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By William Kanengiser
As told to Jim Ferguson
“TURKISH MARCH” IS FROM MOZART’s “Piano Sonata No. 11”; I retained the original key of A major. I picked this piece for CROSSROADS because it is highly recognizable and very classical in style. Giuliani’s Grand Overture or something by Sor or Coste might not have been as identifiable to the general audience.
Written in the “Turkish style,” the composition is characterized by static harmonies—as evidenced by the repeated bass notes—and sudden shifts between major and minor modes. This is probably one of Mozart’s best-known pieces for solo piano. As in any transcription
away from the original instrumentation, some compromises had to be made, most notably in leaving out a bit of the bass figuration that takes place when the melody is active. I believe that performing the entire sonata on the guitar comes a bit closer in sonority to the forte piano—the instrument Mozart used to compose on—than does the modern grand piano.
One of the most important things about performing the piece regards how to handle the appoggiaturas (ornamental notes, notated with small note heads). There are long and short appoggiaturas. The rhythmic indication at the beginning of the score refers to performing long appoggiaturas, which usually take place in scalar passages*. Long appoggiaturas should always be played on the beat, and they take half of the main note’s time value.
Short appoggiaturas, such as the ones at the beginning of the fifth complete measure, should be played on the beat; they take less than quarter of the main note’s value. The same holds true for the appoggiaturas in the last section. A good general rule is to never do as appoggiatura from Mozart’s time before the beat. My ultimate goal in transcribing “Turkish March” was to maintain its spirit.
*The remark in the score was: appoggiatura-eight and 2 sixteenth should be played as 4 sixteenth notes.
This full track title is "Piano Sonata No. 11 in A major, K.331 - Alla turca "