The Piano Sonata No. 16 in C major, K. 545, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was described by Mozart himself in his own thematic catalogue as “for beginners,” and it is sometimes known by the nickname Sonata facile or Sonata semplice. Mozart added the work to his catalogue on June 26, 1788, the same date as his Symphony No. 39. The exact circumstances of the work’s composition are not known, however. Although the piece is well-known today, it was not published in Mozart’s lifetime and first appeared in print in 1805. A typical performance takes about 14 minutes. The work has three movements:
The first movement is written in sonata form and is in the key of C major. The familiar opening theme is accompanied by an Alberti bass, played in the left hand.
A bridge passage composed of scales follows, arriving at a cadence in G major, the key in which the second theme is then played. A codetta follows to conclude the exposition, then the exposition is repeated. The development starts in G minor and modulates through several keys. The recapitulation begins, unusually, in the subdominant key of F major. According to Charles Rosen, the practice of beginning a recapitulation in the subdominant was “rare at the time [the sonata] was written,” though the practice was later taken up by Franz Schubert. The second movement is in the key of G major, the dominant key of C major. The music modulates in the middle of this movement to the parallel minor (G minor) and its relative major (B-flat major). The movement then modulates to the tonic, and, after the main theme and development is heard again, ends.
The third movement is in rondo form and is in the tonic key, C major. The first theme is lively and sets the mood of the piece. The second theme is in G major and contains an Alberti bass in the left hand. The first theme appears again and is followed by a third theme. The third theme is in a minor key and modulates through many different keys before modulating into C major. The first theme appears again followed by a coda and finally ends in C major.
The finale was transcribed to F major and collected with a solo piano arrangement of the second movement of the violin sonata in F major to form the Piano Sonata in F major, K. 547a.
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