University of Cincinnati

The Sonata-Fugue Hybrid in Haydn’s Early Symphonies

Among Joseph Haydn’s earliest symphonies are thirteen sonata-form movements that incorporate fugal techniques, including two finales that integrate sonata and fugue. I document three strategies Haydn devises in service of the sonata-fugue hybrid. The dialogue surrounding these strategies represents a formative stage for his most characteristic techniques.
The tension between fugue and sonata concerns expectations for formal continuity and the closing effect of cadences. Sonata form was in two parts delineated by cadential closure. On the other hand, fugue was continuous and should avoid conveying rest during its course. Formal expectations for fugue were otherwise flexible and enabled it to adhere to the rotational process of sonata form. The sonata-fugue hybrid finales of Haydn’s Symphonies no. 3 and 40 adopt fugal continuity by mitigating cadential closure, but also engage sonata form’s characteristic rotational patterns.
These divergences fall outside the norms postulated by Hepokoski and Darcy (2006). Indeed, scholars have criticized their portrayal of sonata form for marginalizing Haydn’s music (Ludwig 2012, 2014; Miyake 2009). But the techniques Haydn employs in these hybrid movements interact with his contemporaneous style. This includes common strategies for starting the exposition and recapitulation. Additionally, the use of fugal techniques contributes to both monothematic and continuous expositional strategies and to recapitulatory revisions.
By integrating fugue into the sonata process, Haydn began to develop sonata-form procedures drawing on fugal techniques. Though some of these strategies fell into disuse, others became hallmarks of Haydn’s sonata style and deserve a more prominent role in our narrative of sonata form.


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Carl Burdick is a PhD candidate in Music Theory at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. In 2017, he received the Presser Graduate Music Award, which enabled him to conduct research on Haydn in and around Vienna in June of that year. Prior to his work on Haydn, Carl presented on the early music of Pierre Boulez and the metaphors used in discussing metrical dissonance at regional conferences around the United States. He has held teaching positions at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Hunter College, and Hofstra University.

Carl Burdick