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Scholarly article by David Lewin on rhythm and meter in Brahms' Capriccio in C major op. 76 #8

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  • On Harmony and Meter in Brahms's Op. 76, No. 8Author(s): David LewinSource: 19th-Century Music, Vol. 4, No. 3 (Spring, 1981), pp. 261-265Published by: University of California PressStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/746699Accessed: 02/02/2010 20:28

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  • first composition of importance in which these sonorities are systematically related to the principal features of the design.

    Such an argument begets another: Liszt's composition is advanced, too, in its formal im- plications. The fantasy and the fugue are here allied with a modified sonata form to produce a kind of polymorphous formal experiment, one which was not without deep impact on music after Liszt. The B-Minor Sonata of 1853 was the next major formal experiment, in which non- sonata elements were introduced into a sonata form, whereas mutatis mutandis in the Fan- tasy and Fugue a modified sonata form had been imposed upon a non-sonata formal divi- sion. Liszt's efforts did not wait long for imita- tions, particularly in the Organ Sonata on the 94th Psalm and Piano sonata in Bb Minor by Julius Reubke, composed in 1857,28 and the

    28For a brief discussion, see Newman, pp. 406-08.

    first composition of importance in which these sonorities are systematically related to the principal features of the design.

    Such an argument begets another: Liszt's composition is advanced, too, in its formal im- plications. The fantasy and the fugue are here allied with a modified sonata form to produce a kind of polymorphous formal experiment, one which was not without deep impact on music after Liszt. The B-Minor Sonata of 1853 was the next major formal experiment, in which non- sonata elements were introduced into a sonata form, whereas mutatis mutandis in the Fan- tasy and Fugue a modified sonata form had been imposed upon a non-sonata formal divi- sion. Liszt's efforts did not wait long for imita- tions, particularly in the Organ Sonata on the 94th Psalm and Piano sonata in Bb Minor by Julius Reubke, composed in 1857,28 and the

    28For a brief discussion, see Newman, pp. 406-08.

    organ works of the Weimar composers Karl Miiller-Hartung and Johann Gottlob Topfer.29 Multiple formal development was inherited also by Schoenberg in such works as Verkldrte Nacht,30 the First String Quartet, and the First Chamber Symphony. And the list could be ex- tended to other composers.

    In many respects, then, Liszt's Fantasy and Fugue was prophetic. It stands as a forceful re- newal of sonata form and the tonal system, a system not yet exhausted by Liszt in 1850, but one considerably transformed. Unlike Meyer- beer's Jean, who was manipulated, deceived, mistaken, and misled, Liszt turned out to be no false prophet. *a'

    organ works of the Weimar composers Karl Miiller-Hartung and Johann Gottlob Topfer.29 Multiple formal development was inherited also by Schoenberg in such works as Verkldrte Nacht,30 the First String Quartet, and the First Chamber Symphony. And the list could be ex- tended to other composers.

    In many respects, then, Liszt's Fantasy and Fugue was prophetic. It stands as a forceful re- newal of sonata form and the tonal system, a system not yet exhausted by Liszt in 1850, but one considerably transformed. Unlike Meyer- beer's Jean, who was manipulated, deceived, mistaken, and misled, Liszt turned out to be no false prophet. *a'

    29Examined in Milton Sutter, "Liszt and the Weimar Organist-Composers," in Liszt Studien 1 (Graz, 1977), 203-14. 30An analysis of this work as a double sonata form is pro- vided by Richard Swift, "1/XII/99: Tonal Relations in Schoenberg's Verklirte Nacht," this journal 1 (1977), 3-14.

    29Examined in Milton Sutter, "Liszt and the Weimar Organist-Composers," in Liszt Studien 1 (Graz, 1977), 203-14. 30An analysis of this work as a double sonata form is pro- vided by Richard Swift, "1/XII/99: Tonal Relations in Schoenberg's Verklirte Nacht," this journal 1 (1977), 3-14.

    On Harmony and Meter in Brahms's Op. 76, No. 8

    DAVID LEWIN

    On Harmony and Meter in Brahms's Op. 76, No. 8

    DAVID LEWIN

    In 1853 Moritz Hauptmann introduced to Western music theory the idea that the philosophical principles underlying metric structure are the same as those underlying the harmonic structure of tonality.1 While the Hegelian cast of Hauptmann's discourse has dropped out of fashion during the twentieth century, the notion that harmony and meter are two manifestations of one formal organiz- ing principle has remained very much alive in new guises. Stockhausen, for instance, pro- claimed just such an idea anew in the recent

    'Moritz Hauptmann, Die Natur der Harmonik und Metrik (Leipzig, 1853); trans. W. E. Heathcote (London, 1888).

    0148-2076/81/010261 +05$00.50 ? 1981 by The Regents of the University of California.

    In 1853 Moritz Hauptmann introduced to Western music theory the idea that the philosophical principles underlying metric structure are the same as those underlying the harmonic structure of tonality.1 While the Hegelian cast of Hauptmann's discourse has dropped out of fashion during the twentieth century, the notion that harmony and meter are two manifestations of one formal organiz- ing principle has remained very much alive in new guises. Stockhausen, for instance, pro- claimed just such an idea anew in the recent

    'Moritz Hauptmann, Die Natur der Harmonik und Metrik (Leipzig, 1853); trans. W. E. Heathcote (London, 1888).

    0148-2076/81/010261 +05$00.50 ? 1981 by The Regents of the University of California.

    past.2 I propose to discuss in this connection measures 1 through 15 of Johannes Brahms's Capriccio in C, op. 76, no. 8. The score is re- produced as plate 1 (p. 265).

    Example 1 illustrates some salient features of harmony and meter in the passage, using the bass line as a guide. To fit the middleground metric structure of the music into familiar no- tational templates, I give Brahms's rhythmic notation in reduction or diminution. A mea- sure of the piece, comprising three half notes or two dotted halves, becomes three quarter notes or two dotted quarters in the example. And a group of measures in the piece becomes a hypermeasure. The first hypermeasure, for

    2Karkheinz Stockhausen, ". .. how time passes ...", trans. C. Cardew, Die Reihe 3 (1959), 10-40.

    past.2 I propose to discuss in this connection measures 1 through 15 of Johannes Brahms's Capriccio in C, op. 76, no. 8. The score is re- produced as plate 1 (p. 265).

    Example 1 illustrates some salient features of harmony and meter in the passage, using the bass line as a guide. To fit the middleground metric structure of the music into familiar no- tational templates, I give Brahms's rhythmic notation in reduction or diminution. A mea- sure of the piece, comprising three half notes or two dotted halves, becomes three quarter notes or two dotted quarters in the example. And a group of measures in the piece becomes a hypermeasure. The first hypermeasure, for

    2Karkheinz Stockhausen, ". .. how time passes ...", trans. C. Cardew, Die Reihe 3 (1959), 10-40.

    261 261

    REHEARINGS REHEARINGS

  • 1 m. of piece= . of example 2 3 4

    m"U ,I^ 1 j J j Ij ,

  • (repeat)

    L-4 4 i 4 i : i I Jl _ J. I J. J . J-4 4 ij ^ ibetc - t. ':. "- t- REHEARINGS

    Example 2

    structural ambivalence involving the melodic functions of those tones in the bass line. Example 2, reducing example 1 to yet another metric level, focuses the issue. Does the F at the first barline of example 2 resolve as a Phry- gian second degree to the e at the second bar- line? Or is that e rather a neighboring leading tone to the F, moving back to F at the third bar- line of the figure, across the repeat?

    The Fs and es at the barlines of example 2 of course function in tandem with the governing force of F and e harmonies, already discussed, over the antecedent and consequent sections of the passage. Now all these ambivalent rela- tions serve one larger function: to present ex- pository material for a composition in C major. The C triad is notably absent; even the tonality of C is only suggested in the foreground. Nevertheless, C tonicity is implicit as a Ver- mittlung between the contending F and e events. Melodically, both e-to-F and F-to-e can function idiomatically in C. And harmonically, the F and e chords balance each other around the C on the circle of fifths: F is one step on the flat side of C, e is one step on its sharp side. When one listens to the passage as a whole in C, it is clear that e is a dominant substitute. The approach to the e