Musical Analysis

Mozart Fantasia in C minor, K. 475 (piano) with sheet music

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Mozart Fantasia in C minor, K. 475 (piano) with sheet music

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Formal analysis: Mozart’s Fantasia K. 475, C minor

It must be noted that, at the time when W. A. Mozart’s Phantasie K. 475 was created (1785), the elements of musical fantasy – which primarily caused the accentuation of the emotional basis in music in general or, in other words, conditioned the strengthening of musical fantasy as an expression of emotional sentiment, or contributed to the emphasizing of musical-fantasy enthusiasm as a direct expression and emotion – brought about their self-alteration and self-immersion into emotions.

Namely, they seemingly immersed themselves into, or identified themselves with, the elements of the then new general tendencies of (re)animating emotionalism, which would especially develop in 19th-century music (Popović Mladjenović, 2009).

Mozart’s Phantasie transcended the historical and stylistic moment in which it was created, thus what Mozart began was finished by Liszt in his piano composition W. A. Mozart’s Phantasie in C minor, K. 475 103 Sonata in B-minor (1852–1853). It is perfectly reasonable that Mozart’s Phantasie served as a model to Franz Liszt for a typological definition of his one-movement sonata cycle.

The sections existing in Mozart’s (Sonate)-Phantasie (Table 1) represent parts of the sonata form, but at the same time, the same sections, owing to their pronounced singularity (in the sense of thematic and tonal contrasts) constitute quasi movements in the imagined sonata cycle, and this effect is further enhanced by the frequent extreme changes of tempo. (The used score: W. A. Mozart, Sonaten und Fantasien für Klavier in vier Bänden, Urtextausgabe, Band III, Veb Breitkopf & Härtel Musikverlag, Leipzig, 1956.)

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Observed from this angle, Mozart’s Phantasie offers a considerably sharper picture of the applied formal model. The model which is applied is the sonata form with mirror recapitulation.

The other possible model is the one-movement sonata cycle:
1st movement – Adagio (Exposition)
2nd movement –Allegro (Development)
3rd movement – Andantino (“Recapitulation of the second subject”)
4th movement – Piú allegro + Tempo primo (“Transition from the exposition”+recapitulation of the first subject, and coda /entirely Tempo primo viewed as Coda of the 4th movement and, at the same time, of this possible one-movement sonata cycle/).

The most provocative relation in the work is the absence of thematic correlation in the “repeated” second subject (Figure 2). In this case, interaction is accomplished by the construction and character, as secondary elements. Elements from the structural level are additionally supported by tonal elements: by no means less important is the fact
that the musical flow of the second subject is both times in a major key, against the minor key reserved for the first subject (D-major and B flat-major – a key that is a major second apart from the principal key of C-minor).

Formal analysis

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Also, the transition from the exposition represents the starting point for the development, for its considerable extension in the reverse recapitulation, as well as in the coda of the entire work. In addition, the ends of these segments of the music unfolding in time (transition, development, extended transition in recapitulation and coda) perform recognizable musical semantic functions. In addition, the functions with formal meanings especially distinguish themselves with respect to the three-part structure of the development and recapitulation of the transition.


Concerning the perceptive segmentation of the music unfolding in time, which implies a ‘step-by-step’ analysis, the least number of the registered segments was detected by two respondents, while one respondent detected the greatest number, thus exceeding the others. The number of segments observed by the other respondents ranges between 12 and 24. These other respondents mostly detected the greatest number of sections and subsections of the given music piece, whereas they did not single out the macro-parts of the form, nor did they segment the infraphrasal (micro-syntactic) level.

The greatest differences in segmentation were observed with respect to the first subject and the transition from the exposition, as well as the recapitulation of the first subject and coda. The transition from the exposition is the locus which is very rarely differentiated as a unique entity, separate from the first subject.

The first subject is rarely segmented as a sentence-periodical structure. Rather, it is perceived as a unique entity with a separate “head” (“head”-motif) of the first subject (that is, the first four bars of the entire work), which is also observed in all the cases in the recapitulation of the first subject, but its further unfolding is, like the coda, exposed in the recapitulation to the most varied designations. The last bar of the coda and, at the same time, of the work as a whole is singled out as an entity with a special meaning in almost all the cases.

The development and the recapitulation of the extended transition were segmented into three sections by most respondents, regardless of the fact that their mutual boundaries were not always identically delineated by all of them, which is interpreted by the fragmentary structure, especially in the recapitulation of the transition, so that in this way equivalent relations (at a distance) are established between these two separate sections of the musical flow, with the same or similar musical semantic meaning.

What is especially surprising is that the most provocative relation in the composition – the absence of any thematic similarity between the second subject from the exposition and its “repetition” in the recapitulation – was correctly observed and detected by all respondents.

Namely, both times the second subject in all the cases was segmented in a most meticulous and precise way, as a rounded binary form with the unmistakable linkage and separation of that which is linked and that which is separated within this form, with all the designated unwritten and written repetitions, including a reference to the same subsections (which are located at a distance) in W. A. Mozart’s Phantasie in C minor, K. 475 107 those parts of the music unfolding in time. It is evident that the thematic plan is not decisive for the perception and reception of the (non)equivalent parts and their interrelations, and for the creation of cohesion networks of widely varied relations in one consistent and thoughtful music unfolding in time.

It must also be noted that one of the respondents, who designated only 7 segments or, in other words, detected, within them, quite correctly (relative to the offered musicological/musical-theoretical analysis of shaping the music of Mozart’s Phantasie) all the sublevels of segmentation (sections, subsections, periodical and phrase structures, infraphrasal and motif level), while the respondent who detected the greatest number of 30 segments, also determined most correctly all the groupings of the segments, from the most ramified level up to those largest sections which refer to parts of the sonata form or a possible sonata cycle.

In the case of both respondents, one might say that both analyses – the ‘step-by-step’ analysis, characteristic of the listener and the author, and analysis of the analyst conditioned by the point of view of the observer (by watching and listening to the score inside oneself) which ranges from division into larger sections and then into smaller and the smallest – were made simultaneously, but in opposite, dual directions. In fact, the methods are mutually intertwined and, accentuate the same things, only reversely, because music is an abstract construction founded on the intuition of separation, but at the same time of connection, too. The differentiation and integration of equivalent and non-equivalent elements from the domain of musical components are not divergent, but parallel and complementary processes.

We aimed to clarify that whenever a more pronounced process of musical shaping takes place, a conflict is possible between the potential of the habit brought about by the automatization of activities and the actual distribution of energy in the particular musical composition. Thus, in the listener himself, there is an unconscious, unperceived struggle for the identification of the carrier of expression, a struggle between the superimposed processes of thinking in the course of perception, a struggle between the possible (expected) continuations, meaning – in a word, that general, comprehensive musical dynamics are displayed.

The segmentation of Mozart’s Phantasie, the emotional response in relation to the segments, or the relation between the emotional response and the segmented musical structure in the music unfolding in time of Mozart’s Phantasie, show that in spite of the non-standard quality of modeling, Phantasie is unmistakably perceived as a sonata, even though it is rather freely conceived (all the sections of the form are specifically interrelated; the apparently loose thematic and tonal connections of all the parts are linked into a firm whole).

Elements with a special formal meaning indicate the existence of knowledge of the identity – of the sameness of the role of musical details despite permanent changes they are exposed to. Connected with this, if the notion of musical perception was decomposed and enriched by the notions of integrity and identity, the position of the researcher of perception would be improved to a certain extent.

The pillars of musical structure

It is very interesting that, in a considerable number of cases, the correction of segmentation (mostly unconscious and/or intuitive, since the segments were evidently not singled out subsequently, but were clearly localized post festum in the right place, through the textual designation of the point of gravity in the score) was made while designating the structural pillars. In most cases, the structural pillars were precisely elaborated, together with the number of segments detected and mutually adjusted at a high level among the respondents.

Their relatively correct designation refers both to the observation of one dominant feature which coordinates the unfolding of the music at a given moment, and to the differentiation of the summary action of a number of mutually adjusted elements. These elements, in the same combination, occur several times in the work (primarily in the equivalent parts of the form), functioning as the leading direction of the current moment of the musical flux (for example, temporhythm-meter-dynamics; rhythm-articulation; rhythm-texture; dynamics-harmonyagogics…).

In general, the fact that the number of perceived structural pillars is greater than the number of segments observed (the smaller one being in question here) indicates that in the course of listening the respondents were exposed to the entire network of floating points of gravity which changed frequently and fast. Actually, this is one of the main characteristics of the music unfolding in time of Mozart’s Phantasie, which, in emotional terms, and both at the expected and unexpected moments, strongly and constantly dynamizes the musical content.

The almost continuous progression, the increase of tension arches and, thus, even at the moments of the regression of the music unfolding in time – the second subject in the exposition and in the reverse recapitulation – point to the emotional energy potential of such a dynamized music unfolding in view of the relatively fast change of sections a and b (and their variants), which are dominated by different structural points of gravity.

The tempo, meter, rhythm, dynamics, articulation, texture, as the combined structural pillars, are mostly linked to the transition, development and extended recapitulation of the transition (or, it can be probably said, the transition functioning as the second development, which cuts through the point between the recapitulation of the second and first subject), while the melody, harmony, agogics, also as the primary combined
points of gravity, are linked to the first subject and its recapitulation and coda, while the change of individual, specified pillars, such as the melody (section a of the second subject) and the rhythm (section b of the second subject), to both second subjects.

In relation to the aforementioned, the emotional expression, which is linked to the structural points of gravity on the macro-level, is more than clear and coincides with the emotional response to the segments of the work. On the micro-level, however, that ambiguity, in the sense of existence and maintenance of the coupling of the specified same pair: the musical features – the emotional response vanishes in a large measure and, moreover, resists any attempt at generalization, because it simply emerges and acts depending on its micro-local context.

The melody is probably the most distinctive such musical feature in Mozart’s Phantasie, which, in general, is not susceptible to linking to a specific type of emotion, or the spectrum of induced similar emotions. Depending on the musical context in which it assumes the role of the structural point of gravity, the melody is linked to extremely different emotions: both those of uncertainty and safety and fear, helplessness, as well as relaxation and indifference and foreboding, sadness, tension,
explosion, scream.

This insight is certainly related to the changed degree of absence of the same or similar thematic material for the establishment of equivalence of the parts of the music unfolding in time, which are at a distance in the musical flux (that is, in time!). In that sense, it becomes evident that other forms of combining and adjusting musical features in the struggle for assuming the leading role in the regulation and dynamization of the musical structure, as well as other methods of producing its specific emotional coloring begin to dissolve and/or substitute that kind of consistency and automatism of any music unfolding in time, mostly based on conventions (Popović Mladjenović, 1996).

The emotional response pattern in relation to the segments As for the emotional response to the segmentation of the structure and musical semantic function of its parts, the respondents with the least and the greatest numbers of the designated segments (7, 24, 30) grouped them into larger parts (not into the largest!) and tied to them a specific emotional expression.

In their doing so, one can naturally observe a very high degree of coincidence of emotions induced by those structures, through the nuanced demonstration of individual specifics. Something that is a general feature in the case of the three above-mentioned respondents (the grouping of segments with respect to the structural emotion) occurs sporadically in the case of the other respondents as well. In all those cases, one can observe the following connections, both between the parts of the form themselves and between their musical-semantic function and the induced, quite specific emotional expression.

However, in the case of the second subject, both in the exposition and the
recapitulation, the emotional responses of absolutely all the respondents were the same.