Music in the Making

Music in the Making: Simply Serenades

Serenade your beloved with this week’s episode of Music in the Making!


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Spanish Serenade
Spanish Serenade

On this week’s installment of Music in the Making, we’re exploring the genre of the classical serenade, with works by Mozart and Beethoven. The word “serenade” comes from the Italian word sereno, meaning calm. Initially, the term described a musical salutation that took place out of doors, usually in the evening–think of a suitor serenading his lady! By the 18th century, however, the word came to imply a multi-movement work scored for a small ensemble, usually consisting of mostly wind instruments.

The Serenade
The Serenade

W.A. Mozart: Serenade No. 12 in C Minor
Shepherd School Sinfonietta
Stude Concert Hall

Of course, that definition was stretched to suit the needs of the composer; Mozart’s serenade in C minor only adheres to certain aspects of the traditional serenade. In its four movement form and orchestration for wind octet, it seems typical. It’s minor key is unusual, though: it is filled with tragedy and drama, instead of the more typical lighthearted, relaxed utterances. The third movement, too, is somewhat odd; Mozart keeps traditional minuet form, but with a twist–it’s a contrapuntally-composed canon.



Mozart, age 14
Mozart, age 14

Ludwig van Beethoven: Serenade in D major for Flute, Violin, and Viola, Op. 25

Aralee Dorough (flute), Jennifer Owen (violin), and Linda Goldstein (viola)


Moores Opera House

Perhaps surprisingly, the Serenade in D Major for Flute, Violin, and Viola is more genial than Mozart’s contribution to the genre: in Beethoven’s composition, the lack of true bass instruments and major key seems to allow the music to float. The multi-movement form is typical: the outer, fast movements act as bookends to the traditional minuets, an Andante with variations, and other standard forms.


This episode originally aired Sunday, November 26th, 2017. Catch Music in the Making every Sunday at 7:06 PM on Classical.