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Beethoven Op. 2 No. 1 (Read 15937 times)

Offline mcgillcomposer

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Beethoven Op. 2 No. 1
« on: August 16, 2007, 09:27:45 PM »
Let's start with the first 8 bears of the opening movement. Who can give me the standard formal analysis?

1) 2 bar basic idea that is seperated into two parts: rocket theme (f minor arpeggio), and the triplet figure...harmony = I

2) ???
Asked if he had ever conducted any Stockhausen,Sir Thomas Beecham replied, "No, but I once trod in some."

piano sheet music of Sonata 1


Offline pianistimo

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Re: Beethoven Op. 2 No. 1
«Reply #1 on: August 16, 2007, 09:32:54 PM »
subject and countersubject here?  sometimes it's just grouped into theme I isn't it?  why spend all this time?  i have dinner to cook. 

*actually - i like this.  i'll be right back.  i have to get out my papers out of the closet.

ok. first a little background info:  beethoven dedicated his first three sonatas to haydn; 'indeed, the themes and their treatment reveal his debt to the older composer.  but, his sonatas all have four movements instead of the usual three.  moreover, in the second and third sonatas beethoven replaced the minuet with the more dynamic scherzo, a practice which he consistently used from then on.  his choice of the uncommon key of f minor for the first sonata may have been suggested by a cpe bach sonata in that same key.  but beethoven's extensive use of the minor mode and the bold modulations in the first three sonatas are highly individual traits.  (? haydn got pretty bold with the 'creation,' didn't he?)

Offline mcgillcomposer

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Re: Beethoven Op. 2 No. 1
«Reply #2 on: August 16, 2007, 09:35:10 PM »
subject and countersubject here?  sometimes it's just grouped into theme I isn't it?  why spend all this time?  i have dinner to cook. 

*actually - i like this.  i'll be right back.  i have to get out my papers out of the closet.
Just describe what happens:

1) mm. 1-2
2) mm. 3-4
3) mm. 5-6
4) mm. 7-8
Asked if he had ever conducted any Stockhausen,Sir Thomas Beecham replied, "No, but I once trod in some."

Offline pianistimo

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Re: Beethoven Op. 2 No. 1
«Reply #3 on: August 16, 2007, 09:38:29 PM »
just a minute - i can't find my score.  might have to print another one.  yikes.  i have papers all over.  i printed out the nutcracker suite arr. by stepan esipoff,  the skylark by glinka, kinderscenen (godowsky transc), and pavane of faure - and a few other things.  i didn't hole punch anything.  where is beethoven? ah.  i found it.

ok.  we have motive 'a' and another two bar motive in  V of the same 'a' = 'question.'  it makes you wonder 'which key are we in?' kind of feel. 

motive b reestablishes f minor (answer) - but then goes off into something at the end of the answer.  so it's basically an answered question that leaves room for another question that might be unanswered.

Offline pianowolfi

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Re: Beethoven Op. 2 No. 1
«Reply #4 on: August 16, 2007, 09:42:10 PM »
just a minute - i can't find my score.  might have to print another one.  yikes.  i have papers all over.  i printed out the nutcracker suite arr. by stepan esipoff,  the skylark by glinka, kinderscenen (godowsky transc), and pavane of faure - and a few other things.  i didn't hole punch anything.  where is beethoven?

On the piano. I saw it.

Offline pianistimo

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Re: Beethoven Op. 2 No. 1
«Reply #5 on: August 16, 2007, 09:50:38 PM »
ok. this whole question/answer ends on V - so the real start of the sonata (beyond this prelude or whatever you call it) is measure 9 which is surprisingly in c minor but keeps being unstable - not predicting any return to f minor.  strange, ehh.  it almost seems like a development before you had the exposition.

Offline mcgillcomposer

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Re: Beethoven Op. 2 No. 1
«Reply #6 on: August 16, 2007, 09:53:12 PM »
ok. this whole question/answer ends on V - so the real start of the sonata (beyond this prelude or whatever you call it) is measure 9 which is surprisingly in c minor.  strange, ehh.  it almost seems like a development before you had the exposition.
I see why you are saying this, but I wouldn't call it a prelude. It is, in essence, the first theme. m. 9 begins the transition (which includes a modulation) to the second theme...an inversion of the opening rocket theme.
Asked if he had ever conducted any Stockhausen,Sir Thomas Beecham replied, "No, but I once trod in some."

Offline pianistimo

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Re: Beethoven Op. 2 No. 1
«Reply #7 on: August 16, 2007, 09:55:49 PM »
but, we have a 'point of articulation' which is very unusual in a sonata (i think for most) - where we suddenly have a fermata.  it's not long enough to be called a prelude - but there's another name for it.

as i see it - and this might be a bizarre reading - but we have an extremely short exposition and two developments.  each at the points of articulation (measure 9 and after repeat sign).

one of the ways that beethoven seems to modulate strangely is in measures 20-21 where he uses those notes of a seventh chord to make the octave E's into not just major sounding - but, have modulating capabities. and adds that minor second at the top - which really makes things mysterious.  this is as far as one could go back then, wasn't it?

seems that beethoven was saving the only f minorish part for the runs at measure 37 - but oddly goes past the f at the bottom and goes right to Eb like it's supposed to have been an Eb scale.  really a genius.

this sonata is all about seventh chords, to me.  what you can do with them.  right away -we notice on the first page those octave Eb's which are VII chords in the key of f minor - but they sound like they have been a complete modulation (even though this is not intended yet - and saving up for real modulations in the next 'development')

Offline pianistimo

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Re: Beethoven Op. 2 No. 1
«Reply #8 on: August 16, 2007, 10:17:36 PM »
i see some similarities between this f minor sonata and the appassionata (also f minor, right?).  of course, there - the motives are longer (four bars, right?) - and the theme I more complicated.

another thing i notice - is that a normal exposition sets one up for modulation to the V.  in this case however, it is solidly in A major at the repeat sign (end of first 'development') which is the related major or III in the key of f minor.  so it basically just modulated to the major - even though it sounded like it could go anywhere and had a lot of freedom of movement.

Offline pianistimo

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Re: Beethoven Op. 2 No. 1
«Reply #9 on: August 16, 2007, 10:30:39 PM »
that last point of articulation (fermata right before recapitulation) - is in V however!  what is strange is that at this point the development is over - and we're back comfortably in f minor.  everything that follows (recapitulation) supposedly would fit better at the begining, if you think about it.  perhaps he did a bit of cut and paste?

Offline mcgillcomposer

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Re: Beethoven Op. 2 No. 1
«Reply #10 on: August 16, 2007, 10:31:49 PM »
i see some similarities between this f minor sonata and the appassionata (also f minor, right?).  of course, there - the motives are longer (four bars, right?) - and the theme I more complicated.

another thing i notice - is that a normal exposition sets one up for modulation to the V.  in this case however, it is solidly in A major at the repeat sign (end of first 'development') which is the related major or III in the key of f minor.  so it basically just modulated to the major - even though it sounded like it could go anywhere and had a lot of freedom of movement.
In minor keys, the most common modulation is to the relative major; in the case of our sonata, Ab major (key signature!). Let's focus on the Op. 2 No. 1 for now...Beethoven's mid-late sonatas are a whole different ballgame.
Asked if he had ever conducted any Stockhausen,Sir Thomas Beecham replied, "No, but I once trod in some."

Offline pianowolfi

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Re: Beethoven Op. 2 No. 1
«Reply #11 on: August 16, 2007, 10:35:57 PM »
Let's start with the first 8 bears of the opening movement. Who can give me the standard formal analysis?

1) 2 bar basic idea that is seperated into two parts: rocket theme (f minor arpeggio), and the triplet figure...harmony = I

2) ???

I am confused. You said in your other thread:

Quote
Things such as complete harmonic analyses, superficial descriptions of form (e.g. ABA, sonata form...essentially meaningless terms in themselves) are, in my opinion, quite fruitless. The reason is farily simple in that no two sonatas are exactly alike even though they may follow, more or less, an architypal plan. These names describe what is frequently found, but they do not account, by any means, for all that is out there. And by definition, great music is NOT what is ordinary.

And here you are asking for a standard analysis. How come? :)

Offline pianistimo

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Re: Beethoven Op. 2 No. 1
«Reply #12 on: August 16, 2007, 10:37:53 PM »
in minor keys - they modulate to the relative major at the end of the exposition?  guess i haven't analyzed enough beethoven sonatas.

Offline mcgillcomposer

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Re: Beethoven Op. 2 No. 1
«Reply #13 on: August 16, 2007, 10:38:37 PM »
this sonata is all about seventh chords, to me.  what you can do with them.  right away -we notice on the first page those octave Eb's which are VII chords in the key of f minor - but they sound like they have been a complete modulation (even though this is not intended yet - and saving up for real modulations in the next 'development')
What is striking is not so much the fact that Beethoven uses 7th chords here but the fact that he begins the secondary theme on the dominant (the secondary theme is in Ab and he begins with a V7 - standing on the dominant).

You make some good observations, but you need to be a more careful with your terminology. What you call the first development section is actually lacking in features of a development section. I think you are confused with the fact that Beethoven often begins developing material right away but within the context of an exposition. Remember, these names are not arbitrary, but describe specific musical ideas that are there for a particular reason.
Asked if he had ever conducted any Stockhausen,Sir Thomas Beecham replied, "No, but I once trod in some."

Offline pianistimo

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Re: Beethoven Op. 2 No. 1
«Reply #14 on: August 16, 2007, 10:41:03 PM »
what measure is the second theme?  if it is after the repeat sign - that is the same as theme I only modified.  so why would you call it theme II if it has characteristics of theme I?  besides- aren't both themes supposed to appear in the exposition only?

as i see it - the II theme is actually in the recapitulation in measures 119-120 (approx).  with the downward theme of Db C Bb G E-nat Eb C F

Offline mcgillcomposer

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Re: Beethoven Op. 2 No. 1
«Reply #15 on: August 16, 2007, 10:42:16 PM »
I am confused. You said in your other thread:

And here you are asking for a standard analysis. How come? :)
Because I want to demonstrate how the standard analysis completely ignores a lot of the musical substance of the piece.
Asked if he had ever conducted any Stockhausen,Sir Thomas Beecham replied, "No, but I once trod in some."

Offline mcgillcomposer

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Re: Beethoven Op. 2 No. 1
«Reply #16 on: August 16, 2007, 10:43:23 PM »
what measure is the second theme?  if it is after the repeat sign - that is the same as theme I only modified.  so why would you call it theme II if it has characteristics of theme I?  besides- aren't both themes supposed to appear in the exposition only?
Theme II begins @ m. 21 (with a pick-up)
Asked if he had ever conducted any Stockhausen,Sir Thomas Beecham replied, "No, but I once trod in some."

Offline mcgillcomposer

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Re: Beethoven Op. 2 No. 1
«Reply #17 on: August 16, 2007, 10:45:54 PM »
in minor keys - they modulate to the relative major at the end of the exposition?  guess i haven't analyzed enough beethoven sonatas.
I mean this is the convention...taking into account all sonatas before Beethoven's as well.
Asked if he had ever conducted any Stockhausen,Sir Thomas Beecham replied, "No, but I once trod in some."

Offline pianistimo

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Re: Beethoven Op. 2 No. 1
«Reply #18 on: August 16, 2007, 10:48:46 PM »
aha.  yes.  thank you mr mgillcomposer.  i am enjoying this.  thank you for this great help!  i have to go cook dinner (five seconds before hubby comes home) - so i think i will come back in an hour or two.

it is interesting that the theme II is actually sounding like an f minor aug 7th chord (e-natural) before the last two notes.  it's like he surprises you and says 'haha - it's actually Ab major we're doing here.'  the notes don't jive with Ab major at all - with the exception of the last two notes.

when the second theme comes back in the recapitulation - it is easily recognizable

Offline pianowolfi

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Re: Beethoven Op. 2 No. 1
«Reply #19 on: August 16, 2007, 10:55:20 PM »
Because I want to demonstrate how the standard analysis completely ignores a lot of the musical substance of the piece.

Okay. Sometimes I'm asking myself which form of analysis at all can do justice to a piece, but that's more a basic question.

To me it's very noticeable how often Beethoven uses the tonic-dominant combination, not only in these first bars but in a lot of other compositions too.

Offline mcgillcomposer

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Re: Beethoven Op. 2 No. 1
«Reply #20 on: August 16, 2007, 10:56:17 PM »
To me it's very noticeable how often Beethoven uses the tonic-dominant combination, not only in these first bars but in a lot of other compositions too.
True. But not only Beethoven. The tonic-dominant relationship is one of the staples of the classical style.
Asked if he had ever conducted any Stockhausen,Sir Thomas Beecham replied, "No, but I once trod in some."

Offline mlckitt

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Re: Beethoven Op. 2 No. 1
«Reply #21 on: August 17, 2007, 12:18:26 AM »
pianistimo, which cpe Bach sonata are you talking about?

I'm studying the op2 no1 now as well, one of my exam pieces

getting bored of it and wanna play some other sonatas by Beethoven.. :-[

Offline pianistimo

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Re: Beethoven Op. 2 No. 1
«Reply #22 on: August 17, 2007, 05:45:35 AM »
one in f minor.  not knowing any of them - i suppose it's a matter of just picking one in f minor if there are several and looking to see any correlation (which at this point might be that the correlation is that there are a lot of bizarre things done since sonata form wasn't really analyzed deeply at that point was it?)  i know that for a period of time we had 'sturm und drang.'  hate to drag this into it.

also, in terms of picking the correct sonata in f minor - there is this problem:  cpe bach composed at least 151 works designated as sonata or sonatina for single keyboard instrument.  about 1/3 of these are obtainable in modern edition (the 19th century 'tresor de pianistes' ed by aristide farrenc) vol XII and XIII.

say, mcgillcomposer - i found a form and analysis forum and here is the piece in question.  you could probably add a lot to that forum.  of course, negating the need for students to find out for themselves what the analysis is of a certain piece.  it's just interesting to see what people write.  occasionally people come on that forum that do a correct detailed analysis.

http://depauwform.blogspot.com/2005/04/beethoven-piano-sonata-no-1-op-2-no-1.html

Offline pianistimo

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Re: Beethoven Op. 2 No. 1
«Reply #23 on: August 17, 2007, 06:11:41 AM »
am still looking on the internet for a similar cpe bach sonata.  whew.  maybe i should also include sonatina.

temporarily got distracted by the term 'crux' - in ralph kirpatrick's (pg 255) 'domenico scarlatti' - explaining the word as it applies to ternary form rather than binary in sonatas after 1742.  also, i read about cpe's experimental 'prussian' sonatas.  (are there any f minor prussian sonatas?)

ok. several things are getting  murky but will get clearer as time goes on.  must go back and find a cpe bach sonata in f minor.  (say, didn't schumann write a sonata in f minor? no matter).
ok i found one of cpe bach's:  W57/6 (H 173)  now can anyone find the score?

Offline rallestar

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Re: Beethoven Op. 2 No. 1
«Reply #24 on: August 17, 2007, 09:04:55 AM »
Well, just learned this movement as you might have seen so:

Exposition: M1 to m48.

Development: m49 to m100

Recap: m101 to 152

Main theme is a mannheimer rocket, with a little turn at the end. The ascending figure is first played in both F minor, the tonic, and on a C7 dominant chord, the dominant, and after a fermata, the theme returns in C minor from m 9. Then follows a transition through some imitations of the theme into Ab major, where the secondary theme is presented, unstable on its dominant chord, E7. The secondary theme is a melodic inversion of the first theme, being a descending arpeggio. A transition uses the tremolo in the left hand and some small ascending motifs are in the right hand, gasping for breath before some scalepassages lead to the epilogue theme (not sure of the english terminology there) in Ab major in m42.

The development section starts out using the main theme, using a chromatic drop in the lh chords to reach the secondary theme, this time first on an F7 chord, then through the same transition as used in m26-32 leads to the secondary theme on G7. The rhytmical intensity rises as the secondary theme is presented in the left hand from m68, and a sequence leads to a syncopated, non-melodic section, eventually climaxing at m81, where small cells of th side theme are used over left hand tremolos, and a decrescendo leads to a mysterical pp, with insistent knocking chords in the lh, while the rh uses the turn motif from the main theme. Eventually, this end up on Edim, conceived as a dominant to Fminor, missing only the C to be a C7 dominant chord.

Then comes the recap. The rhytm of the main theme is altered, the lh accompaniment this time landing on the first beat at the sforzandi, as are the dynamics, this time forte. The second time the main theme comes around, it is here in Fminor, not C minor as in the expo, as we won't need a transition to the secondary theme. The epilogue theme is stated in F minor, and leads to a typically rhetorical Beethoven-ending: Two question marks in m146-149, and their answer in 150-152.

The movement contains many references to Haydn, Beethovens teacher. The sudden fortissimos (m47 for example), the dramatic ending and mannheimer rocket all point towards Haydn's influence. But the movement also points forward - It has unprecedented drama and agitation, the key signature itself is remote and the mystical part of the development section seems to peek into the future in its dissonance.



Kinda superficial, some of it, I wasn't too careful with listing measure numbers for everythng and describing less important stuff - I just rounded what seems the most important.

Offline mlckitt

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Re: Beethoven Op. 2 No. 1
«Reply #25 on: August 17, 2007, 03:39:08 PM »
thx a million   ;)

you really help me a lot on the analysis

Offline pianowolfi

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Re: Beethoven Op. 2 No. 1
«Reply #26 on: August 17, 2007, 05:06:41 PM »
Yes that's very helpful rallestar. I admit that I am completely blocked at the time when it comes to analysis. I feel everything (yes I know I put water on the mills of some rather critical persons) but if someone asks concrete questions I am lost, though I passed my theory exam with very good marks, back then. :P

Offline mcgillcomposer

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Re: Beethoven Op. 2 No. 1
«Reply #27 on: August 18, 2007, 05:03:59 AM »
rallestar - nice job on the analysis...but you're right, it is rather superficial. Keep in mind though, it is NOT only yours that is...in fact, most analyses are. So, now that we have gone through the traditional approach of assigning everything labels, let's actually discuss what all of this MEANS.

As I said before, let's begin with the opening 8 bars.

We have:
- a 2 bar basic idea on I
- the same idea repeated on V6/5
- fragmentation of the basic idea
- total liquidation into a formulaic cadence

So, let's begin with some simple questions about craft:

1) How does Beethoven build momentum into the cadence? There are 4 or 5 specific things to look for here.

2) What is the purpose(s) of repeating the 2-bar basic idea? If you have William Caplin's book on form in the instrumental music of Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven, it should be written there.

3) What is the function of the fermata?

Once we answer these basic questions of simple craftsmanship we will move onto the subject of artistic choices particular to this opening and why Beethoven did certain things.
Asked if he had ever conducted any Stockhausen,Sir Thomas Beecham replied, "No, but I once trod in some."

Offline pianistimo

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Re: Beethoven Op. 2 No. 1
«Reply #28 on: August 18, 2007, 05:26:30 AM »
i'm listening.  some excellent questions, mcgillcomposer.  you are a born teacher, imo.  this is extremely thoughtful and provocative - because the beginning of things is like a 'cell.'  dividing and multiplying with what it gave.

ok.  so the motive in the first two bars is simply repeated on the fifth (C7) at measures 3 and 4 - but, when the 'answer' comes in measure 5 - it is only a one measure answer (things are compacting) - and it's repetition is one step higher instead of a fifth higher.  the final to all this (last two measures before fermata) should be much longer - if we add two measures of the first motive with one measure of the second - that should be three measure of a 'finale' - but it's only two.  perhaps the fermata adds in as much possible space as to mathematically equalize (classically) the balance of the last missing measure?

Offline pianistimo

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Re: Beethoven Op. 2 No. 1
«Reply #29 on: August 18, 2007, 05:38:35 AM »
the purpose of the fermata, imo - is to create a 'point of articulation.'  to divide it from the rest of the work for a particular reason.  i think beethoven (even at his early stages of composition) was breaking away from classical form and skipping the idea that the entirety of even a non-binary sonata (a tri-part sonata - now - because of haydn's work) could have an entire section (the whole exposition) - cut down into a nutshell. 

now, some may say i am crazy - but i think the fermata indicated beethoven's impatience with expositions because he loved developing things and wanted (in his youthful vigor) to just start extemporizing.  he seems to be working his way backwards in the 'first development' through a series of whole steps (moving from f minor to Eb major 7) to measure 29 in d-flat minor on beat two.  REMOTE MODULATIONS.

another interesting thing in terms of 'cutting' is the cut-time at the beginning of this sonata.  usually they were in 4/4 right?  so he cuts down the time - but adds a repeat to the entire first part (expo and development) thereby - doubling the expo and first development. 

now, runs and figurations are typically saved for developments aren't they?  to bring one back to the original key.  but we see them immediately (before the first repeat) - so this is untypical for an exposition isn't it?  also, didn't beethoven utilize early freedom with key with this modulation from f minor to Abmajor (relative key) instead of a fifth at the end of the usually so-called exposition (now called development - by me).

perhaps i am way off - but this is my interpretation.

Offline pianistimo

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Re: Beethoven Op. 2 No. 1
«Reply #30 on: August 18, 2007, 05:48:39 AM »
sorry to write so much - but i was wondering if perhaps beethoven gave himself an 'out' by writing things in larger leaps (ie 7th chord arpeggiation) rather than a tight melody line for the first few motives.  to me - this opened up the sonata to be an outlet for random modulation rather than 'typical.'  utilizing the thirds of sevenths later on to go to remoter regions than possible with a typical melodious theme.

haydn had realized this possibility to modulate further by incorporating developmental material in expositions, also.

Offline pianistimo

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Re: Beethoven Op. 2 No. 1
«Reply #31 on: August 18, 2007, 06:01:44 AM »
when you get to development II (after the repeat sign) - you see only 1 bar of the first motive - and four bars of it's answer.  surprisingly it stays more firmly rooted in each modulation in this second development than the first.   the second theme being repeated three times in it's same key (rather than moving up or down a whole step or whatever choice).

i think this is to utilize the opposite idea of moving up by whole steps, now.  moving from the top note of Gb to Ab.


Offline mlckitt

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Re: Beethoven Op. 2 No. 1
«Reply #32 on: August 18, 2007, 02:10:08 PM »
To me, the fermata creates dramatic atmosphere. Is the kind of musical language (partly?) "derived" from the German literature?

It seems that Beethoven wanted to shock the audience, a sudden silence is always a powerful tool. My teacher always asks me to  hold my hands in the air and feel the silence. Only did I feel it's time to go that I move my left hand to the note G.

now whenever I heard someone playing the bar ignoring the fermata over the rest, I feel uncomfortable.

The dynamic marking in mm7-9 of the exposition is different from mm 107-109 in the Recap, I'm always wondering what Beethoven was trying to do.

Oh....I just know they are 100 bars apart.....

Offline rallestar

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Re: Beethoven Op. 2 No. 1
«Reply #33 on: August 18, 2007, 03:48:27 PM »
rallestar - nice job on the analysis...but you're right, it is rather superficial. Keep in mind though, it is NOT only yours that is...in fact, most analyses are. So, now that we have gone through the traditional approach of assigning everything labels, let's actually discuss what all of this MEANS.

As I said before, let's begin with the opening 8 bars.

We have:
- a 2 bar basic idea on I
- the same idea repeated on V6/5
- fragmentation of the basic idea
- total liquidation into a formulaic cadence

So, let's begin with some simple questions about craft:

1) How does Beethoven build momentum into the cadence? There are 4 or 5 specific things to look for here.

2) What is the purpose(s) of repeating the 2-bar basic idea? If you have William Caplin's book on form in the instrumental music of Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven, it should be written there.

3) What is the function of the fermata?

Once we answer these basic questions of simple craftsmanship we will move onto the subject of artistic choices particular to this opening and why Beethoven did certain things.

Momentum into cadence: Rhytmic intensity, the rising arpeggios, the rising "top-note" (Ab, Bb, C).

Purpose of repeating twobar idea: Well, symmetricality and clearliness was very much "in" in classical era music, so this may have to do with it. Making the theme more familiar too, perhaps. I haven't read that book though.

The fermata I agree intensifies the drama - It surprises us that the theme doesn't arrive, then it suddenly comes.

Offline ramseytheii

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Re: Beethoven Op. 2 No. 1
«Reply #34 on: August 18, 2007, 10:31:29 PM »
I wish I owned the book, but you should find Alfred Brendel's essay about Beethoven's compositional technique, because he describes this very sonata opening as it relates to Beethoven's general approach to composition.  Brendel termed the phrase, "foreshortening," which describes Beethoven's tendency of dividing even-numbered phrases into smaller and smaller bits. 

So for instance, and I hope I do this idea a bit of justice (go read the book), the first four bars make a separable unit; the next two use only the tail end of that idea to create a sense of intensification, through piano range and through phrase "foreshortening" to reach a climax. 

Walter Ramsey


Offline pianowolfi

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Re: Beethoven Op. 2 No. 1
«Reply #35 on: August 18, 2007, 11:53:20 PM »
I wish I owned the book, but you should find Alfred Brendel's essay about Beethoven's compositional technique, because he describes this very sonata opening as it relates to Beethoven's general approach to composition.  Brendel termed the phrase, "foreshortening," which describes Beethoven's tendency of dividing even-numbered phrases into smaller and smaller bits. 

So for instance, and I hope I do this idea a bit of justice (go read the book), the first four bars make a separable unit; the next two use only the tail end of that idea to create a sense of intensification, through piano range and through phrase "foreshortening" to reach a climax. 

Walter Ramsey



I have read that and I very much agree, this approach is very helpful to me.

Offline mcgillcomposer

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Re: Beethoven Op. 2 No. 1
«Reply #36 on: August 19, 2007, 12:45:18 AM »
I wish I owned the book, but you should find Alfred Brendel's essay about Beethoven's compositional technique, because he describes this very sonata opening as it relates to Beethoven's general approach to composition.  Brendel termed the phrase, "foreshortening," which describes Beethoven's tendency of dividing even-numbered phrases into smaller and smaller bits. 

So for instance, and I hope I do this idea a bit of justice (go read the book), the first four bars make a separable unit; the next two use only the tail end of that idea to create a sense of intensification, through piano range and through phrase "foreshortening" to reach a climax. 

Walter Ramsey


Walter,

I have read Brendel's essays on music, including this one, and you are correct; this is the exact process that Caplin (and many before him, including Schoenberg) talk about. What Brendel calls 'foreshortening' Caplin calls 'fragmentation'. It is a just a matter of which terminology one prefers. Thanks for bringing it up. :)
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Offline mcgillcomposer

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Re: Beethoven Op. 2 No. 1
«Reply #37 on: August 19, 2007, 12:49:20 AM »
Some VERY good answers so far. In fact, I think if I put what all of you wrote together, we have most of the information we need to move on. Rather than commenting individually (except in special cases) I will normally just post one reply that discusses what each of you found out, and reveals anything that you have not yet discovered.
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Offline pianistimo

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Re: Beethoven Op. 2 No. 1
«Reply #38 on: August 19, 2007, 01:12:58 AM »
sounds good!

Offline mcgillcomposer

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Re: Beethoven Op. 2 No. 1
«Reply #39 on: August 19, 2007, 01:14:40 AM »
1) How does Beethoven build momentum into the cadence? There are 4 or 5 specific things to look for here.

We had some good responses to this question, so I think it is OK to reveal the answer. I am by no means "perfect" so if you think there is anything that I have missed, PLEASE let me know. I just ask that you don't argue for the sake of arguing (surprisingly, it seems to be a vocation for some); if you truly have something to say, then it is a different matter. Moving on...

The following things were pointed out:

- "foreshortening"/"fragmentation" which creates 'a sense of intensification' to use Walter's own words

- rhythmic intensity (this is a by-product of fragmentation, but you are correct, the turn figure is the fastest rhythmic unit in the basic idea and it is increasingly prevalent)

- rising arpeggios (I believe you are referring to the grace notes and then the climactic rolled f minor chord @ ff). This goes with the rising melody line that rallestar pointed out (Ab, Bb, C)...note how Beethoven highlights the importance of its rise by successivey increasing the interval from the grace note (minor 6th C-Ab, minor 7th C-Bb, finally the octave C-C [within the f minor rolled chord]).

There are a few very important notions that were missed:

- harmonic rhythm (Beethoven increases the harmonic rhythm from 2 bars, to 1 bar, to half a bar moving into the cadence).

- rising bass line (a rising bass line is a dramatic gesture on its own, but when accompanied by a rising soprano, it creates an even greater sense of momentum).

In relation to the harmonic rhythm, also note the pacing of the main melodic line (quasi-'Schenkerized')...we have Ab (2 bars) - Bb (2 bars) - Ab (1 bar) - Bb (1 bar) - C (1 bar) ... play this in a related rhythm on the piano (ex. quarter quarter eighth eighth eighth). It will give you a sense of the overall phrase.

Now, what do we notice from all of this? The height of tension is achieved BEFORE the cadence, and in this context, the cadence serves as a release in tension. This should give you a hint for the third question (fermata) which I will let linger a little longer.

Great work!
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Offline pianistimo

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Re: Beethoven Op. 2 No. 1
«Reply #40 on: August 19, 2007, 01:32:01 AM »
great help.  never really thought of harmonic rhythm before and had to wrap my head around it. 

say, did cpe back ever utilize this fermata idea - or was this a new thing beethoven was introducing?  a sort of 'let's get the seeds for the motives going in the first couple of lines.'  the tempest is like this, too.

it seems to me a gentle way of speaking to someone.  to alert them of your presence - and then begin speaking more.  it's like his right hand is speaking to his left hand.  the left hand then takes off.  was he doing a puppet show with himself?

Offline mcgillcomposer

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Re: Beethoven Op. 2 No. 1
«Reply #41 on: August 19, 2007, 01:35:10 AM »
2) What is the purpose(s) of repeating the 2-bar basic idea? If you have William Caplin's book on form in the instrumental music of Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven, it should be written there.

Let's glance at rallestar's answer:

"Purpose of repeating twobar idea: Well, symmetricality and clearliness was very much "in" in classical era music, so this may have to do with it. Making the theme more familiar too, perhaps. I haven't read that book though."

1 - familiarity - this is not only present in the classical era, but is a general musical principle. Part of a composers job is to create and fulfill (or deceive) expectations. This cannot be done if nothing in the music is familiar or memorable. Not to get into a huge debate on avant-garde music, but this is ONE of the reasons so much of it is unconvincing. N.B. that avant-garde does NOT = modern.

2 - clarity - This is definitely one of the reasons, but it requires an explanation that goes a little beyond the word 'clarity'. By repeating the basic idea, Beethoven creates a boundary; in other words, when the listener hears the repeat, s/he now knows the confines of the basic idea. Had Beethoven only played it once and gone on with something totally different, the listener would have no idea where one idea ends and another begins.

3 - Let me quote from William Caplin's book here with my notes in [ ] to guide you:

"At this point we can observe the third significant effect of repeating a basic idea. Immediate repetition [of the 2-bar basic idea] within a presentation [the 8-bar opening] has the result of separating the individual ideas from each other. At the end of the phrase [the end of the repetation...after the 2-bar idea has been presented twice], we do not have the impression that thematic closure (or "cadence") has been achieved. On the contrary, the strongly ongoing quality created by a presentation [a 2-bar basic idea followed immediately by its repetition on a different harmony, usually the dominant] generates demand for a continuation phrase [mm. 5-8], one that will directly follow, and draw consequences from, the presentation."

So, in a nutshell, by repeating the basic idea, the composer makes the listener feel that something MUST follow. It would be strage and seemingly 'unnatural' to repeat the 2-bar idea and cadence.

Good work everyone, and especially to rallestar on this question.
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Offline pianistimo

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Re: Beethoven Op. 2 No. 1
«Reply #42 on: August 19, 2007, 01:40:25 AM »
i liked the term 'the presentation.'  i shall call it this from now on.  clarity, familiarity - i can remember that! 

i have to go and read bedtime stories.  will be right back.  carry on.

Offline mlckitt

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Re: Beethoven Op. 2 No. 1
«Reply #43 on: August 19, 2007, 02:33:35 PM »
I could hardly believe that just a few bars and notes would involve such analysis and discussions.... :o

Offline mcgillcomposer

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Re: Beethoven Op. 2 No. 1
«Reply #44 on: August 19, 2007, 09:33:17 PM »
3) What is the function of the fermata?

The main reason for this is most easily thought of as a question of a basic rule of harmony: that of false relations. Although this case is not a textbook example of a false relation, since we are simply going from the major version of a harmony to its minor version, it can be easily thought of in these terms. False relations are prohibited because, to the ear, the harsh dissonance of a minor second is realised in retrospect; in essence, it sounds like a wrong note.

By adding a fermata here, Beethoven gives us quite a dramatic pause (as one member noticed) that prepares the listener for the change from E natural to Eb (pianistimo noticed this). The Eb after a half cadence on V is quite a special event for this period, and Beethoven, being a great composer, knew it had to be highlighted somehow. Without the fermata, the listener would not even have time to realise that something special was happening...it would just go by as if it were just as viable as a C major harmony.

It does seem, however, that Beethoven's method of highlighting this passage with a fermata is a bit excessive for its importance. While this is true on a local scale, Beethoven was obviously thinking of the movement as a whole. Think about how much this piece is coloured by the minor mode; even the theme in Ab major is coloured by an Fb (flat 6) giving it a minor quality. Essentially, the minor V chord that occurs after the fermata is Beethoven's way of foreshadowing what is to come. As Charles Rosen notes, it is remarkable how little Beethoven has to change the second theme (Ab major) in the recapitulation to make it into its minor counterpart (f minor). Beethoven has almost achieved complete fusion between the major and minor modes...that's quite something.

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Offline mcgillcomposer

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Re: Beethoven Op. 2 No. 1
«Reply #45 on: August 19, 2007, 09:38:50 PM »
Now, what use is all of this if we can't apply it to our playing?! The next step involves combining information about Beethoven's compositional choices (things he did that Joe Blow wouldn't have) and interpretation. On other words, how should our hightened knowledge inform our interpretation?

So, let me make the first change to the music, and you tell me why Beethoven's version is better.

Just take the first 4 bars. I want an f minor chord in root position on the downbeat of measure 1 (not the measure with the pick-up). This will make the 4 bars more symmetrical: bar 1 - chord on downbeat, bar 2 - 3 off-beat chords, bar 3 - chord on downbeat, bar 4 - 3 chords on off-beat.

The version I propose is by no means horrible, but why is Beethoven's so much better?

Think away...  ;D
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Offline pianistimo

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Re: Beethoven Op. 2 No. 1
«Reply #46 on: August 19, 2007, 10:04:29 PM »
it would give an accent on the downbeat making it a musical joke.  you know - everything wrong.  like with mozart's own music joke.  everything is exactly symmetrical.  forcing the main beat to be the first - omitting any sort of upbeat.

why did you have to quote charles rosen? 

say - do you find it somewhat tempting to just start analyzing the so-called exposition in the key of c minor (after the fermata)?  i mean - it's almost like he's tempting one to think of each chord in any of three keys.  f minor - c minor - or Ab major at times.  in that case, this piece is far more complex than charles rosen gives it credit for.  it's not the notes or the themes - it's how he moves from here to there with them harmonically.

ok.  i don't want to appear smug - but charles rosen makes things appear one-dimensional.  'beethoven seems to merge major and minor keys.'  yes.  but how?  certainly not by only picking a theme with major and minor notes in it - but moving about in sturm und drang fashion.  i want to hear charles rosen speak about that.  mr. charles rosen.

*swordfights with imaginary figure in the air.

there's a lot of sturm und drang in haydn's symphonies.  also, mozart's marriage of figaro.  haydn's creation.  and beethoven's eroica symphony.  the use of specific sturm und drang techniques.

Offline pianistimo

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Re: Beethoven Op. 2 No. 1
«Reply #47 on: August 19, 2007, 10:44:07 PM »
here's some of my notes from a grad class:

'almost all music has a form or structural logic of some sort.  indeed, composers provide formal logic in their music so that the listener will better be able to follow the course of events.  in this sense at a low-level form can be likened to punctuation in a language.  without punctuation, it is very difficult to understand the meaning of a text, although the sound of individual words may still have some basic appeal....

if the composition is based on a ABA arrangement or form, the B section will be set off from the A section by a wide possibility for musical changes.  for example, the melody of the B section might be in a register other than that of the A section; the key (tonality) or mode of the B section might change (thus B-flat major in the A section and E-flat major in the B section or simply D major in the A and D minor in the B; the contrasting section might be placed in 3/4 while the A is in 2/4 or there may be smaller rhythmic values used in the contrasting section; the B section might include a countermelody which does not appear in either of the flanking A sections; or the A sections might be played by strings with winds added for contrast only in the B section.  any or all of these changes...the more changes that occur - the stronger the contrast and, of course, visa-versa.'

now, this particular teacher put sonata form under 'developmental forms' to emphasize that it is much more than ABA form we are looking at here.  he uses capital P to indicate Primary Theme Group (or THeme I) and S for Secondary Theme Group.  Also, he used T for transition.  and K for closing section. 

'the exposition and the recapitulation will each include a primary theme or theme group (P), a transition (T), that produces great energy and modulates to a secondary key, a secondary theme or theme group (S) in the new key, and a closing section (K) that may be thematic, but normally functions as an extended cadential passage.  developmental techniques can occur anywhere in the form, but they are most commonly associated with the mid-section or development area.  the development will conclude with a retransition area (RT) that will lead back to the tonic for the beginning of the recapitulation.  unlike the exposition, in the recapitulation both the primary theme (P) and the secondary theme (S) are found in the tonic key.'

ok - everyone probably knows all that - excepting the terminology which I really like (it saves time!!!).

Offline pianistimo

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Re: Beethoven Op. 2 No. 1
«Reply #48 on: August 19, 2007, 10:53:06 PM »
here's my notes for what to look for when analyzing music:

rhythm and meter:
1. is there a tempo written in or implied?
2. does the tempo change?
3. does the notated meter fit the music?
4. is there any evidence of rhythmic motives that might help organize a piece?
5. what can you say about the following rhythmic/metric techniques?
a. proportional meters
b. shifts of meters
c. syncopation
d. hemiola
e. rhytmic ostinato
f. pfundnoten

Offline pianistimo

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Re: Beethoven Op. 2 No. 1
«Reply #49 on: August 19, 2007, 10:57:12 PM »
melody:
1. is there a borrowed melody (cantus firmus)
2. if so, what is the source of that melody?
3. how is the cantus firmus used?
4. what is the relationship between the original and it's source (omission, addition, and alteration?)
5. what can you say about the following melodic factors?
a. range and tessitura
b. generally conjunct or disjunct
c. presence of evocative intervals
d. scalar vs. triadic
e. generally diatonic or chromatic degree and use of chromaticism
f. evidence of embellishment, ornamentation, and paraphrase
g. key and /or mode
h. frequency and strength of melodic cadences
i  use of sequence and variation in the melody
j. balance and symmetry of phrase units
k. evidence for interrelationship between melody and text such as reflection of speech rhythm inflections (text declamation) or text expression (text painting or mood painting)
i. repeated notes in the melody line