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Thread: Cyclic form in classical works

  1. #61
    Senior Member fluteman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KenOC View Post
    As always, a matter of definition! In the OP I had in mind the use of a theme across movements that would be instantly recognizable (Franck’s D-minor Symphony is an example). Thus the return of the Scherzo’s theme in Beethoven’s 5th would qualify, but the slightly more subtle use of the 4-note rhythmic motif in all four movements would not.

    Others will have other definitions, of course.
    What is instantly recognizable to me and what is instantly recognizable to you may not be the same thing. If by "instantly" you mean upon first hearing, with no prior experience or familiarity with the composer's music or style in which it is written, and no ear for harmony, counterpoint and thematic structure and development, then that is not the way I and many others listen to any of the music discussed in this thread. For me, great music rewards repeated listening and careful attention to subtle details.

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    Senior Member EdwardBast's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hammeredklavier View Post
    I say this again, why then, do we consider Beethoven's 5th symphony cyclic? G-G-G-Eb is not even used the same way tonally in the 3rd movement. So whenever Beethoven does that Ba-ba-ba-bam on one note, he's considered as doing cyclic technique . How convenient.
    So in this way Appassionata is also cyclic?

    Are you going to explain to us now how Beethoven's op.57, op.110 are cyclic?
    The Fifth is cyclic by the thematic quotation between the scherzo and finale alone and the fact that the two movements proceed without break. The fact that the “Fate motive” (henceforth … _ ) appears first, at every crucial juncture, and nearly everywhere else in the first movement, assures that any other prominent iteration of the motive later in the work will be heard in relation to it. It’s a simple matter of emphasis, salience and dramatic significance. Additionally, the . . . _ motive in the scherzo is the initial and principal motive of its theme, just as it was in the first movement. And like its counterpart, it appears at the most dramatically significant points in the structure — in the crescendo transition to one of the most dramatic finales in the history of the symphony, right before the triumphant major-key opening using trombones, and before the recapitulation. Once again, emphasis, salience, and dramatic significance. The rhythmic motive is also the initial and principal motive of the finale’s second theme. Schumann’s imitation of Beethoven’s procedure in his Fourth Symphony and Violin Sonata in A minor shows that other composers got it.

    Edit: Picking up on Woodduck's point below about thematic quotes having a point: The point of the "Fate motive" recurring right before the finale is that a reminiscence of a dark past sets in high relief the finale's glorious, triumphant C major, illustrating how far the work has traveled expressively. The sounding of the motive before the recap carries the threat that the dark past will return, thus creating dramatic tension until very near the end of the symphony.

    Opus 57 is unified by the “Fate motive,” in this case, from b6 to 5. It’s the most critical and salient motive of the first movement and its semitone descent is a principal motive of the finale theme. (Emphasis and salience) But its influence is also reflected in the most important tonal/harmonic events of the sonata. In the first movement the crucial action of both the development and coda is the attempt to establish the second theme in the key of the submediant, Db major. In both cases the harrowing intervention of the “Fate motive” drags us back through the dominant. Motion between C and Db in the bass destabilizes the recap of the principal theme. The semitone motion also underlies the unusual move to Gb in the principal theme, and sequential progressions by submediant relationships (b6) account for much of the movement’s harmonic motion and its key relationships. The slow movement, in D-flat major, accomplishes what the first movement’s development and coda failed to do: establish a major mode contrast in the submediant. But in the transition to the finale Db is destabilized and dragged down into the tonic. It’s the same destabilizing motion as in the first movement.

    In Opus 110 the fugue subject of the finale is based on the opening theme of the sonata — emphasis, salience and dramatic significance.

    To put it in dramatic terms: Your example of a secondary phrase from the minuet in the "Jupiter" allegedly transformed in the finale is like an extra coincidentally wearing the same hat as the hero. In all of the Beethoven examples it is the hero (or villain) performing the same kinds of actions in a different hat.
    Last edited by EdwardBast; Mar-04-2020 at 00:34.

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  4. #63
    Senior Member fluteman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EdwardBast View Post
    To put it in dramatic terms: Your example of a secondary phrase from the minuet in the "Jupiter" allegedly transformed in the finale is like an extra coincidentally wearing the same hat as the hero. In all of the Beethoven examples it is the hero wearing a different hat.
    Hardly. The fourth movement of the Jupiter is very much like a ship finally sailing into its familiar home port after a long voyage on rough seas. The use of what you quite correctly call a "secondary phrase", really a minor transitional theme bobbing around in the middle of an ocean of harmonic instability, as the main pillar of the mighty final movement, is what helps create that "we've finally come home" effect, and create it with the very first notes of the movement. Of course, the fourth movement continues to draw from material earlier in the symphony and make everything meld together in the most elaborate yet convincing way. To call all of that "coincidental" is, in my view, to misunderstand one of the most glorious moments in all western music. Beethoven himself certainly understood the importance of Haydn and Mozart to his own music, very much including the Jupiter symphony.
    Last edited by fluteman; Mar-03-2020 at 18:22.

  5. #64
    Senior Member Phil loves classical's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hammeredklavier View Post
    Figure 1 = variants of "rising dotted-rhythm" figure

    Figure 2 = variants of "cross" theme

    Figure 3 = variants of [Figure 1 developed]

    Figure 4 = variants of "C-D-F-E"

    Figure 5 = variants of [Figure 4 inverted]


    I. Allegro vivace ( Figure 1 , Figure 2 )
    Attachment 131126

    II. Andante cantabile ( Figure 1 , Figure 3 )
    Attachment 131127

    III. Menuetto ( Figure 4 , Figure 5 )
    Attachment 131114

    IV. Molto allegro ( Figure 2 , Figure 3 , Figure 4 , Figure 5 )
    Attachment 131128
    Attachment 131122
    I don't quite hear much of a connection myself in your examples to the first theme of the last movement of Jupiter, especially your example of the Menuetto, the use was entirely different in the development, and in the harmony. But you missed one that I've ALWAYS did find a strong connection to the opening theme of the 4th movement. For me it is not coincidental, the 2nd instance is note for note in a slightly different rhythm.

    Untitled.png

    I've also found the first part of the last movement of Mozart's Piano Concerto 20 a strong pointer back to the angst of the first movement, especially after the more tame slow movement.
    Last edited by Phil loves classical; Mar-03-2020 at 19:15.
    "Forgive me, Majesty. I'm a vulgar man. But I assure you, my music is not.“ Mozart

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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    I had to re-listen to the "jupiter," having not done so for a long time, to find these examples of motivic reminiscence that some here are calling "cyclic." There are going to be borderline or disputable cases, but I have to say that I come down on the "not really cyclic" side of this one. I said in post #38 that I don't take "cyclic form" to mean mere thematic resemblances between different parts of a work. Plenty of music exhibits such resemblances. When a work quotes itself, the quotation has to make some sort of point - to feel significant - not merely serve to lend the work unity. The motif in question in the "Jupiter" is a secondary one, an introduction or bridge to the main theme of the minuet's trio section; it's quickly gone, and I don't feel that there's any specific purpose served by turning it into the main theme of the finale. I don't picture that "ship coming home to port after a voyage" that flutemen says he does. If Mozart had made something important of the motif on its first exposure - repeated it, transformed it, developed it - its re-use would certainly be an example of cyclic form.

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  9. #66
    Senior Member fluteman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil loves classical View Post
    But you missed one that I've ALWAYS did find a strong connection to the opening theme of the 4th movement. For me it is not coincidental, the 2nd instance is note for note in a slightly different rhythm.

    Untitled.png
    Good point. But really, they are all related, as the theme of the middle section of the Minuet is developed from the fragment of the opening theme that you have identified (thus, the theme is repeated, transformed and developed, as Woodduck wants). Then, when the theme returns at the start of the final movement, it is rhythmically similar to the developed and transformed version, but harmonically, returns to the original C major theme that opened the Minuet. All of that is typical for the mature Mozart, and numerous other examples could be cited. NB Woodduck: It is also typical of Mozart to take themes that at first seem minor, brief and unimportant and develop them in ingenious, lengthy and elaborate ways, either immediately or much later on. The Jupiter symphony final movement is probably the ultimate example.
    Anyway, these are certainly pre-Beethoven examples of what the OP was seeking. Whether they qualify as "cyclic", however that term is defined, I'll leave to others.
    Last edited by fluteman; Mar-03-2020 at 22:45.

  10. #67
    Senior Member Phil loves classical's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fluteman View Post
    Good point. But really, they are all related, as the theme of the middle section of the Minuet is developed from the fragment of the opening theme that you have identified (thus, the theme is repeated, transformed and developed, as Woodduck wants). Then, when the theme returns at the start of the final movement, it is rhythmically similar to the developed and transformed version, but harmonically, returns to the original C major theme that opened the Minuet. All of that is typical for the mature Mozart, and numerous other examples could be cited.
    That's true, that the middle was probably a transformed use of the germ in the Menuetto. I'm not a huge opera buff, but as far as I know Don Giovanni's Overture was the first I heard that made strong use of material to come later in the opera, as in the Commendatore scene. Not sure if that can be seen as cyclic, a premonition, or just an overview of some thematic material.
    "Forgive me, Majesty. I'm a vulgar man. But I assure you, my music is not.“ Mozart

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  12. #68
    Senior Member EdwardBast's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil loves classical View Post
    That's true, that the middle was probably a transformed use of the germ in the Menuetto. I'm not a huge opera buff, but as far as I know Don Giovanni's Overture was the first I heard that made strong use of material to come later in the opera, as in the Commendatore scene. Not sure if that can be seen as cyclic, a premonition, or just an overview of some thematic material.
    Thematic recurrences in opera are an interesting topic in their own right, but they aren't relevant to the discussion of cyclic structure as raised in the OP. Rigoletto, for example, isn't called a cyclic opera.

    What greater comfort does time afford than the objects of terror re-encountered and their fraudulence exposed in the flash of reason?
    — William Gaddis, The Recognitions

    Originality is a device untalented people use to impress other untalented people and to protect themselves from talented people.
    Basil Valentine

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  14. #69
    Senior Member hammeredklavier's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EdwardBast View Post
    The Fifth is cyclic by the thematic quotation between the scherzo and finale alone and the fact that the two movements proceed without break. The fact that the “Fate motive” (henceforth … _ ) appears first, at every crucial juncture, and nearly everywhere else in the first movement, assures that any other prominent iteration of the motive later in the work will be heard in relation to it. It’s a simple matter of emphasis, salience and dramatic significance. Additionally, the . . . _ motive in the scherzo is the initial and principal motive of its theme, just as it was in the first movement. And like its counterpart, it appears at the most dramatically significant points in the structure — in the crescendo transition to one of the most dramatic finales in the history of the symphony, right before the triumphant major-key opening using trombones, and before the recapitulation. Once again, emphasis, salience, and dramatic significance. The rhythmic motive is also the initial and principal motive of the finale’s second theme. Schumann’s imitation of Beethoven’s procedure in his Fourth Symphony and Violin Sonata in A minor shows that other composers got it.
    Edit: Picking up on Woodduck's point below about thematic quotes having a point: The point of the "Fate motive" recurring right before the finale is that a reminiscence of a dark past sets in high relief the finale's glorious, triumphant C major, illustrating how far the work has traveled expressively. The sounding of the motive before the recap carries the threat that the dark past will return, thus creating dramatic tension until very near the end of the symphony.
    Opus 57 is unified by the “Fate motive,” in this case, from b6 to 5. It’s the most critical and salient motive of the first movement and its semitone descent is a principal motive of the finale theme. (Emphasis and salience) But its influence is also reflected in the most important tonal/harmonic events of the sonata. In the first movement the crucial action of both the development and coda is the attempt to establish the second theme in the key of the submediant, Db major. In both cases the harrowing intervention of the “Fate motive” drags us back through the dominant. Motion between C and Db in the bass destabilizes the recap of the principal theme. The semitone motion also underlies the unusual move to Gb in the principal theme, and sequential progressions by submediant relationships (b6) account for much of the movement’s harmonic motion and its key relationships. The slow movement, in D-flat major, accomplishes what the first movement’s development and coda failed to do: establish a major mode contrast in the submediant. But in the transition to the finale Db is destabilized and dragged down into the tonic. It’s the same destabilizing motion as in the first movement.
    Now, now, Mr. EdwardBast.. (sigh).. You're doing it again. This is exactly the kind of thing I would describe as (by borrowing the words very well put by Woodduck) :
    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    I don't know what else you've said here because the post is too long to read, like many of your posts. I don't want to feel like I'm back in college. I was ecstatic to graduate and kept cheering inside about never having to endure another professor droning on.


    But believe me, I DO think there is a unifying element in Beethoven Op.57. (Now, isn't that a surprise)

    The outer movements do share a striking common trait.
    And that common trait is "quoting Fantasie K475" - Hahahahaha - isn't that wonderful! Beethoven demonstrating yet again he has good taste.



    Fantasie K475: Piu allegro
    op57a.jpg
    Sonata Op.57: I. Allegro assai
    op57b.png

    Fantasie K475: Tempo primo
    op57c.png
    Sonata Op.57: III. Allegro ma non troppo
    op57d.png

    btw, this is an interesting article:
    "... Mozart’s Phantasie transcended the historical and stylistic moment in which it was created, thus what Mozart began was finished by Liszt in his piano composition Sonata in B-minor (1852–1853). It is perfectly reasonable that Mozart’s Phantasie served as a model to Franz Liszt for a typological definition of his one-movement sonata cycle. ..."
    < W. A. Mozart’s Phantasie in C minor, K. 475: The Pillars of Musical Structure and Emotional Response >

    Quote Originally Posted by EdwardBast View Post
    In Opus 110 the fugue subject of the finale is based on the opening theme of the sonata — emphasis, salience and dramatic significance.
    Johann Sebastian Bach-orly-jpg

    Well I think the opening theme of the Beethoven sonata resembles that of Mozart C major sonata K545 and the fugue subject of the Beethoven sonata resembles that of the B major fugue of Bach WTC II more. But I'll still respect your view that "In Opus 110 the fugue subject of the finale is based on the opening theme of the sonata". See? I respect your views.

    Quote Originally Posted by EdwardBast View Post
    To put it in dramatic terms: Your example of a secondary phrase from the minuet in the "Jupiter" allegedly transformed in the finale is like an extra coincidentally wearing the same hat as the hero. In all of the Beethoven examples it is the hero (or villain) performing the same kinds of actions in a different hat.
    Ok.. In dramatic terms, what do you think you are? A villain? Or a good guy? Me? I think I'm actually a good guy inside- deep down, I respect other people's views. But on the outside I appear/pretend as a bad guy and say naughty jokes such as post #53 to get my points across.
    Last edited by hammeredklavier; Mar-04-2020 at 08:03.

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    Senior Member EdwardBast's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hammeredklavier View Post
    But believe me, I DO think there is a unifying element in Beethoven Op.57. (Now, isn't that a surprise)

    The outer movements do share a striking common trait.
    And that common trait is "quoting Fantasie K475" - Hahahahaha - isn't that wonderful! Beethoven demonstrating yet again
    None of the passages you quote have any significant resemblance to the Mozart. You really haven't demonstrated competence at this sort of analysis.
    Last edited by EdwardBast; Mar-04-2020 at 05:34.

    What greater comfort does time afford than the objects of terror re-encountered and their fraudulence exposed in the flash of reason?
    — William Gaddis, The Recognitions

    Originality is a device untalented people use to impress other untalented people and to protect themselves from talented people.
    Basil Valentine

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  17. #71
    Senior Member hammeredklavier's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil loves classical View Post
    I've also found the first part of the last movement of Mozart's Piano Concerto 20 a strong pointer back to the angst of the first movement, especially after the more tame slow movement.
    Yes. Again, take a look at:
    [ 2:36 ]

    2m36s
    Last edited by hammeredklavier; Mar-04-2020 at 12:17.

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    Senior Member hammeredklavier's Avatar
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    ^I can see your point, but the practice of refraining from establishing keys in tonic/dominant to establish keys more in submediant/mediant was common in Beethoven's time. For example. The second movement of Schubert's B minor Symphony, the tonic is E major, the second theme in the key of the submediant, C sharp minor. The first theme of the first movement is B minor, the second theme is G major. Look at the use of the circle of fifths in the outer movements of Mozart's G minor Symphony, for example. Do their emphasis on tonic/dominant, and the way the movements develop on their relationship make the movements "cyclic"? From what I understand, establishing the key in the relative major for the second theme in a minor-key work and then attempting to establish the key of the theme in the submediant/mediant in the development is like 'early Romantic equivalent' to the Classical way of establishing the key in relative major in a minor-key work and then attempting to establish the key of the theme in the dominant in the development.
    "establish a major mode contrast in the submediant." - Again, this is more like early Romantic version of the Classical method of establishing contrast by use of the subdominant, (ie. 1st movement - C major | 2nd movement - F major | 3rd movement - C major ) or relative major in minor-key works (ie. 1st movement - C minor | 2nd movement - E flat major | 3rd movement - C minor )
    Beethoven's own Tempest sonata : 1st movement - D minor | 2nd movement - B flat major | 3rd movement - D minor.
    And I don't quite hear the "fate motif" in the third movement of Op.57 as you do. Maybe You could show us with the actual score where they are. (You don't have to if you don't want to. I still respect your view that Beethoven's Op.57 is cyclic.)
    And a lot of themes, motifs are created using a "semitone descent", I don't find the ones in the outer movements of Op.53 really all that strikingly similar. But again, I respect your view that they're similar.
    Last edited by hammeredklavier; Mar-04-2020 at 17:45.

  20. #73
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hammeredklavier View Post
    Now, now, Mr. EdwardBast.. (sigh).. You're doing it again. This is exactly the kind of thing I would describe as (by borrowing the words very well put by Woodduck) : " I don't know what else you've said here because the post is too long to read, like many of your posts. I don't want to feel like I'm back in college. I was ecstatic to graduate and kept cheering inside about never having to endure another professor droning on."
    But believe me, I DO think there is a unifying element in Beethoven Op.57. (Now, isn't that a surprise?) The outer movements do share a striking common trait. And that common trait is "quoting Fantasie K475" - Hahahahaha - isn't that wonderful! Beethoven demonstrating yet again he has good taste.
    See? I respect your views.
    Ok.. In dramatic terms, what do you think you are? A villain? Or a good guy? Me? I think I'm actually a good guy inside- deep down, I respect other people's views. But on the outside I appear/pretend as a bad guy and say naughty jokes such as post #53 to get my points across.
    From post #53: And what about Beethoven's Ninth—

    "Der schwer gefaßte Entschluß!"
    "I'm deaf! I can't hear my own music!"
    "Should I go back to the first movement?
    Or the second movement? Or the third movement?
    No! Not these sounds!"

    We might as well just skip that choppy introductory section of indecision and listen from "Freude bla bla.." where the real fun begins. Very dramatically significant.. Very dramatic indeed..
    a very dramatic way of decision-making, I should say. LOL.
    EdwardBast's analysis of the cyclic characteristics of Beethoven's 5th is exactly what you need to hear, but all you can do is giggle like Tom Hulse playing Mozart in a pink wig.

    "Good guys" don't need to tell other people that that's what they "actually" are. Your "respect" for other people's views - other than David C.F. Wright's idiotic ones, apparently - is obviously phony. We are not conned. "Deep down, inside," you're a provocateur and a sloppy thinker who can't recognize an accurate musical analysis when its handed to him on a silver platter.
    Last edited by Woodduck; Mar-04-2020 at 09:03.

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  22. #74
    Senior Member fluteman's Avatar
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    I think hammeredklavier's posts here are some of the best I've ever seen at TC, if one doesn't consider (or ignores) his nose-thumbing, tongue-protruding, schoolyard "I know you are but what am I" style of debate humor, and just consider his analysis and specific examples. A little research on my part has revealed that many of the examples he gives of thematic relationships in Mozart and Beethoven are discussed in the relevant literature, and even many concert program notes, including the one he picked out and I discussed at greater (no doubt tedious) length involving the third movement minuet trio and the opening theme of the fourth movement of the Jupiter symphony.

    Out of curiosity, I checked to see if any published musicologists have picked up on the thematic relationship I pointed out without his help in the D-major viola quintet, K. 493 between the opening theme and the penultimate strain of the minuet. Not surprisingly, they've caught that one too. But I don't cite published musicologists as proof that hammeredklavier and I are right about the existence of these relationships. The proof comes from the fact that I learned about these thematic relationships by listening to the music and hearing them, not by reading about them in scholarly texts, which I try to avoid, or anywhere else.

    If people hear something in music, that is sufficient to demonstrate that it is there, so there is no point arguing about that. What remains is to analyze why people hear what they hear. Much as I dislike citing scholarship, I wish more of you would read Charles Rosen's book that I cited above, The Classical Style, for a much more thorough and articulate discussion of the issues raised in this thread, including some of the specific examples, though that is not the main purpose of the book. Rosen responds thoughtfully and convincingly (and politely!) to many of the arguments made here.

  23. #75
    Senior Member hammeredklavier's Avatar
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    I was bored, so I decided to talk a bit more to elaborate on the points I made sometime ago on this thread about Fantasie & sonata K475 & K457, an intriguing Classical successor to the Baroque fantasie & fugue.

    { Excerpts from [ Fantasie K475 ] , [ sonata K457 first movement ] , [ sonata K457 second movement ] , [ sonata K457 third movement ] are denoted [ F ] , [ S1 ] , [ S2 ] , [ S3 ] respectively in the top-left corners. }
    k475b.png
    k457f.png
    k457e.png

    [ Fantasie K475 ]
    [ K457 III. Allegro assai ]

    I think these "4-note motif" figures (in chords) in the "Più allegro" section of the Fantasie and the third movement of the sonata (right before reaching their final episodes) exhibit certain gestural similarities. I personally like the way they're used in the third movement of the sonata better; I find it to be more "Classically chaotic".

    [ Fantasie K475 ]
    [ K457 I. Molto allegro ]
    [ K457 III. Allegro assai ]

    Another interesting commonality I find in the fantasie and the outer movements of the sonata is the "sigh-like expression", that is, when each of these movements is at the climatic midpoint of drama, (ex. around the end of the development section), there is a diminished seventh chord collapsing down to a dominant 6/5 chord.

    -----

    k475f.png
    k457d.png

    [ Fantasie K475 ]
    [ K457 III. Allegro assai ]

    The last measures of both the fantasie and the sonata share the final statement "F#-G-Ab-F-G-C". The article <W.A. Mozart’s Fantasy in C minor, K. 475, And the Generalization of the Lydian Principle Through Motivic Thorough-Composition> discusses how F# plays a pivotal role in conceptually connecting the Fantasie with the sonata.
    The passages highlighted in pink also seem very similar in gesture, probably because their figures being somewhat similar, and also due to the context they're placed in, in both cases.

    Last edited by hammeredklavier; Apr-30-2020 at 10:40.

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