Form, Style, and Influence in the Chamber Music of Antonin Dvořák
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The last thirty years have seen a resurgence in the research of sonata form. One groundbreaking treatise in this renaissance is James Hepokoski and Warren Darcy’s 2006 monograph Elements of Sonata Theory: Norms, Types, and Deformations in the Late-Eighteenth-Century Sonata. Hepokoski and Darcy devise a set of norms in order to characterize typical happenings in a late 18th-century sonata. Subsequently, many theorists have taken these norms (and their deformations) and extrapolate them to 19th-century sonata forms. My work aims to characterize Antonin Dvořák’s chamber music in the context of Sonata Theory, using the treatise as a jumping off point in order to analyze his music. This dissertation contains three main chapters. The first chapter deals with two of the themes of this dissertation: form and influence. Schubert’s influence on Dvořák’s music was notable, so after comparing some of Dvořák’s writing about Schubert’s music, I examine specific musical elements (sonic, formal, and structural) from Schubert’s String Quintet in C Major, D. 956 that Dvořák emulates in his string quartet in the same key. Chapters 3 and 4 put Dvořák’s sonata form practices into a 19th-century context, and I examine how he treats the MC and EEC sections of an exposition. In Chapter 3, I contend that Dvořák’s use of energy loss before and after the medial caesura is just as rhetorically successful as 18th-century composer’s use of energy gain in the transition section of a sonata. Additionally, many of Dvořák’s sonata forms feature expositions with vastly elongated S themes, thereby pushing rhetorical closure of the exposition back. This is unlike 18th-century sonatas, whose expositions routinely wrap up with a cadence in the second key after the first phrase. Thus, Chapter 4 displays several sonatas where Dvořák extends S-rhetoric in order to delay the close of the exposition. Even though not originally intended for this music, Hepokoski and Darcy’s treatise provides a fruitful set of norms that can be related to works from the 19th century. Additionally, Dvořák’s music is especially appropriate for this treatment, as his compositional style owes many allegiances to 18th-century techniques.