UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Formal procedures in three works for string chamber ensemble by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy Austin, George Clifford Everard 1982

Your browser doesn't seem to have a PDF viewer, please download the PDF to view this item.

Notice for Google Chrome users:
If you are having trouble viewing or searching the PDF with Google Chrome, please download it here instead.

Item Metadata

Download

Media
831-UBC_1982_A6_5 A88.pdf [ 3.02MB ]
Metadata
JSON: 831-1.0095172.json
JSON-LD: 831-1.0095172-ld.json
RDF/XML (Pretty): 831-1.0095172-rdf.xml
RDF/JSON: 831-1.0095172-rdf.json
Turtle: 831-1.0095172-turtle.txt
N-Triples: 831-1.0095172-rdf-ntriples.txt
Original Record: 831-1.0095172-source.json
Full Text
831-1.0095172-fulltext.txt
Citation
831-1.0095172.ris

Full Text

FORMAL PROCEDURES IN THREE WORKS FOR STRING CHAMBER ENSEMBLE BY FELIX MENDELSSOHN-BARTHOLDY by GEORGE CLIFFORD EVERARD AUSTIN B.Mus., The University of British Columbia, 1977 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF MUSIC' in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Department of Music) We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA May 1982 c) George Clifford Everard Austin, 1982 In p r e s e n t i n g t h i s t h e s i s i n p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t of the requirements f o r an advanced degree at the U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h Columbia, I agree t h a t the L i b r a r y s h a l l make agree t h a t p e r m i s s i o n f o r e x t e n s i v e copying o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r s c h o l a r l y purposes may be granted by the head o f my department o r by h i s or her r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s . I t i s understood t h a t copying or p u b l i c a t i o n o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r f i n a n c i a l g a i n s h a l l not be allowed without my w r i t t e n p e r m i s s i o n . i t f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e f o r r e f e r e n c e and study. I f u r t h e r Department of The U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia 1956 Main Mall Vancouver, Canada V6T 1Y3 Date DE-6 (3/81) i i ABSTRACT The works of Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (1809-47) are problematic i n that i t i s extremely d i f f i c u l t , i f not impossible, to categorise them as being "Classic" or "Romantic", or to divide them into "style periods" which present clear indications of progression from one to the other. The architec-tural parameters of the works selected for this analysis are determined by the classical Sonata Form which was undergoing a degree of neglect during Mendelssohn's lifetime as a result of the work of both the preceeding generation of composers and of his comtemporaries. Mendelssohn1s attempt to prolong the existence of the form w i l l be the prime concern of this exercise. The Octet, Opus 20, and the String Quartets, Opus 44» Number 3, and Opus 80, were composed over a twenty year period of Mendelssohn's l i f e — from mid-teens to the year of his death. The works are widely enough spaced that any manifestations of change i n method or approach would, i n a l l probability, be readily discernable. Further, since these works a l l f a l l within the generic classification of music for string chamber ensemble, comparisons between them should be more appropriate than those between works of different genres. The presentation w i l l be organised as follows: I. Introduction: The works selected; the form of the string quartet. I I . Analysis of selected works. I I I . Devices used i n the unfolding of the form. IV. Evaluation. i i i Mendelssohn's respect for traditions i n general and classical forms in particular, which led Berlioz to remark that: "He i s far too fond of the dead", remained throughout his l i f e . The material contained within the formal frame w i l l reflect the s p i r i t of the romantic era but the framework w i l l remain classic. i v TABLE OF CONTENTS Title p. i Abstract p. i i Chapter I Introduction p. 1 Chapter II Analysis of selected works p. 6 Chapter III Formal types and compositional devices p. 31 Chapter IV Evaluation p. 43 Bibliography Appendix p. 60 p. 62 1 CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION The works selected The selection of material for this study took into account chamber works for strings from as wide a time span as possible within the composer's l i f e : Title Year of composition Age Octet, Opus 20 1825 16 String Quartet, Opus 44. Number 3 1838 29 String Quartet, Opus 80 1847 38 This selection should i l l u s t r a t e the maximum of evolution in Mendelssohn's formal procedures, at least as indicated by his chamber music, while reducing to a minimum influences brought about by the demands of diverse instrumental families. The'Octet, Opus 20, i s in many ways the culmination of Mendelssohn's youthful excursions into the f i e l d of musical composition. It can also be considered his f i r s t major mature work and i t s popularity has withstood the ravages of time, causing i t to be ranked with the Midsummer Night's Dream, the Hebrides Overture (Fingal's Cave), the Scottish and Italian Symphonies, the Violin Concerto in E minor, and the oratorio, Eli.jah. as one of his better known works. It i s also unique in that i t was conceived as a work for eight independent stringed instruments. Other known contemporary octets always included members 2 of other instrumental families or were conceived as antiphonal double string quartets.'' The three string quartets of Opus 44 are not as well known as the Octet. After completing Number 3"'Mendelssohn withdrew from the composition of string chamber music, with the exception of the String Quintet i n B f l a t of 1845, for a period of almost ten years. It w i l l be assumed that Opus 44* Number 3 can be regarded as the culmination of a kind of middle period of his a r t i s t i c l i f e . The work contains many devices of an experimental nature. Fanny Hensel, Mendelssohn's elder sister, died in May of 1847. The String Quartet, Opus 80, was Mendelssohn's response to the grievous loss of his closest friend, supporter and relative. Never having recovered from his bereavement, Opus 80 i s his last complete work for string chamber ensemble. Notwithstanding the return to traditional practices, this work bears eloquent testimony to the probable direction of future compositions had Mendelssohn not died shortly after i t s completion. The Form of the String Quartet The string quartet, or indeed by implication, the double string quartet, had i n Mendelssohn's time, a well-defined formal framework. The number of movements, their order and their forms were defined, at least loosely, by tradition. Also, key relationships between movements, while not specified, tended to be close, and outer movements were, of course, i n the tonic. Octetsby Haydn and Schubert are for winds and strings. Octet, Opus 103 by Beethoven i s for wind instruments. Spohr's compositions, Opp. 65, 77, 88 and 136 were entitled Double Quartets and were antiphonal i n nature. 3 A l l of these conventions had been broken at one time or another, most s t r i k i n g l y b y Beethoven. I t was the example of Beethoven which both i n s p i r e d and f r u s t r a t e d the composers of the nineteenth century. One would expect, therefore, to f i n d i n Mendelssohn, a great respector of t r a d i t i o n , and an ardent admirer of Beethoven, an uneasy compromise between the old and the new. Of the formal components of the four movement s t r i n g chamber work, the most important was, perhaps, the sonata form, t r a d i t i o n a l l y used i n the a l l e g r o opening movement. By the time of Mozart's death i n 1791, the elements of sonata form could be generalised i n t o the diagram shown i n f i g u r e 1.(See page 4) Beethoven did not tamper with the s t r u c t u r a l p i l l a r s of the form, but greatly enriched the i n d i v i d u a l sections through h i s exquisite sense of the i n t e r p l a y of dramatic tension and release. His motivic and harmonic usages were the p r i n c i p a l generators of t h i s enrichment. The extension of the harmonic f r o n t i e r s , the i n c l u s i o n of extra-musical bases f o r composition, and the r e s u l t a n t development of new forms i n what music h i s t o r i a n s consider the Romantic Era, can be regarded as i d e n t i f y i n g marks of t h i s period. Of Mendelssohn, Brandt s t a t e s : "Indeed, to h i s contemporaries Mendelssohn seemed to have solved the problem of u n i t i n g t r a d i t i o n a l forms with romantic contents." 2 Keeping i n mind h i s f l a i r f o r long b e a u t i f u l melodies and h i s d i s l i k e f o r the ef f u s i v e excesses of h i s contemporaries, Mendelssohn's i n s i s t e n c e on the a p p l i c a t i o n of sonata form as the basis of h i s compositional technique i n the William Brandt, The Way of Music (Boston: A l l y n and Bacon, 1963), P.. 217. E x POSITION Tu4HttT,c O n e * z £ K < t y T O N I C : L t f V & t . 1 Figure 1. Generalised diagram of Sonata form. William Brandt, The Way of Music (Boston: A l l y n and Bacon, 1963) vast majority of the movements of the works examined, certainly supports the view that he did attempt to achieve this marraige of the romantic with the traditional. The general opinion from the distance of the twentieth century i s that the evaluation made by his comtemporaries was not entirely deserved and that his successes have lost some of their former lustre. This i n no way detracts from the cleverness with which he manipulated the materials of music that were available to him. In fact, i t i s perhaps this cleverness that has been responsibl for maintaining a measure of the composer*s former musical status. 6 CHAPTER II Analysis of the works selected The analysis of the works selected w i l l be organised according to the formal characteristics of the individual movements of the works: i.e. i . Traditional sonata form movements, i i . Sonata form movements with significant variants, i i i . Movements i n non-traditional sonata form, i v . The Scherzo movements. Traditional sonata form movements Opus 20:1 E f l a t ma.jor The f i r s t theme (mm.1-21) of the exposition of this movement i s followed, as expected, by a bridge passage (mm.21-36). However, instead of leading to the second theme, the passage returns to a varied repetition of the material of the f i r s t theme, s t i l l i n the tonic (mm.37-52). At this point, a portion of the bridge material reappears, punctuated by references to the f i r s t theme (mm.52-68). The expected second theme f i n a l l y arrives at m.68. The principal theme motive (See Ex. 1) i s interjected between repetitions of the second theme. Subsequently, the bridge passage, varied and with further interjections of the f i r s t theme motive, i s followed by a repetition of the second theme. A short transition leads to a closing theme. The traditional repeat sign with f i r s t and second endings appears at m.131 signalling the arrival of the development. The development proceeds i n traditional manner. The order of themes i s similar to that of the exposition except that the closing theme i s absent. 7 the last eight measures of the bridge passage, a development theme (See Ex. 2) occurs i n Violin I (mm.156-164) and i t returns, very much transformed, over a four measure portion of the second theme development (mm.178-182) (See Ex. 3) . A lengthy retransition over a dominant pedal begins at m.195 and turns into a unison passage which leads to the recapitulation at m.2l6. In the recapitulation, a shortened statement of the f i r s t theme i s followed immediately by a presentation of the second theme, at f i r s t over a tonic \\ pedal instead of the expected root position tonic. The bridge passage then occurs with the customary interjections of the f i r s t theme motive. The rest of the recapitulation proceeds more or less as expected, and the familiar bridge passage initiates the coda (mm.276-318). The movement ends with a flourish based on the opening motive of the f i r s t theme (See Ex. 4). This movement i s obviously i n very traditional sonata form. Thematic areas are clearly defined, the established order of themes i s maintained, and traditional tonal relationships between sections are very much i n evidence. The unexpected use of the f i r s t theme motive may be partly explained by the fact that i t i s a simple arpeggio figure. Its very frequent appearance lends unity to the movement and does not obscure the classical structure. Opus 20:111 G minor The t i t l e , Scherzo, of this movement i s misleading since i t suggests that the formal procedure i s that of the traditional Scherzo and Trio. The movement i s , however, i n a very traditional sonata form. The exposition (mm.1-71) contains a f i r s t theme (See Ex. 5) and a second theme (See Ex. 6) separated by a bridge passage and, characteristically, includes the device of interjecting the f i r s t theme motive into the second theme area 8 (See Ex. 7). The tonal relationship of the two themes i s traditional; the f i r s t theme i s i n G minor and the second theme i s i n the relative major, E f l a t . The f i n a l portion of the exposition i s immediately developed unt i l m.93, where a sequential canonic expression of a line loosely related to the second theme i s presented (See Ex. 8). This Is followed (mm. 112-134-) by a more closely related second theme development i n Violin I, and the f i r s t theme motive i s then used as retransition material. The recapitulation (mm.143-241) begins on a tonic % chord and arrives quite unexpectedly (See Ex. 9). The second theme i s presented i n f l a t VI instead of the expected I, and the movement ends i n the tonic with an extension of the material which originally closed the exposition. The two unusual features of the movement, the return of the second theme i n the f l a t submediant and, once again, the use of the head of the f i r s t theme motive i n the second theme area, do not obscure the classical structure of the form. Opus 44. Number 3:1 E f l a t major The f i r s t theme area (mm1-33) i s i n two sections —• "a" (mm.1-19) being dominated by a simple motive (See Ex. 10), and "b" (mm.20-33) consisting of a more flowing line (See Ex. 11). The motive which dominates "a" also dominates the bridge passage (mm.33-47). Its further persistence as an accompanimental figure through much of the second themearea creates a problem in distinguishing the various parts of the exposition and this must be done i n retrospect after analysis of the development and the recapitulation. The second theme enters at m.47 and continues over the persistent accompaniment of the "a" motive which i t f i n a l l y overcomes. This theme may also be considered in two 9 sections —- "c" (mm.47-70), i n which the "a" motive i s slowly but definitely overcome, and "d" (mm.76-86). At m.86 the transition begins, also dominated by the "a" motive, and continues to m,93. A closing theme follows (mm.94-11l)> and the "a" motive appears again, this time to signal the end of the exposition. Again, the repeat sign i n m.112 gives a certain traditional appearance to the movement. Continuation of the "a" motive initiates the development. This i s quickly followed by the juxtaposition of the second theme over the "a" motive (mm.117-134) and a modulatory passage follows incorporating elements of both f i r s t and second themes. At m.164, this culminates i n the entry of the closing theme (mm.164-202) followed by a very short retransition. The recapitulation begins at m.207 with a somewhat shortened f i r s t theme. The second theme returns at m.242, and the closing theme at m. 275. Both are treated traditionally. The coda (mm.299-370) i s an extended one i n which a l l of the themes of the exposition are expressed either motivically or in toto. The "a" motive i s i n greatest evidence from m.299 to m.317. This i s followed by a motive from the closing theme (mm.317-319), and then by the closing theme i n i t s original order of motivic alignment (mm.320-339)• A bridge (mm.339-351), again dominated by the "a" motive, leads to the second theme (mm.351-359). A flourish based on the closing notes of this theme brings the movement to a close. Opus 44^ Number 3 :111 A f l a t ma.jor The exposition of this movement begins with a statement of the f i r s t theme, which i s immediately repeated and extended (mm.1-16). A long bridge (mm,16-35) modulates to the dominant to link up with the second theme (mm.35-51). 10 The development begins immediately by continuing the accompaniment figur e which closes the exposition, over the f i r s t theme development i n the Cello (mm.51-55)• At mm.55, the f i r s t V i o l i n states a development motive which wends i t s way through a l l instruments, to close the section a t the r e l a t i v e minor (m. 80), The t r a n s i t i o n from the r e l a t i v e minor back to the tonic major i s effected very simply by making use of the d u a l i t y of the root and t h i r d of the major i n t h e i r function as the t h i r d and f i f t h , respectively,, of the r e l a t i v e minor. Mere unaccompanied r e p e t i t i o n of these two pitches achieves the t r a n s i t i o n (mm,80-8l). An almost t r a d i t i o n a l r e c a p i t u l a t i o n follows. The f i r s t theme i s stated and repeated as before (mm.96-99), but the bridge i s eliminated and the second theme begins immediately (mm,99-l06). The coda (mml06-l3l) begins with a t r a n s i t i o n leading to the development motive (mm.113-123) i n the ton i c , A bridge r e c a l l i n g the t r a n s i t i o n a t the end of the development signals the return of the beginning of the f i r s t theme, which i s used to end the movement. Although t h i s movement i s more continuous and l e s s obviously s e c t i o n a l i s e d than those e a r l i e r studied, t h i s may be due to the f a c t that i t i s of a more l y r i c a l nature. The continuously flowing character of the musical materials s u i t s very well the mood of t h i s slow movement and does not obscure the formal c l a r i t y of the sonata form. This i s , i n f a c t , one of the most t r a d i t i o n a l l y written of the movements to be studied. Opus 80:1 F minor The f i r s t theme area i s dominated by two contrasting ideas, Tihe f i r s t 11 of these (see Ex. 12) i s played tremolo^ throughout and creates a sense of dr i v i n g restlessness. This motion i s interrupted i n m.9 by the presentation i n canonic s t y l e of the second idea (see Ex. 13). The f i r s t idea i s repeated at m.15, and the i n t e r r u p t i n g motive appears transformed at m.23, functioning t h i s time as an i n t e g r a l part of the theme by acting as a consequent phrase and leading to a strong tonic closure a t m.41. A bridge (mm.41-6l) leads to the < second theme i n the r e l a t i v e major (mm6l-95). The end of the exposition comes suddenly at m.96 with the return of the f i r s t theme tremolo motive treated i n sequence and commencing on the dominant i n f i r s t i n v e r s i o n . The i n t e r r u p t i n g motive i s then dissected and the r e s u l t i n g fragments are treated sequentially. At m.161 the tremolo material returns, s t i l l i n the f i r s t inversion of the dominant, to suggest the idea of r e c a p i t u l a t i o n . The r e c a p i t u l a t i o n begins a t m.167, but i s obscured by the new over-lapping melody i n the f i r s t V i o l i n and by the elimination of the o r i g i n a l f i r s t measure (see Ex. 14). The second idea, used as a consequent phrase, i s quickly brought i n ; the bridge returns, and, a t m.221, the second theme returns i n the tonic major. The a r r i v a l of the coda i s s i g n a l l e d by the return of tremolo material. The second idea of the f i r s t theme i s now treated, as o r i g i n a l l y , as an i n t e r -rupting phrase. The in t e r r u p t i o n occurs at m.266 and i s extended to m.281, during which time Mendelssohn studiously avoids any h i n t of a tonic cadence 'The f i g u r e , although written i n sixteenths gives the aural impression of tremolo. 12 in root position. A presto section (mm.290-323) based on a chordally treated fragment of the interrupting motive, combined with b r i l l i a n t scale passages is used to bring the movement to a close. Although this movement i s obviously in sonata form, some aspects of the musical treatment obscure, to some extent, the formal definition. In particular, the use of two contrasting ideas in the f i r s t theme area weakens the traditional f i r s t theme - second theme contrast. The masked beginning of the recapitulation may also be considered i n this l i g h t . Particularly ingenious in formal treatment, however, i s the use of tremolo to signal the arrival of every large formal division. Opus 80:IV F minor The exposition (mm.1-32) of this movement begins, as does Opus 80:1, with a tremolo figure which continues as an accompaniment throughout the f i r s t theme area (mm.1-30). The f i r s t theme (mm.1-9) (See Ex. 15) i s followed by a bridge passage (mm.10-17) after which i t i s repeated i n transformation so that i t ends in D f l a t instead of the expected dominant, C. The bridge (mm.39-49) between the f i r s t and second themes makes use of the tremolo figure and transposed fragments of the f i r s t theme. Within this bridge, the tonal shift i s made from D f l a t to E f l a t , the dominant of the relative major, A f l a t . The arrival of the second theme (See Ex. 16) at m.49, i s obscured to some extent by the secondary dominant chain of harmony which accompanies i t . The confirmation of A f l a t major as the key of the second theme occurs at m.65. A closure (mm.81-124) with tremolo accompaniment and based £>n the f i r s t theme follows. This closure begins i n F f l a t major, a half step above the dominant E f l a t closure of the second theme, and modulates to aarive in A f l a t (mm.117). 1.3 The development i s delayed by the extension of the A f l a t triad through the use of the tremolo figure (mm.117-124). Only the f i r s t theme and the tremolo figure appear i n this section until in.213. A dominant pedal, tremolo C, established i n m.l8l i s shifted upwards a half step at the introduction of a retransition theme (mm.213-225) i n D f l a t (See Ex. 17). Further upward half step shifting places this theme i n E f l a t during i t s repetition (mm.229-240). More tonal fluctuation using the tremolo figure closes this retransition and leads to the recapitulation at m.269. In the recapitulation, the f i r s t theme i s presented along with a new tr i p l e t scale passage. Its area i s very much shortened so that the second theme arrives almost immediately at m.289 and the closing material (the f i r s t theme and the tremolo accompaniment) follows at m.325. The coda begins at m.3.74 and consists of several b r i l l i a n t sections based on either the f i r s t theme or scale passages or both. Although this movement i s i n a very traditional sonata form the almost constant use of the f i r s t theme motive tends to negate any sense of drama or development. It does not, however, obscure the formal design of the movement. Sonata form movements with significant variants Opus 20:11 C minor The f i r s t theme of the exposition (mm.1-56) of this movement, a sonata without development, presents evidence of Mendelssohn's willingness to experiment. A motive (See Ex. 19) i s begun i n C minor and i s then repeated several times, gradually evolving into a theme which i s completes in the f l a t supertonic, D f l a t , but ends on i t s dominant, A f l a t . The theme i s begun again i n A f l a t . At m.14» u D f l a t i s s u r p r i s i n g l y introduced i n C e l l o I and I I . A diminished seventh ( v i i of C minor) arpeggio f i g u r e i n V i o l i n I brings the theme to i t s c l o s e i n C major (m.27) making use of the T i e r c e de P i c a r d i e . A l o n g bridge f o l l o w s (mm.27-41), based on the c l o s i n g motive of the f i r s t theme f i r s t heard i n mm24-27 (see Ex. 19). A bridge theme (see Ex. 20) i s a l s o i n c o r p o r a t e d . The second theme, i n E f l a t , the r e l a t i v e major, begins a t m.41 and i s t r e a t e d s e q u e n t i a l l y to m.48. The c l o s i n g motive of the f i r s t theme returns transposed to c l o s e the e x p o s i t i o n i n E f l a t minor, r e v e r s i n g the T i e r c e de P i c a r d i e . The bridge theme i n i t i a t e s a lo n g r e t r a n s i t i o n (mm.56-76) along with the c l o s i n g motive of the f i r s t theme. In f a c t , t h i s c l o s i n g motive dominates the r e t r a n s i t i o n u n t i l the a r r i v a l of the dominant, G, a t m.65. Confirmation of the dominant ensues and again the c l o s i n g motive, i n G, ret u r n s a t m.73 to end the r e t r a n s i t i o n . The r e c a p i t u l a t i o n (mm.76-102) begins with the second theme i n C major. Again the c l o s i n g motive of the f i r s t theme appears (mm89-92) and again the reverse of the T i e r c e de P i c a r d i e occurs (mm.91-92) to s h i f t the music i n t o C minor. The opening motive of the f i r s t theme returns b r i e f l y , but l o n g enough to accommodate the h a l f step s h i f t to D f l a t , before i t i s abandoned i n m.96. The movement then proceeds to i t s c o n c l u s i o n i n C major. One of the most n o t i c e a b l e f e a t u r e s of the movement i s the use of the same motive to c l o s e both the f i r s t and second themes and to dominate the bridge and r e t r a n s i t i o n passages. Another f e a t u r e i s the r e t u r n of the second theme i n the t o n i c major to i n i t i a t e a r e c a p i t u l a t i o n with reversed order of themes. The f i n a l a r r i v a l of the f i r s t theme a c t s almost as a coda. The absence of a development s e c t i o n and the interchange of major and minor are a l s o s t r i k i n g , 15 OPUS 80:111 A f l a t major The f i r s t theme section (mm.1-17) i s firmly i n A f l a t . A bridge begins at m.17, preparing for the arrival of the second theme i n the dominant (E f l a t ) . This theme (See Ex. 22) slips i n almost unnoticed at m.27 and i s followed immediately by a short closing theme (mm.39-45). Instead of the expected development, however, a short transition leads back to the f i r s t theme i n the tonic at m,49. The theme i t s e l f i s quoted exactly, but with changed accompani-, ment for twelve measures and i s extended to lead to a short development of second and closing theme materials. The second theme returns i n the tonic (m.83) with the original accompaniment and leads to a restatement of the closing theme i n the tonic. This theme i s extended to lead to a short coda which suggests, but does not state, the f i r s t theme. This movement resembles sonata without development, a rather commonly used slow movement form, except for the short development section inserted between the f i r s t and second themes i n the recapitulation. This development section distinctly weakens the sense of recapitulation and even the suggestion of the f i r s t theme i n the coda does not quite give the movement a sense of completion. Movements in non-traditional sonata form Opus 20:IV E f l a t major The formal relationships of this movement are related to those seen i n Opus 80:111, which was treated as a significant variant. The anomalous development section within the recapitulation seen i n this movement i s , however, of much greater length and musical importance, and tends to distort 16 the sonata form almost entirely. In addition, the use of the scherzo theme of the previous movement within this lengthy inserted development further confuses the formal boundaries. The exposition (mm.1-132) i s in several sections. The f i r s t of these (mm.1-62) can be further subdivided. The f i r s t theme (mm.1-24) i s treated as a fast moving fugal exposition (See Ex. 23). Following this a short sub-section superimposing a theme, reminiscent of "And He shall reign for ever and ever", from Handel's Messiah, oven-.a running eighth pattern derived from the f i r s t theme (See Ex. 24). Next follows a transition (See Ex. 25) (mm.33-51), which leads back to the f i r s t theme. A bridge based on the f i r s t theme and the Messiah quotation then occurs (mm.63-89) preparing the arrival of the second theme i n the dominant. At this point, the form becomes d i f f i c u l t to follow since the musical material i s that of the original f i r s t theme transition passage. This theme i s repeated (mm.105-115)?and the exposition ends at m.133. The development i s very short (mm.133-189). After a very obvious retransition (mm.179-189), the f i r s t theme returns triumphantly. This time, however, Mendelssohn has invented a counter subject (See Ex. 26) for the f i r s t theme which appears with the original subject. The effect of this recapitulation i s , however, soon destroyed as Mendelssohn wanders off to a second and much more elaborate development. To further confuse and delight the listener, the scherzo theme from the previous movement begins to make an appearance (m.273). At m.291, the second theme, not in the tonic, joins the scherzo theme and the/proceed together to m.321 where the Messiah theme reenters along with the running eighth note pattern. This leads to the second theme, this time i n the tonic but i n second inversion, A dominant 17 feeling i s thus retained, carrying the music forward to the coda. At m.355 the f i r s t theme arrives to i n i t i a t e a b r i l l i a n t coda. As i s obvious from this description, the form i s d i f f i c u l t to perceive, but most of the anomalies have been seen before i n less obscure contexts. The use of a fugal exposition for the f i r s t theme area i s unusual, but one i s immediately reminded of the late Mozart. The use of earlier material for the second theme was a favourite device of Haydn's and does not obscure the formal cl a r i t y of his works. Here, however, the fact that i t i s not a clear theme, that i t i s not related to the f i r s t theme,.,.,and that the material i s modulatory, combined with the fact that i t does not appear when or how i t i s expected to i n the recapitulation, makes i t d i f f i c u l t to perceive. The inserted development i n the recapitulation w i l l be used again by Mendelssohn (Cpus 80:111), but here i t dwarfs the significance of the traditional one. The use of a theme from a preceeding movement i s not unusual, especially i n the nineteenth century, but i n this case i t i s placed within an anomaly. The total effect of a l l these anomalies i s to disrupt seriously the formal balance of the movement. Opus LM.% Number 3:IV E f l a t ma.jor The formal arrangement of this movement i s perhaps the most unusual of the sonata form movements to be studied. The actual shape of the movement can possibly be explained i n terms of Mendelssohn's fondness for inserting a second development between the f i r s t and second themes of the recapitulation, and his probable dissatisfaction with the resulting lack of f i n a l i t y . There seems to be a sort of second recapitulation functioning as a coda. The listener's confusion i s further increased by the disintegration of the second 18 theme axea into several different melodic ideas and the use of materials from the f i r s t theme to provide one of the melodic ideas of the second theme area (See Ex. 27). The following chart w i l l perhaps make a l l of this clear. • i t " f<ie«ie. b r i d g e . tt>w»e IrowtiLJV. M o l i J t «. b « b b £ d ion IOf\ 131. 136 l«r«f / « 6 l*)ST 1 0 2.33. 3-3^  iS"< >LU *-7 4 19 The Scherzo Movements Opus 80:11 F minor This movement is an almost traditional scherzo and trio with a coda. Only the second repeat in the trio is missing, replaced by a transition. In addition, the f i r s t trio repeat is written out to allow for melodic additions. The formal diagram is shown in Figure 2. (See page 20) One extremely interesting feature of this movement lies in the melodic similarity between a portion of the second section of the scherzo (B) and the main melody of the trio (C) (See Ex. 18). This relationship gives an almost developmental function to the trio, and this fact, combined with the use of a coda, gives some suggestion of traditional sonata form. This view might be further strengthened when one considers the fact that the scherzo of Opus 20 is in clear sonata form and that the scherzo of Opus 44 Number 3, is freely written and not in a traditional scherzo pattern. Opus 44. Number 3:11 C minor In this movement formal considerations seem to be of almost secondary importance. On the most basic level, the constant use of the steady eighth note patterns, the return of themes, and the return to the tonic provide unity. Contrast is provided by a rather free flow of ideas, a free mixture of those ideas, modulations away from the tonic, and, very importantly, an extreme difference in texture between the four-voice sections and the two canonic-entry sections. The f i r s t large section (mm.1-76) consists of several different melodic ideas and the section moves away from and returns to the tonic. Especially because of the repeat (mm.1-16), this seems to function like a freely written :|: B fi :| c c 3> c c***b Figure 2. Formal Diagram of Opus 80:11 | B ft | Cop>? l«o X>f- > 3 o 21 scherzo section. In m.76, the f i r s t of the canonic sections begins^and one perceives this as the beginning of a trio section. However, as a l l four voices enter, one by one, the writing becomes progressively freer and the resemblance to scherzo and trio i s lost. Both new and old motives f l y by with some occasional hints at return to the tonic. In m.213, the music again comes to a halt on the tonic and the canonic section begins again. At m.249, the music, for the last time, returns to the original material and the original key, and although newly written, the sense of return i s strong enough to bring this movement to a close. The effect of the appearance of the two canonic sections gives this movement an A B A B A structure which suggests either a rondo or, more accurately, a scherzo with a doubly repeated t r i o . The fact that the return of the middle A section i s d i f f i c u l t to define and that the section uses materials from both sections makes this thesis d i f f i c u l t to accept. More stringent formal considerations seem to be inappropriate to the movement, and perhaps the textural hints of A B A B A, combined with the more general considerations mentioned above constitute an acceptable level of formal coherence. ftJf -T -'> tjp ;bo r hs fopb bo v — JLJ$d— • c •  —& Example 2 . 0pus 2 0 : 1 gj ' l L 1 6bP u 4 = MioUn X Example 3 . Opus 2 0 : 1 2 3 k h S » -r Example 4 . Opus 20:1 V10I10 I Example 5. Opus 20:111 Viol.« I Example 6. Opus 20:111 24 fide m E x a m p l e 7. Opus 20:111 y d E x a m p l e &% Opus 20:111 3ft E x a m p l e 9. Opus 20:111 25 ft, I. Example 10.,*. Opus 44» Number 3:1 Example 11. Opus 44» Number 3:1 Example 12. Opus 80:1 26 fU f r f t i v Example 13. Opus 80:1 Example 14. Opus 80:1 ffirrrjtT± j y J ^ t n . 1 Example 15. Opus 80:IV 27 Example 16. Opus 8 0 : I V Example 1 7 . Opus 8 0 : I V a) . cf.-. Sch< • arzo the 1 me B 3=^ b) Trio theme Example 1 8 . Opus 8 0 : 1 1 28 V Cfl X Example 19. Opus 20:11 t — ^ — « i> 7 7 <<»« X a) closing motive of f i r s t theme b) bridge material Example 20. Opus 20:11 Example 21. Opus 20:11 2 9 » Example 22. Opus 80:111 PS Example 23. Opus 20:IV Example 24. Opus 20:IV 30 1 i r f r r W l 4 t )1' 1 1 = ±=tE=- —-u ...... i ' 1 r 1 i' 1 _ i — Example 25. Opus 20:IV r i r p_ J VI. E Example 26. Opus 20:IV l i t " HUM*. M « 1 r i « l Example 27. Opus 44, Number 3:IV 31 CHAPTER III Formal types and compositional devices  used in the works selected In this chapter the movements will be classified according to formal characteristics. A discussion of the devices, traditional and non-traditional, used by the composer in the unfolding of the works is also included. Formal types Mendelssohn seems to be involved in the process of extending the natural development of the sonata form inherited from Beethoven. Of the twelve movements under consideration, six f a l l within the classification of traditional sonata form, and of the remainder, four can be classified as variants, to a greater or lesser degree thereof. Of the two remaining movements one is a traditional scherzo and trio (Opus 80:11), and the other (Opus 44» Number 3:11) defies formal classification. The above classification scheme may seem an oversimplification, but the overall structure of the four movement work must be considered along with i t . Traditional expectation suggests the following formal pattern: I. Allegro - sonata form. II. Andante or Adagio - sonata form with or without development, theme and variations, ternary or binary forms. III. Minuet (moderato) or Scherzo (allegro) and Trio. IV. Allegro - sonata, sonata rondo, rondo, theme and variations, fugue. The order of movements II and III is sometimes interchanged. 32 A maximum of nine sonata form movements is therefore expected in the three works under examination - ten are encountered. A minimum of three minuet or scherzo and trio movements is expected. In terms of form, only one exists. The optional fourth movement fugue is hinted at in Opus 20:IV but is soon abandoned in favour of an experimental sonata form movement. The movements named scherzo by Mendelssohn are not in the expected form, while Opus 80:11, not so labelled by the composer, is a traditional scherzo and trio. Opus 20:11, in the traditional position of the scherzo, is in sonata form, and Opus 44» Number 3:11 is a movement in which fromal considerations seem almost irrelevant. The three works under examination a l l follow the traditional four movement plan in terms of movement speeds and key relationships between movements. The outer movements, I and IV, are a l l fast and the inner ones consist of a scherzo-like movement and a slow movement. The traditional arrangement is, of course, fast - slow - scherzo - fast, which Mendelssohn uses only in Opus 20. The less common order, fast - scherzo - slow - fast, is used in both Opus 44, Number 3 and Opus 80. This more or less traditional approach to the arrangement of the movements in various tempi is not, however, reflected in a traditional use of movement forms, as has, been demonstrated above. All f i r s t movements are as expected, in sonata form. Form, however, is not the arbiter of classification of the scherzo type movements, but rather their non-formal characteristics justify their classification. High speed, airy lightness and uninterrupted motion set these movements apart from the others. The slow movements are a l l in sonata form, as are 33 the fourth movements. The use of an extra inserted development i n the fourth movements of Opus 20 and Opus 44, Number 3 seems to support formal concepts r e l a t e d to sonata rondo. The f a c t that none of the other possible formal options previously mentioned i s employed i n the works selected f o r t h i s examination i s s u r p r i s i n g . That Mendelssohn was aware of the options must be taken f o r granted since they are a l l employed i n other works composed by him i n t h i s and other genres. I t seems, therefore, that i n these works there i s an attempt by the composer to extend the growth of sonata form a t a time when there seemed to be a movement towards other forms. The strophic forms of Schubert, the c y c l i c a l forms and the idee f i x e , both propagated by B e r l i o z , make no appear-ance here. This attempt by Mendelssohn .to extend the l i f e of sonata form may have j u s t i f i e d , to some extent, the remark made by B e r l i o z , that "he (Mendelssohn) i s f a r too fond of the dead" but sonata form d i d survive i n the tone poems of L i s z t , the works of Brahms, the works of other composers of the l a t e romantic period, and even occurs i n works by Rachmanninoff et a l i n the twentieth century. Mendelssohn's attempts seem to founder on the shoal of h i s apparent i n a b i l i t y to create themes with enough inherent motivic tension to l a y the foundation f o r the discernable thematic contrast so e s s e n t i a l to sonata form. The sense of development and the return of themes, however vague they may be i n i n d i v i d u a l cases, and however misplaced i n the t r a d i t i o n a l sense, do generate the f e e l i n g of sonata form i n the movements so described. Quoted i n Marek, G.R, : Gentle Genius. 34 In terms of key relationships, i t i s important to mention at this stage, that the established tonal relationships between movements i n works of . this type are i n no way altered or tampered with by Mendelssohn/ Formal devices employed vrithin  sonata form movements There are a number of devices which are traditionally employed i n the construction of sonata form and Mendelssohn shows his awareness of them i n many instances. He also abandons some of them i n favour of his own unique s t y l i s t i c leanings. The success of failure of these w i l l be discussed at a later stage, but an explanatory catalogue of both the traditional and innovative devices employed by the composer w i l l be useful here. The traditional devices i n sonata form movements The repeated exposition In the traditional sonata form movements, Opus 20:1 and III and Opus 44, Number 3:1, the exposition os repeated as expected and the occurrence of the repeat sign at the end of the exposition lends a visually traditional appearance to these movements. The remaining movements i n traditional sonata form, Opus 44» Number 3:111 and Opus 80:1 and IV, show the composer abandoning this practice. This necessitates or assumes greater concentration and com-petence on the part of the listener or analyst to identofy themes i^hich, although repeated within the section, are not heard i n toto and i n sequence for the second time to establish clearly their status. Key relationships between f i r s t and second themes of the exposition In the major-key movements, Opus 20:1, Opus 44» Number 3:111 and IV, 35 and Opus 80:111, second themes are i n the expected dominant. In the minor-key movements, Opus 20:11 and I I I , and Opus 80:1 and IV, second themes are i n the expected r e l a t i v e major keys. The second themes of Opus 20:IV and Opus 44, Number 3:1 are deviant. In Opus 20:IV, because of the sequential presentation of the second theme and i t s growth out of the material used as the preceeding bridge section, i t s base key i s d i f f i c u l t to determine. Although i t appears within the dominant framework, i t s f i r s t appearance as a second theme occurs over secondary dominant harmony. In Opus 44, Number 3:1, the second theme appears i n the mediant. Key r e l a t i o n s h i p s between major sections The tonal architecture of the ten sonata form movements c l o s e l y follows o the t r a d i t i o n a l pattern: Exposition Development Recapitulation Coda I - V V (modulating) I - I I , or i n the case of minor key.- movements: Exposition Development Recapitulation Coda i - V or V or r e l a t i v e i - i i r e l a t i v e major major (modulating) • A s l i g h t v a r i a t i o n i s introduced i n Opus 20:111. The tonal scheme of t h i s movement i s : Exposition Development Recapitulation Coda i - r e l a t i v e r e l a t i v e major i - VI i maj or modulating • However, i f one considers the VI chord as a tonic substitute and recognises i t s t onic r e l a t i o n s h i p to the r e l a t i v e major chord functioning as a dominant, then the occurrence here no longer seems strange or u n t r a d i t i o n a l . In the slow movement sonata without development, Opus 20:11, the major close of the coda i s achieved through the use of the Tierce de P i c a r d i e . 36 Thematic order i n the recapitulation The only exception to the traditional thematic order in recapitulation sections occurs in Opus 20:11, i n which the order of themes i s reversed and the f i r s t theme returns briefly and incompletely i n an area which tends to be more of a coda than a recapitulation. In the movements with development sections inserted within the recapitulation, the order of themes remains unchanged from that established i n the exposition, the inserted development sections occurring between f i r s t and second theme returns. The coda and the slow introduction It i s notable that a l l sonata form movements i n these works contain a coda. Equally notable i s the absence of the slow introduction so evident i n the compositions of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. Indeed, Mendelssohn dispenses with the introduction altogether. The non-traditional devices in sonata form movements As previously stated, Mendelssohn employs devices unique to his style i n his contribution to the l i f e of sonata form. Instead of cataloguing these devices, as was done i n the case of the traditional ones, i t i s intended that these devices be seen through the various stages of their development. The most prominent and far reaching of these unique devices i s Mendelssohn's practice of interjecting a motive from the f i r s t theme area into the area reserved for the second theme of the exposition. In Opus 20:1, the effect i s surprising, yet i t lends to the unification of the movement. The 37 practice i s repeated i n Opus 20:111. The closing motive of the f i r s t theme area of the exposition of Opus 20:11 lis used again, transposed, to close the second theme area. This material i s also extensively used to accompany bridge and transition sections. In Opus 44, Number 3 :1 the process grows into the practice of using the opening motive of the f i r s t theme as a persistent undercurrent through a major portion of the second theme area. In Opus 44, Number 3:IV, the second theme seems to be developed from the closing motive of the f i r s t theme. Opus 80:1 and IV seem to bring this process to a refined conclusion in that each section of these movements i s introduced by the same device - a tremolo figure f i r s t heard at the beginning of the movement. What began as thematic or motivic leakage i n order to lend unity to Opus 20:1 became a structural signpost i n Opus 80:1 and IV. This idea of thematic leak-age also occurs between the third and fourth movements of Opus 20. The scherzo theme of Opus 20:111 appears i n the inserted development section of Opus 20:IV. Motivic and thematic ideas from other works by Mendelssohn and other composers such as Handel make brief but somewhat recognisable appearances. Coming as i t did after Beethoven's Ninth Symphony of 1823, the practice of thematic leakage was not a Mendelssohnian innovation but conscious or unconscious homage to Beethoven from one of his most respectful supporters. Its subsequent develop-ment into a structural signpost, however, i s purely Mendelssohnian. The recapitulation section of a traditional sonata form movement commences with the return of the f i r s t theme very definitely in,-.the,tonic expressed i n root position. The return of the second theme i s also similarly placed in the tonic i n root position. However, in Opus 20 :1 , Mendelssohn placed the second theme over a second inversion tonic chord although the f i r s t theme received traditional treatment. The return of the f i r s t theme of Opus 38 20:111 also occurs over the second inversion tonic while the second theme i s placed over a ro o t p o s i t i o n submediant chord. In the fourth movement of Opus :\ 20, the return of the second theme a f t e r the inserted development i s also over the second inversion tonic chord. In Opus 44, Number 3, seemingly the most experimental of the works examined, t h i s p r a c t i c e i s not observed, nor does i t appear i n Opus 80. The inserted development mentioned i n the above paragraph i s a non-t r a d i t i o n a l feature of the fourth movements of both Opus 20 and Opus 44» Number 3. I t i s also hinted a t i n Opus 80:111. After completing the return of the f i r s t theme i n the r e c a p i t u l a t i o n of Opus 20:IV, the composer wanders of f i n t o a developmental passage containing previously used material. Even-t u a l l y , the f i r s t theme of the previous movement enters and only then follows the return of the second theme and the r e s t of the r e c a p i t u l a t i o n of the fourth movement. In Opus 44» Number 3:IV, while the p r i n c i p l e i s evident, only material drawn from the movement i t s e l f i s used i n the inse r t e d development. In Opus 80:111, there i s no t r a d i t i o n a l development section. However, a f t e r the return of the f i r s t theme, a short passage containing elements of both themes i s used to precede the a r r i v a l of the second theme return. The r e v e r s a l of the order of themes occurs i n the r e c a p i t u l a t i o n of Opus 20:11, but f a i l s to appear elsewhere i n the works under a n a l y s i s . However, another i n t e r e s t i n g feature of r e c a p i t u l a t i o n sections i s that some of them contain countermelodies that occur with the presentation of the f i r s t theme retur n . The f i r s t example of t h i s i s presented i n Opus 20:IV, and the next i n Opus 44, Number 3:IV. Opus 80 exhibits t h i s phenomenon i n both the f i r s t and fourth movements. P a r t i c u l a r l y i n t e r e s t i n g i s the f a c t that i n Opus 80:1, the countermelody begins p r i o r to the s t a r t of the 39 recapitulation and would effectively mask i t were i t not for the tremolo divisional marker of the sections of this movement. The countermelodies are usually slow-moving chromatic lines or arpeggio figures. However, ascending sclaes i n t r i p l e t rhythm are used i n Cpus 80:IV. Stepwise tonal fluctuation within a thematic area i s evident i n Opus 20:11 and i n Opus 80:IV. The opening motive of the f i r s t theme of Opus 20:11 i s immediately restated i n the f l a t supertonic major. The thematic process then continues i n the traditional manner to the dominant of the new key with subsequent stepwise return to the original key after the raised dom-inant statement. In Opus 80:IV, the closing tremolo passage of the exposition contains a similar half-step shift and return. Possibly linked with this phenomenon i s the use of the Tierce de Picardie and i t s cancellation i n Opus 20:11. This device i s used to close the f i r s t theme and i s cancelled to close the second theme of the exposition. The retransition ends i n C major instead of the expected minor, allowing for the use of C major, at the beginning of the recapitulation. The movement also ends with the use of the raised third. Long, free-flowing song-like themes are characteristic of Mendelssohn's style and evidence of this i s amply exhibited i n the works examined. This characteristic poses for the composer the problem of creating the thematic contrast required by sonata form. The solutions he proposes w i l l be examined later. It i s sufficient to mention at this time that only once did he attempt to construct a theme based on a short motive - the f i r s t theme of Opus 4 4 , Number 3:1. Before the motive i s developed into a theme, however, Mendelssohn reverts to a free-flowing idea to complete the thematic area. 40 Form i n the scherzo-like movements The scherzi, perhaps the most successful of the movements studied, pose a special problem i n terms of formal classification. A l l of these movements, Opus 20:111, Opus 44, Number 3:11 and Opus 80:11, are i n minor keys and, as previously stated, are characterised by their high speed, lightness, and the sense of uninterrupted motion. The third movement of Opus 20 i s entitled "Scherzo", as would be expected i n any four movement work written during that period. The movement, however, i s i n sonata form. Developing on this departure from tradition, Mendelssohn places the scherzo t i t l e d movement of Opus 44» Number 3 immediately after the f i r s t movement. Furthermore, the form of this movement i s not recognisable as that of a scherzo i n any traditional sense but i t i s probably the most freely constructed movement i n the three works studied. Opus 80:11 i s untitled, but analysis reveals that i t i s i n the form of a traditional scherzo and tr i o although with an added coda. In addition to the coda, Mendelssohn cleverly manages to introduce further suggestions of sonata form into this movement. The traditional scherzo - Opus 80:11 Scherzo characteristics The formal repetitions of this movement are signalled traditionally, except for the written out trio repeat and the absence of the da capo sign. The t r i p l e t metric division of the measure i s also traditional but more reminiscent of the minuet, the predecessor of the scherzo. Non-scherzo characteristics Some cross pollination with sonata form seems to occur as a result of the ambiguity generated by the t r i o . The int e r v a l l i c and rhythmic similarity 41 of the trio theme to the B theme of the scherzo i s enough to suggest the possibility of a sonata form development section. The new material of this section also seems rhythmically related to the scherzo. The addition of the coda i s also not typical. The non-traditional scherzi Opus 20:111 The sonata form exhibited by this movement places i t i n a previously treated category. It serves, however, as a point of departure from the established third movement form. Opus 44. Number 3:11 I n i t i a l l y , i t seems that the traditional scherzo form was intended as the compositional basis of this movement as evidenced by the sixteen measure repeated section which opens i t . However, the immediate abandonment of the traditional form i s courageously undertaken. Suggestions of rondo and sonata forms are indicated i n the movement and in common with the other scherzo move-ments i n these works, i t contains a coda. As can be recognised from the foregoing, the three movements cannot be satisfactorily f i t t e d into any one formal classification, but a progression can be traced from a scherzo sounding sonata form, Opus 20:11, through a free-flowing movement, Opus 44, Number 3:11, i n which formal considerations are secondary, reverting to a traditional scherzo and t r i o , Opus 80:11, incorporating manifestations of sonata form. Taking into consideration the sonata form suggestions of Opus 44, Number 3:11, i t i s possible to assume that sonata form played a significant role i n Mendelssohn's approach to scherzo composition. 43 CHAPTER IV Evaluation Since ten of the twelve movements examined f a l l within the classification of some type of sonata form, and since one of the two remaining movements exhibits some sonata form characteristics, any evaluation of these oeuvres must concentrate primarily on Mendelssohn's success or lack of i t i n the use of this form. The Sonata form movements Contrast between f i r s t and second themes or thematic areas i s probably the most important characteristic of sonata form composition since the structure of this form follows closely the manner and principles of rhetoric. Rhetoric demands the presence of propositJo, confutatio, and confirmatio, which means that i t i s essential that there be a f i r s t theme proposition against which a second theme presents confutation. These opposing themes must be presented i n the exposition section of sonata form movements and the struggle for individual thematic predominance i s the province of the development section. In the recapitulation, the differences between the themes are resolved and the confirmation of the status of each theme i s presented. The dramatic peroratio of rhetoric takes place in the coda. The introduction to this musical discussion, l i k e the i n i t i o • '-.in rhetoric, prepares the listener for the coming thematic struggle. In music, the speed of this section i s 44 generally slower than that of the main body of the work. The tonal relationships between the various sections of the form were well established before Mendelssohn's entry into the art. The second theme opposition i s reinforced by i t s placement usually i n the key of the dominant or -the relative major, but definitely i n a key not centred on the tonic. Even Haydn's la s t monothematic work, the f i r s t movement sonata form of Symphony Number 104, the second section of the exposition i s firmly placed i n the dominant although the thematic material i s exactly the same as that of « the f i r s t section. Although this work negates the principle of thematic contrast stated above, harmonic contrast i s clearly evident. It i s intended f i r s t to assess each section of sonata form i n relation to the movements i n these works and then to proceed to the more general characteristics which appear. Subsequently, an assessment of the scherzo-type movements w i l l be undertaken, and this w i l l be followed by an assess-ment of each work as a complete entity* The introduction In the movements examined and found to be i n sonata form, the intent of a l l of the principles of rhetoric outlined previously i s present except for the introduction, which i s neither intended nor present. From the distance of the closing quarter of the twentieth century, the omission i s unimportant, but to the listener or analyst of Mendelssohn's time i t must have been somewhat startling i f not innovative. Such tactics had been used previously by Beethoven and the classical composers, but the intent of the 45 introduction was nearly always present. Its speed notwithstanding, the staccato repeated tonic i n the opening measures of the f i r s t movement of the Eroica Symphony performs the function of an introduction quite adequately since the f i r s t theme i s , i n fact, an arpeggiation of that chord. An attempt seems to be made by Mendelssohn to imitate the procedure of the introduction of the f i r s t movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony by using the open f i f t h tremolo seen in the f i r s t measure of both the f i r s t and fourth movement sonatas of Opus 80. The brevity of the device and the subsequent musical materials of the movements tend to deny the validity of regarding these sounds as introductions to the movements. Their return at the beginning of every formal division of those movements also weakens the value-of their i n i t i a l presentation. The exposition This i s the section i n which the themes which w i l l be predominant in sonata form movements are presented in an identifiable manner. There are always two specific themes or thematic areas, and in most instances, a closing theme appears to end the section. Thematic contrast assisted by, or as i n the case of the monothematic sonata previously mentioned, replaced by harmonic contrast i s essential. Thematic contrast i n the works selected None of Mendelssohn's thematic ideas seems to contain enough of the inherent motivic tension so obviously a pert of the typical Beethoven theme. This inadequacy, i n terms of sonata form, i s c r i t i c a l , since i t i s the pitting 46 of the tension i n one theme against the tension i n another that creates the conditions under which development sections flourish. There i s contrast in Mendelssohn's works but i t i s not of such violent or dramatic character as those found in the works of Beethoven. The established methods of achieving contrast w i l l now be assessed i n terms of Mendelssohn's use of them. Motive versus line Cpus 44» Number 3:1 commences with the statement of a motive which could have led to the thematic requirements mentioned above. Unhappily, Mendelssohn does not create an entire f i r s t theme from this motive, but instead, divides the f i r s t theme into two sections, the second of which i s constructed on a contrasting idea. It would have been far more appropriate to continue the expression of the i n i t i a l motive to i t s logical conclusion as a theme. The use of the same motive as transition material from the second idea to the opening of the second theme and further use of the motive as an accompaniment to the second theme weakens any sense of contrast between themes. By placing two contrasting ideas within the f i r s t theme Mendelssohn presents himself with an almost unsolvable dilemma i n terms of sonata form. The change of role of the motive, from thematic to accompanimental serves only -to ensure monotony. Opus 80:1 suffers from the same weakness although to a lesser degree since the motive i s only one of the elements contrasted. Once again the f i r s t theme i s i n two sections. The opening scalar expression i s interrupted by a motive i n contrasting in t e r v a l l i c and rhythmic shape. This motive returns as the basis of the second section of the theme. The very linear second theme can be considered adequate contrast to the two opposing ideas of the f i r s t theme. 47 Scale versus arpeggio In the f i r s t movement of the Octet, Opus 20, the scalar second theme contrasts v i s i b l y with the arpeggiation of the f i r s t theme. That contrast i s heightened by the presence of the f i r s t theme's opening motive between s t a t e -ments of the second theme. The f i r s t theme of Opus 44, Number 3:III i s p r i m a r i l y s c a l a r i n content while the second theme i s based on the dominant arpeggio. In t h i s , the most t r a d i t i o n a l of the works i n sonata form, Mendelssohn achieves the greatest success a t presenting the thematic elements of sonata form. R e g i s t r a l contrast Growing out of the scale versus arpeggio contrast i s contrast i n terms of r e g i s t e r . The terraced arpeggio of the f i r s t theme of Opus 20:1 spans over three octaves while the second theme occupies a more l i m i t e d area - a diminished f i f t h , placed almost i n the middle of the extreme r e g i s t r a l l i m i t s of the f i r s t theme. Sectional contrast within the f i r s t theme of Opus 80:1 als o l i e s within t h i s r e g i s t r a l realm. Even discounting the range of the in t e r r u p t i n g motive of the f i r s t theme area, the range of the f i r s t section i s almost two octaves as opposed to the single octave compass of the second section of the second theme. In the fourth movement of Opus 80, the f i r s t theme i s s l i g h t l y lower i n r e g i s t e r than the second. D i r e c t i o n a l contrast Themes set i n contrary motion to each other occur i n Opus 20:11. The downward thrust of the f i r s t theme of f s e t s the upward thrust of the second. The tonal climb of the f i r s t theme and the contrapuntal s l i d i n g accompaniment of the second serve to confirm the contrast t h e o r e t i c a l l y , although they may confuse the l i s t e n e r as to the true d i r e c t i o n of the themes. A v e i l e d h i n t 48 of directional contrast occurs in Opus 20:111 but i t i s not clearly enough defined to warrant further comment. Tremolo versus ordinario The use of tremolo contrasted with ordinario bowing helps to create the conditions from which sonata form springs i n Opus 80:1 and IV. In the f i r s t movement the f i r s t portion of the f i r s t theme i s stated tremolo. The fact that the second portion of the theme i s to be played ordinario weakens the contrast with the second theme. However, as mentioned above, other elements are contrasted i n this movement. The fourth movement i s more successful i n terms of this type of contrast i n that there i s a firmer declaration of the style of the f i r s t theme area. The tremolo i s maintained i n the accompaniment whereas i n the second theme area a l l instruments are to be played ordinario. Rhythmic contrast Rhythm seems to be the basis of contrast most widely used by Mendelssohn in the sonata form movements of the works studied. Opus 20:1 opens with an eighth-note pattern that i s contrasted with the quarter-note pattern of the second theme. Also, the eight-measure presentation of the f i r s t theme runs counter to the four measure presentation of the second. The smoothly flowing second theme of Opus 20:11 effectively opposes the more jagged rhythmic cutting of the f i r s t . The same applies i n reverse to Opus 20:111. The eighth-note fugal exposition character of the f i r s t theme of the fourth movement i s pitted against the half-note durations of the notes of the second theme, but because of the fact that similar half-note patterns were heard previously i n the bridge section, i n the Handel theme, and i n the counter-point to the fugal exposition, the effectiveness of the contrast i s somewhat dulled. 49 The opening sixteenth-note motive of the f i r s t theme of Opus 44, Number 3:1 and i t s subsequent eighth-note motive are i n contrast to the quarter-note presentation of the second theme. Unfortunately, the persistence of the sixteenth-note motive through the early portion of the second theme tends to disguise t h i s opposition and the movement from sixteenth to eighth to quarter gives more a sense of progression than contrast to t h i s exposition. In Opus 80:1, the r e s t l e s s eighth-note pattern of the f i r s t theme gives way to the more r e s t f u l quarter-note statement of the second while i n the t h i r d movement of t h i s work the eighth-note motion of the f i r s t theme i s i n d i r e c t opposition to the quarter- and sixteenth-note rhythm of the second theme. The uneven gallop of the f i r s t theme of the fourth movement presents a strong contrast to the smooth flow of the second. The effectiveness of these methods of achieving contrast cannot be measured i n terms of t h e i r i n d i v i d u a l merit but must be taken i n the context of a l l the methods present i n the exposition section of the movement i n which they appear. The effectiveness of r e g i s t r a l contrast i n Opus 20:1 i s height-ened by the f a c t that rhythmic contrast and the use of scale versus arpeggio are also present. In Opus 20:11, d i r e c t i o n a l contrast i n the melodic l i n e i s negated to some extent by the opposition of the d i r e c t i o n of the harmonic and contrapuntal l i n e s within each thematic statement. Internal thematic contrast presents a problem f o r the composer ?in that, regardless of h i s technical s k i l l , f urther contrast with another theme w i l l become weak. Mendelssohn i s g u i l t y of t h i s p r a c t i c e i n Opus 44, Number 3:1 and i n Opus 80:1. The most successful instances of contrast are i n Opus 20:1 i n which 50 scale i s p i t t e d against arpeggio, expansive r e g i s t e r against a diminished f i f t h , and an eight measure eighth-note rhythm against a four measure quarter-note rhythm. Also successful i s the scale versus arpeggio contrast of Opus 44, Number 3:111. The Development After Beethoven's pra c t i c e of d i s s e c t i n g themes i n t o t h e i r component motives and p i t t i n g those motives against each other, thereby creating long, i n t e n s t development sections, Mendelssohn's corresponding sections seem short and d u l l . In most instances he merely repeats themes a t a d i f f e r e n t tonal l e v e l . In Opus 20:111, l i n e s l o o s e l y r e l a t e d to the established themes constitute the development. The development section inserted within the r e c a p i t u l a t i o n section of Opus 20:IV contains more of the expected confrontation than the t r a d i t i o n a l l y ' p l a c e d development sections of other movements. In maintaining the i n t e g r i t y of the themes i n h i s development sections Mendelssohn betrays h i s reverence f o r the early c l a s s i c a l t r a d i t i o n s and h i s fondness f o r long smooth-flowing l i n e s . The Recapitulation Mendelssohn presents more innovations i n the r e c a p i t u l a t i o n section of h i s sonata form movements i n the works under scrutiny than i n any other s e c t i o n . This i s perhaps because of the d i f f i c u l t y he seemed to encounter i n attempting to bring long smooth l i n e s to successful dramatic endings. 51 Success in these innovations seems to be directly related to whether or not they threatened the structural p i l l a r s of sonata form. The inserted development This practice of Mendelssohn's i s d i f f i c u l t to rationalise i n terms of the requirements of sonata form. Hitherto, the recapitulation restated the themes of the exposition either verbatim or with slight embellishment, signifying the importance of their content. Extraneous material was removed and the bridge sections were adapted to allow for the return of the second theme i n the tonic. Such practice was intended to show the resolution of the differences between the themes. The distance separating f i r s t and second theme return to the fourth movements of Opus 20 and Opus 44, Number 3, prevents the listener from recognising this resolution of conflict. In fact, one i s l e f t with the feeling that a true sense of return i s absent. The other example of inserted development, Opus 80:111, i s not as blatant since the insertion i s so short i n length that i t s presence i s almost unnoticed and therefore does not upset the traditional balance of the section. The recapitulation countermelody This device i s very cleverly employed by Mendelssohn and acts as a means of continuing the long beautiful lines so often present in his works. It i s fortunate that the countermelodies used i n the works studied are not so powerful or contrasting that they obscure the thematic returns. Instead, they add charm. The tonic i n inversion i n the recapitulation Possibly i n an effort to maintain the smooth-flowing style that i s recognizably his, Mendelssohn tended to avoid the root position tonic that 52 i s traditionally found at the beginning of the f i r s t and second theme return. However, i n Opus 20, this avoidance has the effect of lessening the harmonic impact of the start of the recapitulation, thus weakening one of the structural p i l l a r s of sonata form. I t i s fortunate that Mendelssohn abandoned this practice i n the later movements. The Coda Since these sections are generally based on combining one or more of the ideas of the f i r s t theme of the exposition with b r i l l i a n t scale or arpeggio passages, they are generally successful. However, they suffer from a lack of the dramatic quality associated with the close of a typical Beethoven movement. This defect i s less noticeable i n the slow movements. Other general considerations of sonata form Thematic leakage The unifying tendency of this device and i t s progression into a . structural signpost as shown earlier makes i t , probably, the most successful of the innovations attempted by Mendelssohn. By Opus 80, i t s presence seems to assist i n making the form accessible to the listener with the most rudi-mentary knowledge of the structure of sonata form. To the more sophisticated, however, i t i s unsatisfying in this instance since i t removes the need for intellectual discovery so necessary at higher levels of appreciation. 53 Harmonic language Mendelssohn's harmonic language i s t y p i c a l of the perio.d i n which he composed. The s o n o r i t i e s of the ninth, eleventh and thirteenth, had . already become accepted, as had a l l of the augmented s i x t h chords and the neapolitan s i x t h . Chord functions i n the three works remain within the t r a d i t i o n a l boundaries. The vocabulary, grammar and syntax employed by the composer are proof of h i s comprehensive knowledge of the materials of music but they do not present any i n d i c a t i o n of the composer's concern with the furt h e r expansion of t h e i r then current l i m i t s . The major-minor interchange v i a the Tierce de Pi c a r d i e and i t s reverse exhibited i n Opus 20:11 seems to be melodically generated as i s the semitone f l u c t u a t i o n i n the f i r s t theme of the movement. The reappearance of the f l u c t u a t i o n i n Opus 80:IV i s clever but not of any great s i g n i f i c a n c e . The most di s t a n t modulation occurs i n Opus 20:IV when, i n the inserted development, Mendelssohn wanders i n t o the key of the f l a t dominant. However, the process i s so smoothly acheived through sequential a c t i v i t y that i t s e f f e c t seems merely that of being another step on the way back to the second theme return. The t r a d i t i o n a l nature of the harmonic r e l a t i o n s h i p s between the various sections of sonata form as exhibited i n the works analysed leaves l i t t l e room f o r comment. From the foregoing, i t can be recognised that Mendelssohn's approach to sonata form composition was based on respect f o r the t r a d i t i o n a l s t r u c t u r a l boundaries and the t r a d i t i o n a l tonal concepts which had c r y s t a l l i z e d i n the 54-works of his classical predecessors. The relative closeness in procedure between the fourth movement inserted developments of Opus 20 and Opus 44» Number 3 and the sonata rondo form could suggest that even in these somewhat experimental movements the composer's intent was not to destroy the essence of the form but to perpetuate i t . The Scherzo-type movements In the three works under scrutiny, the scherzo-type movements show Mendelssohn's greatest success in his formal experiments. The light, airy feeling inspired by the scherzi of Opus 20 and Opus 44-> Number 3 tend to make formal content a secondary consideration. The exhibition of some sonata form characteristics within the traditional scherzo form of Opus 80:11 is an indication of Mendelssohn's intimate knowledge of both forms and of his subtlety in exploiting their common characteristics. It is interesting to trace the formal succession from the sonata form scherzo, Opus 20:111, to the traditional scherzo with sonata form characteristics, Opus 80:11, via the free form of Opus 44» Number 3: II. An evaluation of each complete work Microscopic examination of individual movements is valid in terms of the discovery of the elements which combine into themes and the devices which contribute to or detract from the coherence of each movement. It is necessary now to examine each complete work on a larger scale to determine whether 55 there i s o v e r a l l coherence within each work. Opus 20 I t has been previously stated that the Octet, Opus 20, seems to mark the end of the juvenile and the beginning of the adult period of Mendelssohn's a r t i s t i c l i f e . This i s r e f l e c t e d i n the polished nature of t h i s work, regardless of the flaws which are introduced i n the structure of the i n d i v -i d u a l movements. Early awareness of the movement components of such works i s evident i n the tempo r e l a t i o n s h i p s and i n the tonal r e l a t i o n s h i p s of the four movements. There seems to be a half-hearted attempt to consolidate the thematic material of the work i n the closing movement, but t h i s i s abandoned a f t e r the i n c l u s i o n of only the f i r s t theme of the t h i r d movement i n the inser t e d development section. Rich harmonic texture and restlessness are c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of the e n t i r e work, even i n the slow second movement. The f a c t that t h i s work was composed f o r eight instruments i n double s t r i n g quartet proportions i s unique. Even more unique i s the absence of any antiphonal use of i n d i v i d u a l quartets but rather a more orches t r a l approach to the sonic design of the work. The success of Opus 20 l i e s i n i t s l a r g e l y t r a d i t i o n a l basis i n terms of forms and the formal arrangement of i t s movements and the unique nature of i t s instrumentation. That success i s tarnished to some extent as a r e s u l t of the lack of coherence of the cl o s i n g movement's inserted development section. 56 Opus 4 4 , Number 3 Regardless of the success in detail of this work, i t is denied overall success because of Mendelssohn's seeming failure to assert the experiments he attempted. The lack of success of the sonata form movements can be attributed partly to the politeness of their expression. To Mendel-ssohn's upbringing, excesses of emotional expression were anathema. The opening motive of the fi r s t theme of the fi r s t movement promises the kind of rough dramatic development reminiscent of Beethoven, but the promise is not fulfilled since Mendelssohn seemingly apologises for the tension of the motive by turning i t into a recurring accompaniment to the second theme. The apology seems to carry over into the third movement which is the most traditional of the sonata form movements studied, and, because of that fact, the most successful. The fourth movement of this work detracts significantly from the successes of the second and third movements. The exposition contains too many thematic ideas, each of which could lay claim to precedence over the others in spite of the order of their appearance. Although each theme returns in the order of i n i t i a l presentation, internal contrast within the fi r s t theme and the derivation of the fi r s t statement of the second theme from the closing portion of the fi r s t theme tend to weaken the opposition of the main thematic areas. Further weakening of this principle of contrast occurs in the development section where the two ideas of the f i r s t theme are pitted against each other. All other thematic ideas are ignored until the inserted development section in which they are merely restated in the original order of presentation in the dominant or related keys. 57 The success of the inner movements, the free-wheeling second-movement scherzo and the traditional sonata-form third movement, are not enough to negate the disappointments of the opening and closing movements. Opus 80 The circumstances surrounding the composition of Opus 80 are the f i r s t ones which shatter the image of emotional security i n Mendelssohn's l i f e . This work i s his response to the sudden tragic loss of his very dearly loved sister. The restlessness i s s t i l l present, but the dramatic interruption of the f i r s t theme by the stark canonic motive seems to express vividly the feelings of unease which, for the f i r s t time i n his l i f e , could not be over-come by the beauty of his environment or by a change of that environment. In this work he abandoned most attempts at experiment but was s t i l l concerned with the beauty of the melody. What prevents this work from being monumental i s that i t i s s t i l l too polished an utterance despite the surprise of the f i r s t theme interruption. It i s interesting to speculate on the possible properties of later works had he survived the traumatic experience of his sister's death. Unfortunately, his experiential background did not equip him for such survival. Conclusion Mendelssohn's early training and his contact with professional musicians i n the pleasant surroundings of the Sunday home gatherings deepened his knowledge of traditional forms, especially sonata form. His earliest works, 58 the twelve string symphonies, w i l l attest to this. His studies with Zelter at the Berlin Singakademie presented him with the materials of music and the methods of their manipulation. The development of his\;musical taste, however, was greatly influenced by the conservative views of both his father and Goethe. Manipulation of the materials of music, therefore, became the pleasant, genteel and polished quality apparent even i n his earliest works. Comparison with Beethoven, an occurrence i n almost every study of Mendelssohn's works should take into consideration, but seldom does, the differences i n the experiential backgrounds of the two composers. Beethoven was engaged i n a constant struggle for economic and social survival and sonata form i s an ideal vehicle for the reflection of such an existence. In contrast, Mendelssohn's economic and social survival were never i n question. The fact that he was so p r o l i f i c a composer was the result of a restless nature inspired by a parental admonition to be productive, rather than the necessity to survive on commissions or on gratuities from teaching. Small wonder them, that his works are replete with beautiful harmonies and melodies and show that sense of restlessness. On the other hand, i t i s impossible to conceive of Mendelssohn writing as Beethoven did i n his Heiligenstadt Testament: "I w i l l take my fate by the throat". In terms of his formal experiments, Mendelssohn failed to influence the course of musical composition i n the years that have followed his death. Sonata form, however, did remain a viable vehicle for the expression of musical thought. Even some twentieth century composers have employed the :.' form. It i s impossible to determine whether the combination of Mendelssohn's 59 popularity and his use of sonata form may have had any effect on the retention of the use of the form, especially i n the chamber works of Brahms et a l in the second half of the nineteenth century. Given the plethora of "modernisms" entering the craft of musical composition during the f i r s t half of that century, the question of Mendelssohn's influence does arise. Would sonata form have survived regardless of, or i n spite of, his unsuccessful experiments, or did i t survive because of those experiments? 60 Bibliography 1. Introduction. Books: Berry, W. Form i n Music. New Jersey. Prentice-Hall. 1966. Blume, F. Classic and Romantic Music. New York. Norton. 1970. Brandt, W. The way of Music. Boston. Allyn and Bacon, Inc. 1963. Einstein, A. Music in the Romantic Era. New York. Norton. 1974« Grout, D.J. A History of Western Music. New York. Norton. 1960. Newman, W.S. The Sonata since Beethoven. Chapel H i l l . University of North Carolina Press. 1969. Essays: Copland, A. Sonata Form. In An Introduction to Music. Edited by W. Gerboth et a l . New York. Norton. 1969. pp. 66-75 Dahlhaus, C. Mendelssohn und die musikalischen Gattungstraditionen. In Das Problem Mendelssohn. Edited by C. Dahlhaus. Regensburg. Gustav Bosse Verlag. 1974. pp. 55-60. Grout, D.J. The Nature of Romanticism. In An introduction to Music. Edited by W. Gerboth et a l . New York. Norton. 1969. pp. 101-111. Krummacher, F. Zur Kompositionsart Mendelssohns. Thesen am Beispiel der Streichquartette. In Das Problem Mendelssohn. Edited by C. Dahlhaus. Regensburg. Gustav Bosse Verlag. 1974. pp. l69- il84. Dictionaries: Grovels Dictionary of Music and Musicians. 5th Edition. S.v. Sonata Form by J . Webster. 4» Evaluation. Books: Horton, J . The Chamber Music of Mendelssohn. London. Oxford University Press. 1946. 61 Krummacher, F. Mendelssohn der Komponist. Munchen. Wilhelm Fink. 1978. Marek, G.R. Gentle Genius. The Story of Felix Mendelssohn. New York. Thomas Crowell Company. 1972. Werner, E. Mendelssohn. A new image of the composer and his age. London. Macmillan.1963.Translated by Dika Newlin. Periodical Literature: Gartner, G. "Ein Beethoven-Motiv bei Mendelssohn". Musica 8. (December 1954.): 558-9 Kinsky, G. "Was Mendelssohn indebted to Weber?" Musical Quarterly 19 (1933) 178-86. Schumacher, G. "Zwischen Autograph und Erstveroffentlichung. Zu Mendelssohns Kompositionsweise, dargestellt an den Streichquartetten Op. 4 4 . " BeitrMw XV/A (1973) Smith, A.B. "The workmanship of Mendelssohn." Music and Letters 4 . (1923): 18-25. 62 Appendix Figure 1 . Generalised diagram of sonata form Figure 2. Formal diagram of Opus 80:11 

Cite

Citation Scheme:

        

Citations by CSL (citeproc-js)

Usage Statistics

Share

Embed

Customize your widget with the following options, then copy and paste the code below into the HTML of your page to embed this item in your website.
                        
                            <div id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidgetDisplay">
                            <script id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidget"
                            src="{[{embed.src}]}"
                            data-item="{[{embed.item}]}"
                            data-collection="{[{embed.collection}]}"
                            data-metadata="{[{embed.showMetadata}]}"
                            data-width="{[{embed.width}]}"
                            data-media="{[{embed.selectedMedia}]}"
                            async >
                            </script>
                            </div>
                        
                    
IIIF logo Our image viewer uses the IIIF 2.0 standard. To load this item in other compatible viewers, use this url:
https://iiif.library.ubc.ca/presentation/dsp.831.1-0095172/manifest

Comment

Related Items