Skip navigation
Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Title: Fugues and Contrasting Forms in Five Beethoven String Quartets
Authors: Myhill, Phoebe
Advisors: Lansky, Paul
Bunham, Scott
Contributors: Music Department
Keywords: Beethoven
Classical Music
Musical Forms
Sonata Form
String Quartets
Subjects: Music
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Although not common, fugues are sometimes found in Beethoven's string quartets. More specifically, they can be found in op.18, no 4, op. 59, no. 3, op. 95, op. 131 and the Grosse Fuge. The fugues range from fledglings to fully developed fugues, and none can be said to be pure fugue. On the contrary, they are interacting with a contrasting form, either a sonata or ternary form. In order to understand the quartets better, it is important that we understand these interactions. Our intention is to make one of Beethoven's little known and unusual techniques more available to music theorists and composers. We call each of the movements experiments. Curiously, there was one in each of his early, middle, and late middle periods, and two in his late period. Although the experiments appeared only intermittently, Beethoven never forgot them. They were by no means exactly alike, and each one was stranger, and more complex, than the one before. Even so, they were not isolated events, and we were able to discern a pattern. In short, we found that fugue and contrasting form were progressively more entwined in each succeeding quartet, and increasingly difficult to pull apart. Moreover, the unique forms that emerged were progressively more complex, idiosyncratic, and even weird. Five new forms, each one different from the others, emerged. The work required a great deal of delicate maneuvering, and was not easy. In the essay, we see exactly how Beethoven went about it. My string quartet was significantly influenced by the five quartets, and particularly by the Grosse Fuge. The idea that the present can only be understood retrospectively, that is, once it has become the past, may be said to be the same in both quartets. Without an established sense of form, and with seemingly unrelated sections continuously juxtaposed one against the other, we experience an urgency to carry earlier material forward, in order to relate the past to events that can only be revealed as the quartets unfold. Understanding this helps us understand the tense, idiosyncratic form, independent of any established texture or style, that characterizes quartets, and is critical to keep in mind if we are to understand either one.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Music

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
Myhill_princeton_0181D_408/FinalDissertationComposition(PDF).pdf404.62 kBAdobe PDFView/Download
Myhill_princeton_0181D_10929.pdf1.19 MBAdobe PDFView/Download

Items in Dataspace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.