Beethoven Analysis: 'Septet in Eb, Op. 20 movement 1'.

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Beethoven Structure:

1.    Extract is the 1st movement of a 6 movement piece, in the style of a Serenade.

2.    In Sonata form, proceeded by an unusually long coda (233-388).

3.    Tonality defines structure. Conventions of Sonata form are present e.g. piece centred on the tonic (Eb) and some dominant modulations (Bb).

4.    Various key modulations during the Development e.g. C minor (111-116) and F minor (132).

5.    3 melodic ideas in the 2nd Subject and a codetta which rounds off the section.

6.    2nd Subject in the tonic, rather than dominant, in the recapitulation (188-233). 

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Beethoven: Tonality:

1.    Functional tonality dictated by Sonata form conventions with modulations to closely related keys e.g. tonic to dominant in the 1st Subject.

2.    Slow introduction in tonic key (Eb) brief tonal excursion to tonic minor at bar 10.

3.    1st Subject in tonic key of Eb – typical of Sonata form. Music modulates to dominant at bar 53 – as expected.

4.    Dramatic start to the Development – it switches to C minor, leading to Ab major (124) and then F minor (132).

5.    Dominant pedal (bar 140) continues till recapitulation.

6.    Expected 2nd Subject heard in tonic (Eb) in the recapitulation. 

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Resources/Performing Forces

Beethoven: Resources/PF:

1.    Chamber music piece for 7 solo players – unusual combination.

2.    Clarinet has an unusually prominent role, equalling the violins importance.

3.    Violin and clarinet carry main melodic interest. Bassoon and horn create wind sonority and harmony, though some bassoon solo work is in conjunction with the clarinet (69-73).

4.    Horn sometimes plays very low notes e.g. G’s in bar 9.

5.    Multiple stopping in violins and violas creates textural density. Double stopping (bar 1) quadruple stopping (bar 287).

6.    Dynamic contrast is very important. Forte-piano contrasts bar 1-2; fp (12) and sf (18). 

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Beethoven: Texture:

1.    Slow intro begins with tutti homophonic chords e.g. bars 1 and 4.

2.    Monophony in bar 2 (solo violin) and 42 (violin).

3.    Most of the piece is melody-dominated homophony e.g. beginning of the Exposition (19-28).

4.    Antiphonal exchanges with dialogues between clarinet, bassoon and violin (47-50).

5.    Homophonic/homorhythmic writing – bars 50-53; 86-97.

6.    Pedal notes add textural stability e.g. bars 140-153. 

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Beethoven: Rhythm:

1.    Intro is in slow triple time (3/4) whilst the main section is at a lively tempo (Allegro con brio) in cut common time (2/2).

2.    Slow intro is rhythmically more complex than the main section, includes demisemiquavers, sextuplets and double dotted rhythms.

3.    1st Subject theme accompaniment has a distinctive continuous repeated pattern in the viola.

4.    Some sections of continuous triplet rhythms (76-79; 211-214).

5.    Many themes begin with an anacrusis. 1st theme – upbeat 3 quavers (just before 19).

6.    Rhythmic diminution at end with crotchets halved to quavers (284-285). Increased pace and excitement. 

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Beethoven: Melody:

1.    Mainly diatonic melodies contain some chromaticism e.g. chromatic scale (25-26) of the 1st Subject.

2.    Chromatic scales are used to form the lead into a melody (e.g. bar 69).

3.    1st Subject theme begins with a rising sequence based on a 4-note motif derived from bar 8 of the introduction.

4.    Melodies are often repeated, so 1st Subject theme is immediately repeated with full instrumentation.

5.    2nd Subject theme (53) based on intervals of a 4th played semi-staccato before conjunct movement is adopted.

6.    Ornamentation is widely used – classical turn (28); appoggiaturas decorate crotchets (2, 4,6 etc); grace notes (40,42 and 44). 

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Beethoven: Harmony:

1.    Piece uses functional harmony with clear perfect cadences (bars 28-9 in Eb).

2.    Imperfect cadence (bars 7-8).

3.    Typical Classical 1c-V progression (bars 38 and 97).

4.    Occasional chromatic chords, including a German augmented 6th (bar 7).

5.    Pedal notes, i.e. reiterated tonic pedal passes from French horn to lower strings (98-106).

6.    Relatively slow harmonic rhythm e.g. 4 bars of the tonic Eb chord (start of Exposition) but speeds up towards cadences. 

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