Rhetorical Closure in the First Movement of Schubert's Quartet in C Major, D. 46: a Dialogue with Deformation

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This article addresses the issue of parametric non-congruence as it affects the articulation of closure in the first movement of Schubert’s String Quartet in C major, D. 46. This movement displays two formal irregularities which render it problematic in relation to sonata theory: first, the presentation of new thematic material in the exposition does not correspond with a modulation to the domi- nant key, and second, the recapitulation of the primary theme commences over an active 64 bass progression. As such, D. 46/i provides an apt setting for an appraisal of how effective sonata theory is in the treatment and understanding of closure when the very elements which ought to express it are ostensibly incom- patible. The distinction I draw between tonal (syntactic) and rhetorical (seman- tic) closure in this article (founded in the work of Kofi Agawu, among others) aims at demonstrating that the adherence to a hierarchical perspective of form in which tonality dominates is of little service when examining a work in which local cadential closure is persistently evaded. Ultimately, my analysis shall illustrate the through-composed design of this movement and, in so doing, question the unrelenting reliance on cadence and contrapuntal closure as delineators of sonata space.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-142
Number of pages32
JournalMusic Analysis
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2009


  • Music Analysis
  • Nineteenth-Century Musical Form
  • Schubert

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