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Thursday, April 03, 2008

Sonatina in F major

Beethoven's Sonatina in F Major is an example of an effective application of multiple forms into one movement. The sprightly opening eight measures are repeated throughout the piece, and Beethoven labels the movement as "rondo" form, but I do not think it can fall into a specific form. It combines aspects of five-part rondo form, seven part rondo form, as well as binary and ternary.
When I first heard the piece it seemed to be A:ll B A C D C" trans A:ll. I wondered if Beethoven took the rondo form and decided to put a rounded binary in the middle just for kicks. However after analyzing the chords and the changes in key the form was easier to recognize. In repeated first section (m. 1-16) Beethoven stays in F maj. he then changes to the dominant key of C maj. in the B section (m. 17-26). He then modulates chromatically in measures 27-28 returns to the original A section in measures 29-36. In section C (m. 37-66) Beethoven changes to d min. If one divides the piece by key this is the section which leads the listener to believe it is in 5-part Rondo form. Beethoven transitions back into the final A sections in measures 67 through 74 and back into F maj. So, if you analyze the form based strictly on key the form would be A :ll B A :ll C :ll A:ll.
It is possible to see parts of Beethoven's Sonatina in seven-part rondo form. If one views the C section in three separate sections C D" C it could be possible to argue that there are seven sections and the third repeat of A has been replaced with D (m. 49-58) and repetition of the melody in measures 37 through 40 is like the repetitions of the previous sections.
However, I think it is more important to note how Beethoven combines his unique rondo with both binary and ternary forms. Section A is a parallel period every time it reappears in the piece. Sections B and C have two distinct sections making them seem like binary form. Section C stands alone as a rounded binary form. He connects these different ratios of forms with two very distinct transitions which sweep the listener in and out of the tonic key.
This piece, though confusing, is a true display of an alternate interpretation of a simple style. By combining such independent sections Beethoven created the illusion of a seven section form when really it was five. Also, by using binary and ternary forms within the sections Beethoven created a broader feeling for such a short piece and made the return of the original A section more exciting. Sonatina in F maj. takes a seemingly simple form and becomes an exception to the normal rondo conception.

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