Born on 27January 1756 in Salzburg, Austria, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was one of the mostinfluential composers of the Classical Era. Competent in both the keyboard andviolin from a young age, Mozart started composing from the age of five andperformed for royalty.
Mozart composed over 600 works in his lifetime, and wasa profound influence in Western Music. Composers that were influenced by Mozartincluded Ludwig van Beethoven, who composed his early works in the shadow ofMozart. The K457 is the14th in a series of 18 Sonatas composed by Mozart for the piano.Composed and completed in 1784, during Mozart’s time in Vienna, the K457 in Cminor was one of only two sonatas that the composer had written in a Minor key,an unusual practice of the time. This hinted that the K457, just like the K310in A minor (written after the death of his mother), was a highly personal workto Mozart. The K457follows the traditional sonata form in a fast-slow-fast format. Considered bymany to be one of Mozart’s most important piano sonatas, going forth to inspiremany future composers – specifically, Beethoven’s “Pathetique” Sonata in CMinor, Op. 13, that is structurally similar to the K457, and is notably similarin its second movement (in the key of Ab), to the second theme of the K457’ssecond movement.
The K457 is often paired with the Fantasy in C Minor, K475,although it is uncertain whether or not Mozart had intended for them to beperformed together. Its firstmovement, Molto Allegro, begins with its theme strongly and boldly stated, inoctaves. The theme is developed on before modulating to the second theme at bar36, in the key of Eb major. Supported by an alberti bass in the left hand, thistheme gives a contrasting graceful feel compared to the first theme.
At bar 75,the firsts theme is introduced again, however, this time in C major. Rapidly,it develops into the second theme, presented in F minor, before transitioningto a variation of the first theme, with a running triplet notes in the lefthand, played through from G minor, G major, C minor, G major7, and resolving ina G major7. Finally, we recapitulate into the first theme again, developinginto the relative major of Ab in bar 121. The movement then develops furtherbefore ending in the key of C minor. The secondmovement opens with its first theme in Eb major.
The theme elaborates withstark dynamic changes between forte and piano whilst maintaining its calm andgentle demeanor. The movement then proceeds to its second theme, in the key ofAb major in bar 24. The harmony used here likely inspired Beethoven’s second movementof his “Pathetique” Sonata Op 13. After much elaboration and virtuosic scalar passages,the movement returns to a minor variation of the first theme, still in Eb major,ending in the same key. This entire movement clearly uses a tenary form (ABA) structurethat is very easily distinguished. The final movementbegins with its first theme in the key of C minor. Having a “singing” melodic lineon the right hand with accompanying harmonies inn the left hand, the theme is elaboratedon until we arrive at our first transition at bar 45 with the bass Bb notes. Here,we are introduced to our second theme in Eb major, and after much elaboration, wereturn to our first theme in C minor.
At bar 143-144, we modulate into the thirdtheme in F minor, which guides us into a reintroduction of the second theme in bar167, this time in a minor key (C minor). From here, we see the first theme in Cminor one more time before the piece concludes.