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Universität Leipzig
Institut für Musikwissenschaft

Dramaturgies of Dynamics in Sonata Form

Dynamics (volume) is perhaps the most neglected of musical parameters in analytical scholarship to this day. In general, it is still primarily regarded as an aspect of individual work structure and performance practice. In traditional Formenlehre, dynamics is either treated as a “secondary parameter” or completely ignored.
However, the use of certain dynamics for crucial points of sonata form has long been a matter of well-established traditions (e. g. beginning the second key area in piano). Composers assumed the listeners’ knowledge of these traditions and developed individual strategies to confirm or betray their expectations.
Needless to say, such traditions were first developed in orchestral music (concerto, overture, symphony), since instrumentation proved a particularly favourable means for the characteristic and strategical use of dynamics on a large scale (such as tutti – solo contrasts as well as dramatic crescendo phases). Orchestral music also saw the emergence of the slow introduction, which made it possible to begin the sonata allegro in piano. A study of the history of dynamics in sonata form also reveals important changes over the course of the 18th and 19th centuries, especially with regard to the morendo codetta.
The aim of this paper is to combine some general remarks on the role and evolution of dynamics in 18th- and 19th-century sonata form (especially in symphonies and piano sonatas) with some case studies taking a deeper look at the exposition of specific works.


Conference Photo Nicholas Hunter.jpg

- studies in musicology, history and literature at the Universities of Mainz, Paris and Halle
- 1995 Maîtrise de musique at Université Paris-Sorbonne with a thesis on Vincent d’Indy’s cyclic sonata
- 2001 PhD at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg with a dissertation on Olivier Messiaen’s opera Saint François d’Assise (Hildesheim: Olms, 2002)
- 2008 Habilitation at Leipzig University with a book on the cultural transfer of the symphony to Poland, 1867-1918 (Hildesheim: Olms, 2010)
- 2011-2015 Director of the DFG-founded research project „Leipzig and the Re-Internationalization of the Symphony, 1835-1914“
- Visiting Professor at the Universities of Zürich, Berlin (HU) etc.
- 2016-2019 Professor of Musicology at Université Toulouse Jean Jaurès
- since 2019 Professor of Musicology and Director of the Musicological Institute at Leipzig University
- Member of the Scientific Boards of MGG Online, Revue de musicologie and of the Music Theory Group of Gesellschaft für Musikforschung

Stefan Keym

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