|Relative key||C♯ minor|
|Parallel key||E minor|
|E, F♯, G♯, A, B, C♯, D♯, E|
Only two of Haydn's 104 symphonies are in E major, No. 12 and No. 29. Even in the 19th Century, symphonies in this key were rare, with Bruckner's Symphony No. 7 being one of very few examples (see list of symphonies in E major). For Bruckner, "the key of E major is frequently associated with music of contemplation."
More typically, however, some symphonies that begin in E minor switch to E major for the finale, such as Sergei Rachmaninoff's Symphony No. 2, Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5 and Dmitri Shostakovich's Symphony No. 10.
Johann Sebastian Bach used E major for a violin concerto, as well as for his third partita for solo violin; the key is especially appropriate for the latter piece because its tonic (E) and subdominant (A) correspond to open strings on the violin, enhancing the tone color (and ease of playing) of the bariolage in the first movement. Felix Mendelssohn used E major for the finale of his well-known violin concerto, switching from a beginning in E minor, exploiting these advantages for the solo voice.
Though E major is a very difficult key for wind instruments, it is acceptable for orchestral strings, and quite suitable for the guitar. If available, clarinets in A should be used instead of clarinets in B-flat; the A clarinets would be written in G major, while the B-flats would be written in F-sharp or G-flat major.
The bells of the Clock Tower in London's Palace of Westminster are tuned to the key of E major, with the result that the Westminster Quarters in their original setting employ the notes E, F-sharp, G-sharp, and B.
- Philip Barford, Bruckner Symphonies Seattle: University of Washington Press (1978): 52
|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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