Mozart in E minor : a playlist

Posted in Listen ● 10 April 2021

Mozart in E minor : a playlist

According to Ernst Pauer’s Analysis of Keys in Certain Compositions, key characteristics for E minor are that it “represents grief, mournfulness, and restlessness of spirit.” If we follow Hugo Riemann’s Interpretations of Keys, E minor should be seen as “full of passion, painful palpitation and impetuousness”.

Unlike other composers (Bach, Haydn among them), Mozart wrote a very few works in the key of E minor. He did, however, devote one of his finest masterpieces to it : the heartbreaking Sonata for Pianoforte & Violin #21 K.304. The piece was composed in Paris, during the same period that Mozart’s mother, Anna Maria Mozart, died. With the very ironic Lied “Das Alte” K.517, it is the only work by Mozart whose home key is E minor.

However, a few isolated movements in E minor can be found in Mozart’s work: the “Agnus Dei” from Missa brevis K.49, the aria con chorus “Lodi al gran Dio” from oratorio La Betulia Liberata, the beautiful adagio from Quartet for strings #3 K.156, or the splendid and very handelian “Quoniam” from Great Mass K.427.

In Duet “Fra gli amplessi” from Cosi fan tutte, you can hear a sudden shift from the dominant, E major, to its parallel E minor. In Symphony #12 K.110, the Trio from the Menuetto is in E minor.

You can hear all these works in our playlist “Mozart in E minor”, as well as masterpieces written in this key by Bach, Haydn, Beethoven, Chopin & Mendelsssohn !

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