Skip to main content

GCSE Music Analysis: Mozart's Symphony No. 40 in G Minor

  • Author:
  • Updated date:

I'm currently a full-time student living and studying in London. For years I've written about the environment, science, and psychology.



Features of the Classical Period (1750–1830)

  • Balanced phrases.
  • Simple textures.
  • Harpsichord replaced with piano.
  • Range of wind instruments.

Sonata Form

Mozart's Symphony No. 40 is written in Sonata form. Sonata form consists of the three following parts:


  • Exposition is where the main themes (usually 2) are initially presented.
  • The first theme is always in the home key. (In this case it's G Minor)
  • The second subject contrasts to the first and is always in a related key to the first. (In this case, it's B ♭ Major, which is the relative major of G minor).


  • Development is where the composer 'develops' one or both ideas that were heard in the exposition.
  • The section features various keys but avoids using the tonic or the dominant. (In this symphony it moves through various keys but starts in F# minor).
  • Music in this section is often ambiguous and is constantly changing and feels restless because of the exploration of different keys.


  • Recapitulation is a 'recap' of the exposition.
  • The first subject is in the tonic key (G Minor) as it was in the exposition section and the second subject is also in the tonic key and there is no modulation as the work draws to a close.
  • Sometimes the work finishes with a small coda.


  • Balanced phrases (4 or 8 bars) that sound like questions and answers.
  • Many phrases are scalic (made up of scales).


  • Diatonic and functional harmonies.
  • Based around standard major and minor chords with examples of chromatic chords.
  • A circle of fifths progression as heard in the second subject.
  • Pedal notes which are heard in the alto part before the second subject begins.

Rhythm, Metre and Tempo

  • 4/4 throughout.
  • Molto Allegro tempo (very fast).
  • Simple rhythms and occasional use of dotted rhythms and syncopation to create momentum and add interest.


  • Mostly homophonic.
  • Use of imitation and octave doubling (different parts playing the same thing but in a higher range).
  • Dialogue between woodwind and strings.


  • In the exposition the first subject is quiet (apart from a short passage in the middle).
  • The second subject begins quietly and gets louder towards the end.
  • In the development there is a loud section in the middle but it starts and ends quickly.
  • The recapitulation has similar dynamics to the exposition.
  • Most dynamics occur suddenly and there are only a few crescendos and no diminuendos.


  • It is played by a chamber orchestra made up of strings, woodwind and horns.
  • The strings are busy most of the time and plays a variety of things such as the melody, running scales, sustained notes and chords.
  • The woodwind instruments do not play as much as the strings and they tend to have more sustained notes and not as many quick runs. They share the start of the second subject with the strings.
  • There are two horns in different keys which maximizes the number of notes.


PL09862 on May 24, 2020:

May I ask what is the musical form of Mozart: Symphony No. 40 in G minor (3rd movement)? Please reply! :))))

Jj on April 21, 2017:

There is no intermedio them? There are just 2 themes?

Nadia Akhtar on February 25, 2017:

This is so useful and has helped me greatly with homework!Thank you so much for the amazing analysis

?????? on December 07, 2016:

really helpful thanks

Pofkins on November 22, 2016:

It should probably be noted that this article is pertinent to the first movement of the symphony.

The symphony is a musical genre in which multiple "movements" make up the symphony.

The first, second and last movements of this symphony are in sonata form, the third one is in minuet and trio form.

kay on November 01, 2016:

thank you so much for the info

ya boi on October 30, 2016:

David, if you can't tell the difference between your and you're; I don't think you have much chance in passing anything.

Human on October 18, 2016:

Thanks so much!!! Life saverrrrr xxx

Evalyn Arnette on August 13, 2016:

Good post ! I loved the points - Does someone know where my company could possibly locate a fillable IRS 1023 copy to complete ?

Rain on November 20, 2015:

The tonality is the key... So G minor.

poppity pop on October 21, 2015:


friend on September 03, 2015:

what about tonality?

jake on March 02, 2015:


EllieWhoStrugglesWithEverything on March 01, 2015:

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, THANK YOU OMYLIFE!! I hope you don't mind that I made 9 completely covered double sided revision flash card things from this information and I am so grateful! Onto: Handel - And the Glory of the Lord!!

SHIZ on February 26, 2015:

Thanks! I might pass

David on May 26, 2014:

I think i actually have a chance of passing music your brilliant :*

Carys on January 12, 2014:

Thank you so much for this! It is so clear it has helped me understand the piece much better. Thank you!

Emily (author) on January 05, 2014:

Thank you! Good luck revising.

Hannah Miller on January 05, 2014:

You are a life saver, these music notes are amazing!!

Undergraduate Music Student on December 15, 2013:

^suddenly changing dynamics can be described as "Terrased Dynamics" - only in this baroque context though, also this piece is performed by a SYMPHONY orchestra not a CHAMBER orchestra, the difference being its size, the groups of instruments involved, and the era in which it was written, to a certain extent

Lizzie on October 26, 2013:

oh my god this is fabulous

Emily (author) on October 14, 2012:

Haha, you're welcome :)

Zozo on October 13, 2012:

I love you. Thanks. A lot.

Freyja on September 18, 2012:

this really helped thanks :)

Shawn on May 10, 2012: