I read on Wikipedia Mozart's Turkish March has the form


But I read in my textbook Listening to Music by Craig Wright that a rondo form is supposed to have more "symmetrical patterns" like


The Turkish March doesn't seem to have anything like that. It has 5 sections in a row that are different followed by a repeat of C and then A,B,C again. This is very unlike the description Wright gives.

My Question:

Why is the Turkish March considered a rondo?

  • 1
    Not to mention a certain Dave Brubeck composition :-) Commented Apr 23, 2015 at 12:46

3 Answers 3


Not every rondo is the exact same form. There are many different types of rondos with the most popular variations being A-B-A, A-B-A-C-A, and A-B-A-C-A-B'-A (the last one being comparable to your definition).

A rondo is defined by repetition (the A section in most cases) and you start with one musical idea go somewhere else (typically refereed to as an episode) and comes back.

If you look at your form you can group the sections together and get ABC-DEC-ABC. Look familiar? This is the very simple A-B-A rondo form in a larger form. I would consider this piece more in Sonata rondo form then just rondo as the sections suggest more of an exposition, development, and recapitulation then just a complex A-B-A form.

  • A nice explanation. I haven't gotten used to thinking about second order groupings yet. That makes sense. Commented Apr 23, 2015 at 3:29
  • 4
    Second order groupings is indeed the key, though I see a slightly different set of groupings. Given that the C section is repeated in both the first and the middle section, I would tend to view it as the recurring theme. Then you have (AB)-C-(DE)-C-(AB)-C-coda, which is more like Dom's third example above, only without an opening statement of the main recurring C theme (which is slightly odd). Neither view is necessarily right or wrong, though, just two different ways of viewing the same structure at different levels. Commented Apr 23, 2015 at 5:34
  • For a marvelous example of a more traditional rondo form, look and listen to Darius Milhaud's Le Boeuf sur le toit. In addition to its ear-tickling polytonality, the main theme goes through the complete cycle of fifths as it repeats while you are delighted by Brazilian pop tunes by other composers.
    – DjinTonic
    Commented Dec 25, 2021 at 4:04

The explanation is very simple: Mozart never called it a rondo in the first place. Look at the urtext edition here: http://dme.mozarteum.at/DME/nma/nma_cont.php?vsep=197&gen=edition&l=1&p1=24

The Wikipedia analysis seems rather over-simplified. Look at the score and figure it out for yourself - it's not hard to follow.

The entire sonata has very little in common with the conventional (late 19th and early 20th century) idea of what form a classical sonata was supposed to have. The take-home messages from all this are (1) "form" was never used by good composers as something to be learned from a textbook and used as a "fill-in-the-blanks" method of writing music and (2) "analysis" is pointless unless you start from what was actually written, and without trying to make it fit some preconceived ideas of how it ought to have been written.


Neglecting repeats, the form of Mozart's Rondo Alla Turca is actually more like this:


Note the A sections are in A minor overall, the B sections and the coda are in A major, and the C section is in F sharp minor overall.

Both the A and C sections are themselves in rounded binary form. Thus, we can expand the notated form of Mozart's Rondo Alla Turca (neglecting repeats again) to this:


At this point, we have heard some version of the A1 theme at least 4 times, with other sections inserted in between, and so we can successfully label Mozart's Rondo Alla Turca a rondo (although one with an unorthodox structure).

The edition of the Rondo Alla Turca I last looked at actually has the repeats like this:


(Funnily enough, the coda also has a repetitive structure.)

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