Online Journal

Movement 3

‘Alla Turca’

Structure: A B C B A B’ Coda (based on B)
Key: A major
No. of Bars: 127

Bar What Happens Comment
1-24 The opening theme consists of rising turn-figures which outline an a minor arpeggio. The use of ornamentation continues in bar 5 with grace notes helping to accent the first beat of the bar. A brief diversion to C major in bars 9-12 is short-lived, since it is followed by a return to the tonic. The repeat of the opening idea in bars 17-20 leads to a tonic cadence in a minor, following the reharmonisation of the top C in bar 20 with an Italian 6th chord. This opening section (A) is in itself a miniature ternary form.
A surprising number of keys are used at this early stage; a minor, e minor (bar 5) and C major (bar 9) before a return to a minor (bar13).
Bars 1-8 have a natural rhythmic accent on the first beat of the bar.
25-32 A sudden change to the tonic major starts a brash, loud passage which provides an immediate contrast to the preceding passage. The LH uses arpeggiated grace notes for percussive effect. See the background notes for the influence of Turkish music evident here.
32-56 Once again, a sudden contrast is created through a change of key (f-sharp minor), sudden reduction in dynamics, thinning of texture and bubbling semiquaver passages in the RH. The LH reverts to the texture found at the movement’s opening.
In bar 38 the key changes to c-sharp minor to bring the phrase to a close; however, the music then leaps into A major for some scalic RH features that carry on the stream of semiquavers.
The f-sharp minor passage returns in bars 48-56, although the second half of this is modified to keep the music in that key and closes with a perfect cadence.
This is the ‘C’ section of the structure. The RH melodic cells that open this section contrast well with the a minor theme at the beginning of the movement, since their general shape is an inversion of the turns in the a minor theme. They also start in a descending series, whereas the a minor theme consists of ascending motivic cells.
56-64 Repeat of bars 24.2-32.1 (the ‘B’ section)  
64-88 Repeat of bars 1-24 (the ‘A’ section)  
88-96 Repeat of the ‘B’ section again, but with the RH octaves broken into pairs of octave-leaping semiquavers. This RH change adds to the percussive, brash nature of the original.
96.2-127 The coda consists of four presentations of the same A major phrase (bars 96.2-102), with subtle changes, variations in ornamentation and, in bars 109-115, a different texture in the LH accompaniment (an Alberti bass). Other than this , the LH utilises the percussive figure from the previous A major theme. The chord progression in this repeated figure is a very strong I - IV - I - V (resolving onto the tonic to start the next version of the phrase).
The last six bars of the piece consist of an affirmation of the tonic A major harmony, bringing the work to a rousing and boisterous close.

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