An approach to Mozart’s Minuet no. 06, applying a questionnaire proposed by Lewis Rowell, in his book Thinking about Music (09-19).




An approach to Mozart’s Minuet no. 06, applying a questionnaire proposed by Lewis  Rowell, in his book Thinking about Music (09-19).



                                                                                              Antonio D. Araújo Cunha

The aim of this essay is to present a brief analysis of Mozart’s minuet no.06, in accordance with specific criteria, pointed out by Rowell in his book Thinking about Music, as we will demonstrate in the following paragraphs, as guidelines to these short comments - - answers to Rowell’s questions - - which will be certainly relevant in our studies considering “the priority task for philosophy is (as Russel asserted) the framing of questions” (Rowell 08).

            Our first step is to answer at least two of the several questions proposed by Rowell (09-13) concerning on the thing itself. “Mozart’s minuet no. 06 was adjusted in accordance with Haydn style. They were conceived as dances, because they didn’t follow the form of the symphony. It was a dancing music, which marked the beginning of Mozart’s career as a precursor of waltz. [Erman 51] “His name of baptism, however is Johannes Chrysostomos Wolfgangus Theophilus.” If we take the concept of Minuet, it’s possible to conclude, it was a traditional French dance in a ¾ compass, characterized by delicate movements. [Sinzig 374] “...this dance was performed by pairs, demanding elegance and distinction”.  It was very popular in Louis XIV’s court, becoming famous in Europe in XVII e XVIII. It generally used as a third

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movement in a classic symphony.” 01 “The piece exists as a derivation of the original melody of German Dances, and it has the dignity of the big symphonies after the composer’s success.” 02 By listening this piece one can question the way it was received in terms of source, transmission and receiver(s). Whatever we could be informed about Mozart is that he really could get the feelings of the audience since he was a child. Of course his father conduced him to the way of music, and his mother followed his career even traveling with him. Mozart said once, to have played for the chairs. He’s fallen in love, got married and this fact is followed by success in his career, after becoming a member of Weber’s family. (See question no. 06).

Another conclusion about the piece is the fact that it’s really genuine. His style is compared with another composers, however in our society, it can be noticed as a distinct and unique composition. If Mozart hadn’t composed it, the music itself could be considered so simple, and maybe the importance should be diminished. The music itself is not so attractive by listening it for the first time. There are parts one can notice there’s much more vibration, and variation of the speed.   The simplicity is a remarked feature of the music. It’s repetitive, and it does not create great expectation, but one can follow the parts of the music and even know when it’s being performed again. It does not provoke anxiety (See question no. 12). Another interesting point to be observed is the reasons Mozart had to compose the piece. [Rowell] “Causation is always a major philosophical issue, and suggests the application of Aristotle’s famous scene of the four causes to our target piece:

-          material cause: sound waves, piano, pen and ink, vinyl, magnetic  tape

-          formal cause: minuet as a genre, “rounded binary” form, sonata, Classical style, major tonality

-          efficient cause: Mozart, any pianist, engraver/ publisher, a recording  technician

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-          final cause: profit, pleasure, education, Mozart’s need” (13).


By reading Mozart’s biography one can conclude that he has established a career along the years of his life, and he had accreditation enough to compose music as part of his strong background as a student, and professional musician, who for sure had profit in consideration (See question no. 13).

The second point to be observed is the value of the piece (Rowell 13-15). A particular judgement of the piece as a work of art let one think about the performance in accordance with the feelings that this music inspires listeners to dance. And what is music for, besides listening

to it? Personally it’s possible to affirm that happiness transpires from the composition, in accordance with some rules, well known by musicians, but not part of this analysis. As a simple observer and not musician, I won’t be able to extend the secret to provoke the sensation I feel, whenever listening to music, but I’m quite sure they all know. (See question no.16).

It’s also possible to admit the fact that the music enchants me, stimulating my emotions, and it takes me to the mental image of a beautiful salon with so many beautiful and well-dressed

people, dancing in pairs, designing very nice choreographs. This idea entertains me. My imaginarium is enriched and conduced to a space, - - an elsewhere - - and the sensation of a certain displacement comes to my mind (See question no. 17).

For sure the piece provides a moment of beauty. (See question no. 19). It does not irritate me and provokes emotional reaction changing my mood. It’s being mentioned by Rowell that some good criteria traditionally cited are these: harmony, proportion, clarity, intensity, unity, variety, completeness, consistency, mobility (for music), conflict and resolution (Rowell 14).



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The discussion of beauty is better understood with the clarification of some philosophers’ extended comments, especially about this subject (Rowel 83). 

The third aspect to be presented is the listener or observer (Rowell 15-17). I can’t really feel in bad mood, by listening it, as well as I don’t feel tired to analyze this piece. I’ve listened this music in different days and I felt the same sensation. I was more curious the first time of course (See question no 29). The music does not matter me (See question no.36). It inspires peace and pleases me, creating an image of joy, to the point to listen it several times, in different versions, with different instruments and interpretations (See question no. 34).

The last item to be presented is the context of the piece (Rowell 17-19). Some aspects about Mozart’s life (Salzburg 1756 – Vienna 1791) can clarify our convictions about his cultural inheritance, and better define the context of his music itself (See question no. 37). “Drama is the

essence of Mozart and his characters express a universality of emotion akin to the gods of classic mythology. His music moves with an unparalleled grace and unveils its truths with suppleness and subtlety only exceeded by Nature herself. One of the greatest prodigies in music history, Mozart had the good fortune to be born in 1756 at a time when tonality and harmony in western music had evolved to a level of purity and sophistication that makes the 18th century the envy of more than one great composer born later (See question no. 47). In accordance with Webster’s Dictionary, minuet is a very graceful and stately slow dance, popular in fashionable circles throughout the eighteen-century (1147). The funny aspect is the fact that it came to the salons.  No less a figure than Franz Joseph Haydn had paved the way by showing the endless possibilities

of the mature classical style. “The influence of his romance with Constanze is also important. His father's worst fears had come to pass -Wolfgang was married in August into an impecunious

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family of questionable reputation. This was a fertile period musically with Mozart getting commissions and students and at this point producing masterpieces in every conceivable genre.

No less a figure than Franz Joseph Haydn had paved the way by showing the endless possibilities of the mature classical style. “Haydn and Mozart included the minuet form in most of their sonatas and symphonies.” 03 This fact printed in their music a specific personality. Although, the money it should have brought in was too late and Mozart died of overwork and kidney failure on the 5th of December, 1791 while still ironically at work on the "Requiem Mass" (Confutatis) for an unknown patron.04

            In conclusion, as Rowell affirms, “D major was a significant key for Mozart, because certain keys appear to have distinct personalities in his music, as well as in the music of some other composers. This work seemingly contradicts the normal ethos of D major in Mozart – usually a brilliant, festive, diatonic key. And yet the expressive chromaticism may be all the more effective, given our knowledge of Mozartean D major”(Rowell 18)!   Meditations in a certain piece of music permit us to notice not only the atmosphere of the scenes we’re focusing, but also identify the effect music has on people’s lives as well as they can represent guidelines to emotions, feelings and memories, not only of our lives, but of a certain time, where the voice or voices of the interpreter(s) represent(s) somehow, the essential thoughts of a certain historical perspective, and the transformation of the society, in accordance with the improvement of Arts, - - music - -  in terms of quality and diversity, as an  answer to the success  of talented people like Mozart was  and still is immortal in our memories,  no matter the value of his work that  took time to be understood and recognized, but ever admired. 







01 Introdução à música, 02 September 2002 www.clá

02 Seleções – Reader’s Digest Brasil, Mais Belas Melodias – Folder, 1997.

03Glossário  da Música – Abril Cultural, São Paulo, Brasil, p.12, 1973.

04 Classical Archives, LLC. 02 September 2002


























Works Cited



Erman Hans, Geflügelte Melodien,  Germany, 1968.

Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, New York:

       Modern Language Association, USA, 1988.

Rowell,  Lewis. Thinking about Music, The University of Massachusetts Press, USA, 1983.

Sinzig, Frei Pedro. Dicionário Musical,  Kosmos Editora, 2nd ed., Rio de Janeiro, Brasil, 1959.

Webster Noah, Webster’s Dictionary, New York, USA, 1969.
















Searched  records

Fortes, Paulo, Grandes mestres da música. Fama Classic, 1987.

Harmonia Mundi, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791). Germany, 1976.

Lund, Gustav,  Mozart. USA.

Penzel Erich,  W.  A.  Mozart . Philips, Brazil.

Previn, André,  Mozart. The Piano Quartets, Decca Record Company Limited, London, 1981.

Rios, Waldo de los,  Mozartmania . Continental, 1971.

Segal, Ariane, Le Hammerklavier de Mozart . Arion Paris, 1973.


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