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C O U R S E 
Exploring Beethoven's Piano Sonatas
Jonathan Biss, Curtis Institute of Music
C O U R S E   L E C T U R E 
Exposition, Development and Recapitulation
Notes taken on February 2, 2016 by Edward Tanguay
Mozart's B-flat major sonata, K333
first theme comes in the tonic, B-flat
the theme goes nowhere
it begins in b-flat major
and ends in b-flat major
it has no roll but to establish the tonality firmly
and to be extremely beautiful
second theme is established in the dominant F
two roles
establish the dominant
contrast in character
first theme is edgeless and lyrical
second theme has a backbone and gallantry behind it
the two oppositions are connected to one another
we have left home harmonically, and there have been changes in the music as a result
the sonata form is three part
the first and second themes almost always appear in the exposition and form its basis
the wilderness period
very often the most fascinating part of the sonata movement
because it is the least settled
we inevitably begin away from home on the dominant where we left off from the exposition section
then we go fishing around for the tonic
we cycle through many keys, not just F-Major but F-Minor, C-Minor, G-Minor before finally resolving dominant tonic back home
whatever happens in the development
even though in Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven there is an enormously wide variety of harmonic events and developments
no matter where we have been, we are reminded that the dominant is the chord that led us away in the first place
it does, literally, recapitulate the events in the exposition
with one key difference: we do not leave the tonic
this means that the first theme is unchanged from the exposition
but the second theme which was initially in a foreign environment now returns home
the arrival of the second theme in the home or correct key is what can be thought of as the exhale moment in the sonata form
the moment when we feel a sense of security that the conflict has been resolved
just in moving the key from dominant, where it originally was, back to the tonic, its character has been altered
this is the miracle of diatonicism and the sonata form
the sonata form has been called a pure invention of the classical era
it's worth noting that the model of moving to the dominant and then going back to the tonic does not originate in the classical period
nearly all the binary movements in baroque dance suites, allemandes, courant, saraband
what is new is the business of hearing the first theme again not in the tonic but in the dominant
the Mozart K333 example
conservative in how it hues to the model
undramatic in character
listen to the first movement
even in such a benevolent sounding work, notice how strong your need for that resolution is
the fundamental psychological essence of how we hear a sonata is contained in that tonic/dominant relationship
think of a sonata less in terms of psychology and more in terms of narrative
one of the most critical components of a successful performance is to convey the sense of a story being told
not a literal story, at least not typically, but any good performance will give the impression of events unfolding, of moving from one state into another
and this stripped down form of sonata form also implies a stripped down story: we are home, we are lost, and finally we return home again
this created a powerful framework for the classical masters
they used it over and over again because it simultaneously provided an inherently dramatic basis, and yet gave them immense creative freedom to fill in the gaps
Mozart: Alla Turca Sonata
a spectacularly odd work which defies this plan
Haydn occasionally wrote two rather than three-movement sonatas
omit the standard first movement
but by the time Beethoven comes along, the first movement of the sonata was defined very well, but also for:
piano trios
string quartettes
early classical period
the first movements are where the action is
Haydn Sonata Hob.XVI No.50
entirely traditional
but introduces the movement in the extremely remote key of A-flat-major, and uses C-major
simultaneously he asks the pianist to hold the sustaining pedal down, creating a blur effect
an example of how harmony is color
Mozart, K493
the exposition is quite traditional although Mozart gives the piece a third theme
which he often does when he wants to give the music a generosity and spaciousness
this really isn't radical, the second and third themes are similar in character and form a thematic group which collectively contrast to the first theme
but the second theme appears in no fewer than seven different keys culminating in an incredible four-voice canon where the instruments trade the theme back and forth
through the constant harmonic movement, he creates a powerful sense of instability, not just harmonic instability, but emotional instability, because none of this is theoretical because harmony is the main currency of feeling in all music, at least prior to the 20th century
Mozart, K515
here here is an immensely long exposition
the longest classical exposition of any piece prior to middle-period Beethoven
he takes his sweet time establishing the dominant
once he gets there, he includes not one, not two, but three themes on it
rather than provide a long development to make the proportions work out
he writes one which is only the fraction of the length of the exposition
but by changing the style of writing so dramatically from chordal writing to intricate counterpoint, from long periods of harmonic stasis to constant harmonic motion
he creates such a feeling of unrest, that the development more than holds up to the immensity that has preceded it
Beethoven - Sonata No. 8 Opus 13
contained with in this movement is a sonata in standard form albeit in a minor key
but is preceded by a lengthy and slow introduction
a bit unusual
but Beethoven brings with material back in two dramatic junctures in the movement
this serves to do is to create a sense of confusion-based agitation in the listener
we no longer understand how the material from the introduction fits into the grand plan
it's role is really entirely external to the sonata form
but its repeated appearances are so jarring, they create an element of suspense in what would otherwise be a very straight-forward, dramatic movement