Durham University

Form and Chromaticism in Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony

Despite its enduring popularity, Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony has attracted surprisingly little analytical attention. In particular, concentration on rhythmic processes (Anson Cartwright 2013) has perhaps eclipsed its systematic use of structural chromaticism. Taking its cue from Robert Gauldin (1991), this paper investigates the formal and cyclical implications of the germinal chromatic tetrachord with which Beethoven begins the first-movement introduction, paying close attention to three issues. First, I trace the intrusions of the tetrachord’s embedded C/F complex into the A major sonata trajectories of the first movement and Finale. Second, I evaluate the effects of these intrusions on what Hepokoski and Darcy (2006) call the ‘essential sonata trajectory’; consistently, Beethoven allows C major and F major to disrupt structural perfect authentic cadences, resulting in their deferral beyond the boundaries of sonata space. Finally, I assess the impact of these strategies on the work as a whole, and especially the progressive tendency for C, F and their relations to displace A major. This process gains full expression in the Scherzo, which tonicizes F and treats A and its relations as intra-movement structural modulations, and is worked out in the Finale, where C and F are retrieved and resolved within an overarching A major.


Conference Photo Nicholas Hunter.jpg

Professor Horton completed his undergraduate and postgraduate studies at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he also held a Research Fellowship. He has been Associate Professor and Head of School at University College Dublin, and has also taught at King’s College, London. His research focuses on the analysis and reception of nineteenth-century instrumental music, with special interests in the music of Bruckner and Brahms, the analysis of sonata form, and the theory of tonality. He is author of Bruckner’s Symphonies: Analysis, Reception and Cultural Politics (Cambridge University Press 2004) and Brahms' Piano Concerto No. 2, Op. 83: Analytical and Contextual Studies (Peeters 2017), editor of The Cambridge Companion to the Symphony (2013) and Schubert (Routledge 2015), co-editor with Lorraine Byrne Bodley of Schubert’s Late Music: History, Theory, Style (Cambridge University Press 2016) and Rethinking Schubert (Oxford University Press 2016), with Gareth Cox of Irish Musical Studies, Vol.11: Irish Musical Analysis (Four Courts Press 2014), and with Jeremy Dibble of British Musical Criticism and Intellectual Thought 1850-1950 (Boydell 2018). His article 'John Field and the Alternative History of Concerto First-Movement Form' (2011) was awarded the Westrup Prize of the Music and Letters Trust. He was President of the Society for Music Analysis between 2014 and 2019, and has also served on the councils of the Society for Musicology in Ireland and the Royal Musical Association. In 2016, he was appointed Music Theorist in Residence to the Netherlands and Flanders. In 2019, he was made a Corresponding Member of the Society for Musicology in Ireland.

Julian Horton