Dissertation Index

Author: Grant, Aaron B.

Title: Schubert\'s Three-Key Expositions

Institution: Eastman School of Music

Begun: October 2016

Completed: June 2018


For over a century, critics derided Schubert’s instrumental compositions—particularly his sonata forms—as “monotonous” (Mason 1906, 97–98), “diffuse in form [and] slipshod in craftsmanship” (Gray 1928, 193). This view of Schubert’s sonata forms eventually led Dahlhaus (1978) and Webster (1978/79) to write seminal articles calling for a reexamination of the composer’s works on their own terms. Since these two studies, scholarship on Schubert, and his sonata-forms in particular, has undergone a renaissance. Yet, despite this newfound interest in Schubert and form in general, comparably less attention has been spent examining Schubert\'s three-key expositions. Thus, even with the plethora of exciting new perspectives on Schubert and form that have come into being since the new Formenlehre, basic questions about the formal structure and function of the three-key exposition remain unanswered. This dissertation, therefore, investigates the structure, formal function, and narrative resonances of the three-key exposition within Schubert’s oeuvre in hopes of filling this gap in our knowledge.

Chapter One interrogates the notion that three-key expositions are two-part forms, and asserts that Schubert\'s compositional practices within this formal strategy point to a new, distinctly 19th-century, three-part expositional type. Chapter Two builds on this observation and investigates Schubert\'s treatment of the second and third tonal areas from a form-functional perspective. Chapter Three then shows how the boundaries between Schubert’s two- and three-key expositions are not as fixed as previously believed. In Chapter Four, I explore various narrative strategies that can structure our hearings of these pieces. More specifically, I investigate how an early aberrant pitch class or harmony can often be heard to foreshadow later tonal events within these expositions. Finally, Chapter 5 examines Schubert’s treatment of the three key areas within his recapitulations. In doing so, this chapter illuminates the vast array of recapitulatory adjustments the composer used for formal and expressive purposes—adjustments that fly in the face of the historical image of Schubert’s so-called lazy approach to recapitulations.

Keywords: 19th-Century Music, Formal Functions, Franz Schubert, Narrative, Sonata Form, Sonata Theory, Three-Key Exposition


Chapter 1: Defining the Three-Key Exposition
Chapter 2: Form-Functional Variety and Expositional Narratives in Schubert’s Three-Key Expositions
Chapter 3: Schubert’s New Forms: Digressions in Schubert’s Two-Part Expositions Chapter 4: Foreshadowing Strategies in Schubert’s Three-Key Expositions
Chapter 5: Tonal Alterations in the Recapitulations of Schubert’s Three-Key Expositions


email: aaron.b.grant@gmail.com

     Return to dissertations