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Lyric as self-reflection: The role of the slow movement in Beethoven's works

BUCKLEY, JOANNE,MARIE,KIRKBRIDE (2012) Lyric as self-reflection: The role of the slow movement in Beethoven's works. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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The slow movement has often been overlooked by writers on the Classical style, who typically gloss over its formal and expressive intricacies in favour of sonata form analyses of first movements and finales. But closer study reveals that the slow movement may be due greater prominence – that it may even be ‘richer than the entire rest of the [multi-movement] form’. The present study seeks to redress the balance and to correct the perception that the slow movement is simply a ‘simplification’ or ‘deformation’ of sonata form types. Lyrical forms, I argue, present their own unique set of characteristics, which demand to be judged on their own terms.

Tracing the development of the slow movement through the Classical style also reveals the growing importance of the slow movement to nineteenth century composers, and suggests that Beethoven’s works represent a turning point in the characterisation of the genre. Detailed comparative analyses of Beethoven’s slow movements, alongside those by Haydn, Mozart and C.P.E. Bach, present a compelling picture of the slow movement as centrepiece, rather than parenthesis. As Dahlhaus suggests, this creates a reversal of priorities and causes us to re-evaluate our perception of Classical form: ‘The lyricism that is confined to an enclave in the classical sonata became the predominant structural principle, causing a crisis for the idea of thematic process.’

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Beethoven; slow movement; lyric; song; variation;
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Music, Department of
Thesis Date:2012
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:01 Jun 2012 10:49

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