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Thread: Classical/Romantic Concerto Sonata-Rondo Form

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    Default Classical/Romantic Concerto Sonata-Rondo Form

    In the concerto finale Sonata-Rondo there appear to be two approaches. In both the form is ABACABA, most of the time.

    In many of Mozart's piano concertos the A section is a simple ritornello, primarily tutti, not involved in the sonata design. The first B section is a complete sonata exposition, primarily solo, and the second a complete recapitulation with C being a development, of course. Girdlestone describes this design on pp. 51-52 of Mozart And His Piano Concertos. He also says, on p. 87, that "Beethoven used it, certainly; but he did not modify it and he left it as he received it from Mozart."

    However, in concerto finales from Beethoven to Brahms the design IS modified. In these later concerto finales the A section is not simply a ritornello but is the first theme of the sonata design ending with a transition to B which is the second theme and closing, followed by a retransition to the home key for the return to A. This is the way it is usually taught in schools.

    So is Girdlestone wrong?

    It makes sense that Mozart's design is closer to the baroque ritornello forms, while Beethoven's design more fully incorporates the sonata design as it came to dominate most movements in the romantic period.

    Finally, it also seems to make sense that Mozart used this second design for finales of his symphonies. He appears to have saved both themes and the key change for the piano in the concertos.

    Thoughts on this will be appreciated.
    Last edited by drmdjones; Mar-05-2019 at 18:50. Reason: Typo

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