Alla Turca

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Alla Turca in A major

K300i, K331 • “Piano Sonata No.11”

Recommended recording

Curated by Guy Jones, Head of Curation

About this work

The Sonata in A is the second of three sonatas now established as likely to have been composed during 1783, perhaps during the period Mozart and his wife Constanze spent in Salzburg in the summer months of that year. This was the occasion on which the composer introduced his new bride to his father Leopold. Mozart clearly intended this trio to form a group, numbering them from one to three. They were almost certainly composed with his Viennese pupils in mind, teaching forming one of Mozart's principal sources of income during his early years in the Austrian capital. The present sonata has gained particular fame for its last movement, the "Rondo alla turca." That movement took its inspiration from the popularity of quasi-Turkish music in Vienna, a fashionable form already exploited by Mozart in his German singspiel, Die Entführung aus dem Serail (The Abduction form the Harem) of the previous year. The Rondo includes a march-like B section in a major key with rolled block chords that evoked the drums of the Turkish Janissary bands, ancestors of the modern marching band. Some commentators have also heard echoes of the opera in the opening movement, which, uniquely among Mozart's sonatas, is a set of variations. Its lilting theme one of the composer's most memorable inventions. The central movement is a Minuetto in the tonic key of A, with a central trio section in D, making the sonata also unique in Mozart's output in that none of the three movements is in sonata form. Along with its two companions, the A major Sonata was published in Vienna by Artaria in 1784, rapidly attaining a popularity that has persisted until the present day. As with so many of Mozart's works, it offers much for both Kenner and Liebhaber, connoisseurs and mere lovers. Its Turkish element places it among the first pieces of music in the European tradition to show any kind of non-Western influence. Beyond that, it offers a greater-than-usual complement of unforgettable Mozartian melodies.