Classical Form: A Theory of Formal Functions for the Instrumental Music of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven
When we listen to a Mozart piano sonata or a Haydn symphony, how do we know where we are from one moment to the next? How can we tell what parts of the piece belong to one another, or where the boundaries are? These are the questions raised and answered in William Caplin's Classical Form: A Theory of Formal Functions for the Instrumental Music of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven. Building on ideas first advanced by Arnold Schoenberg and later developed by Erwin Ratz, this book introduces a new theory of form for instrumental music in the classical style. The theory provides a broad set of principles and a comprehensive methodology for the analysis of classical form, from individual ideas, phrases, and themes to the large-scale organization of complete movements. It emphasizes the notion of formal function, that is, the specific role a given formal unit plays in the structural organization of a classical work.--Publisher description.
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There are too many inconsistencies in this methodology. Whereas multiple interpretations of a phrase are certainly possible, the author fails to define with any certainly the criterion about which those interpretations are to be based. This can, in effect, lead to more questions than answers, rendering the entire analysis moot at best, and tiresome at worst.