Author: Guez, Jonathan
Title: Schubert's Recapitulation Scripts
Institution: Yale University
Begun: August 2011
Completed: March 2015
In recent years, much energy has been expended theorizing and analyzing eighteenth- and nineteenth-century musical forms. Despite meaningful differences in alignment, studies of sonata-like structures tend to share at least one feature in common: they devote the least amount of time to recapitulations (and reprises), preferring to focus instead on 1) the thematic similarity of these to the referential exposition, and 2) the “obligatory” tonal alterations housed therein. The current study seeks to redress this lack of attention by painting a more complete picture of the complexities of recapitulatory practice. By examining in close detail the tonal and thematic alterations that occur in recapitulations it seeks to instate the recapitulation as a subject of inquiry and to articulate a set of regulative principles for its treatment in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
The study’s driving thesis is that formal alterations made in a sonata’s recapitulation impact its narrative, generic, and art-historical content. Through their subtle transformations of presented temporality, recapitulatory alterations influence a movement’s narrative by staging its cadential goal-points as “too early” or “too late.” They correlate with generic classification to the extent that musical genres may have been associated in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries with certain patterns of recapitulatory alterations. (The buffa overture, for instance, is known for making recapitulatory deletions.) And they bear on our understanding of art history since, by pointing to a new aspect of compositional praxis, they lead to new discussions of instruction, influence, and conscious modelings.
In defense of these claims, this study systematizes the types of tonal and thematic alterations that composers around the turn of the nineteenth century used. Part I (Chapter 1) lays out the issues in a small, controlled, and in many ways familiar context. Its central conceit is that composers of instrumental forms that feature “built-in” repeats—such as sonata and rounded binary forms—make recapitulatory alterations in the same ways as do poets who work in textual forms with refrains, and often to the same dramatic ends. By performing close readings of three poetic texts by Goethe and Müller, as well as Schubert’s musical settings of them, I show how the types of interpretive claims that can be made in the poetic realm can be imported into the abstract instrumental one.
Once the main argument for moving from the texted to the abstract instrumental realm is laid out, Part II (Chapters 2-5) systematically confronts the possibilities for making recapitulatory alterations in instrumental music. Chapter 2 houses a short methodological introduction and lays the groundwork for the division of recapitulations into three categories based on the number of “time-alterations” they contain. Category 1 recapitulations are exactly the same size, but not always the same shape, as their referential expositions. Category 2 recapitulations make one thematic alteration that, by adding or deleting some number of measures, “takes time.” Category 3 recapitulations make more than one of these “time-alterations.” Chapters 3 through 5 theorize the three categories of recapitulation, one chapter per category. They are concerned both with the “technical-formal” deployments of alteration strategies and the narrative or hermeneutic scenarios these suggest. Central to my enterprise is the conviction that recapitulation strategies are suggestive of particular narratives.
Part III (Chapter 6) builds upon the taxonomy to show directions for further research. It is an investigation into one peculiar formal structure for which Schubert had a penchant, and to which he developed an individualized response. Analysis of a handful of late finales shows that Schubert often approached certain sonata-form structures—in this case what Sonata Theory calls the “expanded Type 1 sonata”—with a particular recapitulation script in mind. Analysis of his Overture im Italienischen Stil, D. 590, shows precedents for the approach and raises questions about genre, provenance, aesthetics, and compositional instruction.
Keywords: Sonata Theory, Schubert, Recapitulations
Part I: Changes of Focus
Chapter 1: Recapitulatory Alterations in Theory and Practice
Part II: Schubert's Recapitulation Scripts
Chapter 2: Introduction to Recapitulation Scripts
Chapter 3: Category 1 Recapitulations
Chapter 4: Category 2 Recapitulations
Chapter 5: Category 3 Recapitulations
Part III: Directions for Further Research
Chapter 6: Compensation Scripts in Schubert\'s Finales
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