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Feldmahler 1 Feldmahler 02 November 2006 An Analysis of the First Movement of Mozart's K.465 in Relation to the Idea of Rhetoric and Oration I. Introduction While there are several analytical studies of the famous introduction to Mozart's Dissonant Quartet K.465, few of these studies elaborate on the relevance of this introduction to the rest of the first movement. Yet, if we are to follow the idea of music as rhetoric as propounded by Enlightenment writers with regards to instrumental music, the most natural and crucial follow-up analysis would be to see how the ideas in this extraordinary introduction are stated and elaborated upon in the rest of the piece. An notable exception to this is Mark Evan Bonds, who did indeed do a brief analysis of K.465 in his book. Yet, not only is it extremely brief, it also seems to miss the main idea of the piece itself, which rather weakens this example in his argument for the idea of rhetoric in classical music. To remedy this analytical defect, we will first briefly discuss and define this idea of rhetoric which we are trying to measure K.465 against. We will then engage in a detailed analysis of the first movement of K.465, and find out whether these ideas also apply to K.465. II. The Idea of Rhetoric in Instrumental Music Koch wrote in his Musikalisches Lexikon of 1802 that rhetoric is "the name given by some teachers of music to that body of knowledge belonging to composition by which individual melodic sections are united into a whole, according to a definite purpose" (qtd. in Bonds 53), or, as later other writers put it, "unity in variety" (Bonds 98). Indeed, as Bonds notes, rhetoric in most 18th century Feldmahler 2 writings is closely tied to "broader conceptual issues of laige-scale form" (Bonds 53). And in this issue of large-scale form, the Hauptsatz occupies a dominant position. Kirnberger defines Hauptsatz as "a period within a musical work that incorporates the expression and the whole essence of the melody" (qtd. in Bonds 94). The implications of this idea of a Hauptsatz seems twofold. On one hand, it supports the idea of "unity in variety", which Bonds calls "one of the most important aesthetic doctrines of the eighteenth century" (Bonds 98). On the other hand, it also supports to a certain extent the idea of music as oration,' in the sense that the Hauptsatz can be seen as the thesis of the oration; and since "ideas ... flow out of the Hauptsatz " (Marpurg, qtd. in Bonds 102), the rest of the piece can also conceivably be paralleled with the rest of the oration, all of which is in some sort of relation to the Hauptsatz . More specifically, Mattheson argues that an entire musical work "must observe the same six parts that are normally prescribed for the orator, namely: the introduction, the narration, the proposition, the proof, the refutation, and the closing, otherwise known as: Exordium, Narratio, Propositio, Confirmatio, Confutatio, and Peroratio" (Bonds 85-86). Here we must note the dichotomy between the general ("unity in variety") and the specific (structure of an oration). Yet this is surely far from a black and white situation; rather, it can be seen as a spectrum, with the general at one end, and the specific at the other end. It is indeed from this vantage point of rhetoric that we approach the analysis of K.465, to confirm, first, whether the piece conforms to the idea of rhetoric at all, and if it does, the degree to which it conforms with the specific in the idea of rhetoric. However, as Bonds notes, "one's evaluation of the Bonds notes that Mattheson "calls the musicalwork a Klangrede . an oration in notes" (Bonds 85). Feldmahler 3 relationship among thematic ideas in any individual work or movement depends largely upon one's broader belief in (or skepticism toward) the very legitimacy of such connections" (Bonds 101). I will not pretend that I am completely neutral on this subject, but will instead allow the analysis to speak for itself. III. The Idea' Bonds notes that there are two motifs, which he calls motifs "a" and "b",^ that are expanded upon and varied throughout the movement, yet he fails to note the crucial importance of the relationship between the two motifs on the entire piece. Indeed, if there is one Idea that governs the entire movement, it would be this relationship, and not the two motifs themselves. This is not to say that the two motifs are trivial (they are not), but rather that the two motifs are themselves merely manifestations, rather than the essence of, this Idea. The most obvious manifestation of this Idea is indeed quite direct: the amount of sheer contrast between the introduction and the movement proper is astounding. Not only do we emerge from dissonance into consonance, minor into major, but there is also a peculiar change from a % meter to common time. This wealth of contrasts between even the general sense of the introduction and the movement proper should give hints as to the identity of this fundamental Idea that Mozart attempts to expound in this movement (if not the entire work). As Simon Keefe points out, the analogy of "darkness to light" is a common description of the contrast between the introduction and the movement proper in ^ While Kirnberger notes that "the Hauptsatz is generally called the 'theme'" (Bonds 94), we will use the word Idea as a synonym for the Hauptsatz in the following analysis to avoid confusion. ^ According to Bonds, motif "a" is a "descending line", and "b" an "ascending line" (Bonds 102-103). Note that for the purposes of this analysis the rhythm of the motif will not be considered, in order to concentrate on the motif, and avoid an overly broad scope of discussion. Feldmahler 4 secondary literature (90). It is also, however, a metaphor that seems to fit with the Idea very well. It is also in the context of this contrast between daricness and light that we can fuUy understand the relationship between Bonds's two motifs. Indeed, to even say that there are two motifs that govern the piece would be to completely miss the point, for there is only one motif. What Bonds calls the "b" motif is the antithesis of the "a" motif: not only is it technically the retrograde or inversion of "a", it is treated as an antithesis throughout the movement, as we shall see shortly. And it is precisely this that determines the entire structure of the piece, rendering the notion of analyzing the piece in terms of sonata form superficial, and only useful insofar as it gives us the most general sense of structure. It must also be noted that this motif itself is not arbitrary. It is, insofar as the Idea is concemed, the best motif. For in both this Idea and its corresponding motif, we see religious/philosophical influences on music. In many western religions (not the least of which being Christianity), we see many instances of dualism: for example, heaven vs. hell, light vs. darkness. Another parallel in this dualism would be ascent vs. descent, and the idea of the ascent to heaven (or the light) and the descent to hell (or darkness). When we realize this, the reason for the choice of this particular motif (and its antithesis) on which to expound the Idea becomes obvious. IV. The Introduction of K.465 Now that we have a general sense of the Idea that drives this piece, it is necessary to find out how this idea structures the entire piece, and we will begin this task by examining the introduction itself. Due to the popularity of this introduction with music theorists, there are a variety of excellent analysis of the Feldmahler 5 harmonic implications and cross-relations in the introduction/ However, this is not the style of analysis that we will take, since we are interested more in the motivic aspect of the introduction.^ Bonds, among many other writers, noted the usage of the descending motif in the chromatic cello line from m. 1 to m. 12. '' However, there is another layer in the music that is at least as important; and this would be the lines of the three other instruments. Indeed, all of them start with a short version of the descending motif, followed immediately by the ascending motif, which not only neatly ends that particular phrase, but also lays out the Idea. Even the cello itself alternates between the descending and ascending motifs: immediately after the ending a long exposition of the descending motif on m. 12, the ascending motif is introduced in m. 13, only to be contradicted again one bar later by the descending motif. During this time, the other instruments have not been idle; the dense polyphony is chalk full of alternating statements of both ascending and descending motifs, mostly in a strong chromatic version of the motifs. All this comes to a temporary halt on m. 16, where the music enters into a limbo-like state, until a heavily modified diatonic version of the ascending motif appears in the cello in m. 19. Yet another version of the ascending motif appears in both violins a bar later (m. 20), and which also brings the "* Here I refer the reader to William DeFotis, "Rehearings: Mozart, Quartet in C, K. 465." 19* Century Music 6.1 (1982): 31-38, and Simon P. Keefe, "An Integrated 'Dissonance': Mozart's 'Haydn' Quartets and the Slow Introduction of K.465." Mozart-Jahrbuch 2002 (2002): 87-103. ^ A clarification of the exact meanings of the "ascending" and "descending" motifs is in order. It is more accurate to call them the ascending and descending variations of the motif, but is inconvenient here due to the wordiness, and so "ascending motif and "descending motif are used instead, even though it is reaUy the same motif. Also, both mean a scalar line (the strong version being chromatic and the weaker diatonic), and does not include arpeggios, unless it is a clear variation of some version of the motif (ex. the arpeggiated variation of the version of the ascending motif stated in the first theme, which is used in the development section). The exclusion of normal arpeggios is due to the fact that they are common as harmonic accompaniment during that period. * The score used is from theA^ewe Mozart-Ausgabe. Feldmahler 6 introduction to a close. We can see in this introduction a very clear presentation of the fundamental Idea that governs the entire piece, namely the juxtaposition of ascent and descent, or in a broader sense light and darkness. Another interesting way to analyze the effect of this passage with regards to the idea of rhetoric is presented by Keefe. Since this introduction would be the equivalent to the exordium in an oratorio, Keefe quotes Cicero as distinguishing between two types of exordium : the direct principium . and the indirect insinuatio . The introduction would be an exemplary model for the insinuatio approach, since "the voices creep in quietly one by one, gradually and almost imperceptibly increasing the number of parts from one to two, three, four, with unobtrusive subjects avoiding large leaps or faster rhythms" (Kierkendale, qtd. in Keefe 99), which is exactly the description of insinuatio in music.^ Both methods of analysis agree that this introduction can be strongly paralleled to the exordium in an oration. V. The Exposition of K.465 What can be called the "first theme" of K.465 is essentially many repetitions of a diatonic version^ of the ascending motif strung together. This also dictates the general sense of the entire section of music until the entrance of the "theme" in the dominant at m. 56; here the ascending motif dominates completely, although there are a few statements of the descending motif (see the nice alteration in the violins between the ascending and descending motifs from the second half of m. 35 to m. 37^). Even the ^ The whole paragraph prior to this footnote is a summary of Keefe's argument on p. 99. ^ By "diatonic", I mean a scale in which no two adjacent intervals are both semitones, and by "chromatic", everything else. ^ One should note here the use of piano with the descending motif and sforzando with the ascending motif, suggesting the dominance of the ascending motif. This will be reversed in the second theme, as we shall see shortly. Feldmahler 7 transition, starting at m. 44 with the cello, is dominated mostly by the ascending motif, though it does introduce what Bonds call the "not terribly significant variation of a previous idea" (103). While perhaps being not terribly significant, it does contribute to another weak "two voice"^" variation of the ascending motif that will be introduced later on in the second theme. The second theme starts on m. 56 with a noisy and bold statement of the thesis in the first violin, to be immediately followed by the weak "two voice" variation of the ascending motif. This version of the ascending motif is rather hesitant; it is not as self-affirming as other versions especially in this context since not only is it not a straight scalar line, it is also played mostly piano, in contrast to the descending motif, which is played forte.'' The harmonic progression that accompanies it from m. 60 to m. 67 is also quite unstable, with the movement around the circle of fifths. This destabilization of what was a stable ascending motif can be seen as a reaction to the bold entry (or reentry, if the Introduction is included) of the descending motif itself. This opposition of descending and ascending motifs does not get resolved in this portion of the second thematic area; instead, the "limbo" music comes bade for one measure at m. 72, functioning similar to an introduction to the second half of the second thematic area. The second half of the second thematic area starts, motivicaUy, on the second half of m. 73. While this might at first seem to not be in any way a splitting point structurally (and may still not be; m. 72 seems like a much better splitting point), it is motivicaUy of crucial importance; a strong chromatic version of the descending motif is almost simultaneously introduced in all four instruments. This is also, '" "Two voice" because it can be seen as two ascending motifs a third apart compressed into one line. '' As noted before, this is a reverse of what happened in the first theme (see footnote 9 above). Feldmahler 8 of course, the first introduction of the chromatic descending motif since the Introduction itself. And the significance of this is not lost on the rest of the exposition; almost immediately after this chromatic descending motif entrance,'^ there are statements of the descending motif everywhere (and uninterrupted too), until m. 86. This is similar to the dominance of the ascending motif in the first thematic area; here it is the descending motif asserting its dominance over the ascending motif. This dominance of the descending motif, however, is broken by the same instrument that originally introduced it, in m. 87, with a sweeping forte statement of the ascending motif that spans more than 2 octaves. As can be expected, the music enters "limbo"" again for three measures afterwards (m. 88-91), while cadencing strongly on G. After the cadence (m. 91), we enter a section that can be called the "closing theme", since in this section the descending and ascending motifs are synthesized. We see a return of the same variation of the ascending motif used in the first theme, but this time, due to the contrast with previous statements of the ascending motif in the second thematic area, seem not as assertive: not only is it played piano, it also uses plain eighth notes, in contrast to the triplet eighths or sixteenths used in the second thematic area for statements of both the ascending and descending motifs. Also note that the descending motif comes back and alternates with the ascending motif a few bars into the section, breaking whatever dominance the ascending motif had left (if it had any in this section at all). This culminates in the section-climax at m. 103, when both ascending and descending motifs are stated together, with two instruments playing each, a perfect synthesis. Note also the poignant A-flat in the ^^ There is indeed one bar of "limbo" music (m. 76) right after the statement of the chromatic descending motif, but this can easily be seen as a phrasing requirement. '^ This, unlike the previous "limbo", does not use the "limbo" idea from the Introduction, but it does have the same sense of "hovering", with minimal (linewise, not harmony- wise) sense of direction. Feldmahler 9 cello; not only does it seem like an echo of the A-natural/A-flat cross-relation in the Introduction (there is a high A-natural in the first violin the 8* note directly before), it also further highlights the importance of this section-climax. VI. The Development The "development" section of K.465 starts on m. 107 and ends on m. 154. Interestingly, the entire section can be called a retransition in the sense that one of its main purposes is to transition from the synthesis back to the ascending motif dominated first theme. Indeed, amid all the "limbo-like" ideas and harmonic instability, we only see statements of the ascending motif, both the first theme version of it, and an arpeggiated variation of that version, with not a single statement of the descending motif.''' This section, in the oration schema, can be seen as something similar to the proof; something to reassert the dominance of the ascending motif. VII. The Recapitulation The recapitulation starts in m. 155, and mainly follows the setup of the exposition. However, like all recapitulations in sonatas, there are changes, and it is these changes that we will concem ourselves with in this section, especial^ changes affecting the motifs. The main changes in the recapitulation are not directly related to the motifs; they are mainly concemed with the enrichment of harmonic texture (doubled lines, increased polyphony). However, the transition is mostly cut out (except for the cadence at the end), rather than transposed or modified, which ^* There are some arpeggiated downward movement at the end, but they are not directly related (as a variation) to any version of the descending motif, and can be seen in this context as an aesthetic way of closing the development section: it sets up a little contrast so that the return of the first theme sounds "fresh". Feldmahler 10 considerably lessens the juxtaposition of the ascending and descending motifs. Its absence also lessens the expectation of the second thematic area since there is no prolonged buildup. Of course, the fact that the descending motif (i.e. second thematic area) comes back in the tonic key also contributes to this. The beginning of the coda (which starts on m. 227) is the same as the development section, which may well be intentional: to make it seem like there is a repeat. However, it quickly veers away, into what seems almost like a summary of the development, with prolonged harmonic instability for the first 5 bars (along with statements of a fairly strong semi-chromatic version of the ascending motif, and some "limbo" music), followed by a strong cadence in the tonic (m. 235). Then we have what can be seen as a celebration of the dominance of the ascending motif over the descending motif (or light over darkness), with multiple forte statements of the arpeggiated version of the ascending motif that was used in the development section. Yet, the ending is of synthesis; note, in m. 241 to m. 244, that even though the most immediately notable line is the first violin playing the ascending motif, both the second violin and viola play the descending motif in half notes. VIII. Relationship of Analysis to the Idea of Rhetoric After this analysis, the relationship of K.465 to the idea of rhetoric should be clear. Indeed, one can even call K.465 an exemplary example of the idea of rhetoric; the coherence of the music, motivically speaking, is stunning. It is also with this analysis that we may conclude, not only that ideas in the rest of the piece "[flow] out of the Hauptsatz [or Idea]" (Bonds 102), but that it does so to the point that the Idea itself dictates the form, rather than follow it. Also to be noted here is the fact that, even though the piece does not follow the oration schema exactly, it does have the main elements of it: the exordium/narratio Feldmahler 11 (introduction), propositio (first theme), confirmatio (development section'^), confutatio (second theme), and the peroratio (synthesis, i.e. coda). One may well say, after reading this analysis, that the idea being postulated as the main Hauptsatz of the piece is too general; indeed, scales of all sorts can be seen in many, perhaps most, classical pieces. In defense, I will draw attention to the amount of scalar motion in this piece, and the position in the structure of the movement that they occupy. Both what can be called the "first" and "second" themes are heavily scalar, the first being a series ascending scales strung together, and the second being a strong (loud) and long descending scale followed by a "timid" ascending response. While scales are indeed commonly used during the classical period, few works exhibit such strict scalar motion in their very themes; for example, none of the other five Haydn Quartets"' have such strictly scalar themes, especially with such clear scalar contrast (ascending vs. descending) between the first and second themes. Circumstantial evidence, especially seemingly common ones, cannot prove the intention of the composer, but when enough point to the same source, it is impossible for us to ignore it completely. Indeed, it can even be asked whether it is necessary to prove intention; for, as Mattheson puts it, "experienced masters proceed in an orderly manner, even when they do not think about it" (qtd. in Bonds 87). ^^ The development section can be seen as related to the proof ( confirmatio ) in the sense that it reasserts the dominance of the first theme, after it was displaced by the second in the second thematic area. 1^ K.387, 421 (K6.417b), 428 iK^A21h), 458, and 464. Feldmahler 12 Works Consulted Bonds, Mark Evan. Wordless Rhetoric: Musical Form and the Metaphor of the Oration. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1991. DeFotis, William. "Mozart, Quartet in C, K. 465." 19"' Century Music 6.1 (1982): 31-38. Eisen, Cliff. "Mozart's Chamber Music." The Cambridge Companion to Mozart. Ed. Simon P. Keefe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003. 105-117. Keefe, Simon P. "An Integrated 'Dissonance': Mozart's 'Haydn' Quartets and the Slow Introduction of K.465." Mozart-Jahrbuch (2002): 87-103. LaRue, Jan. "The Haydn-Dedication Quartets: Allusion or Influence?" The Journal of Musicology 18.2 (Spring, 2001): 361-373. Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus. Neue Ausgabe sdmtlicher Werke: String Quartet K.465. Ed. Ernst Fritz Schmid. Kassel: Barenreiter, 1958. Vertrees, Julie Anne. "Mozart's String Quartet K.465: The History of a Controversy." Current Musicology 17 (1974): 96-114.

[1] Mozart’s “Haydn” quartets are the subject of this recent Cambridge Music Handbook by University of Bristol scholar John Irving. This 105-page introduction to an important yet rather neglected set of works is a welcome addition to the musicological repertoire. The “Haydn” quartets include six string quartets written between 1782 and 1785: K. 387 in G; K. 421 in D minor; K. 458 in B-flat, “Hunt”; K. 428 in E-flat; K. 464 in A; and K. 465 in C, “Dissonance.” Written primarily in the galant or free style, they exhibit the mature Mozart’s ability to blend melody, harmony, and counterpoint into exquisite works of great beauty. Irving has taken on the difficult task of blending history and analysis into a short handbook. He divides his task into six main sections beyond the opening: 1) Mozart’s Early Quartets, 2) Genesis of the “Haydn” Quartets, 3) Steps to Publication, 4) The Individual Quartets: A Synopsis, 5) Some Theoretical Perspectives, and 6) Reception of the “Haydn” Quartets.

[2] In its earliest (1991) volumes in this series, Cambridge University Press regularly included the following statement:

Cambridge Music Handbooks provide accessible introductions to major musical works, written by the most informed commentators in the field. With the concert-goer, performer, and student in mind, the books present essential information on the historical and musical context, the composition, and the performance and reception history of each work, or group of works, as well as critical discussion of the music.

The author of this particular volume seems to have been unaware of these laudable guidelines or their implications, and the Press seems to become less certain about the avowed purpose of this series. Irving’s book, while well-written, concise, and factually relevant, neglects to take into consideration the audience of “concert-goer, performer, and student” for which these volumes were intended.

[3] Irving chooses to address a scholarly audience, beginning a summary discussion of the “texts” or manuscripts of these works as early as page 2. Besides the fact that such material has been given extensive scholarly treatment in the collected edition (Neue Mozart Ausgabe) and other sources,(1) its inclusion does not bode well for an amateur audience member who is probably not particularly concerned with a missing crescendo marking in the first edition which long since has been corrected. The serious scholar to whom such musicological minutiae is intended would be more likely to get his or her information directly from the detailed critical sources, and later sections of this handbook, those which further expound upon the autograph score and subsequent textual revisions, will pose additional obstacles for student readers. The author’s recommendation of reliable and available sources for the works, however, is extremely helpful to the anticipated student or amateur reader. Including more of this type of material would better suit the nature of a handbook.

[4] Many other sections of the volume are similarly dedicated to the devotee of the musicological method. The entire chapter titled “Steps to Publication” discusses in detail the publishers, their rivalries, and their disputes in the 1780s. Although interesting to the scholar, in the context of a short volume on six long quartets, the mass of this material seems excessive. Issues relating to performance practice, which are mentioned only in passing, might be more accessible and relevant to the performer and concert-goer. More information about Mozart’s life during the composition of these works would also have been beneficial. Historical information is discussed in only two chapters, “Mozart’s Early Quartets” and “The Genesis of the ‘Haydn’ Quartets.” Although the former contains quite a collection of anecdotes and descriptive material about the early quartets, the latter’s mere seven pages, five of which are dedicated to the aforementioned information on autographs and textual revisions, give the reader only the slightest impression of the historical context of these quartets. Students and concert-goers relish this type of historical detail. Although it is true that the vast number of biographies on Mozart have discussed his life at length, a handbook of this sort should contain at minimum a brief overview of the composer’s life during the relevant period. Moreover, further information on early performances and their reception would greatly interest many readers.

[5] Irving obviously possesses an impressive quantity of knowledge about Mozart, his works, and their study. He does, however, seem overly concerned with the passions of the musicologist--the work’s manuscripts and textual sources--rather than the issues that a broader audience would find important and interesting.

[6] The majority of this book (approximately one-half) is dedicated to a brief synopsis of each movement of each quartet. Individual movements are accorded approximately one to two pages of description, with the more important or theoretically impressive movements being treated in more depth. In a later chapter on theoretical perspectives, some of these movements are evaluated anew at greater length, particularly the first movement of the “Hunt” quartet, K. 458. One might imagine that such an overview section would be ideal for the student or concert-goer. In reality, each movement is treated so briefly and with such an exclusive focus on one particular analytical technique that it becomes too reductive even for the student. Irving is primarily concerned with form and, in particular, sonata form as defined by Charles Rosen in his Sonata Forms (1980). Rosen’s underlying premise is that sonata-like aspects are pervasive throughout almost all classic forms from the typical first-movement sonata form to that of a minuet. Irving adopts this proposition, albeit with some disclaimers. When discussing his use of conventional sonata-form vocabulary, he states:

Of course, such terminology only developed during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and would not have formed part of Mozart’s technical vocabulary. . . . This is not the place to enter into a discussion of the eighteenth-century theoretical alternatives (which actually confuse more than they clarify.) Provided that they are not understood too literally, the terms . . . do not unduly falsify Mozart’s sonata structures. (p. 25)

Irving is correct in stating that Mozart would not have understood sonata form as many understand it today. He may, however, do his readers a disservice by entirely excluding the theory of form and composition that Mozart himself knew, claiming it would “confuse more than . . . clarify.” Irving thus reinforces the myth that the composer of the classic period thought about sonata form just as did the Romantics. To argue such an idea greatly obscures the true intent of the eighteenth century composer: to write beautiful melodies.

[7] The eighteenth century theorist Johann Georg Sulzer defined “sonata” as “an instrumental work consisting of two, three, or four consecutive movements of different character, and one or more instrumental parts that are not doubled.”(2) In the eighteenth century, “sonata” meant nothing more than the title of a multi-movement instrumental work. What Irving and Rosen think of as a three-part “sonata form” was a non-existent idea during Mozart’s time and stems instead primarily from the mid-nineteenth century writings of A. B. Marx. Composers and theorists of Mozart’s day discussed two-part forms or double-reprise forms. Such a form was described by the theorist August Kollmann:

In its outline a long movement is generally divided into two sections. The first, when the piece is in major, ends in the fifth of the scale, and the second in the key. . . . Each section may be divided into two subsections, which in the whole makes four subsections. The first subsection must contain the setting out from the key to its fifth in major. . . . The second subsection comprehends a first sort of elaboration, consisting of a more natural modulation than that of the third subsection. . . . The third subsection comprehends a second sort of elaboration, consisting of digressions to all those keys and modes. . . . The fourth subsection contains the return to the key, with a third sort of elaboration, similar to that of the first section.(3)

Kollmann, along with other important theorists such as Heinrich Christoph Koch, clearly recognized the sonata form as a bipartite construction. Although many theorists of the time mention the existence of second or subsidiary themes, the division is not as rigid or well defined as the prescription set out by A. B. Marx and solidified through Rosen and Irving. A two-part flexible understanding of sonata form that is guided by key area rather than thematic contrast and recurrence is much more appropriate for an eighteenth century work and in no way more “confusing” than the more familiar but historically inaccurate, overly schematicized and formulaic counterpart taught in most music classes and embraced by Irving. His scholarship on textual sources seems at odds with this ahistorical approach to analysis.

[8] Irving also emphasizes form and its resulting structures as the most important aspect of an eighteenth-century piece of music. The evidence from treatises and letters shows the eighteenth-century theorist more concerned with melody and its figuration than with harmony or any large-scale structure. Genius was considered to be in the formation of a beautiful melodic line, not in a simple ordering of material. Mozart himself said in 1786, “Melody is the essence of music.”(4) In a similar vein, Sulzer stated, “[Melody] is the essence of a composition; the accompanying voices serve only to support it. . . . Thus it is futile to ask whether melody or harmony takes precedence in a composition. Without question the means is always subordinate to the goal.”(5)

[9] Clearly, theorists and composers of the era were most concerned with creating a good melody. The majority of their time was dedicated to constructing melodies based on the numerous common and recognizable figures and rhetorical devices of the day and elaborating them in one’s own unique style.(6) Although many years have passed since that era, the performer of today also is still primarily concerned with how to play a specific melody beautifully and in the proper style. And while the average concert-goer of any era may be oblivious to an extended prolongatio  of the subdominant, he or she is quite likely to exit the concert hall whistling a memorable Mozartean melody.

[10] Because Mozart and the theorists of his time determined melody and its analysis vital to composition, and because performers and concert-goers of today also tend to be most interested in melody, the book might have better served both musicology and lay audiences by focusing less on the bare outlines of sonata-form analysis. The sections where Irving breaks out of the “keys and themes” mold-his section on theoretical perspectives and a chapter describing the “Reception of the ‘Haydn’ Quartets” are among the most successful. Irving does discuss rhetoric, figures and what he calls “topicality” in the first movement of K. 458. Well-versed in these somewhat tricky concepts, Irving explains quite clearly the eighteenth century rhetorically-influenced style of composition and, in a particularly outstanding description of K. 458, how many Mozartean listeners might have perceived this first movement. It is unfortunate that Irving only applied this type of analysis to one movement. Had he extended these techniques to all the quartets in his “synopsis” section, this handbook would have been greatly enriched.

[11] Although his explanation of rhetoric is quite good, Irving’s applications of these ideas to music seem somewhat contradictory to the ideas of eighteenth-century theorists as described by Mark Evan Bonds in his book Wordless Rhetoric: Musical Form and the Metaphor of the Oration.(7) Irving takes the view that inventio, or the invention or inspiration of compositional material, is based primarily on harmony and harmonic constructs, contradicting the importance of melody expressed by theorists and composers. Likewise, Irving’s analysis of the Andante of K. 464, a theme and variations movement, takes a limited view of the idea of expolitio -the refining of a musical idea. Drawing on Elaine Sisman’s work on Haydn’s variations, Irving defines the term as “dwelling on the same topic and yet seeming to say something ever new” (p. 67). Applying this idea to K. 464, Irving describes how the melodic contour of the melody is changed but still partially retained in subsequent variations through elements such as repeated syncopations, rhythmic continuity, and texture. (pp.67-8).

Example 1. Mozart: Quintet K. 464, Andante: Melodic Figures

(click to enlarge)

[12] Melodic contour, though important, is but a single aspect of melody. The eighteenth century listener would not necessarily hear this theme as a melody with similarly retained rhythmic figures. Instead, as I show in Example 1 in my analysis, I propose that he would hear a pattern of figures repeated over each variation. Each part of the double-reprise melody can be further divided into a subject and predicate, in a style of analysis used by Koch. The first subject outlines a question-answer I–V, V–I pattern related to the classic turn of phrase while its predicate wanders away to the dominant and cadences grandly. The second subject uses the common galant figure of the fonte.(8) In the initial theme, the first part of the fonte is emphasized while the second part is subsumed in a cadence on the dominant chord. Later variations give greater emphasis to the second part of the fonte rather than the cadence. Its predicate, which shares many features with the predicate of the first half of the theme except that it is returning to tonic, neglects to cadence properly at first. Instead, Mozart inserts a deceptive cadence and then extends the phrase an extra two bars for a final cadence. The subsequent variations, although they may wander through different modes, textures, and rhythms, retain this pattern of subject-predicate and question-answer, creating an appealing listening experience for the audience member who understands what is happening (as most eighteenth century audiences would). After defining a rhetorical set of questions and answers in the theme, Mozart shows his great skill and humor in wandering as far away from his initial theme as possible, only to return explicitly to the subject-predicate and question-answer in each variation. Irving’s analysis, although on the right track, never quite makes it into the mind of the eighteenth-century listener.

[13] Irving definitely does make it into the mind of critical theorists in his final section on reception history. This short chapter does a superb job of summarizing the multiplicity of different theoretical perceptions of these pieces throughout time. He retraces each style of critique and makes it intelligible for the average reader or student. Critics who are mentioned include Koch, Karl Friedrich Cramer, Jérome-Joseph Momigny, François-Joseph Fétis, Otto Jahn, Hans Keller, Bonds, and Maynard Solomon. The Press may be faulted for not ensuring that the text provides first names for some of even the most obscure critics, or, in the case of Bonds, for misspelling his name.

[14] On the whole, this handbook is helpful in filling an important musicological and theoretical niche. It is, however, best viewed as a scholarly monograph because of its academic tone and emphasis on “texts.” Although musical amateurs will surely find many sections difficult to grasp, all readers will find this handbook a useful aid to learning about these great masterpieces.

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Susan Mina Agrawal
2424 N. Clark #403
Chicago, IL 60614

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1. See, in particular, the 1993 critical edition edited by Ludwig Finscher and Wolf-Dieter Seiffert (Kritische Berichte Serie VIII: Kammermusik Werkgruppe 20: Streichquartette und Quartette mit einem Blasinstrument. Abteilung 1: Streichquartette Band 2.] Also valuable are several articles in the book The String Quartets of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven: Studies of the Autograph Manuscripts edited by Christoph Wolff and Robert Riggs (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1980). The most relevant articles appear in the chapters by Alan Tyson, Christoph Wolff, Ludwig Finscher, and Marius Flothuis.
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2. Nancy Kovaleff Baker and Thomas Christensen, editors, Aesthetics and the Art of Musical Composition in the German Enlightenment: Selected Writings of Johann Georg Sulzer and Heinrich Christoph Koch (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,1995), p. 103.
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3. Reprinted from Leonard G. Ratner, Classic Music: Expression, Form, and Style (New York: Schirmer Books, 1980), 217–218.
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4. Ratner, 81.
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5. Baker, 91.
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6. Ratner details many of these figures in his chapter on melody. See especially pp. 83–5, 91–4, 213–5. For a more detailed explanation of conventions, see Robert O. Gjerdingen, A Classic Turn of Phrase: Music and the Psychology of Convention (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1988).
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7. Mark Evan Bonds, Wordless Rhetoric: Musical Form and the Metaphor of the Oration (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1991). The first two chapters are particularly relevant to the subject at hand and provide an alternative to the traditional sonata form approach to eighteenth century music. An outstanding analysis of the first movement of the “Dissonance” quartet appears on pp. 102–110.
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8. See Ratner, p. 213–4 for a description and example of the fonte.
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See, in particular, the 1993 critical edition edited by Ludwig Finscher and Wolf-Dieter Seiffert (Kritische Berichte Serie VIII: Kammermusik Werkgruppe 20: Streichquartette und Quartette mit einem Blasinstrument. Abteilung 1: Streichquartette Band 2.] Also valuable are several articles in the book The String Quartets of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven: Studies of the Autograph Manuscripts edited by Christoph Wolff and Robert Riggs (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1980). The most relevant articles appear in the chapters by Alan Tyson, Christoph Wolff, Ludwig Finscher, and Marius Flothuis.

Nancy Kovaleff Baker and Thomas Christensen, editors, Aesthetics and the Art of Musical Composition in the German Enlightenment: Selected Writings of Johann Georg Sulzer and Heinrich Christoph Koch (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,1995), p. 103.

Reprinted from Leonard G. Ratner, Classic Music: Expression, Form, and Style (New York: Schirmer Books, 1980), 217–218.

Ratner, 81.

Baker, 91.

Ratner details many of these figures in his chapter on melody. See especially pp. 83–5, 91–4, 213–5. For a more detailed explanation of conventions, see Robert O. Gjerdingen, A Classic Turn of Phrase: Music and the Psychology of Convention (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1988).

Mark Evan Bonds, Wordless Rhetoric: Musical Form and the Metaphor of the Oration (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1991). The first two chapters are particularly relevant to the subject at hand and provide an alternative to the traditional sonata form approach to eighteenth century music. An outstanding analysis of the first movement of the “Dissonance” quartet appears on pp. 102–110.

See Ratner, p. 213–4 for a description and example of the fonte.

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