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Thursday, April 03, 2008

Beethoven and Rondo'ed Binary Form...hehe

The second movement of Beethoven's Sonatina in F Major, while it is brief (and a little sparsely scored) the form is quite complex and a little confusing. First off, the title of the movement is "Rondo" ...but don't get too cozy...I would actually argue that this is a hybrid or a FUSION of Rounded Binary and 5 part rondo.

Looking at the first 36 measures, not the A section (F major, mm.0-16) and the B and A' sections (17-36). Notably, the A section is harmonically closed. These first 36 measures resemble Rounded Binary Form (remember ||: A :||: B A :|| ) except that the first A section is not repeated. However, since A is in fact harmonically closed, we could go one step further and call it Sectional Rounded Binary! The B section in this case modulates to V which is C Major. The return of the A material in A' (measure 29) is what makes 'rounds' off the movement.

At this point, in measure 37 Beethoven modulates to vi (d minor). I would argue that this is the C portion of the 5 part rondo form. That would typically come after the A and B sections. However, in this case we have already heard A B A' B A'. This setup may appear quite boring and repetitive, but the phrases are quite short.

Another really cool thing is that in measures 27-28 there is a 'retransition' which is a tell-tale sign of rondo form transitioning between sections. We come across another longer retransition in measures 67-74 when the piece finally returns to A.

If we were to analyze measures 37-66 alone, it would appear that we have a Simple Binary movement because of the structure ||: A :||: B :||. Finally, looking at meausures 67-94 we get a short intro/retransition followed by a parallel period (aa).

Overall, I would classify this entire movement as a sort of composite 5 Part rondo form because instead of having straight-forward ABACA organization, Beethoven takes individual sections (B and C) and expands them into little Binary Forms (Sectional Rounded Binary and Simple Binary, respectively). One of the largest factors that has led me to classify this as Rondo is largely because of the retransitioning between the sections that is not evident in Binary Forms.

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