String Quartet No. 16 (Mozart)

The String Quartet No. 16 in E-flat major, K. 428/421b, was composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in 1783. This is the third of the Haydn Quartets, a set of six string quartets he wrote during his first few years in Vienna and later dedicated to Joseph Haydn.

It is in four movements, with the Minuet third:

The first movement is highly chromatic, with the chromaticized bridge theme in the exposition[1] being one of several examples, the end of the exposition being another.[2]

The slow movement "invokes ... the slow movement of Haydn's Op. 20 No. 1. The ostentatious dissonances of its opening almost have an antique flavour, caused by the collision of semitonal ascents and descents, and this strongly suggests the opening subject of the first movement, so surprisingly isolated there."[3] Other commentators hear it as pointing forward to Johannes Brahms.[4]

Throughout the third movement Mozart "makes use of a pedal point in the bass, thus giving the music an entrancing rustic effect."[5]

The last movement "can best be described as being an abridged rondo form."[6]


  1. ^ Roger Kamien and Naphtali Wagner, "Bridge Themes within a Chromaticized Voice Exchange in Mozart Expositions" Music Theory Spectrum 19 1 (1997): 11 - 12, footnote 12. "An analogous contiguous enharmonic relationship occurs in Mozart's String Quartet in E major, K. 428, first movement."
  2. ^ Reginald Barrett-Ayres, Joseph Haydn and the String Quartet. London: Barrie & Jenkins (1974): 194. "The music moves from D minor to a restatement of the opening theme in E major at bar 101; this is truly an astonishing modulation, but yet it all sounds perfectly natural and does not seem contrived."
  3. ^ W. Dean Sutcliffe, "Haydn, Mozart and their contemporaries," chapter in The Cambridge Companion to the String Quartet, ed. Robin Stowell. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (2003) : 197
  4. ^ Barrett-Ayres (1974): 195. "The second movement in A major is another chromatic masterpiece, with a second group theme which might well have been written by Brahms, and a density of sonorities which might be ascribed to a composer of the mid-19th century."
  5. ^ Barrett-Ayres (1974): 195
  6. ^ Barrett-Ayres (1974): 196


  • John Irving, Mozart, the "Haydn" quartets. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (1998)

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