Piano composer: Mozart
Mozart and Alla Turca
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) is undoubtedly a genius of classical music that still holds a special place in today’s musical scene.
He was able to reach the top through the excellent education he received from his father Leopold Mozart, composer, violinist and highly respected professor at the time, but also through his own talent, especially as a composer and musician. He embraced all musical styles of his time and became a prodigy in piano and violin that he picked up with ease. He was also one of the most important masters of the Opera. His exceptional mastery greatly influenced the design of the concerto, the symphony and sonata. He left behind more than 626 works.
With Joseph Haydn, Mozart is the composer who best represents the classic style, but his music goes far beyond this: it has combined a style that is both gallant and erudite, within his works there are contrapuntal complexities of the late Baroque mixed with some of the most innovative styles for its time. This daring artist is a jack-of-all trades: according to his discoveries, each genre, each instrument and musical form draws. His curiosity has no limits, and this is what made him an accomplished composer: his works bring together both the strength and grace as well as emotion and sadness.
One of the most important works of Mozart is the Sonata nº11 piano in A major, composed around 1780 (the exact date and place are not known).
This work is particularly famous and recognisable by its third movement called "Alla Turca" (meaning, "the Turkish way") or "Turkish March". The structure is as follows: Tema: Andante Grazioso, Menuetto and Rondo alla Turca: Allegretto. The first movement sets a theme with six variations and is highly pure melody. The second movement is extremely lyrical, serene and noble in its melody. As for the last movement, the best known, he imitates the style of a Turkish Janissaries company. This final part is characterised by the use of piccolos, cymbals, triangles and numerous percussions. Mozart seems to have gathered all knowledge and sophisticated techniques to create a work of heavenly beauty, yet extremely complex: percussions are barely hinted, hand crossings, broken arpeggios ... All of his mastery is expressed progressively after each variation.
Furthermore, the last movement of this unique sonata presents rhythmic elements to describe a military march with a steady pulse, a two beat bar and a binary rhythm. The tempo range (the allegretto, which corresponds to the speed of the music) and regular rhythmic stature (which refers to the regular group of measures) also defines the "Turkish March". In addition, some essential features of the classic style are also found in this composition: harmony, balance and symmetry are expertly worked by Mozart.
However, this is not the only example of an imitation of Turkish music, which was a very fashionable at the time: in the same field, Mozart composed the opera The Abduction in the Seraglio, and Concerto violin No.5 ( "Turkish Concerto"). The Abduction from the Seraglio (1782), for example, in the form of three acts. This very characteristic work tells of a noble Belmonte’s attempt to rescue his bride, Konstanze, who was kept prisoner in the palace of Salim, a Turkish Pasha. In this way, this light and entertaining work exposes some Turkish stereotypes through their character and also displays the Turkish style of music of the time. This composition of Mozart features a triangle, cymbals and a big drum to mimic the Turkish Janissaries. Another feature of this work to know: is the Singspiel, a theatrical work similar to the French comic opera. This kind of music is characterised by the complete lack of recitatives (because these usually take place during spoken dialogue) and the lack of sung melodies that often take a popular tone. Thus, the first Singspiel by Mozart was “Bastien and Bastienne” (1768), a pastoral work which tells stories of love rather turbulent.