A Level Music: Septet in Eb, Op.20: Movement 1

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  • Septet in Eb, Op.20: Movement 1 by Beethoven
    • Background
      • Written in 1799
      • First performed a year later in Court Theatre, Vienna
      • Published 1802, dedicated to Empress Maria Theresa
      • Septet rare
      • In 6 movements
    • Resources
      • 4 string instruments, clarinet, bassoon & horn
      • Clarinet: equals violin in prominence. Sounds a tone lower than written
      • Cello & Double bass: adds textural weight & depth of pitch
      • Main melodic interest: violin and clarinet
      • Bassoon and horn provide harmony, yet Bassoon has solo with clarinet: bars 69-73
      • Viola accompanies with arpeggio figures: bar 61
      • Horn: Eb: sounds a major 6th lower than written
      • Violin and viola: double/ multiple stopping, not high in tessitura. No pizz, but staccato.
      • Dynamic contrasts: fp: bar 12, sf:bar 18
    • Structure
      • 1st mvment of 6: Serenade
      • Sonata Form with slow Intro
      • Longer CODA than usual
      • Defined by tonality
    • Tonality
      • Functional, dictated by Sonata form
      • Modulations: to related keys
      • Slow intro: Eb Major (tonic)
        • Briefly to tonic minor, Eb minor: bar 10
      • 1st subject: Eb major
      • 2nd subject: Bb major (dom): bar 53
      • Development: C minor (relative min) to Ab major (subdom): bar 124, to F minor (relative of subdom): bar 132
        • All established by perfect cadences
      • Dominant pedal: bar 140 begins recap. 2nd subject in Eb maj
    • Harmony
      • Functional, typical of  classical style
      • Clear perfect (28-9) and imperfect cadences (7-8)
      • Mostly root and 1st inversion chords, occasional 2nd inversion
      • Typically classical cadentical Ic-V: bars 38 and 97
      • Chords varied: mostly diatonic with some chromatic, e.g. German Augmented 6th: bar 7
      • Pedals: create tension
      • Dom 7th chord: ending of intro. Leads to tonic chord at start of Exposition.
      • Harmonic rhythm slow: e.g. 4 bars of tonic Eb at beginning of Expo.
        • Speeds up towards cadences
    • Metre
      • 3/4 in intro. Cut common time: simple duple in main section.
      • Intro slow, Main Section lively (allegro con brio)
    • Rhythm
      • More rhythmically complex in intro:  demisemiquavers, sextuplets and double dotted rhythms
      • 1st subject theme: 3 quavers and minim tied to quaver
        • Accompaniment: Continuous repeated quaver pattern in viola
          • When repeated (bar 29), accompaniment is replaced by syncopated rhythm in violin and viola over on-beat crotchets in cello
      • 2nd subject: opening: sustained minim rhythm
      • Continuous triplet rhythms: bars 76-79
      • Themes begin with anacrusis
      • Syncopation: bars 45-46
      • Rhythmic diminuation: crotchets halved to quavers: 284-285
        • Increased pace and excitement
    • Textures
      • Wide variety
      • Slow intro: tutti homophonic chords: bar 1, monophony (violin solo): bar 2
      • Allegro section: MDH (as expected for sonata): beginning of exposition
      • Antiphony: clarinet/bassoon and violin: bars 47-50
      • Homophonic/ homorhythmic: bars 50-53 and 86-97
      • Octaves between 5 instruments: starts of development section: bar 113
      • Octave writing: clarinet and bassoon: bar 128 or 7ths: bar 140
      • Pedal notes: add stability: bars 140-153
    • Melody
      • Diatonic, with brief chromaticism: chromatic scale in 1st sub, bars 25:26
        • Chromatic  scales lead into a melody: bar 69
      • Intro: conjunct and disjunct
        • 1st subject theme :rising sequence based on 4 note motif from bar 8 of intro (chromatic auxiliary note)
          • Moves sequentially up a 3rd each time with longer note forming Eb maj triad
            • After scalic passages & chromatic step-wise quavers, theme ends with turn and ornamented perfect cadence
          • Periodic Phrasing: balanced Q&A
          • Repeated with fuller instrumentation
          • 2nd subject theme: bar 53: intervals of 4th played semi-staccato before conjunct movement. Bar 61:descending quavers, spanning an octave and slurred in pairs.
            • Codetta: based on two motifs: anacrusis to 1st sub and conjunct descending figures from 2nd sub.
      • Repetition
      • Ornamentation
        • Grace Notes
        • Acciaccaturas
        • Appoggiaturas
        • Trills
  • Diatonic, with brief chromaticism: chromatic scale in 1st sub, bars 25:26
    • Chromatic  scales lead into a melody: bar 69

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