Two-Dimensional Sonata Form

Two-Dimensional Sonata Form: Form and Cycle in Single-Movement Instrumental Works by Liszt, Strauss, Schoenberg and Zemlinsky

Steven Vande Moortele
Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: Leuven University Press
Pages: 220
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Two-Dimensional Sonata Form
    Book Description:

    Two-Dimensional Sonata Form is the first book dedicated to the combination of the movements of a multimovement sonata cycle with an overarching single-movement form that is itself organized as a sonata form. Drawing on a variety of historical and recent approaches to musical form (e.g., Marxian and Schoenbergian Formenlehre, Caplin’s theory of formal functions, and Hepokoski and Darcy’s Sonata Theory), it begins by developing an original theoretical framework for the analysis of this type of form that is so characteristic of the later nineteenth and early twentieth century. It then offers an in-depth examination of nine exemplary works by four Central European composers: the Piano Sonata in B minor and the symphonic poems Tasso and Die Ideale by Franz Liszt, Richard Strauss’s tone poems Don Juan and Ein Heldenleben, the symphonic poem Pelleas und Melisande, the First String Quartet and the First Chamber Symphony by Arnold Schoenberg, and Alexander Zemlinsky’s Second String Quartet.

    eISBN: 978-94-6166-014-5
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-IV)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. V-VI)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. VII-VIII)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)

    This book is about two-dimensional sonata form. Although the term may not be familiar, the phenomenon it denotes is. “Two-dimensional sonata form” refers to a principle of formal organization that is used in several large-scale instrumental compositions of the second half of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In these compositions, the different movements of a sonata cycle are combined within one single-movement sonata form. Forms such as these have previously been known as “double-function forms,” but, as I will argue, this term is problematic and needs to be replaced. Although the repertoire of two-dimensional sonata forms is modest in...

  5. Chapter 1 Two-Dimensional Sonata Form: A terminological and conceptual framework
    (pp. 11-34)

    Musical form is hierarchically organized. It consists of several large and small functional components that all play a specific role. A functional component at any given level of this hierarchy consists of several subcomponents that operate at the level below. Together with other components at the same level, that first component forms a unit that functions at the level above. A hypothetical “textbook” sonata form, for instance, can be divided into components and subcomponents as shown in figure 1. These subcomponents can be further divided, and the subdivision can go on down to the lowest level, that of the individual...

  6. Chapter 2 Liszt’s B-minor Sonata
    (pp. 35-58)

    In this chapter, the terminology and concepts developed in Chapter 1 will be put to the test by means of an analysis of an entire two-dimensional sonata form. No composition seems more appropriate to this task than Franz Liszt’s Piano Sonata in B minor of 1853, a work one might call—as a play on a pun by Walter Frisch—thelocus romanticusof two-dimensional sonata form.¹ As early as 1904, the German musicologist Eugen Schmitz recognized that Liszt’s B-minor Sonata, although a single-movement composition, comprised “three organically interwoven movements” (“drei allerdings organisch ineinandergeflochtene Sätze”) [Schmitz 1904, p. 451].² Ever...

  7. Chapter 3 Liszt: Tasso and Die Ideale
    (pp. 59-80)

    There has never been any doubt that the concept of two-dimensional sonata form, as exemplified by Liszt ’s B-minor Sonata, was adopted by Arnold Schoenberg at the beginning of the twentieth century. One can only be amazed, however, to read Alan Walker’s comment that the B-minor Sonata “was to have no successor until Schoenberg did something similar in his First Chamber Symphony more than 50 years later” [Walker, Eckhart & Charnin Mueller 2001, p. 774]. Not only was the First Chamber Symphony Op. 9 anything but Schoenberg’s first two-dimensional sonata form, Schoenberg was also not the first to write a...

  8. Chapter 4 Strauss: Don Juan and Ein Heldenleben
    (pp. 81-100)

    From 1889 to 1894, Richard Strauss served as Kapellmeister in Weimar. In this capacity, he sought to emulate Liszt in many respects. Like his predecessor, Strauss modernized both the Weimar orchestra and its repertoire, and it is hardly coincidental that he attached great importance to the preparation of new productions of Wagner’sTannhäuserandLohengrin,two operas Liszt had conducted—and, in the case ofLohengrin, even premiered—in Weimar. In addition, Strauss’s concert programs throughout his conducting career included an unusually high number of Liszt’s works. Between 1902 and 1904, when in Berlin, he even performed all twelve Weimar...

  9. Chapter 5 Schoenberg’s Pelleas und Melisande
    (pp. 101-126)

    In 1949, looking back on his early period, Arnold Schoenberg recalled the musical situation in Vienna in the final years of the nineteenth century as follows [Schoenberg 1949d, p. 37]:

    Mahler and Strauss had appeared on the musical scene, and so fascinating was their advent, that every musician was immediately forced to take sides, pro or contra. Being then only 23 years of age, I was easily to catch fire, and to begin composing symphonic poems of one uninterrupted movement.

    Evidently, Richard Strauss had already appeared on the musical scene by the early 1890s. By 1897—the year Schoenberg turned...

  10. Chapter 6 Schoenberg’s First String Quartet
    (pp. 127-158)

    Schoenberg continued to use two-dimensional sonata form in his two large-scale instrumental works afterPelleas und Melisande: the First String Quartet Op. 7 (1904–05) and the First Chamber Symphony Op. 9 (1906). It is within this group of single-movement works that the transition in his oeuvre from program to absolute music takes place: after the completion ofPelleas, Schoenberg transplanted the concept of two-dimensional sonata form, which had resolutely migrated to program music after Liszt’s B-minor Sonata, back to absolute music.¹

    The transition from program to absolute music in Schoenberg’s early works took place gradually.Pelleas und Melisandeis...

  11. Chapter 7 Schoenberg’s First Chamber Symphony
    (pp. 159-178)

    In 1949 Schoenberg wrote [Schoenberg 1949a, p. 440]:

    TheChamber Symphony, composed in 1906, is the last work of my first period which consists of only one uninterrupted movement. It still has a certain similarity with myFirst String Quartet Op.7, which also combines the four types of movements of the sonata form and in some respect with the symphonic poems [sic]Verklärte Nacht Op. 4andPelleas und Melisande Op. 5, which, disregarding the conventional order of the movements, bring about types resembling the contrasting effect of independent movements.

    The First Chamber Symphony Op. 9 indeed testifies to Schoenberg...

  12. Chapter 8 Zemlinsky’s Second String Quartet
    (pp. 179-194)

    Alexander Zemlinsky wrote his Second String Quartet Op. 15 between 1913 and 1915. The earliest reference to it appears in a letter to Schoenberg of 20 July 1913, in which Zemlinsky informed the latter that he was “working steadily on a—string quartet!!” On a postcard a few days later, Zemlinsky revealed that the quartet was to be in “only one movement, that is to say four parts in one movement” and was “seemingly in F# minor.”¹ Almost eighteen months later, on New Year’s Eve 1914, he announced that he intended to dedicate it to Schoenberg [Zemlinsky 1995, p. 127]....

  13. Conclusion: The significance of two-dimensional sonata form
    (pp. 195-202)

    In the preceding seven chapters, I have discussed the nine two-dimensional sonata forms by Liszt, Strauss, Schoenberg, and Zemlinsky explicitly as a group of interrelated compositions. In spite of their obvious connections to the much broader field of sonata form in general, these two-dimensional sonata forms constitute a context of their own, creating a subfield for the interpretation of each individual one of them. To be sure, the same group of works could have been studied in a much larger context. One could set out to measure them against a normative model of sonata form, and legitimately conclude that many...

  14. Appendix: Measure-Number Tables
    (pp. 203-206)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 207-216)
  16. Index of Names and Works
    (pp. 217-220)