The Book of Musical Knowledge: The History, Technique, and Appreciation of Music, Together with Lives of the Great Composers, for Music-Lovers, Students and Teachers

By Arthur Elson | Go to book overview

XXXV
THE SONATA-ALLEGRO FORM

THE works of Domenico Scarlatti, Galuppi, Paradisi, Kuhnau, and C. P. E. Bach brought about a gradual development of the sonata, until it took shape in the hands in Haydn and Mozart. The distinctive quality of the sonata consists in the shape of its first movement; and as this first movement is generally an allegro, the shape is mentioned here as sonata-allegro form. The sonata consists of various movements, whose contrasts of style admit of much artistic excellence. The same excellence is found in the form used in the first movement.

The sonata-allegro form is first of all divided into three main parts. These are the exposition, or first playing of the themes used; the development, or building up of a tonal structure from the material in the themes; and the recapitulation, or return of themes. If desired, a middle part, of new material, may be substituted for the development; but composers do not usually make this substitution without some good reason.

The themes used in a sonata may be much freer than those of a song-form. It is this variety of material in sonata themes that makes the piano sonatas of Beethoven so great. There is practically no limit to the power and expression that the composer may put into such themes.

The principle of contrast is introduced in the exposition; for the themes, three in number, may be of different styles. In general, the chief theme, or first theme, is expected to be bold and resolute in character, while the second theme should be more lyrical and tender. Between the two is a short tributary passage, of modulatory character. After the second theme comes a short closing theme, usually of brilliant style. The exposition is always marked for repeat, so that the themes may be clearly suggested to the hearer; but the modern tendency is to do away with many repeats. In piano sonatas the exposition is still usually given twice, though in symphonies the repeat is optional with the conductor.

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The Book of Musical Knowledge: The History, Technique, and Appreciation of Music, Together with Lives of the Great Composers, for Music-Lovers, Students and Teachers
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations xi
  • Part I - The Evolution of Music 1
  • Part I the Evolution of Music 2
  • I - Primitive and Savage Music 3
  • II - Greece and Rome 13
  • III - Early Christian Music 23
  • IV - The Minstrel Knights 31
  • V - The Schools of Counterpoint 42
  • VI - The Harmonic Style 58
  • Part II - The Great Composers 67
  • Part II the Great Composers 68
  • VII - Bach 69
  • VIII - Handel 77
  • IX - Gluck 85
  • X - Haydn 91
  • XI - Mozart 98
  • XII - Beethoven 108
  • XIII - Schubert 120
  • XIV - Weber and Romanticism 128
  • XV - Mendelssohn 135
  • XVI - Schumman 143
  • XVII - Chopin 151
  • XVIII - Italian Opera 158
  • XIX - Cherubini and French Opera 170
  • XX - Berlioz and Other Frenchmen 179
  • XXI - Liszt and His Circle 188
  • Part III - Musical Form 307
  • XXXI - Melody and Appreciation 309
  • XXXII - Figures and Phrases 317
  • XXXIII - The Song-Forms 324
  • XXXIV - The Rondos 331
  • XXXV - The Sonata-Allegro Form 336
  • XXXVI - Other Sonata Movements 341
  • XXXVII - The Orchestral Forms 345
  • XXXVIII Dances and Piano Styles - Dances and Piano Styles 351
  • XXXIX - The Vocal Forms 360
  • XL - The Contrapuntal Forms 366
  • Part IV - The Instruments 376
  • XLI - The Piano and Its Predecessors 377
  • XLII - The Organ 384
  • XLIII - The Voice 391
  • XLIV - The Violin 398
  • XLV - Other Bowed Instruments *
  • XLVI - Plucked-String Instruments 413
  • XLVII - Flute and Piccolo 420
  • XLVIII - Oboe and English Horn *
  • XLIX - The Bassoons 433
  • L the Clarinets 438
  • Li Horns, Trumpets, and Cornets 444
  • Lii Trombones and Tubas 450
  • Liii Instruments of Percussion 456
  • Part V - Special Topics 463
  • LIV - Some Famous Pianists 465
  • LV - Some Famous Singers 474
  • LVI - Violinists and Violin Music 483
  • LVII - Orchestration 491
  • LVIII - Conducting 496
  • Lix Acoustics 503
  • LX - How to Read Music 515
  • LXI - Modern Music 538
  • Appendix 569
  • Index 581
  • Index to Supplementary Chapter 606
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