It’s All in the Name

Understanding the Audition Process
(Part III/C – Solo Repertoire / Understanding the Title of the Composition)

The title of most compositions in music, especially for solo, have a specific purpose. The purpose of these titles are to outline the form of the work. In your audition, you must know what every aspect of the title means. Here’s what we mean. We’ll use Mozart’s "Concerto In A, KV662" for solo Bb Clarinet as an example. Now, let’s pick it apart.


A concerto is a musical composition that is usually composed in three movements, and in which a solo instrument is accompanied by an orchestra or band. If there is not an orchestra or band, then a pianist, through the use of piano transcription, is the accompanist. The first movement is traditionally in a sonata form, while the second movement in a serenade form, and finally the third movement in a rondo form.

Now it’s time to unpack what I just said, starting with the forms.

Sonata Serenade Rondo
A musical structure consisting of three main sections: an exposition, a development, and a recapitulation. They are most often performed at Allegro (lively and brisk) tempo. A musical form that highlights a moving melodic line in the ABA Song form that is typically calm and light in character. The second movement is often in a related key. They are most often performed at Andante (slow) or Adagio (slower) tempo. A principal theme that alternates with one or more contrasting themes. They are most often performed at Presto (very fast) tempo.

What Does "Concerto" Mean?

The word "Concerto" comes from Italian that seems to originate from the conjunction of two Latin words: conserere (meaning to tie, to join, to weave) and certamen (meaning to compete or fight). The idea is that the two parts in a concerto – the soloist and the orchestra, band, or pianist– alternate between opposition, cooperation, and independence to create a sense of flow throughout the three movements.

In A – Because the A is capitalized, it means that the concerto is in the key of A major.

Kochel Verzeichnis

KV662 – KV is an abbreviation in German for Kochel Verzeichnis. Kochel is the last name of the publisher that collected Mozart’s music and Verzeichnis means "registry" or "list". So, "KV662" means that this is the 662nd composition that Mozart registered with his publisher.

Last Tip

As a final step, the auditioner should research and have a general knowledge of each of the kinds of compositions listed below:

  • Air
  • Aria
  • Arioso
  • Art
  • Ballade
  • Bolero
  • Bourée
  • Canzona
  • Capriccio
  • Chanson
  • Concerto
  • Elegie
  • Fantasia
  • Fantasy
  • Gavotte
  • Hornpipe
  • Intrada
  • Jig
  • March
  • Menuet
  • Menuetto
  • Nocturne
  • Overture
  • Patter
  • Pavane
  • Polonaise
  • Prelude
  • Rag
  • Rapsodie
  • Recitative
  • Rigaudon
  • Romance
  • Rondo
  • Samba
  • Saraband
  • Scherzo
  • Serenade
  • Soliloquy
  • Sonata
  • Sonatina
  • Song
  • Suite
  • Theme and Variations
  • Villanelle
  • Waltz

As you can see, having a working knowledge of solo musical titles is a must. Believe me, it is common for a judge at your audition to ask what the title of the composition means. Unlocking the title will give you another key for success!

Keep Practicing,

Dr. Randall Bayne, CEO