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Mozart’s songs on piano – exploring Mozart’s legacy on piano

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Mozart was much more than just your average composer, and is still a household name all over the world. In addition to composing and publishing around 600 works, he made his living playing and performing music, and would become one of the most iconic piano composers there is. Many of the popular Mozart songs, sonatas and concertos are still known today, used on films, television, and performed in classical concerts worldwide.

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Highlights of Mozart’s career

What Mozart was able to do in his life as a composer was certainly impressive, but what sets him apart from many other composers is an incredible performing career, starting as early as five years old. Mozart learned how to play piano very young, and long before Mozart’s most famous works he was honing his skills. Mozart began giving performances very early, much younger than most. 

This article includes many Mozart piano pieces, the answer to when did Mozart start playing piano, as well as Mozart’s most famous works, Mozart’s famous pieces, and the best Mozart songs. We know that Mozart wrote some of the best piano songs, but there are some other impressive facts from his career that his fans (and any music fans) should know about:

  • He wrote and published over 600 pieces of music
  • Began performing at 5 years old on piano
  • At 8 he wrote his first symphony
  • At 11 he created his first opera, “La Finte Simplice” 
  • At 13 he wrote out the music of Gregorio Allegiri’s “Misere” after hearing a single performance, using his memory of the pieces
  • Wrote over 50 symphonies
  • Wrote 21 stage pieces and operas, including his most famous operas: The Magic Flute, The Marriage of Figaro, and Don Giovanni
  • He wrote 18 masses, primarily to be played on the organ
  • He wrote 19 piano sonatas

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Famous Mozart songs

Many of the most famous Mozart pieces were not written for piano originally. Sometimes the best classical piano songs and their melodies are not originally piano songs. Commonly, classical music with other instrumentation will change into solo piano music. 

Other musicians have, at times, taken some of Mozart’s written famous music like Eine Kleine Nachtmusik which was originally written for a string quartet, or an individual piece from his requiem, and then change and re-write the music Mozart wrote so that it can be played on solo piano. This means there is sheet music to play most songs, and some of the most famous Mozart piano music wasn’t even written for piano.

Alla Turca

This is one of Mozart’s songs for piano that is commonly played in the key of A minor and focuses on switching between an A minor and an E minor chord, with lots of chromatic passing tones written in the bouncing melody. In the second half the piece changes key to the relative major, A Major, even though the key signature does not change. The Turkish-influenced composition has an exotic feel to it.

Mozart composed many pieces like this that include simple melodies and simple piano chords, but the Rondo Alla Turca is such a keen and interesting piece of music that it will get stuck in your head. This is an example of one of Mozart’s easy piano compositions, with simple melodies that even beginners can start to play.

A Little Night Music – Eine Kleine Nachtmusik 

Written in the key of G major, and originally a Mozart composition for violin, be aware that this melody has many different stages of development and evolves throughout the performance, by changing ever so slightly until reaching a boiling point, delightful bouncing movement, and then ultimately rising through the key signature and returning to resolution.

Be aware also that at measure 9 the rhythm of the melody begins to develop from using entirely quarter notes and eighth notes to using sixteenth notes. Sixteenth notes are exactly half the rate of an eighth note, and one-quarter the length of a quarter note. This gives the song a feeling of “speeding up” with more urgency. 

Count the rhythm in measure nine like this, making sure to pay attention to the quarter notes in the left hand. The great thing about quarter notes is that they all are on downbeats, so you can use them to make sure the right hand is playing exactly in time with the downbeat in the left hand. The left hand is a useful anchor for performance.  

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Sonata No. 11

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Piano Sonata No. 11 begins with a simple beautiful melody, played in octaves between the hands. This piano song by Mozart on Skoove has been simplified so it can be approached by a beginner. 

Playing octaves of the melody with two hands is an important and challenging skill to learn that comes in handy with a lot of different compositions. 

This beautiful melody begins on the third scale degree of C Major, and slowly drifts down through implied chord progressions, before resting on C, the tonic of the key.

Be careful because Piano Sonata No. 11 is written in a 3/4 time signature, meaning that each measure only actually has three-quarter note beats in it, as opposed to four. At this time in music history, it was not uncommon to use a 3/4 time signature because often music like this was performed to be played at a ball, dance, wedding, or other celebration, to evoke dancing. Waltz forms of music are some of the best known in 3/4 timing, and this sonata has this sort of feel to it. 

Mozart’s Piano Sonata 11 is, as you may have guessed, a piece of music called a sonata, which is different from a piano concerto. The difference between piano concertos and a piano sonata is that a concerto is intended to be played with an entire orchestra, choir, or large ensemble directed by a conductor where the piano is acting as a featured soloist or musical performer in the large group. 

A sonata has three movements, and is meant to be almost like chamber music, but is regularly now performed in large concert halls, where the performer of a sonata will often perform alone, or sometimes accompanied by a choral instrument such as harpsichord, piano, or harp. Another Mozart piano sonata to look at is the Mozart piano sonata in C major, Piano Sonata Number 16. 

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Mozart Symphony 40

This melody is instantly recognizable but is also simple and playable by even the most beginner pianist. Mozart writes an incredibly catchy minor melody, in the key of D minor. Be careful that when reading you’re using all the intended accidentals, Bb and C#. The Bb falls by half-step to A natural, and the C# raises back to D natural. 

Often, when you are playing or composing in a minor key, there will be extra additional notes, written to make the harmonic minor scale or melodic minor scale. In this case, Mozart is writing the C# moving a half step up to D natural to represent the D Melodic Minor Scale. 

You’ll also notice that this song begins with what is called a pick-up measure, by starting on the last beat of a previous measure. This helps the song to feel like it is jaunty, full of movement and energy. By beginning before the downbeat, the melody encourages a feeling of forwarding momentum. Be careful to make sure you count the measures that are not written in, allowing for the melody to start on beat 4. This is a useful skill to learn.

As a full symphony, this is a long piece to learn and it is not the easiest task if you are a beginner.

Requiem in D Minor

Perhaps the defining piece of music in his career was the piece that came at the end of his life. Mozart died with this piece unfinished. 

This piece of music has one of the most immediately recognizable introductions in the history of Western classical music. Each movement is perhaps more recognizable than the last, and even if you do not know the piece by name, you will probably recognize movements as they have been used countless times on film, television, and advertisements. 

Each movement of this Requiem Mass contains demonstrations of an entire lifetime of skill-building on piano, and a true master at work. Counterpoint, Key Modulations, Rhythmic Variation, and Phrasal Development. All of the key components of his writing and performing career, and skill are on display here during his final piece. Each movement is more interesting and challenging than the last. 

Musicians often will talk about piano songs Mozart music with reverence, but his skill and determination as a musician were arguably best represented by this piece. The brutal and aching descending intervals of the violins, the low strings, the brass, and the haunting choir during “Lacrimosa”.

The Magic Flute

One of Mozart’s most recognizable operas is The Magic Flute or as it was called before translation, “Die Zauberflöte”. This opera is full of iconic, famous piano songs by Mozart, that have also been repurposed to be individual performance pieces or demonstrations of skill for many instruments. 

One example would be the “Queen of the Night’s Aria”, which is one of the rights of passage for sopranos looking to enter the world of professional singing or performance skill. 

This Mozart piano music song features incredibly hard runs, very high and very fast rapid dialogue, and a tempo that can often and easily be rushed or force errors. This is a song that is regularly performed and part of the piano playbook.

One of the most common roles of pianists is to perform accompaniment for other musicians. This type of pianist is called an accompanist and they should be adept at sight-reading, and performing songs they often have never played before or sometimes even heard before. 

This is the real benefit to learning how to read sheet music at a very high level because the language of music can tell stories and information that is separate from the player by hundreds of years, or language barrier, but the language of music has no origin and allows us to connect and communicate via music.

Defining Mozart’s music

With musicians as famous and influential as Mozart, it is difficult to put them into one box. Even though Mozart, playing piano, became a child prodigy, his career spanned only a short number of years compared to the lifespan of some composers today, but the impression that he left on music and style cannot be understated. 

Even now, hundreds of years later, we still listen to and regularly perform and teach his music. It is used in films and television on a regular basis. Mozart is one of the most famous musicians ever.

Other famous pieces you might want to check out include his repertoire piano concertos and other piano sonatas. If you YouTube Mozart piano search terms then you will find so many different orchestras playing a variety of interpretations.

Concertos that continue to bring audiences so much joy include Mozart Piano Concerto 20, Mozart Piano Concerto 23, and Mozart Piano Concerto 21. These are some of the best Mozart piano concertos and therefore the greatest pieces of all time. 

The life of Mozart may have been short, but the influence of his music feels like it will go on forever. His composition is appreciated by musicians who are old, young, beginner, or advanced, and his skill and style, as well as compositions in a variety of styles have something for a musician of every skill level. Mozart songs may be the perfect way to build up your piano skills, and our Skoove lessons include multiple Mozart compositions you can start practicing straight away. 

 

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