Mozart piano sonata, Mozart Sonata in F Major K. 332, music study and ripening, musical phrasing, musical phrasing and breathing, pianist

Playing Mozart: Phrasing and Nuance

Expressing Mozart’s piano music beautifully is a composite of many ingredients that include vocal modeling; an understanding of form/structure and harmonic elements; sound imaging, and in the cosmos of the imagination, exploring how to produce what we want to hear. In our ongoing phase of “experimentation,” we delve through a terrain of unclarity, seeking ways to phrase expressively with shape and contour, accepting the premise that decisions we make are subject to change as our immersion deepens.

In a spirit of being receptive to a filter of new “ideas”, I revisited Mozart’s Sonata in F, K. 332, (Exposition) recreating the steps I took in sculpting phrases.

Along the path of my renewed journey, I discovered the following “POINTS of Interest” about the Exposition that provided a necessary framing of my re-learning process. I borrow a few, in part, from Dr. Clark Ross:

“There are several thematic ideas, if the transition is included. Each of the thematic ideas has a musical character that is distinct from the others.” (My comment, I found many more thematic strands in this Exposition than in most of the Mozart Sonatas I’ve studied, and each needs a unique realization through a synthesis of the musical and physical aspects of playing.)

“Principal Theme 2, (PT2) and Second Theme 3 (ST3) have similar textures (homo-rhythmic, homophonic) but their character is different. PT2 is playful, dance-like, while ST3 is more solemn and chorale-like.

“The direct modulation to d minor at the beginning of the transition (in a markedly contrasting section) is striking. It’s part of the abrupt dramatic change to the “Sturm und Drang” character. “Storm and Stress.” (from Wikipedia: Sturm und Drang is literally “turbulence and urgency.”)

(Paraphrase)…. This transition is uniquely syncopated and intense, emphasized by frequent Sforzando markings–(I note a poignant sequential modulation from D minor to C minor, via diminished chord entrances) SEQUENCES, like these, are formidable in Mozart’s music and provoke emotional/aesthetic responses.

Dr. Ross effectively reinforces structural and harmonic considerations in the Exposition that are important underpinnings of analyses, but these will not amply address the aesthetics of creating well-shaped phrases with a Mozartean singing-tone character.

In my tutorial, I absorbed a harmonic and structural dimension that ultimately complemented and expanded a hands-on, “experimental” journey through the Exposition. It included “emotional” responses to harmonic shifts and sequences that permeate the composer’s music, while it infused the learning process with a pronounced feature of attentive listening. (i.e Listening to the decay from a previous note or sonority into the next, especially in crossover measures) Riveted attention to dissolving tones, prevents unwanted accents in measures where students misguidedly believe that the first beat of 3/4, in this instance, comes with an unchallenged pronounced emphasis. If executed in this way, a phrase can be upended by interruptions in the smooth flow of a musical line. Similarly, crescendo’s made prematurely and peaking on a downbeat, because of metrical misconception, must be re-aligned otherwise to enhance expressive playing.

Where Mozart has a plethora of juxtaposed repeated notes in his contrasting themes, I demonstrate ways of shaping these, so they’re not robotically rendered.

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Thoughts on learning Mozart Sonata No. 12 in F, K. 332 (first movement)

After my review of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Drawing Room” Sonata K. 545 in C, Allegro, I discovered by comparison that the opening movement of K. 332 in F Major, had a more complex mosaic. In the short space of its nearly three page exposition, K. 332’s multiple themes weave through markedly contrasting sections. *A Sturm und Drang, or “storm and stress” impassioned set of “minor mode” measures, for instance intersperses more lighthearted “Major” phrases. Perhaps Mozart’s shifts of mood/emotion and dynamics early on in the Exposition, foreshadowed what the composer later expressed with rich development and poignance in his last Symphonies 39, 40 and 41.

*Music History – Sturm und Drang Movement

“During this period, a new literary and artistic movement called “Sturm und Drang” (meaning storm and stress) had an impact on music. It soon became fashionable to write music that was slightly turbulent and hinted at emotional depths which reflected the political upheaval and cultural transformation which was occurring at this period in time. The name came from a 1777 play by Klinger and music which represented this style included Gluck’s opera “Orfeo ed Euridice” and some of Mozart’s operas.” (I would add Mozart Symphonies and Sonatas where applied)

More About Sonata in F, K. 332 (WIKI)

“The Piano Sonata No. 12 in F major by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, K. 332/300k, was written at the same time as the Piano Sonata, K. 330 and Piano Sonata, K. 331 (Alla turca), Mozart numbering them as a set from one to three. They were once believed to have been written in the late 1770s in Paris, but it is now thought more likely that they date from 1783, by which time Mozart had moved to Vienna.[1] Some believe, however that Mozart wrote this and the other sonatas during a summer 1783 visit to Salzburg made for the purpose of introducing his wife, Constanze to his father, Leopold. All three sonatas were published in Vienna in 1784.”


As a relative newbie to K. 332, I conjecture that my early, baby-step learning process might assist others in their respective musical journeys, so I’ve attached a short tutorial.

Mozart Sonata in F K. 332 revised

Mozart Sonata in F K. 332 p. 2

Mozart Sonata in F K. 332 p. 3