Variations as Thematic and Structural Analysis: A Closer Look at Mozart's K331


  • Nicole E. DiPaolo Indiana University, USA


Mozart, variations, Schenker, analysis, Classical, piano, sonata, K331


ln many discussions of Classic-era variation-form compositions, including those considered to be widely known and studied, analytical attention is showered upon the theme, while its variations are comparatively neglected. Casting aside the variations may prove detrimental to our understanding of the theme: ln situations in which various aspects of the theme, such as its fundamental structure, seem ambiguous or are subject to debate, careful study of the variations may reveal which features of the theme the composer found essential and, thus, worthy of preservation across the variations. The .ftrst movement of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Piano Sonata in A, K331, is a paradigmatic example of this analytical issue, and its variations serve as the focus of my analysis. Analysts have long debated over various facets of Mozart's theme, most notably its Urlinie, whose identity is seemingly obscured by the unusual metric placement of scale degrees 3 and 5 in the upper voices. My investigation aims to demonstrate that considering the behaviour of the Urlinie in the variations and the coda may inform our perception of, and provide the composer's viewpoint on the generating theme's background structure. With these ideas in mind, l then undertake a detailed analysis of Mozart's variations and the procedures he employed in elaborating upon their shared Urlinie.


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How to Cite

DiPaolo, N. E. (2015). Variations as Thematic and Structural Analysis: A Closer Look at Mozart’s K331. Malaysian Journal of Music, 4(1), 67–83. Retrieved from