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Studio D • Sunday morning, 9:00–12:00

Dialogic Form

Steven Vande Moortele (University of Toronto), Chair

Jonathan Guez (The College of Wooster)

A Contribution to the Theory of Tonal Alterations in Sonata Recapitulations

Jon-Tomas Godin (Brandon University)

Schumann's Early Experiments in Sonata Form

Eric Hogrefe (University of Louisville)

Dialogic Form in the First Movement of Mahler’s Tenth Symphony

Gabriel Venegas (Universidad de Costa Rica, San José)

Anton Bruckner's Slow Movements: Dialogic Perspectives

Abstracts

A Contribution to the Theory of Tonal Alterations in Sonata Recapitulations

Jonathan Guez (The College of Wooster)

Despite differences in critical alignment, studies of sonata-like structures tend to share one feature in common: they devote the least amount of time to recapitulations. Two theoretical presuppositions may explain this neglect: (1) that the thematic layout of the recapitulation mirrors that of the exposition, and (2) that one obligatory tonal alteration is all that is needed to make a tonic-recapitulating sonata conclude in the key in which it began. The present paper uses examples from Schubert’s piano music to complexify the second of these in hopes of painting a more complete, and analytically adequate, picture of the ways tonal alterations are made in practice. Its goal is to reveal the wide range of strategies available to composers for enacting a sonata’s obligatory tonal adjustment.

The central analytical section of the paper identifies six strategies for performing tonal alterations, each of which is suggestive of different narrative or dramatic situations. Moving from less to more “involved,” the strategies are:

Tonal alterations may be obligatory in sonatas with on-tonic recapitulations, but they are not for that reason deployed by composers pro forma. Indeed, Schubert (and others) composed tonal alterations in a range of sophisticated and dramatically appropriate ways. A detailed look at this understudied aspect of sonata composition enhances our music-analytic categories, sharpens our interpretive acumen, and invites us to hear recapitulations as sites of robust tonal dramas.

Schumann's Early Experiments in Sonata Form

Jon-Tomas Godin (Brandon University)

This paper seeks to connect Schumann’s early compositions in sonata style to Classical traditions, while simultaneously exploring the new temporal and rhetorical effects his creative reimagining of the form achieves. While the past decade has seen a revival of interest in Schumann’s concept of sonata form, most of this research leaves aside the piano sonatas and other sonata form movements that constitute Schumann’s earliest published attempts in the genre. Using a combination of analytical methods including formal functions, tonal organization and metric dissonance, I establish a broader basis for understanding how Schumann approached his early works in large-scale form.

Throughout the paper, I identify means by which Schuman subverts Classical sonata norms relating to formal boundaries and the resulting effects at both intrathematic and interthematic levels. On the intrathematic level, such effects include reorganization or deletion of beginning, middle or ending function at the phrase level to create local-level ambiguity. Such reorganizations also impact formal organization at the movement level, where they either again create more large-scale ambiguity, or in some cases, lead to greater integration between different levels of the formal hierarchy. On the interthematic level, Schumann uses the inherent parallelism of sonata form in the first movements of his Op. 11 and Op. 14 sonatas to redefine conventional formal boundaries, thus creating new rhetorical effects.

Dialogic Form in the First Movement of Mahler’s Tenth Symphony

Eric Hogrefe (University of Louisville)

The first movement of Mahler’s Tenth Symphony raises a formal question that applies broadly to all nineteenth- and twentieth-century music: how do Classical-era formal categories operate after the Classical era? Julian Horton (2005), Seth Monahan (2011, 2015), Steven Vande Moortele (2013), and others have offered possible solutions, but little has been achieved in terms of consensus. This paper offers a model for viewing form in Mahler’s Tenth Symphony that refines Hepokoski and Darcy’s dialogic perspective by distinguishing between four dialogic attitudes based on the master tropes of rhetoric: metaphor, metonymy, synecdoche, and irony.

In the first movement of Mahler’s Tenth Symphony, sonata form conventions interact freely with conventions more commonly associated with nineteenth-century slow movements creating a composite form. But within this composite, the two formal traditions are treated differently; Adagio conventions are largely upheld while sonata conventions are largely overturned, violated, or otherwise negated. My analysis shows how Mahler’s movement is best understood as enacting a conflict between dialogic attitudes based on metaphor and metonymy, as opposed to representing an uncertain blend of disparate formal traditions.

Anton Bruckner's Slow Movements: Dialogic Perspectives

Gabriel Venegas (Universidad de Costa Rica, San José)

Bruckner’s treatment of form and the textual idiosyncrasies of his symphonies loom large in his music’s reception history. Because the idea of a “Bruckner symphony” is hard to match with traditional notions of authenticity and authorship, Bruckner scholarship has operated under text-critical discourses that construe his oeuvre as defective and problematic. Similarly, in addressing traditional and innovative formal aspects of Bruckner’s music, critics have tended to overemphasize one side or the other; some judging his symphonies as formless, others considering them excessively predictable and overly reliant on classical models. It seems then that a more constructive appraisal of Bruckner’s music requires an epistemological change of gears. Towards that aim, this paper presents an analysis-based method that embraces the particularities of Bruckner’s music as its foremost potential.

The scope of the study is restricted to Bruckner’s slow movements. Building upon James Hepokoski’s dialogic approach, I propose conceiving formal-expressive meaning in Bruckner’s symphonic Adagios as growing out of a two-dimensional dialogue. First, there is the outward dialogue (the Hepokoskian dialogic dimension), in which the individual exemplar dialogues with its implied genre. Second, I suggest considering an inward dialogue among the various versions of a single movement, and the interplay between inward and outward dialogues.

The proposed analytical method has the advantage of both accounting for Bruckner’s formal idiosyncrasies and turning the “Bruckner Problem” into the Bruckner Potential. It provides an analytical/theoretical framework that clears the way for a more nuanced and sympathetic understanding of Bruckner’s music.