Morphological Analysis of Mozart's "Fantasia in D-Minor" Kv.397

Topics: Chord, Key signature, Relative key Pages: 11 (2439 words) Published: April 25, 2013
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
School of Fine Arts
Department of musical studies

Lesson: Introduction to music morphology
Teaching: Mrs. Sampson – Nika Evanthia
Student: Vlahopoulos Ioannis

Morphological analysis of Mozart’s “Fantasia in D minor”, KV. 397.

Thessaloniki, 2005

Although the title ‘fantasia’ if often used as a generic implication for a work where its structural features are secondary to the imagination of the composer, the K. 397 is, paradoxically, a very predictable work. Its most striking orthodoxy is the manner in Mozart reiterates the thematic materials at the original or anticipated pitch, maintaining the accustomed rhythmic and melodic gestures along the way; even the episodical cadenza passages do little to substantiate the title. One is therefore captivated by how the composer has ‘operated’ on the work’s thematic materials in order to warrant the appendage of such a title – particularly if one compare this alongside the composer’s Fantasia and Sonata in C minor, K. 475/457, which conforms more appropriately to this taxonomy.

Each of the three movements were initially viewed as separate, self-contained entities since a link between thematic materials could not be easily established. Each thematic idea seemed radically different from the last, both in harmony and harmonic rhythm, texture and melodic temperament. But, with retrospect, this was a naïve assumption: this work can be viewed as a fantasia since all three sections share a commonality in motivic ideas and pitch gestures, proving that not even the alleged ‘episodical/bridge’ sections are unmarried in the musical structure. For ease of understanding, a thematic overview of each section is provided to allow one to appreciate my ‘interpretation’ of the formal scheme at a glance.

Formal/Thematic Overview
Andante D minor
1-11 Quasi-Improvisatory Introduction
Adagio D minor
9-11 Bridge
12-16 FIRST THEME [b]
18-22 FIRST THEME [a]: transposed to A minor
23 Cadenza
24-26 Bridge: transposed a tone lower than previous bridge
27-32 FIRST THEME [b]: transposed a tone lowed (G minor)
33 Cadenza
34-42 FIRST THEME [a]: re-instatement at original pitch
Allegretto D major
9-16a SECOND THEME [b]
16b-32 SECOND THEME [c]: closest link to [a]
SECOND THEME [a]: with variation and concluding

Although the opening Andante movement seems to serve little more than an introduction to this melancholic work, it possesses constituents that give rise to features of the successive movements. It therefore not only holds an essential function for its intuitive or aesthetic values, but more importantly because it presents in itself an embryonic genesis.



The opening Andante consists of a series of arpeggiated chords in D minor – serving not only as an introduction – but also delineating the melodic contours of the entire work. In measures 7 and 8, Mozart introduces appoggiaturas that descend to an imperfect cadence, concluding this section. These appoggiaturas are not merely arbitrary gestures; instead along with the delineating melodic contour, they reveal themselves as the ‘nucleus’ of entire Fantasia.

Outlining Sketch of measures 1-11


The analysis above demonstrates not only the initial contrary motions (mm. 1-6) but also the descending line evident from measure 7 (G-F#-E-D-C#), which is later incorporated into the Adagio’s theme (see illustration below). The harmonic progressions are often restricted and move usually by tone or semitone; this feature is particularly significant in the Adagio movement.2

Adagio (mm. 1-2)


Adagio D minor
9-11 Bridge
12-16 FIRST THEME [b]
18-22 FIRST THEME [a]1: transposed to A minor
23 Cadenza
24-26 Bridge: transposed a tone lower than previous bridge
27-32 FIRST THEME [b]1:...
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