String Quartet No. 15 (Mozart)

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's String Quartet No. 15 in D minor, K. 421/417b is the second of the Quartets dedicated to Haydn and the only one of the set in a minor key. Though undated in the autograph,[1] it is believed to have been completed in 1783, while his wife Constanze Mozart was in labour with her first child Raimund.[2] Constanze stated that the rising string figures in the second movement corresponded to her cries from the other room. [3]


It is in four movements:

  1. Allegro moderato
  2. Andante (F major)
  3. Menuetto and Trio (the latter in D major). Allegretto
  4. Allegretto ma non troppo

The first movement is characterized by a sharp contrast between the aperiodicity of the first subject group, characterized by Arnold Schoenberg as "prose-like," and the "wholly periodic" second subject group.[4] In the Andante and the Minuet, "normal expectations of phraseology are confounded."[5] The main part of the Minuet is in minuet sonata form,[6] while "the contrasting major-mode Trio ... is ... almost embarrassingly lightweight on its own ... [but] makes a wonderful foil to the darker character of the Minuet."[7] The last movement is a set of variations. The movement ends in a picardy third.[8]


  1. ^ The Ten Celebrated String Quartets (2007), p. X
  2. ^ John Irving, Mozart: The 'Haydn' Quartets. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (1998): 13. "There is an anecdote, reported by Constanze to Vincent and Mary Novello in 1829, that Mozart wrote the D minor quartet K.421 while she was in labour with their first child, Raimund, and therefore around 17 June 1783."
  3. ^ Wolfgang Hildesheimer, Mozart. Oxford: Oxford University Press (1977, 1985): "...we are probably right in assuming that it was the sudden forte of the two octave leaps and the following minor tenth (bars 31-32 of the andante), a brief uproar that quiets down, in a syncopated passage, to piano. These are figures that otherwise do not occur in Mozart."
  4. ^ Irving (1998): 33
  5. ^ Irving (1998): 35
  6. ^ Charles Rosen, Sonata Forms. New York: W. W. Norton (1988): 112 - 114
  7. ^ Irving (1998): 36
  8. ^,_K.421/417b_(Mozart,_Wolfgang_Amadeus)


  • Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus (2007). The Ten Celebrated String Quartets. Translated by Anderson, Kinloch. Kassel: Bärenreiter Verlag.  ISMN M-006-20118-1

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