Schubert's Large-Scale Sentences: Exploring the Function of Repetition in Schubert's First-Movement Sonata Forms
From early biographies to twentieth-century analyses, repetition has long been a focal point of both critiques and scholarly inquiries of Schubert's instrumental music. Claims of structural inadequacy in Schubert's sonata forms reinscribed his marginalized position as a composer of instrumental music. The practical ramifications of such claims went beyond public perception: in the twentieth century, some editors in musical publishing houses began to take an active role in correcting perceived foibles in Schubert's instrumental music, posthumously revising his sonata forms. Contemporary discourse on Schubert and his idiom works to recast repetition in a positive light, arguing that repetition has inherent value and that it is not Schubert's repetitions that are faulty; rather, the fault lies in analytical/philosophical frameworks through which repetitions are judged.
Martinkus' research addresses repetition from as as-yet unexplored perspective, considering its formal function in Schubert's sonata forms. Specifically, she argues that many repetitions function within the context of an overarching, large-scale sentence - a unique formal type that expands the proportions of a Classical, eight-bar sentence to upwards of thirty bars. These large-scale structures exemplify the nineteenth-century shift away from the relative brevity of Classical precursors in favor of expanded form, thus inviting new modes of listening. This formal type would eventually flourish over the course of the nineteenth century, underpinning many composers' strategies for formal expansion.
Caitlin Martinkus is an assistant professor of Music Theory at Virginia Tech. Her research interests include the music of Franz Schubert, musical form in the nineteenth century, and historical and contemporaneous theories of musical form. She has presented research on these subjects at the annual meeting of the Society for Music Theory, the European Music Analysis Conference, Music Theory Mid-Atlantic, and Music Theory Midwest.
Martinkus will be discussing her work with Sylvester Johnson, Director of the Center for Humanities. Please join us for this engaging talk by clicking the "more information" link below. The livestream can be viewed and will be archived on the center for Humanities YouTube channel.
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