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Essay Tips (Generic Feedback)

AoS A: Western Classical

Exam Technique

  • Ensure that you stick to relevant points. For example, if you are asked to talk about harmony, you must focus on chords not on melody (arpeggiating violin) or texture (flutes in thirds), which are not relevant and won’t get you marks
  • Be detailed and give specific examples. Don’t discuss Beethoven in general, for example, but instead pick a feature of a particular work.
  • For short answer questions you generally need to make the same number of specific points as there are marks.
  • In the 15-mark question you must talk in some detail about Haydn 104 (and when we have done it the Mendelssohn)


  • The strings in an orchestra are the string section not a string quartet as they include double bass and (usually) more than one person playing each part
  • Remember to discuss specific bar numbered features in the score of the Haydn
  • Be clear on chronology of composers, styles and works
  • Beethoven is early Romantic and NOT Empfindsamerstil, which is an early Classical style associated with C.P.E. Bach.



  • The humour in the minuet relies on several things, all of which must be discussed. The two bars rest in bars 46-57 are more effective because
    • the previous two bars have hinted at the subdominant (and possibly continued modulation)
    • there is an anacrusis left hanging
    • after the silence the trill from before comes back on V and is twice the length – comically extended
  • Don’t forget the hint at D minor at the beginning of the Trio. This is not a LOL as such but it plays with our expectations
  • Similar subdominant motion followed by rest also happens in the trio
  • Op. 33/2 string quartet is an excellent comparison, but the humour is different in the symphony as the silence does not make us think it is the end but rather it interrupts the flow.