University of Southampton

Albéniz and the sentence principle as “the peak of organic-dramatic beauty”

Since the publication of William Caplin’s Classical Form: A Theory of Formal Functions for the Instrumental Music of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven (1998), scholars have been trying to reconceptualise Caplin’s definition of the sentence: either to encompass more compositional options (Richards, 2011; Forrest and Santa, 2014; Braunschweig, 2015), or to adapt it to later repertoires, particularly nineteenth-century music (BaileyShea, 2004; Vande Moortele, 2011). As it is well known, Arnold Schoenberg first formulated the concept, and, together with the period, presented the sentence as one of the two main “theme types” (Schoenberg, 1967). However, Schoenberg conceived the sentence as especially well-suited for the development of musical material, and yet, despite its developmental nature, scholars and analysts have used it to account for the construction of main themes, and its specific role in development sections remains to be studied. In this paper, I will present a theoretical model of a particular sentence type favoured by Isaac Albéniz in his development sections, which has its roots in the development sections of eighteenth-century sonata-form compositions.


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Alberto Martín Entrialgo studied Music Theory at the Amsterdam Conservatory, where he obtained his Bachelor´s in 2016 and his Master´s in 2018. He is currently working on a PhD at the University of Southampton, funded by the SWWDTP, and under the supervision of David Bretherton and Francesco Izzo. His thesis focuses on the persistence of eighteenth-century practices and conventions in the work of the nineteenth-century Spanish composer Isaac Albéniz. In 2019, he was awarded with the Theory and Analysis Graduate Student Prize of the Society for Music Analysis for his paper “Isaac Albéniz as a Galant Composer”.

Alberto Martín Entrialgo