What Is A Symphony? Part 2

I’m back it today talking about what a symphony is, and I want to teach you about what ties all the movements together. The short answer to this is the keys of each movement tie everything together. The long answer is a bit more involved because we have to understand what a key is. In the last post, I mentioned that you would be listening to Mozart’s Little G-minor symphony? The key of that symphony is in G-minor. Often the title of a composition will include the key, like Symphony in D Major, Piano Sonata in E-flat, etc.

So what is a key? Here are the basics:

  1. It’s the note that all the music is centered around. The composition will usually start on that note and eventually end on it as well.

  2. Major (like D Major) refers to the tonal quality or characteristic of the work. We connect Major keys to feelings of happiness. Minor is the opposite. We relate minor keys to feels of sadness, fear, or trouble.

  3. The second and third movements of a symphony change keys but are similar enough that they relate. The fourth movement is in the original key, but sometimes composers will use the major or minor mode in contrast to the first movement.  

Follow the link to listen to another excellent symphony today by Joseph Haydn. This is his 94th symphony in the key of G-Major. This symphony is also nicknamed the surprise symphony because Haydn plays a music joke in the second movement. If you remember in the last post, I mentioned that second movements are quiet, peaceful, and make it easy to fall asleep. Haydn knew this and just when his audience was dozing off,.... You should listen along with your kids to hear what happens. 

The second movement was so popular, even at the premiere, that the audience insisted on hearing it again by shouting “Encore! Encore!” which means “again, again” in French. 

I hope you are learning more and more about classical music and beginning to enjoy it more than you ever have. Be sure to share your thoughts with me on social media or down below in the comments. I am doing this for M3 Creative Academy’s students to enhance their music education experience. Also, if you like what I am teaching you, please share it with others who have kids and might benefit from these videos and posts. Thanks!