Mozart: Piano Sonata No.8 in A minor, K.310 Analysis


First Movement (Allegro Maestoso)

Form: Sonata Form. A Minor. 

Mozart Piano Sonata No.8 in A minor, K.310 Analysis 1


Bars 1-9: First Subject in Tonic. The first subject is an eight-bar sentence prolonged to nine by a sequential repetition of a motive in the second phrase. The first phrase is written entirely on a tonic pedal, over a continuation of which the second phrase opens.

Bars 9-22: Bridge-passage or Transition (overlapping). The transition overlapping the first subject, on which it is principally founded, starts as though that subject were commencing again. After three bars, however, it modulates to F major; thence – momentarily touching the keys of D major and C major – to C minor, in which key it ends on a half-cadence (Bar 22). The second subject is thus approached through the tonic minor of its own key. (See also first movement Sonatas No. XII and XV, both in F major).

Bars 22-45: Second Subject in C major (relative major). It is of interest to note that his only  other sonata in the minor mode, viz., No. 14, in C minor, Mozart has also written the second subject in the key of the relative major. The second subject is divided into two sections (Bars 22-35 and 35-45). Note the melodic sequence in the opening bars of the second subject (Bars 23-25); and the sequence in all parts, Bars 28-29. The special point to notice in the second section of this subject is in the repetition of the melody, Bars 40-45, the greater part of which is inverted.

Bars 45-49: Codetta. The figures of the codetta are derived in the treble, from the opening bar of the movement, and in the bass, from a figure in the transition, Bar 11.

Double bar and repeat.


Bars 50-79: After the first few bars, the development is worked entirely on two two-bar sections, the greater portion being developed from the opening bars of the first subject, and the latter part being founded on Bars 41-43 in the second subject.

It commences with the first phrase of the first subject transposed into the key of C major, modulating, in Bar 53, apparently to F major. The tonality of the next few bars is, however, vague, the music seeming to waver between the keys of F major and D minor. The chord which, in Bars 53 and 54, appears as the last inversion of the dominant minor ninth in F major in Bar 55, enharmonically changed to the first inversion of the dominant ninth in D minor. The reason for this alteration in notation is obscure, for the latter chord, like both the others, again resolves to the dominant seventh in F major. By further enharmonic change the last-named chord becomes, in Bar 57, the German sixth in E minor, and thus effects a modulation into that key. A most interesting passage commences in the following bar. It forms a real sequence, the “pattern” of which is four bars in length. This is worked with suspension on the figures derived form the first subject and is written throughout on successive dominant pedal points. It lasts twelve bars and passes through the keys of E minor (Bars 58-61), A minor (Bars 62-65), and D minor (Bars 66-70). N.B. – The only alteration in the “quality” of the interval occurs between the last two notes.

The remainder of the section is developed from the two bars of the second subject. Bars 70-72 form a descending sequence in which the figures appear in the treble to an accompaniment derived from the bass of the codetta. The sequence modulates to C major to A minor, on a half-cadence, in which key the section closes, Bar 79. In Bars 74-78, the figures are taken in the bass. A chromatic run (Bar 79) forms a link between the development and the recapitulation.


Bars 80-88: First Subject in Tonic.

Bars 88-103: Bridge-passage or Transition overlapping (varied and slightly lengthened). The first part of the transition reappears inverted and varied, its opening bars are founded on the first subject and are not, as in the first instance, a repetition of them. It is also slightly lengthened and modified so as to end in the key of the tonic.

Bars 103-129: Second Subject in Tonic. 

The second subject divides into two section (Bars 103-116 and 116-129). The second subject reappears in the tonic in the original minor – not in the major mode. Note the chord of the Neapolitan sixth in A minor, Bars 109 and 119; also the inversion of the chromatic chord of the supertonic ninth in the same key, Bar 127.

Bars 129-133: Codetta in Tonic. There is no coda. The movement ends with the original codetta transposed into the key of the tonic.

Second Movement (Andante Cantabile Con Espressione)

Form: Sonata Form. F Major. 

Mozart Piano Sonata No.8 in A minor, K.310 Analysis 2

Though, generally speaking, it is unusual to find the slow movements in Sonatas in “unabridged sonata form,” there are several examples to be found in those written by Mozart for the pianoforte (see Sonatas I, V, XIII, and XV).


Bars 1-8: First Subject in Tonic. The first subject is an eight-bar sentence, of which the first phrase ends on a half-cadence, Bar 4, and the second – a modified repetition of the first – on a full cadence, Bar 8.

Bars 8-15: Bridge-passage or Transition (with link). The transition does not leave the key of the tonic but ends in it on a half-cadence on the dominant, on which chord – taken as the tonic of the new key – the second subject enters in the following bar. Bars 10-12 are a varied repetition of the previous two bars.

Bars 15-29: Second Subject in C major (Dominant). The second subject consists of one sentence, much prolonged by cadential repetitions. In Bars 17-18 the melody of the previous two bars is transferred to the tenor underneath a sustained shake on the dominant in the treble. Bars 22-25 are a cadential repetition of the responsive phrase with, however, a fresh commencement. Bars 25-29 form another and still more modified repetition of the same. Note the incidental modulation to D minor, Bars 23 and 26, and the free inversion of the bars in Bar 27.

Bars 29-31: Codetta.

Double bar and repeat. Note the double bar and repeat marks. As a general rule, in the comparatively few instances in which unabridged sonata-form is employed in slow movements, the exposition is not repeated nor even followed by a double bar.


Bars 31-37: Passage founded on First Subject. This passage, starting in C major, ends with a perfect cadence in the tonic minor.

Bars 37-53: Episode. Part II of this movement consists almost entirely of an episode, which commences, in Bar 37, after a short passage reminiscent of the first subject. The episode is worked on figures derived from the opening figure of the transition (Bars 8-9) accompanied throughout by triplets of semiquavers (16th notes). It opens in C minor (Bar 37) and passes through G minor (Bars 38-39) to D minor (Bar 40), in which key, in Bar 43, the previous parts are inverted; thence it continues, incidentally touching the keys of F major (Bars 44-45), D minor (Bars 46-47), C minor (Bars 47-48), and G minor (Bars 48-49), to F major, in which key – after the parts have been re-inverted – the section ends on a half-cadence (Bars 52-53). Note the chord of the German sixth in D minor, Bar 42; and the chromatic chord of II with a minor ninth, Bar 51.


Bars 53-61: First Subject in Tonic (unaltered).

Bars 61-68: Bridge-passage or Transition (with link modified). The transition reappears modified. It commences like the original passage but modulates in the second bar (Bar 62) to B flat major, thence (in Bar 64) to G minor, returning to the key of F major in the last bar only (Bar 67).

Bars 68-84: Second Subject (in Tonic), (slightly modified and lengthened). the second subject reappears in the key of the tonic slightly modified and lengthened. In Bar 70, it modulates to B flat major, the repetition of the opening bars appearing in that key instead of in the tonic. After the return to the tonic (Bar 75) the close of the movement is a slightly modified repetition of the corresponding portion of the exposition.

Bars 84-86: Codetta.

Third Movement (Presto)

Form: Rondo-Sonata Form. A Minor. 

Mozart Piano Sonata No.8 in A minor, K.310 Analysis 3


Bars 1-20: Principle Subject (first entry) in Tonic. The principle subject is a sixteen-bar sentence, in four-bar rhythm, prolonged to twenty bars by cadential repetition. The second phrase ends on a half-cadence, Bar 8; the fourth, with an interrupted cadence, Bar 16, and, on its repetition, with a full cadence, Bar 20.

Bars 21-63: Long modulating passage consisting of 8 bars in C major (relative major), leading to a variation of the Principle Subject in C minor and C major, greatly lengthened, and with frequent allusions in the latter portion to the key of D minor; the passage modulates finally to the key of E minor, in which it ends on a half-cadence in Bar 63. The sequential character of the whole of this passage, as of the greater portion of the movement, should be noted. Bars 56-57, in D minor, and Bars 58-59, in E minor, form a real sequence.

Bars 64-87: Melody (forming Second Subject) in E minor (Dominant minor) also a variation, taken by inversion, of the Principle Subject. This passage, when considered as a second subject, is unusual both in key and contents. In key, because in movements in the minor mode in regular Rondo-Sonata form, the second subject is always in the relative major. In its contents, it is unusual, because they include no fresh musical ideas whatever. For, not only does the passage commence with a variation of the principle subject – here also taken with inversions of parts – but, too, its continuation is founded entirely on a previous passage, transposed into the key of the dominant minor.

Bars 87-106: Connecting passage, overlapping, variously called Episode or Codetta. Note the sequence in the bass and inner part in the first eight bars of this passage, which ends on a half-cadence. Note also the chord of the chord of the Neapolitan sixth in the previous passage (Bar 75).

Bars 107-142: Principle Subject (second entry) in Tonic, followed by a modified reproduction of a portion of the previous Episode transposed into the key of the Tonic. The close of the exposition is exceptional. Instead of ending with the second entry of the principle subject, the latter leads without break into a modified reproduction, in the key of the tonic, of a portion of the previous episode. This is the only instance of the kind to be found in Mozart’s pianoforte sonatas.

Double bar.


Bars 143-174: Episode in A major (Tonic major) in a “Hybrid” form. Although the essential characteristics of the “ternary” idea, vis., “divergence and recurrence,” the shape in which it is clothed closely resembles the binary. For though the “return” is not to the phrase, yet it is to the first half of the exposition i.e., to the second phrase of four. And the reappearance of the tonic pedal with which it is accompanied helps to strengthen the feeling of return to the opening portion of the melody. For the pedal, over which the first three phrases of the exposition are written, is discounted under the fourth – the final one. This episode is in the tonic major and starts with a fresh melody. It is, however, most interesting to note how intimately it is connected with Episode I. Compare the phrases. Bars 147-150, and Bars 25-28.

  • A: New melody in A major modulating to E major (Dominant).
  • B: Eight bars modulating sequentially through B minor to A major.
  • A2: Repetition of a portion of the first sentence (i.e., the second of four phrases), modified so as to close with a full cadence in the Tonic.


Bars 175-194: Principle Subject (third entry) in Tonic (unaltered).

Bars 195-202: Passage of Transition. This passage starts in D minor and modulates to A minor, passing transiently through E major; Bars 195-198 thus form a short modulating sequence. The points of similarity and contrast between this passage and the earlier one (Bars 21-28) should be noted.

Bars 203-225: Second Subject in Tonic (modified). The latter portion of the recapitulation of the second subject is a slightly modified repetition of the corresponding portion of the original passage.

Bars 226-252: Coda. The Coda refers entirely to the exposition, but not to the principle subject.