University of Michigan

Fischer, Ratz, and the Eight-Measure Satz

In a foundational 1915 essay on the development of the classical style (“Zur Entwicklungsgeschichte des Wiener klassischen Stils”), Ludwig Fischer introduced the Fortspinnungstypus as an antipode to the antecedent–consequent period (Liedtypus) described by writers in the Formenlehre tradition from A. B. Marx on. Numerous commentators (Dahlhaus 1978, Caplin 1998, Braunschweig 2015)—including Ratz himself (1973, 25)—have identified Fischer’s Fortspinnungstypus with the eight-measure sentence (Satz) in the Schoenberg–Ratz sense. Yet Fischer unequivocally states that in a Fortspinnungstypus, the Vordersatz reaches a cadence in its fourth measure (1915, 29), something no sentence does. A consideration of the analytical examples he adduces, moreover, makes it clear that the construct he intends more closely resembles the antecedent+continuation hybrid.
My contribution aims, in the first place, to points out and to correct Ratz’s misidentification. But more is at issue than mere historical pedantry: antecedent+continuation hybrids abound in the classical repertory; in their tight-knit instantiations, they most certainly show up as main themes in both small and expanded forms. But such Fortspinnungstypen also typically appear as the first halves of minuets. In that setting in particular, Ratz’s misunderstanding has helped to encourage a widespread confusion and conflation of intra- and interthematic levels. Thus, clearing up Ratz’s mistake and its consequences helps lead to a better understanding of minuet form and through that—since as Riepel and Koch both recognized, a minuet is a sonata in miniature, a sonata an expanded minuet—of classical form in its totality.


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Nathan John Martin is assistant professor of music theory at the University of Michigan. His work focusses on the history of music theory and the analysis of musical form and has appeared in leading journals such as Music Theory Online, the Journal of Music Theory, and Music Analysis. From 2013 to 2019, he co-edited Music Theory & Analysis. During the 2018–2019 academic year, he held the Edward T. Cone Membership in Music at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton.

Nathan John Martin