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Rachel Gain

University of North Texas

In this presentation, I examine Hindemith’s approach to resolving large-scale tension in his sonata forms. I focus on his sonatas for Flute, Clarinet, and Trombone with piano, written in his late style. In these sonatas' first movements, Hindemith creates tension during the recapitulation of the primary theme through deformations. The resolution of this tension is deferred to outside of sonata space, materialising in either the coda or a later movement. The recapitulation’s tension is generated through various means, including tonic avoidance, omitted and abandoned themes, and deformations of thematic material. In the post-sonata space resolutions, Hindemith addresses the specific deficiencies of each recapitulation, restoring tonic tonality and restating any missing or destabilised thematic material and figurations. The result is bespoke forms and inventive compositional solutions.

In his flute sonata, Hindemith resolves tension caused by a lack of satisfactory tonic restatement of thematic materials by composing a hybrid theme that combines motives from various themes. In the clarinet sonata, the lack of stable tonic primary theme recapitulation is addressed in a coda that recomposes the primary theme material, ending with a hint at the original primary theme motive in the tonic. In the trombone sonata, the formal processes left incomplete by the prematurely abandoned, dissonant recapitulation are completed in the fourth movement, which restates the secondary then primary themes, ending in the global tonic key. Viewing these post-sonata space structures as resolutions of various recapitulation tensions explains both the unusual formal designs of these sonatas and these formal sections' thematic contents.



Rachel Gain is a PhD student in Music Theory and a Teaching Fellow at the University of North Texas. They hold a master’s degree in Music Theory from the University of Western Ontario, and a bachelor’s degree in Music from the University of Birmingham. Her research interests include syntax and form in the music of Paul Hindemith, French Baroque music, and intersections of music theory with historically informed performance practice, tap dance, race, and gender. Rachel’s research has been accepted to conferences spanning North America and Europe.

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