Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Rondo Alla Turca from Sonata in A, K.331

Today, a cold front has brought freezing rain to DC.  Four weeks ago, we had a week of 80 degree whether, and now a snow thunderstorm may arrive tonight.  Some people grumble about the rain and winter. It’s just weather, right, so why get so upset about it? And why not listen to a wonderfully stirring piece of music, if you start feeling down?

Something like Mozart’s Rondo alla Turca to get your juices flowing.

By now you know that I love meticulous music that has a driving rhythm. Such pieces energize me. And the Rondo fits the bill.

TheRondo is actually the third movement of Mozart’s Piano Sonata in A, K. 331. The title refers to the 18th century vogue for things from Eurasia, especially Turkey and Persia. I believe this was the time of Germany’s first attempt at empire building and they spent a good deal of time in Anatolia, digging up and looting ancient archeological sites, like Troy and Pergamon, and bringing them back to Europe. France had been influenced in the 1600s by Montesquieu, whose “Lettres Persanes,” a mock set of letters by an imaginary Perdsian Prince visiting Paris, was a scathing critique of modern society. Mozart employed exotic themes and even wrote an opera entitled The Abduction from the Seraglio.

The piece starts out with a quaint little tune that’s played in small snatches. From there it blossoms into an energetic dance played loud and with gusto. He then takes the tune and improvises on it running it up and down the scale, changing the key, and alternating back and forth between quiet and loud. You know the piece: it’s been used in any number of films whenever they want to show energy or motion because it has a “traveling” feel to it.

I don’t remember the first time I heard it, but I know it was when I was a small child. Being the last of five kids, I somehow found myself occupying my spare time listening to music on a small record player we had. My parents had lots of old 78 rpm records, which were collectors items in the 1960s when I was a boy, having given way to long playing stereo 33 rpm vinyl. Perhaps Rondo was on one of those disks. I do know that even hearing it today, it still evokes that sense of joy and happiness that children have such an easy ability to access.

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Mozart Biography


About kurtnemes
Writer and Education Professional. Specialties include Ethics, Personal Memoir, Classical music, Tai Chi, Stress Reduction, Meditation, Coping, Classical Music, Aging, Love, Joy, Compassion and Equanimity (& what interests me.)

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