|Relative key||C minor|
|Parallel key||E♭ minor|
|Notes in this scale|
|E♭, F, G, A♭, B♭, C, D, E♭|
E-flat major is often associated with bold, heroic music, in part because of Beethoven's usage. His Eroica Symphony and his Emperor Concerto are both in this key. Also Beethoven's (hypothetical) 10th symphony is in the key of E-flat major. But even before Beethoven, musicians identified E-flat major as "a heroic key, extremely majestic, grave and serious: in all these features it is superior to that of C."
E-flat major is prominently used in music for brass instruments as it is an easier key to play and has a more satisfying tone quality. Specifically, alto saxophone, baritone saxophone, alto clarinet and alto horn (UK: tenor horn) have E-flat as their home key.
Thus, three of Mozart's completed horn concerti and Joseph Haydn's famous Trumpet Concerto are in E-flat major, and so is Anton Bruckner's Fourth Symphony with its prominent horn theme in the first movement. Another famous heroic piece in the key of E-flat major is Richard Strauss's Ein Heldenleben (A Hero's Life). The heroic theme from the Jupiter movement of Holst's The Planets is in E-flat major. Mahler's vast and heroic Eighth Symphony is in E-flat, and his Second Symphony also ends in the key.
This is not to say that in the Classical period E-flat major was only for bombastic music with brass. "E flat was the key [Joseph] Haydn chose most often for [string] quartets, ten times in all, and in every other case he wrote the slow movement in the dominant, B flat." Or "when composing church music and operatic music in E-flat major, [Joseph] Haydn often substituted cors anglais for oboes in this period," and also in the Symphony No. 22 in E-flat major.
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Well-known compositions in this key[change | change source]
- Johann Sebastian Bach
- Ludwig van Beethoven
- Alexander Borodin
- Frédéric Chopin
- Ludovico Einaudi
- Gustav Mahler
- Ennio Morricone
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
- Franz Liszt
- Robert Schumann
- Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
- Richard Wagner
- Prelude to Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung)
References[change | change source]
- Francesco Galeazzi, Elementi teorico-practici di musica (1796) as translated to English in Rita Steblin, A History of Key Characteristics in the Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries. University of Rochester Press (1996): 111
- Paul Griffiths, The String Quartet. New York: Thames & Hudson (1983): 29
- David Wyn Jones, "The Symphonies of Haydn" in A Guide to the Symphony, ed. Robert Layton. Oxford: Oxford University Press
Scales and keys[change | change source]
|The table shows the number of sharps or flats in each scale. Minor scales are written in lower case.|