Mozart's Concerto 1st-Movement Form

Mozart's typical concerto 1st-movement is in a modified concerto-ritornello form.  The general plan (as seen below) can be modified in various ways.  Mozart achieves balance within the movement by carefully spacing the recurrence of themes.  The procedure below combines: The orchestral expositions and recapitulations vary, omitting one or more elements of the soloist's thematic or closing material --  either the transitional tutti or closing tutti is de-emphasized.

A Mozart concerto 1st-movement is generally constructed as follows:

  1. Preliminary exposition by the orchestra of some of the principal themes, centering, for the most part, around the tonic key.
  2. Fuller exposition by the orchestra and solo, usually introducing additional themes, expanding the transitions and cadences, and modulating to the dominant (or relative major) as in the Sonata-Allegro form of a symphony
  3. Codetta-like extension of the previous cadence by the orchestra
  4. Development section (as in Sonata-Allegro) with both solo and orchestra
  5. Recapitulation with solo and orchestra (Mozart displays great variety here -- in the order and combination of themes)
  6. 2nd codetta -- for orchestra, which comes to a pause on a tonic six-four chord
  7. Cadenza for solo, improvised by the soloist, or in an improvisatory style using thematic material from the preceding sections together with free figurations, ending with a conventional trill on the supertonic over a dominant 7th chord and cadencing on the tonic chord
  8. Coda, for the orchestra without soloist (with a few exceptions)