[Pt. V Proj.1] – The Classical Era- Project 1- Sonata Form ~ Exercise 5.1: Haydn structural analysis and score annotations.

[Pt. V Proj. 1] – Exercise 5.1- Haydn structural analysis and score annotations.

Are you able to detect the three mains sections of the sonata form? How are they articulated would you say?

They are mainly articulated by different keys/tonal areas.

The three main sections are shown in the table in Figure 5.1 below. It’s a summary of the main structural points of the movement based on the appearance and usage of themes and the main key areas, called a structural analysis. We’ll work our way through it in this project, so now is a good time to spend a few moments studying it and, importantly, relating it to the score, before using it to help you demarcate the positions of the exposition, development and recapitulation on your score.


We can say that two of the main ways the form is articulated in the composition is through the use of key and theme. Let’s focus first on the themes. Can you pinpoint the themes Haydn uses in this movement and where they first occur? Mark on your score the first appearances of the themes in the exposition.

See pages labeled no 139 and 141 in the annotated score below.

Then, using the bar numbers given in the table in Figure 5.1 to guide you, go to the recapitulation and mark their first reappearance. The goal here is to have clearly marked on your score the first instances of the themes in both the exposition and the recapitulation.

See page labeled no 146 in the annotated score below.

Here are the themes of the exposition.

Now we’ve established the principal appearances of the theme, lets establish the main key areas of the movement. What we’re looking for here is to identify where new keys are strongly established. So, we’re seeking: Emphatic cadences and the feeling that we’re in a different key area. These two things generally coincide with other elements such as themes reappearing and disappearing, textural changes, dynamic reinforcement. Before referring to the table, have some fun looking for these giveaways to discover for yourself where the main changes of key occur. Now compare your results with the table and use it to help you mark the main key changes on your score. How did you do? Can you see and hear how the main key changes coincide with those elements just discussed?

I did quite well, owing to the fact that Haydn’s main sections are clearly in a new key and he uses quite emphatic cadences. However, I was tempted to ‘hear’ the transitory E Major section as a section in it’s own right. See pages labeled no 139, 141, 143 and 146 in the annotated score below.


Thus far in our examination of Haydn’s Emperor we have identified themes and located the thematic areas and main key areas. There remains for us to find the other structural elements shown on the table – the transition sections in the exposition and recapitulation, and to look into the development area a little more.

As a reminder, the transition passage in the exposition is where the music modulates from the tonic to the new key, in our case study from C major to G major. So, in our score we’re looking for a passage which links the two key areas, and which has a strong feeling that we are moving away from one place to the next. This starts at bar 13 where a version of the main theme is passed around the ensemble and the extensive use of harmonies from outside the home key tells us we are moving away from the home key of C major.

See page labeled no 140 and 145-147 in the annotated score below.

A harmonic technique typical of transitions also occurs in this passage at bb. 18-20. Can you tell what it is? It is called a pedal note and appears in the lowest part, the cello. It emphasises the dominant chord of the key that we’re moving towards. The key we’re moving towards is G, so the pedal is on the note D. By reinforcing this new dominant chord, it raises the expectation that we will soon be arriving at the new key, which we do with surety at bar 26.Pedal points are sustained notes, usually played in the bass. Their name comes from the practice in organ music of playing a sustained note with the foot on the organ pedals while the hands play above. Most usually the pedal is on the dominant note – a ‘dominant pedal’, but tonic pedals also occur (an example being the held C in the cello in bb. 8-10 of the Emperor) as do double pedals – dominant+tonic notes, and inverted pedals where the held note is elsewhere in register.

See page labeled no 139 and 140 in the annotated score below.

Now is a good time to mark the beginning of the development section at b. 45 on your score. The fact it appears after the second time bar of the exposition, that it has a repeat bar marking it out as a sectional break, plus the way the music cadences fully before it are the indications we need to identify this as the development. The signs are not always that obvious, and composers also may play games with their listeners, hinting at structural points and then not delivering. However, there is a relatively straightforward structural change here. 

See page labeled no 143 in the annotated score below.

Not so the end of the development. Let’s locate the development on the score at bar 78 and listen to how Haydn arrives at this point, starting from around b. 65.

See page labeled no 145 and 146 in the annotated score below.

We’re coming out of a ten bar long section, from bb. 65-74 of the folk music theme, played in E major over lusty pedal note drones. At b. 75 there is a surprise change of mood and key shift, to E minor. The dynamic is quiet, the texture is light, and the atmosphere introspective. Suddenly the main theme bursts in, in the tonic key of C major, in full bodied rhythmic unison. Following this there is an exact reappearance of the first eight bars of the movement, unequivocally establishing the recapitulation by sheer force. 

It’s a great example of how a composer may choose any way of engaging with the convention of sonata form. Here the convention is the arrival of the recapitulation. The return to the tonic key might be established triumphantly in another composition, with a strong dominant to tonic cadence. Here the return is effected by reinforced dynamics and an assertive texture combined with an unyielding repetition of the opening bars. Have another listen to how this is achieved. It feels fresh every time doesn’t it? 

Indeed it does..