Thursday 12:45-2:15 ET

Add this to your calendar

Sonata Forms

Joel Galand (Florida International University), Chair

Sonata Form Through the Eyes of Leopoldo Miguéz

Desirée Mayr (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro)

bio for Desirée Mayr

Desirée Mayr is an Assistant Professor of Music at Bahia State University, teacher, and violinist in the Brazilian Symphony Orchestra. She studies the work of the Brazilian nineteenth-century composer Leopoldo Miguéz, and has taught analysis of Brazilian romantic works at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ). She was a post-doctoral scholar at UFRJ, from where she also obtained her Doctorate and Masters in Music, having studied for part of her Ph.D. at Durham University with a CAPES Scholarship. Desirée has a Licentiate in Violin Performance from the Royal Schools Association, a Bachelors in Violin from the UFRJ, and a Bachelors in Mathematics and Physics from King’s College, London, as well as pedagogical training. Desirée obtained a 2021 SMT Travel Grant and frequently participates in international conferences, having published her work in journals, such as Opus. This year of 2021, Desirée has presented at the Society for Music Analysis, Music Theory Midwest, Society for Music in Ireland, Midlands Musical Research Network, Musical Intercultural Practices Symposium, and the Brazilian Association for Music Analysis (TeMA).


Leopoldo Miguéz (1850–1902) was a leading figure in Brazil’s Romantic absolute music tradition. As Brazil transitioned from a monarchy to a republic, Miguéz took part in the government’s project of promoting progress expressing the ideals of positivism. This led to a shift in musical aesthetics, away from Italian opera, and toward instrumental music linked to Zukunftsmusik (Andrade 2013). Miguéz composed the first Brazilian symphony, symphonic poem, and violin sonata.

As Miguéz was probably the first Brazilian composer to use sonata form, this study examines two large-scale movements using Sonata Theory (Hepokoski and Darcy 2006): his piano piece Allegro Appassionato Op. 11 (1883), and the first movement of his violin sonata Op. 14 (1884), contemplating form, harmony, and thematic-motivic construction. It uses two complementary methodologies: “formal-harmonic layered analysis” charts (Almada 2016) and graphical schemes adapted from Kopp’s network diagrams (2002). My study identifies four main characteristics: use of “proto-theme”, the practice of preceding the main theme’s entry by an embryonic version (reference to Janet Schmalfeldt’s concept of becoming); use of roving-harmony passages (Schoenberg 1969), characterized by vagrant chords and a lack of tonal reference; use of non-conventional keys for the secondary group; and a wide spectrum of keys. 

Despite Miguéz’s lack of formal training and an absence of local models, by studying scores, he assimilated the Zeitgeist and struck a balance between norm and deviation, advancing Brazil’s aspirations toward modernization. This study broadens discourses on nineteenth-century sonata-form practices beyond the European repertoires, adding diversity to the canon.

Redundant, Lesser, and Inconvenient Sonata-Rondo Forms?: Mozart’s and Haydn’s Late 18th-Century Rondo Finales Revisited

Graham G. Hunt (University of Texas at Arlington)

bio for Graham G. Hunt

Graham Hunt is Professor of Music Theory, head of Theory/Composition, and Associate Chair of the Department of Music at the University of Texas at Arlington. His research focuses on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century music, including Mozart, Haydn, Wagner, Schubert, and Brahms, with approaches ranging from formal-function analysis, sonata theory, and compositional genesis to Schenkerian and Neo-Riemannian analysis. His publications include articles in Music Theory Spectrum, Theory and Practice, and Music Analysis. He has presented papers at numerous conferences, including 4 national SMT meetings, and was President of the Texas Society for Music Theory from 2012 to 2015. He is currently working on a project applying formal function theory to Wagner’s leitmotivs in Lohengrin, and has a forthcoming chapter in Analyzing Mozart that develops a “sonata theory” for late 18th-century opera arias.


This paper will argue that “problematic” or “inconvenient” sonata-rondo movements such as Haydn’s “Clock” symphony finale should not be defined negatively (as a flawed or “lesser” sonata-rondo form) or experientally (a midstream conversion or “becoming” from Type 4 to rondo), but rather as descendants of a form I term “expositional X-part rondo,” which originated for Mozart and Haydn in their finales as early as the 1760s.  Their first couplet-episode (AB) pair forms a sonata exposition (by galant standards, using Burstein’s recently revived Kochian terms such as Grundabsätze and Quintabsätze, as well as the modulating Prinner), and then proceeds to the standard couplet-episode (AC, AD, etc.) layout until complete; the expositional materials never return. This form can be seen in Mozart’s early Violin Sonata K. 26, as well as in pieces that Cole and Fisher cite as Haydn’s first attempts at sonata-rondo (e.g., his 64th symphony).  As the generic norms of their sonata forms began to take shape in the 1770s, both Mozart and Haydn began to add a section late in the pieces, perhaps to compensate for the lack of the return of expositional materials, a section I label a “balancing” section. In sum, this presentation will seek to train a less anachronistic lens on these pieces using important recent Formenlehre studies. Once a more flexible idea of a sonata exposition is thereby established, the well-trodden lineage of the form that Cole, Fisher and Fillion outlined in Haydn’s works can be extended back even further back to the 1760s.   

Supplementary Material(s)

Form-Functional Roles of the Symphonic Motto

Alexis Millares Thomson (University of Toronto)


Cyclical thematic units preceding a main theme, occasionally described as mottos, occur in several of Mendelssohn’s and Schumann’s orchestral works. Horton (2013) identifies mottos in three Schumann symphonies, and Vande Moortele (2017) observes similar cases in three Mendelssohn overtures. Building on their work, this paper examines how Niels Gade (1817–1890) manipulates his mottos, particularly at expositional boundaries, to express different formal functions (after Caplin 1998), thereby expanding on precedents set by Mendelssohn and Schumann.

Gade’s mottos in the opening movements of four of his symphonies express different formal functions at multiple levels and play active roles in their respective sonata forms proper, thus crossing the boundary of introductory parageneric space (Hepokoski and Darcy 2006). Vande Moortele expands on Caplin’s “beginning” function and Hepokoski and Darcy’s four “characteristic zones” for slow introductions with five distinct units: prefatory, initiating, medial, closing, and epilogic, which I adapt to explore the different roles mottos play within expositions. Gade’s mottos often mark beginnings and endings of expositions, thus approaching Hepokoski and Darcy’s rotational understanding of sonata form. In the sixth symphony, for instance, the once prefatory motto becomes epilogic as it returns to round off the exposition. In contrast, the placement of repeat barlines in Symphony No. 5 omits the first motto, urging the listener to reinterpret the boundaries of the main theme group. The analyses in this paper demonstrate Gade’s development of motto techniques and suggest another angle from which to consider cyclicism in 19th-century sonata forms.

Supplementary Material(s)