|Relative key||F minor|
|Parallel key||A♭ minor
enharmonic: G♯ minor
|Dominant key||E♭ major|
|A♭, B♭, C, D♭, E♭, F, G, A♭|
Beethoven chose A-flat major as the key of the slow movement for most of his C minor works, a practice which Anton Bruckner imitated in his first two C minor symphonies and also Antonín Dvořák in his only C minor symphony.
Since A-flat major was not often chosen as the main key for orchestral works of the 18th Century, passages or movements in the key often retained the timpani settings of the preceding movement. For example, Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 in C minor has the timpani set to C and G for the first movement. With hand tuned timpani, there is no time to retune the timpani to A-flat and E-flat for the slow second movement in A-flat; accordingly, the timpani in this movement are reserved for the passages in C major. In Bruckner's Symphony No. 1 in C minor, however, the timpani are retuned between the first movement in C minor and the following in A-flat major.
Sir Edward Elgar's Symphony No. 1 in A-flat major is probably the best-known symphony in that key in the standard orchestral repertoire. However, Arnold Bax's 7th Symphony is also in the same key.
A-flat major was the flattest major key to be used as the home key for the keyboard and piano sonatas of Domenico Scarlatti, Joseph Haydn and Ludwig van Beethoven, with each of them using the key for two sonatas: Scarlatti's K. 127 and K. 130, Haydn's Hob XVI 43 and 46, and Beethoven's Op. 26 and Op. 110, while Franz Schubert used it for one piano sonata. It was also the flattest major key to be used for the preludes and fugues in Johann Sebastian Bach's Well-Tempered Klavier, as flatter major keys were notated as their enharmonic equivalents.
Felix Mendelssohn, Johann Nepomuk Hummel, John Field, and Friedrich Kalkbrenner each wrote one piano concerto in A-flat (Mendelssohn's being for two pianos); they had the horns and trumpet tuned to E-flat. Max Bruch's Concerto for Two Pianos in A-flat minor has its last movement in A-flat major, which is the parallel major; this concerto plays with the contrast between the two keys.
- Ludwig van Beethoven - Piano Sonata No. 31
- Frédéric Chopin - "Heroic" Polonaise Op. 53
- Scott Joplin - "Maple Leaf Rag"
- Sir Edward Elgar - Symphony No. 1 in A-flat major
- Franz Liszt - Liebestraume No. 3
- Johannes Brahms - Waltz in A flat major, Op. 39
- Frederic Chopin - Impromptu No. 1 in A flat major
- Charles-Marie Widor, Manual of Practical Instrumentation translated by Edward Suddard, Revised Edition. London: Joseph Williams, Ltd. (1946) Reprinted Mineola, New York: Dover (2005): 11. "No key suits it [the flute] better than D♭ [major]. ... A♭ [major] is likewise an excellent key."
Scales and keys
|Diatonic scales and keys|
|The table indicates the number of sharps or flats in each scale. Minor scales are written in lower case.|
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