The Importance of Function Over Form in the Classical Concerto

1406 Words 6 Pages
In the 18th century, the concerto was transformed into a viable instrumental genre to both demonstrate virtuosity as well as a cohesive character that embodied the natural. Though the series of changes from the Baroque concerto grosso to the Classical concerto were gradual and cannot be attributed to a single composer, the Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor K. 466 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is a skillful representation of the genre in that era. Of particular interest in this concerto is the treatment of sonata form in the first movement. When compared to other instrumental genres of that era, there is a tangible divide between the sonata form of the concerto and that of other instrumental genres such as the symphony. To understand this …show more content…
466, is a synthesis of both sonata form and the Baroque ritornello principle. In this concerto, for example, the opening orchestra tutti is not a “first exposition,” because it remains in the tonic throughout and does not contain the complete compliment of themes. Thus, this tutti serves as preparation for the soloist, who enters with a novel theme in measure 77. After the completion of the exposition in both D-minor and F-major by soloist and orchestra, there is a short transition (mm. 174-192) based upon the opening material leading into the tonally unstable development. The remainder of the first movement retains much of this format. As W.H. Hadow states, “the form of the soloist’s portions are thus comparable to sonata form, but the form of the whole is still governed by the ritornello.” The different manifestation of sonata form in the genre of the concerto may lead one to believe that the form of the Classical concerto developed independently of other genres that exercise this form. In fact, K. 466, with its ritornello principle, bares close resemblance to the da capo aria. As the Classical concerto functions as a platform for virtuosic display for the soloist, similar to an aria for a vocalist, the form of the first movement of K. 466 is a result of the stylistic and functional demands of the concerto. In the 18th century, there was an increase in the ideals of contrast, communication, expression and
Open Document