Daniel Barenboim plays Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Piano Sonata No. 16 in C major, K. 545.

Daniel Barenboim plays Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Piano Sonata No. 16 in C major, K. 545.

Mozart’s Piano Sonata No. 16

Mozart’s Piano Sonata No. 16 in C major, K. 545, is one of his most popular and frequently performed piano works. Composed in 1788, it is often referred to as the “Sonata facile” or “Easy Sonata” due to its relatively straightforward technical demands compared to some of his other sonatas. Mozart himself described the piece in his own thematic catalog as “for beginners”. Despite this, the piece exemplifies Mozart’s genius in creating music that is both accessible and profoundly beautiful.

The sonata was intended as a teaching piece, making it a favorite among piano students. Its clarity of form and melody, combined with Mozart’s trademark elegance and wit, make it an excellent introduction to classical piano repertoire. The sonata is written in the key of C major, a key often associated with simplicity and purity, which aligns well with the sonata’s intended pedagogical purpose.

Mozart’s mastery of classical form is evident in this sonata, with its balanced phrases, clear harmonic structure, and graceful melodies. It serves as a perfect example of the Classical style, characterized by its emphasis on clarity, balance, and form. The piece is often used to teach students the basics of sonata form and classical piano technique, yet it also provides enough musical depth to engage more advanced pianists.

Even though it was written as an instructional piece, the sonata’s charm and elegance have ensured its place in the concert repertoire. It remains a favorite not just for its relative ease of play, but for the joy and beauty it brings to both performers and listeners. The Sonata No. 16 continues to be a testament to Mozart’s ability to create timeless music that transcends its original purpose.


1. Allegro

The first movement of Mozart’s Piano Sonata No. 16 is marked “Allegro.” It is written in sonata-allegro form, which includes an exposition, development, and recapitulation. This movement is renowned for its lively and cheerful character, showcasing Mozart’s talent for creating engaging and memorable melodies.

The exposition begins with a bright and sprightly theme in C major, characterized by its graceful, scalar passages and light, staccato touch. This opening theme is immediately appealing and sets the tone for the movement. Following the initial theme, a series of playful and lyrical secondary themes appear, providing contrast and adding to the movement’s overall charm.

In the development section, Mozart explores variations and transformations of the initial themes, using different keys and harmonies to add depth and complexity to the movement. This section demonstrates Mozart’s compositional skill, as he takes simple, elegant themes and weaves them into a more intricate musical tapestry.

The recapitulation returns to the main themes of the exposition, bringing the movement full circle. This repetition of the primary material, now varied and developed, reinforces the structure and provides a satisfying sense of resolution.

2. Andante

The second movement of Mozart’s Piano Sonata No. 16 is marked “Andante.” It provides a contrast to the lively and bright first movement with its slower, more lyrical character. This movement is in the key of G major, which brings a gentle, serene atmosphere to the piece.

The Andante is structured in a simple binary form, consisting of two repeated sections. The first section introduces a graceful, flowing melody that is both elegant and expressive. This theme is characterized by its lyrical quality and delicate ornamentation, showcasing Mozart’s skill in writing beautiful, singable lines for the piano.

The second section develops the initial theme, exploring new harmonic territories and adding subtle variations to the melody. Despite its simplicity, the movement is rich in emotional depth, conveying a sense of tranquility and introspection. The harmonic shifts and melodic embellishments give the music a sense of progression and development while maintaining its overall calm and reflective mood.

Throughout the Andante, Mozart’s use of dynamics and articulation adds to the expressive quality of the music. The gentle dynamics and legato phrasing contribute to the movement’s serene character, creating a peaceful interlude between the more energetic outer movements.

3. Rondo: Allegretto

The third movement of Mozart’s Piano Sonata No. 16 is marked “Rondo: Allegretto.” This final movement is lively and playful, providing a spirited conclusion to the sonata. The rondo form is characterized by the recurrence of a main theme, interspersed with contrasting episodes, creating a sense of return and variation.

The main theme of the rondo is bright and cheerful, capturing the listener’s attention with its catchy, upbeat melody. This theme is presented in a light and nimble manner, reflecting Mozart’s ability to write music that is both engaging and technically demanding. The playful nature of the theme is enhanced by the use of staccato notes and lively rhythms.

Between the repetitions of the main theme, Mozart introduces contrasting episodes that explore different musical ideas and keys. These episodes provide variety and contrast, adding depth to the movement while maintaining its overall joyful character. Each return of the main theme brings a sense of familiarity and unity, tying the movement together.

Throughout the rondo, Mozart’s mastery of classical form and his inventive use of melody and harmony are evident. The movement is marked by its clarity of structure and its ability to balance repetition with variation. The dynamic contrasts and rhythmic vitality contribute to the movement’s spirited and buoyant feel.


M. Özgür Nevres

Published by M. Özgür Nevres

I am Özgür Nevres, a software engineer, a former road racing cyclist, and also an amateur musician. I opened andantemoderato.com to share my favorite music. I also take care of stray cats & dogs. This website's all income goes directly to our furry friends. Please consider supporting me on Patreon, so I can help more animals!

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