What Is a Movement in Music?

In classical music, a movement is just one part of a larger classical symphony. It is a section within a classical symphony, concerto, or sonata that shares a melody and rhythm. There are usually 4 movements: the introduction, exposition, development, and recapitulation.

Each movement may have different purposes and uses, but they break the larger piece (the composition) into more manageable parts. Usually, classical pieces are divided into four movements in order to make a long composition manageable and interesting for the listener to be gauged and finish listening.

How Long is a movement in music?

The duration of movements can vary drastically depending on the length of the piece as well as the tempo. Typically, classical music movements are between 5 and 20 minutes long. Again, this varies depending on the entire classical piece and, as you know, classical pieces can last for over an hour or even more.

Classical composers have been using this method to divide their classical symphonies into movements for a long time, to say the least. It has proven to be a good method for holding the interest of the listener in order to fully listen to the composition without breaking concentration.

Parts of a Movement

A classical symphony typically has four movements or parts, like an introduction and coda (also called a postlude). The first movement sets the stage and establishes the key and tempo for the entire piece, introducing themes that will be developed throughout the entire symphony.

The first movement is usually the slowest one that first gauges the interest of the listener. This is followed by three further movements that are usually faster-paced than their predecessor – often including more dramatic melodies and harmonies.

The three other movements in the classical piece will have certain ups and downs as a way of making the entire composition interesting, leading all the way to the finale or coda.  The coda typically occurs at the end of classical music movements.

Examples of Movements in Music

When it comes to examples for musical movements, you’ve probably already known these compositions but have yet to realize that they are prime examples for movements. These five classical symphonies are very good examples of classical movements:

Für Elise – Ludwig Van Beethoven

The classical piece starts off with a series of eight notes played in octaves on the keyboard, followed by an eighth note rest before beginning to play again at double speed then slowing back down to the original tempo after just four bars or so.

Symphony No. 5 (movement 4) – Beethoven

The opening bars are quiet and somber, but as the movement progresses, the intensity builds until it reaches a dramatic climax. This classical music movement is a perfect example of how a classical composer can use dynamics to create an incredibly powerful effect. 

Canon in D Major – Johann Pachelbel

The Canon in D Major was originally written as a piece for three violins, but it can be played on any instrument or combination of instruments. It’s also one of the few classical pieces that don’t have a specific time signature, which means that you can play it at any tempo you like.

Final movement of Tchaikovsky’s 6th Symphony

Tchaikovsky’s 6th symphony was written in 1893 and is composed of four classical movements. This classical symphony is composed of an exposition, development, recapitulation, and coda, all of which have a slightly different duration and theme.

L’Histoire du Soldat – Igor Stravinsky

L’Histoire du Soldat (The Soldier’s Tale) is a classical music suite that was written by Igor Stravinsky in 1918. It’s a three-movement classical work, the first classical movement is entitled “Prelude”, the second classical movement is called “Chamber Music”, and the third classical movement is called “TheSoldier’s March”.


Classical music is composed of different classical movements. These classical movements can vary depending on the duration of the classical piece. There are four classical symphony movements – the introduction, exposition, development, and recapitulation.

Some examples of classical movement include Waltz from Sleeping Beauty, Für Elise by Ludwig Van Beethoven, and The Flight of the Bumblebee. Each classical movement has its own unique melody and rhythm that make it stand out from other classical pieces.