate the workings of the form. I've been using the fourth movement from Mozart's Symphony No. 40, and it seems almost perfect for this. I'm also using the first movement of Mozart's Sonata Facile (K 545). I would like more such examples.

Ideally we'll have clear, memorable themes that aren't too long. We'll have an interesting development section that makes clear use of the themes. Then the recapitulation will have some clear and interesting differences to the themes.

posted by agropyron to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Pretty much all 1st movements of classical symphonies are clear examples of Sonata-Allegro form. Pick any at random from Mozart or Haydn and go! The scores are available very cheaply through Dover Productions for $5-7 per score (sometimes for a book of 2-3 scores) -- even cheaper used.

Beethoven's 1st movements (and often 2nd movements) are usually pretty clearly sonata-allegro too. Especially the first 2 symphonies, which are a bit more "classical" and a bit cleaner to analyze formally.
posted by Alabaster at 2:37 PM on February 1, 2008

Response by poster: Well, to be clear, I've listened to plenty of Mozart and Haydn symphonies and analyzed their structure. I was hoping there would be others here who have done a lot of that, and who have suggestions for particularly clear examples.

I'd have posted on a classical music forum, but every time I've had a question like this in the past I've gotten better answers on AskMe than from the classical music forums.
posted by agropyron at 2:49 PM on February 1, 2008

Mozart's Eine Kleine Nachtmusik is about the clearest example I know. Short, simple, tuneful.
posted by languagehat at 5:50 PM on February 1, 2008

Seconding Beethoven, in particular the "Eroica" Symphony (his third). A little later and a little more Romantic than Mozart and Haydn, but the form is what you are looking for.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 8:35 PM on February 1, 2008

Run, don't walk, to Peter Schickele's "New Horizions in Music Appreciation", which can be found on one of his P.D.Q. Bach records (I see it's collected here, not sure if you can find it cheaper). It's the first movement of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony with narration on top of it as if it were a sporting event. It's really funny, but just as importantly, everything in it is accurate, including the description of the form as it progresses. Listening to this will really help a classical music newbie learn how sonata form works (and not just what it is).
posted by dfan at 9:11 AM on February 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

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