The evolution of sonata-form design in Ludwig van Beethoven's early piano sonatas, WoO 47 to Opus 22
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This dissertation is an analytic and stylistic survey of sonata-form movements in Ludwig van Beethoven's early piano sonatas. Schenkerian theory is adopted as the primary methodology to illuminate questions of design and tonal structure posed by Beethoven's sonata-form movements. The dissertation takes the middle-period sonatas as a core repertoire and traces how Beethoven’s compositional traits as seen in the early-period works evolve toward the middle period. Detailed analyses of sonata-form movements in the Bonn and early Vienna period incorporate available sources (such as analyses by Schenker, Roger Kamien, Janet Schmalfeldt, and others) and serve as the basis for stylistic generalizations about Beethoven’s handling of sonata-form design and other compositional devices. This work shows that the structural designs and compositional devices in the early-period works evolve or innovate toward the middle-period models. Critiques of views on sonata form by Schenker, Charles Smith, Peter Smith, David Neumeyer, and others are integrated into a discussion that seeks a reconciliation of the traditional theory of sonata form and a generation of “ideal” Schenkerian formal models. The examination of this repertoire through the Schenkerian analytic method produces the following conclusions: 1) Beethoven had a limited set of prototypes for deep-level sonata-form structure, but diversified them through various compositional devices eventually to create polished and unique sonata-form designs; 2) from his youth toward manhood, Beethoven’s tendency to rely on a limited number of compositional devices and to use them insistently becomes more and more obvious; and 3) Beethoven’s striking handling of formal, tonal, and motivic aspects in the middle-period sonatas, which distinguishes them not only from the earlier ones, but also from works by other contemporary composers, has deep roots in the early Viennese and even Bonn-period works.