Keyboard instruments > Piano solo

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Piano Sonata D major K. 576

Editor: Ernst Herttrich
Fingering: Hans-Martin Theopold

6.50 €

Urtext Edition, paperbound
Detailed critical commentary
(not available in the printed editions)
available free-of-charge: Download

Pages: 18, Size 23,5 x 31,0 cm
Order no. HN 603 · ISMN 979-0-2018-0603-7

Level of difficulty (Piano): difficult (Level 7)


From Mozart’s letters we know that he made firm plans in the summer of 1789 to earn money by composing six new easy piano sonatas for Princess Friederike of Prussia. Only this one was written, however, and one would hardly call it “easy.” On the contrary, the sonata in D major K. 576 demands enormous dexterity from the performer, and, all told, it may be the most technically challenging of all Mozart’s sonatas. In English-speaking countries, this rather contrapuntal, structurally-complex composition is called the “Hunt Sonata.” If you listen to the beginning of this eighteenth and final piano sonata by Mozart, you’ll immediately know why.


Less other-worldly in character is the last of Mozart’s piano sonatas in D major. It has often been called the Jagd-Sonate (Hunt Sonata); its key and six-eight time signature set the mood vividly. In a letter of 1789 Mozart told his creditor Puchberg that he intended to write six simple sonatas for Princess Frederica of Prussia in order to raise some money. This is apparently the only he completed and, far from being easy, it demands a high standard of finger technique.

FIRST MOVEMENT As in so many works of his last years in Vienna, this Sonata features subtle contrapuntal interplay of deceptively simple material. In the development, the theme enters in new canonic imitations, first a measure apart (measures 63 64), later only half a measure (m. 70), leading to an impressive climax with a modulation to F sharp major (m. 77 f.), and a return through the minor keys (F sharp minor, bar 83; B and E minor). The recapitulation starts in a measure 99 after a brief transition; it rearranges and modifies the exposition material in a true Mozartian fashion.

SECOND MOVEMENT The A major Adagio movement is in a straightforward ternary form with a middle section of sweet melancholy in the relative minor. Mozart may originally have devised this as a four movement sonata, in line with his string quartets and symphonies, in which case the fragmentary Minuet K 355 (594a), the chromaticism and polyphony of which is closely related to this Sonata, was probably intended as the third movement.

THIRD MOVEMENT The rondo finale is more contrapuntually conceived than a superficial impression would suggest. Particularly impressive are a canon using the rondo and its inversion (measures 34 ff.), and a canon in the fifth in the development section (m. 103).

Paul and Eva Badura-Skoda

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