Mozart in the ballroom: Minuet-trio contrast and the aristocracy in self-portrait

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A defining feature of Viennese ballroom minuets in the second half of the eighteenth century is the marked contrast between the first and second minuet (commonly called the trio). The type of contrast was standardised within a rather narrow and predictable range. Minuets were loud, employed the full orchestra and had walking bass lines in predominantly crotchet motion. Trios were soft, employed a reduced orchestra and used a slower harmonic rhythm. Focusing on Mozart's minuets written for the ballroom, an argument is advanced as to why such sharp contrast might have been desirable. Drawing on historical and analytical evidence, it is suggested that the music of the first minuet establishes the historical authority, political power and social status of the participants of the dance, while the trio is centred artistically on the grace and beauty displayed by the individual couple on the ballroom dance floor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)383-434
Number of pages52
JournalMusic Analysis
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Music


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