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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart   KV1 525

Eine kleine Nachtmusik (serenade no. 13)

Serenade in G major. 1787. Time: 17'30.

Eine kleine Nachtmusik = a little night music.

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The Serenade No. 13 for strings in G major, K. 525 was written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in 1787. The work is more commonly known by the title Eine kleine Nachtmusik. The German title means "a little serenade", though it is often rendered more literally but less accurately as "a little night music".[1] The work is written for a chamber ensemble of two violins, viola, and cello with optional double bass, but is often performed by string orchestras.[2]


Composition, publication, and reception

The serenade was completed in Vienna on 10 August 1787,[2] around the time Mozart was working on the second act of his opera Don Giovanni.[3] It is not known why it was composed.[4] Hildesheimer (1991, 215), noting that most of Mozart's serenades were written on commission, suggests that this serenade, too, was a commission, whose origin and first performance were not committed to record.

The traditionally used name of the work comes from the entry Mozart made for it in his personal catalog, which begins, "Eine kleine Nacht-Musik." As Zaslaw and Cowdery point out, Mozart almost certainly was not giving the piece a special title, but only entering in his records that he had completed a little serenade.[5]

The work was not published until about 1827, long after Mozart's death, by Johann André in Offenbach am Main.[2] It had been sold to this publisher in 1799 by Mozart's widow Constanze, part of a large bundle of her husband's compositions.

Today the serenade is widely performed and recorded; indeed both Jacobson and Klein (2003, 38) and Hildesheimer (1992, 215) opine that the serenade is the most popular of all Mozart's works. Of the music, Hildesheimer writes, "even if we hear it on every street corner, its high quality is undisputed, an occasional piece from a light but happy pen."[6]



Eine kleine nachtmusik.svg (The first theme)

This first movement is in sonata-allegro form, which aggressively ascends in a Mannheim rocket theme. The second theme is more graceful and in D major, the dominant key of G major. The exposition closes in D major and is repeated. The development section begins on D major and touches on D minor and C major before the work returns to G major for the recapitulation – a repetition of the exposition with both subjects in the same key, as is conventional. During the recapitulation, it is in G major with the primary themes from the exposition playing. The movement ends in its tonic key, G major.


The second movement, in C major, is a "Romanze", with the tempo marked Andante. It is in rondo form, taking the shape A–B–A–C–A plus a final Coda. The keys of the sections are C major for A and B, C minor for C. The middle appearance of A is truncated, consisting of only the first half of the theme.


The third movement, marked Allegretto, is a minuet and trio (A–B–A). The minuet is in the home key of G major and the trio section is in D major.


The fourth and last movement is in lively tempo, marked Allegro; the key is again G major. The movement is written in sonata rondo form. Mozart specifies repeats not just for the exposition section but also for the following development+recapitulation section. The work ends with a long coda.

Possible extra movement

In the catalog entry mentioned above, Mozart listed the work as having five movements ("Allegro – Minuet and Trio. – Romance, Minuet and Trio and Finale.").[5] The second movement in his listing, a minuet and trio, was long thought lost and no one knows if it was Mozart or someone else who removed it. Musicologist Alfred Einstein suggested, however, that a minuet in Piano Sonata in B-flat, K. 498a, is the missing movement.[7] The sonata's minuet has been recorded in an arrangement for strings made by Jonathan Del Mar for Nimbus Records[8] although music scholars are not certain that Einstein is correct.[original research?]


Musicologist Peter Schickele composed a parody of this work named Eine Kleine Nichtmusik, recorded on the album Portrait of P. D. Q. Bach in 1977. The piece consists of Eine kleine Nachtmusik played in its entirety, along with snippets of dozens of famous tunes heard in counterpoint throughout the piece, taken from both American folk music and the classical repertoire.[9] As his alter ego P. D. Q. Bach, Schickele wrote the opera in one irrevocable act A Little Nightmare Music, S. 35 (1983).


  1. ^ See "Nachtmusik" and "Notturno" entries in Grove Music Online.
  2. ^ a b c Holoman (1992, 397)
  3. ^ Einstein, Alfred; translators Arthur Mendel, Nathan Broder (1962). Mozart, his character, his work. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 206. ISBN 9780195007329. 
  4. ^ Holoman, D. Kern (1992). Evenings with the orchestra: a Norton companion for concertgoers. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. p. 398. ISBN 9780393029369. 
  5. ^ a b Zaslaw and Cowdery (1991, 250)
  6. ^ Hildesheimer (1992, 215)
  7. ^ Einstein, Alfred; Arthur Mendel, Nathan Broder (translators) (1965). Mozart: His Character, His Work. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 207. ISBN 9780195007329. OCLC 31827291. 
  8. ^ "Nimbus Records, track list". 
  9. ^ The Key of P. D. Q. Bach


External links

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Eine_kleine_Nachtmusik". Allthough most Wikipedia articles provide accurate information accuracy can not be guaranteed.

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