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Thursday, April 03, 2008

Opus Posthumous

Beethoven's Opus Posthumous definitely carries a slight weight of confusion concerning it's correct form. The argument is whether to conceive this piece as a five-part rondo, seven-part rondo, or a ternary composite. Yes, many choices, but only one decision can be made. However, this proves a difficult task considering this piece has musical aspects that pertains to each of the three previously listed forms.
Personally, I believe this piece to be a five part rondo due to the overall form, ABACA. Where is the primary confusion?

Like any ordinary five-part rondo, it begins with it's refrain, A. It's set in the key of F major and ends on a PAC. This leads right into the B section. Nothing quite out of the ordinary yet. We then view a transition back into the refrain, or A2. A2 ends on a PAC, and then enters the C section, which happens to be in the key of vi, or D minor. This section creates the most confusion. Moving into a the key of vi is primarily a seven-part rondo characteristic. Another confusion that approaches the listener is the length and the discontinuity of the section. However, I bellieve the second section of C is basically a continuation of the section, but portrays differences. Lastly, there is a retransition back into the key of F Major.

Of course, as the book suggests, a little more analization reveals another type of breakdown. When splitting this piece into each of it's sections, each comes out as a rounded binary form. And when a piece contains a mixture of forms it is known as composite ternary. However, the continuous return to A solidifies the notion of a rondo.

Lastly, there is a differnce concerning phrase rhythm between the sections. A has a standard eight-measure rhythm, that complies with a standard period. However, sections B and C vary. Section B is a ten measure phrase. While section C contains a main period that continues for 11 measure. This creates a sense of hypermeter in the piece. Once again, it brings out the unusual characteristics of the piece and just leads the listener to more confusion. However, I don't think there is anything to be quite confused about. I believe Beethoven prepares his audience for variety in his piece by choosing unusual chord progressions in A.


Scott said...

Good thoughts on form. "Sense of hypermeter" doesn't make sense here. All pieces have a sense of hypermeter, the question is whether the hypermeter is regular or irregular (irregular in this case).

Scott said...

Oh, but don't forget performance ideas.