Scholars and critics have tended to judge Schumann’s engagement with the sonata tradition with deep skepticism, notwithstanding the more positive assessments that have emerged in the past several decades.  From the perspective of a Brahms specialist who has recently turned his attention to Schumann, it is striking to encounter the contrast in the critical reception of the composers’ traditional instrumental forms.[1]  This is especially the case in light of Schumann and Brahms’s close personal relationship and the esteem with which the younger composer held his early champion.  Scholars writing on Schumann’s transformations of classical forms often characterize them as evidence either of artistic willfulness or musical misprision due to a reputed incompatibility between Schumann’s compositional proclivities and the exigencies of late eighteenth-century practice.  Brahms scholars, by contrast, have long celebrated what they perceive to be the composer’s ability to absorb historically remote modes of musical thought into a vital late nineteenth-century compositional voice.

The historicist commitments Schumann shared with Brahms were nevertheless genuine, as his declaration of his artistic desiderata made abundantly clear.  As Schumann famously put it, his chief goals as critic and, by extension, composer were

“to recall the past and its music with all the energy at our disposal, to draw attention to the ways in which new artistic beauties can find sustenance at a source so pure, —then to take up arms against the recent past as an age inimical to art, intent solely on extending the bounds of superficial virtuosity,—and finally to prepare for and help expedite the advent of a new poetic age.”[2]

There can be no doubt that Brahms’s sympathy for such a program was crucial to the immediate bond the two composers forged in the fall of 1853.  For the young Brahms, this compatibility with a leading figure in German musical life served to validate his emerging artistic identity, while for Schumann, it held out the hope of fulfillment for his artistic vision in a prodigious talent of the younger generation.  The two composers, then, shared similar creative aspirations, so much so that we can hardly attribute any differences in their critical reception to their compositional aims.  Rather, what we are dealing with is a difference in the long-term critical reception itself—a reception that, with respect to sonata form, almost inevitably has hinged on the perceived relationship to past practice.  In short, Brahms has been judged largely to have succeeded in creating instrumental forms in compelling dialogue with eighteenth-century conventions while Schumann has been judged largely to have failed.

More sympathetic responses to Schumann in the writings of, among others, John Daverio, Joel Lester, and Julie Hedges Brown have reminded us that such entrenched critical judgments may overwhelm our potential to listen to Schumann’s music “naively, sensitively, and open-mindedly,” as Schoenberg so aptly put it.  Indeed, such judgments often seem to preordain negative conclusions about the relationship of Schumann’s traditional forms to classical practice, even among scholars otherwise sympathetic to Schumann’s compositional voice.  Consider, by way of example and as an introduction to my topic today, processes of sonata exposition.  In a recent and otherwise perceptive essay on Schumann’s chamber music, Linda Correll Roesner writes of the String Quartet in A minor: “With the exception of the finale, each of the movements makes use of more-or-less ‘traditional’ tonal/formal schemes, even though these function only marginally in a Classical manner.”

Roesner takes as her chief exhibit the Quartet’s first movement, whose exposition I provide as Excerpt 1 in the score handout.  Her focus is the main sonata-form Allegro, which Schumann sets in F major following an introduction in A minor, the main tonality of the Quartet as a whole.  (I will have more to say shortly about this unusual feature and its relationship to Schumann’s characteristic practice of tonal pairing.)  Roesner bases the negative components of her characterization—her assertion that the opening sonata form has only a marginal relationship to tradition, with “tradition” tellingly rendered in scare quotes—on the assumption that tonal polarity is the driving force of classical expository procedures.  Moreover, although she clearly recognizes that a contrasting second theme is not essential to the eighteenth-century sonata, her discussion implies that a two-part exposition is not merely normative but very nearly the only option reflective of earlier practice.[3]

Unlike a classical two-part exposition in which “the second—conflicting—key is arrived at by means of a transitional passage . . . is established tonally (and often defined thematically and/or stylistically) . . . [and] is always returned to and confirmed toward the end of the exposition,” she tells us that the secondary material of m. 101 of Schumann’s quartet unfolds according to

“permutation, variation and logical extension . . . of the main thematic idea.  The passages of contrapuntal texture and the modulatory sequences give the impression of a lengthy transition even though the phrase structure remains predominantly regular.  The second tonal area (C major) is not reached until the very end of the exposition [at m. 137a].  Thematically it features yet another variant of the main theme.”

In Roesner’s view, Schumann’s strategy seems “deliberately at odds” with classical practice.  Indeed, she claims he “negates the Classical tonal hierarchy by greatly subordinating the second (contrasting) tonal area.”

But has Schumann subordinated the secondary tonal area?  Or more to the point, has he subordinated it in a manner that is at odds with classical practice?  Although Roesner is undoubtedly correct in identifying Haydn as a model for Schumann’s thematic continuity, her focus on the two-part exposition as a sole reference steers her away from the possibility that Schumann might be engaging another expository type entirely.  Perhaps instead of composing a defective two-part exposition, Schumann is exploiting the thematic and tonal possibilities of a Haydnesque continuous exposition.  Indeed, shorn of its negative characterizations and scare quotes, Roesner’s account reads like a textbook description of that eighteenth-century formal type.[4]

From this perspective, the exposition’s thematic continuity and tonal delay reflect the conversion that takes place from the transition of mm. 76-99 to the expansion section of mm. 101-137a.[5]  And this is indeed a conversion: as is often the case in eighteenth-century continuous expositions, the transition first feints at a medial caesura—the arrival on V/C at m. 99, followed by a measure of caesura-fill.  The exposition, however, declines this caesura’s invitation for the entrance of a second theme in favor of  “passages of contrapuntal texture and the modulatory sequences [that] give the impression of a lengthy transition,” that is, an expansion section.[6]

My interpretation of these characteristics as symptomatic of a continuous exposition is based in part on the jarring effect of the material that enters at m. 101 immediately after the attempted medial caesura and fill, in addition to the contrapuntal texture and instability of the modulatory sequential treatment that eventually ensues, as noted by Roesner.  The dominant passes through the four-two position during the caesura-fill so that the local C tonic enters in six-three rather than root position.  This in itself would not necessarily disavow second-theme status, but the decrescendo of the caesura-fill is answered by an unsettling subito forte and declamatory dotted rhythm at the entrance of the C six-three chord.  The result is a pointedly expectant, recitative-like six-three gesture that looks ahead to events to come rather than providing a stable initiating anchor for a second theme zone.  And once those “events to come” unfold, they heighten the instability and forward-driving character through a series of rapid tonicizations of A, D, B, and E within the rising 5-6 sequential pattern of mm. 101-117.

In light of this alternative interpretation, what Roesner characterizes as an oddly delayed secondary tonal area—the C-major entrance of the main theme at m. 137a—might instead be understood to follow Haydn’s practice of coordinating the tonal resolution of the expansion section with the thematic arrival of closing material.  Indeed as is typical for a closing theme, the material at m. 137a both refers back to the main theme and sits over a tonic pedal.  Like Haydn, Schumann renders coherent the expansion section by binding it to a large-scale framework governed by conventional middleground relationships, as depicted in the two graphs of Example 1.  The transition carries us from the F Stufe of the tonic area to the middleground arrival on IIK of the medial caesura.  The tonal journey of the expansion section eventually leads, in mm. 123-136a, back to both the foreground key of C major and the large-scale IIK first activated in m. 95, with the intervening tonicizations functioning as illusory keys of the foreground, as Schenker would call them.  Let’s pause now to listen to the exposition beginning at m. 66 towards the end of the tonic key area.

About the C tonal delay graphed in Example 1, there really is no ambiguity.  The only other C root-position chord before m. 137a, enters in m. 133a and this is clearly not a structural goal harmony.  The concept of a declined medial caesura, however, depends here and generally on musical judgment about what exactly does, or does not, constitute a theme.  In order for a proposed medial caesura to be declined, what follows must be interpreted not to achieve thematic status—often a matter of analytical nuance rather than a clear-cut binary opposition.  Although it might be possible to argue that the material that follows the medial caesura gesture at m. 99 is some sort of flamboyantly extraordinary second theme, this is not the tack that Roesner takes, and in that assessment she and I are in agreement.  The material’s lack of initial rhetorical stability and its extended sequential orientation, contrapuntal texture, modulatory motion, and tonal delay all contradict conventional notions of thematic identity.

In the final analysis, however, my point is that although Roesner’s characterization of the passage itself is generally accurate, her conceptualization of eighteenth-century practice is too narrow to allow for recognition of the place of Schumann’s strategy within the classical tradition.  Schumann’s exposition reflects not a misprision of sonata form.  Rather it manifests a creative adaptation of one of several possible eighteenth-century expository types Schumann would have likely encountered in his study of the quartets of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, which he undertook prior to composition of his own op. 41 set.  The A-minor Quartet shows him to have achieved just what he said he intended to achieve: the creation of “new artistic beauties” that nevertheless remain in dialogue with past practice, in this case the eighteenth-century practice of continuous exposition.

I hasten to add that my point is not to deny that Schumann develops an alternative to tonal polarity in this exposition.[7]  Indeed, one characteristic of the String Quartet that is clearly not related to eighteenth-century precedents is its failure to arrive on C closure in the second ending following the exposition repeat.  Thus alongside the Haydnesque model for Schumann’s continuous exposition, we also find a striking element of artistic innovation, one that is rare but not unique to this movement.[8]

Notwithstanding the awkward relationship Roesner posits between Schumann’s exposition and classical practice, her analysis is part of a larger positive assessment of the Quartet focused on the compelling manner in which Schumann intertwines A minor and F major across the multi-movement cycle.  The two middle movements raise, to a still higher formal level, the A/F interaction instantiated by the first movement.  Following the first movement’s aforementioned “inside-out” form—introduction in A minor, main sonata form in F major—the scherzo and slow movement continue the alternation of A and F as governing keys, thus leaving unanswered the question of which tonality might serve as nexus for the cycle as a whole.  This process of A/F pairing comes to a head in the finale, portions of which I provide as Excerpts 2 and 3 in the score handout.[9]

What is again noteworthy with respect to Schumann’s expository practice (as well as the overall organization of the finale, about which I will have more to say shortly) is the manner in which the composer reinterprets eighteenth-century conventions in the service of this quintessentially Schumannesque tonal narrative.  Although Roesner asserts that the finale is the only movement in the Quartet not to draw on classical formal models, its adaptation of strategies of continuous exposition is even more transparent than the first movement’s.  Here there is not even a feint at a medial caesura.  Rather, as Table 1 outlines, Schumann follows his tonic area directly with an expansion section that evolves seamlessly, eventually arriving, via a long circle-of-fifths sequence, on the tonicized dominant at the point of expositional closure at m. 63.  Let’s take a moment to listen to this compact continuous exposition.

In the exposition, Schumann merely adumbrates the role he will carve out for the expansion section in the A/F tonal narrative.  As annotations in Excerpt 2 highlight, the passage alternates progressions hinting at both of these keys in mm. 28-38 before it pushes onward to the long modulatory motion to C.  The expansion section’s characteristic formal continuity, however, emerges as a crucial factor in the apotheosis of the pairing that transpires later in the form.  Assessed in relation to what many commentators regard as the most conventional version of sonata form—what Hepokoski and Darcy term the type 3 sonata—the movement’s design does indeed appear anomalous, perhaps giving rise to Roesner’s claim that it does not even engage eighteenth-century conventions.  Yet greater sensitivity to the full range of eighteenth-century practice raises the possibility that the movement simply references a different sonata type, one that Schumann reinterprets to serve his narrative of tonal pairing to be sure, but that nevertheless remains in effect as a link to the past.

The frame of reference here is what Hepokoski and Darcy call the type 2 sonata, sometimes referred to by earlier scholars as a binary variant of sonata form or a sonata form with reversed recapitulation.[10]  In short, the type 2 sonata follows its exposition with a second half that begins, parallel to the opening of the exposition, with either an explicit restatement of, reference to, or development of the main theme in a non-tonic key.[11]  More forthright developmental activity then ensues, but the eventual recapitulatory restatement of material from the exposition does not commence with the main theme in the tonic, as in the type 3 sonata.

Rather, it is either at some point within the transition or with the secondary material itself that we encounter the return of expository material.  Alternatively, in the case of a type 2 sonata with a continuous exposition like Schumann’s movement, this restatement will typically begin at some point within the expansion section and will lead to the closing theme.  In either case, the second theme (if there is one) and closing material receive their tonic grounding through transposed restatement.  This tonal resolution is then often reinforced by a coda frequently initiated by the main theme.

Schumann’s finale is a fascinating and unusual manifestation of type 2 conventions in two different respects, as Table 1 and annotations in score Excerpt 3 outline.  First, the main theme, or at least material overtly based on the main theme, does not initiate the second half of the form, the developmental space beginning in earnest at m. 84.  Second, the section of “tonal resolution”—the transposed restatement of the closing theme from the exposition at m. 192—appears not in the tonic but in the tonally paired key of F.

The case for a type 2 interpretation nevertheless remains strong.  With respect to the first exceptional characteristic, although it is clear that the development begins with material based on the interrelated ideas of the closing and expansion sections, Schumann takes care to begin many of the imitative entrances with the head motive adjusted to trace the ascending fifth characteristic of the main theme rather than the ascending sixth or descending fourth of the expansion and closing themes, respectively.  I have highlighted the first of these ascending fifths at m. 84 at the end of Excerpt 2.  Since the main theme, expansion theme, and closing theme all share the same short-short-long rhythm of this head motive, the emphasis on the ascending fifth in particular allows the opening of the development to make reference to the main theme and thus to begin to signal the possibility of a type 2 orientation at this crucial formal juncture.

With respect to the second exceptional characteristic, it is important to note the precedent, in nineteenth-century sonata forms, for the alternative of transposition by fifth rather than to the tonic, for the recapitulation of third-related secondary material.  This procedure was a common option for Schubert for the recapitulation of the middle key areas of his three key expositions, and noteworthy instances also arise in Beethoven.[12]  Moreover in this particular movement, the motivation in the Quartet’s overarching A/F pairing for an off tonic area of “false” tonal resolution at m. 192 seems clear.  The expansion’s transitional character—its formal shape as extended anacrusis—extends the forward momentum of the development and, due to its fifth transposition, culminates on a climactic recall of the F member of the A/F dialectic at the restatement of the closing theme.  This false tonal resolution in turn motivates the definitive return of the other member of the pair in the form of the long-delayed structural tonic as true and compensatory tonal resolution.  Schumann eventually transforms F into an augmented-sixth chord at mm. 206 and 210 to prepare for the return of the main theme in A minor that initiates the coda at m. 214.  The Italian 6/3-V progression forces the F of the dialectic finally to collapse into the overarching A-minor nexus.  Here I also note that resolution of F into the key of A specifically via progression to A’s dominant engages, in the bass, an important F-E motivic dyad that plays a crucial role in the A/F pairing throughout the four-movement cycle.[13]

The hustle and bustle of the expansion material plays a part in this final resolution as well, similar to its function as preparation for the emphatic return of F major at m. 192.  First notice that the climactic A-minor restatement of the main theme at m. 214 leads to yet another A-minor climax at m. 242 but now on the closing idea—the goal of the continuous exposition.  Both themes ultimately participate in the tonal resolution provided by the coda.[14]  Schumann exploits the tonal stability of the closing material, which was originally motivated by the instability of the expansion section, to further confirm tonic resolution of the A/F pairing.  Second and finally, after an abrupt change in mood for a parenthetic A-major musette and archaic, “first-species” sequential passage in mm. 254 and 264, the expansion material and its anacrusic character return yet again in m. 286 to carry the coda, and indeed the entire four-movement cycle, to its rousing A-major conclusion.[15]  Let’s pause to listen to the process of resolution for the A/F pairing, beginning with the return of the expansion section at m. 152 of the second part of the form.

The A-minor Quartet is hardly the only composition in which Schumann engages conventions of continuous exposition as integral components of his sonata forms.  His creative appropriation of this Haydnesque alternative, as a counterpart to his equally vital adaptation of two-part procedures, marks him as perhaps the chief proponent of continuous exposition in the post-Beethovenian nineteenth century.  This status is not simply a matter of the relatively large percentage of continuous expositions among his sonata forms.  More importantly, it takes into account the quality of these movements, with a number of them—the first movements of the Piano Quartet in EH major, op. 47, and Violin Sonata in A minor, op. 105, for instance—ranking with the outer movements of the A-minor Quartet among his most beautiful compositions.

As in the Quartet, tonal pairing plays a vital role in these continuous expositions, and I have argued elsewhere that eighteenth-century expository conventions work not against, but rather in consort with Schumann’s tonal dialectics in these movements.[16]  Yet it is also the case that pairing may not be the only motivating factor behind Schumann’s procedures of continuous exposition, as analysis of a movement like the opening sonata form of the Second Symphony would illustrate.  The Symphony is a case in which Schumann molds strategies of continuous exposition not in the service of tonal pairing, but rather to create at least a degree of tonal polarity between tonic and dominant.  Moreover, Schumann’s two-part expositions may find effective means to merge eighteenth-century formal conventions and more characteristically nineteenth-century strategies of tonal duality.  Schumann manages to retain in his sonata practice the spontaneity of his eighteenth-century precursors, with no single “formula”—either tonal polarity in two-part expositions or tonal dialectics in continuous expositions—dictating a priori the layout of these movements.

I began this presentation by noting the sharp contrast between the critical reception of Schumann’s and Brahms’s sonata forms and the interrelated contrast in perceptions of the relationship of those forms to eighteenth-century practice.  My response has been to marshal theory and analysis in the service of a reexamination of both aspects of Schumann’s instrumental compositions—the value of Schumann’s approach on its own terms and within the sonata tradition.  Analysis cannot but help to interact with theory in such an endeavor, even if only implicitly.  In the case of my methodology, the relationship has been transparent: the sonata theory of Hepokoski and Darcy forms the framework for my engagement with Schumann’s formal designs, while Schenkerian theory provides the context for my interpretation of his tonal language.  Nevertheless even for one who regards these theories as penetrating, enlightening, and even at times revelatory, it would be naïve to believe that my analyses have “proven” anything, either about esthetic worth or historical relationships.

I accept as axiomatic that analysis can neither prove nor disprove a critical judgment.  What it can do is provide a rationale for the subjective critical stance.  Analysis, in other words, may serve as a tool in an effort to make the subjective esthetic judgment intersubjective.  From this perspective, the source of interest resides not primarily in the critical reaction itself but in the reasons adduced for that reaction.  What might we learn from coming to understand through analysis what a particular commentator finds attractive or unattractive about a composition or repertory?[17]  And here I should emphasize that I have singled out Roesner for criticism not because I find her interpretations unenlightening.  On the contrary, I find her to be a highly stimulating critic-analysts whose interpretations reveal much of interest—both in what she admires and what she does not—about Schumann.

The conjecture I have offered about a possible historical relationship between Schumann’s sonata forms and their classical precursors has value for at least two reasons.  First, it is meaningful in and of itself in light of the emphasis old nineteenth- and early twentieth-century accounts of sonata form placed on expository thematic contrast and the reified concept of the lyrical second theme.  More recent sonata theorizing, beginning at least as far back as the writings of Leonard Ratner and Charles Rosen, has demonstrated the inadequacy of such accounts as applied to the eighteenth-century sonata.  How striking then for Schumann—a composer often accused of a lack of insight into classical form—to be seen creatively to develop conventions associated with both two-part and continuous expositions and therefore to perpetuate the breadth of classical practice at a time that otherwise witnessed an overall narrowing of the scope of the sonata in both theory and practice.

Second, my revisionist perspective makes an important contribution in light of the manner in which the relationship of Schumann’s instrumental forms to classical practice has become entangled with critical responses to these compositions.  For as we have seen, the negative portrayals often emphasize the reputedly problematic character of the historical relationship as a core component of the ambivalent critical stance.  Schumann’s purported compositional miscalculations are, to a large degree, assumed to be a result of either his lack of insight into, or willful casting aside of, the “authentic” foundations of eighteenth-century form.  But it seems to me that it is the critics, and not Schumann, who often have misread both classical practice and Schumann’s relationship to his precursors.  Still, I must again stress that acceptance of my revisionist historical argument does not in any way imply acceptance of my positive esthetic judgments.  Obviously one could find Schumann’s continuous expositions esthetically unsatisfying even while recognizing the possible historical origins of their design components in late eighteenth-century practice.  At the very least, however, some of the criticisms of Schumann’s forms become less tenable once we recognize their basis in a somewhat inaccurate conception of eighteenth-century practice.  Schumann’s misprision indeed!

A focus on expositional strategies alone hardly accounts for the full range of Schumann’s compelling blend of conservation and innovation in sonata contexts, as my exploration of his creative appropriation of type 2 conventions in the finale of the A-minor String Quartet has illustrated.  Nor of course have I been comprehensive in my account of Schumann’s expository practice.  Yet although my analyses have merely scratched the surface of an enormous topic, expositional relationships are a linchpin of sonata form.  Further study of them may serve as a viable starting point for a more comprehensive reexamination that will also need to take a fresh look at the composer’s strategies of development and recapitulation.  It is my intention that my efforts here and elsewhere will join those of other scholars sympathetic to Schumann’s large-scale instrumental forms to create a more accurate account of his historical and esthetic position within the sonata tradition.  Ultimately I hope these larger communal efforts will lead to a greater appreciation of what I regard as Schumann’s unqualified success in fulfilling his stated aim: that of recalling the music of the past and—more importantly—creating new artistic beauties sustained by that source.

[1]I am grateful to James Hepokoski for his willingness to provide critical feedback on the analyses in this essay and especially for steering me to a Type 2 interpretation of the finale of Schumann’s String Quartet in A minor, op. 41/1.  Ryan McClelland, Patrick McCreless, Heather Platt, and the two anonymous readers at the Journal of Music Theory also offered numerous helpful suggestions.

[1] Surveys that trace the negative reception history of Schumann’s handling of classical forms may be found in Lester (1995, 189-210) and Brown (2000, 42-68).

[2] From Schumann’s lead editorial in the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik 2 (1835, 3), as quoted and translated in Dahlhaus (1989, 247).

[3] My use of the term two-part exposition here anticipates the more general reliance of my analyses on terms and concepts drawn from Hepokoski and Darcy (2006).  I also emphasize the distinction between the general category of two-part exposition and the more specific concept of thematic contrast to respond to the potential, in the eighteenth century, for a second theme to be based on reinterpretation of motives from the first, that is, a two-part exposition of the so-called “monothematic” variety.

[4] On conventions of continuous exposition in the eighteenth century, see Hepokoski and Darcy (2006, 51-64).  Brown (2000, 240-41, footnote 57) notes in passing the possibility to interpret the quartet movement in relation to the practice of continuous exposition but ultimately rejects that paradigm as an interpretive framework.

[5] Here and throughout my analysis of this movement, I follow Roesner’s practice of beginning the measure count with the Introduzione and continuing without break into the Allegro.  I designate measures within the Allegro’s first ending by appending an “a” to them since the first and second endings are distinct.

[6] For description of such a “bait-and-switch” strategy as a convention of continuous exposition, see Hepokoski and Darcy (2006, 51-64).  The caesura-fill here consists of the eighth-note lead-in from the harmonic arrival on V/C at m. 99 to the entrance of new material at m. 101.  On caesura-fill, see Hepokoski and Darcy (2006, 40-45).

[7] Although one could certainly argue that the tonal delay has the ultimate effect of heightening the impact of the C resolution when it finally arrives: it renders the dominant the goal of a long and difficult journey, and the five-measure C tonic pedal underscores the sense of arrival.

[8] See the similar circumstances in the first movement of the Piano Trio in D minor, op. 63.  As Lester (1995, 207) notes, “from a traditional sonata-form perspective, such tonal plans severely undermine the tonal polarity basic to sonata form: in what sense can there be a tonal polarity needing resolution if the tonal goal of the exposition is different when the section is repeated?”  In cases like this, it is imperative for the performers to observe the repeat since without it, even the suggestion of the possibility of tonal polarity is absent.

[9] Brown (2000, 229-49), like Roesner, analyzes formal idiosyncrasies of the finale in relation to the Quartet’s overarching A/F pairing.  She develops her interpretation of the movement within the framework of a sonata form characterized by what she calls a “compromised initial tonic,” in contrast to my emphasis on conventions of continuous exposition.  Her insightful analytical conclusions nevertheless form an important foundation for the ideas I develop here.

[10] On the idea of this type of form and others as binary variants, see Webster 1986.  For references framed by the concept of “mirror” or “reversed” recapitulation, see Rosen 1980 (97, 286-87, 322-23).  Hepokoski and Darcy (2006, 353-87) provide extensive critique of these alternative conceptions by these and other authors, as well as a thorough list of citations on the topic from the secondary literature, which is voluminous indeed.

[11] This is also a conventional procedure in the type 3 sonata; the non-tonic key is usually the one that has closed the exposition: V in major or III in minor.

[12] The first movement of Schubert’s String Quintet, D. 956, for instance, recapitulates the middle key area of its three-key exposition in this manner: the expository theme that hovers between E{flat} and C major/minor before it pushes on to the dominant for the third key area, hovers between A{flat} and F major/minor in the recapitulation before it leads to C.  A well-known example in Beethoven is the first movement of the Waldstein Sonata, op. 53, whose E-major second theme returns in A major, at least for its initial antecedent phrase, before the consequent carries the progression into the home key.  These (and many other) cases of fifth transposition in Schubert and Beethoven are thus distinct from the strategy in Schumann’s Quartet in one crucial respect: they both eventually settle into the home key within the secondary theme zone and lead to closure within that sonata space.  Schumann’s Quartet, by contrast, defers this essential sonata function until the return of the main theme and closing theme at the start of the coda, with closure arriving at m. 242.  In this respect at least, Beethoven’s strategy of recapitulation in the Egmont Overture, op. 84, stands as an even closer model for Schumann’s approach, although in the context of a type 3 rather than type 2 sonata.  The recapitulation of the Egmont’s A{flat} secondary material in D{flat} closes in D{flat}, leaving the attainment of closure in the home key of F (now major rather than minor) for the coda.  In Beethoven, the motivation for this unusual deferral is undoubtedly programmatic; in Schumann, it appears to be motivated by the Quartet’s narrative of A/F pairing, as I discuss further in the main text.  For analysis and interpretation of the Egmont, see Hepokoski 2001-02, 128-36.

[13] As Brown has argued (2000, 243-49)

[14] Note here again that the closing theme “borrows” the ascending fifth from the main theme, at this point perhaps to underscore the tonal rapprochement of mutual A-minor restatement with a previously adumbrated element of thematic integration.  In Hepokoski and Darcy’s terms, the beginning of the coda is thus based on a third rotation of the basic expository material: the P theme in m. 214ff and the C theme in m. 242ff., both now in the tonic to produce the essential structural closure (ESC) at m. 242.  The first rotation unfolds across the exposition, while the second does so across the development, with its rhythmic and intervallic (ascending fifth) references to the main theme (m. 84ff) followed by the subsequent transposed restatement of the expansion section (mm. 152-92.1) and closing theme (mm. 192-205).

[15] My emphasis on resolution of the A/F pairing in favor of A is consonant with Brown’s interpretation.  Roesner (2007, 127-33), by contrast, hears “inconclusiveness with regard to the tonic key” even at the end of the finale.  She proposes that processes of A/F interaction extend beyond the bounds of the four-movement cycle to embrace the second and third Quartets in the op. 41 trilogy.

[16] I analyze the interaction between tonal pairing and continuous exposition in these movements in Smith 2011, 244-52, and 2009, 52-64.

[17] For a fuller elaboration of the relationship between analysis and criticism I am expounding here, see Lewin 1969.

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