Recovering a Song of Origin

Joseph Kerman

in Returning Cycles

Published by University of California Press

Published in print March 2001 | ISBN: 9780520225640
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520925786 | DOI:
Recovering a Song of Origin

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This chapter describes the A-Major Sonata's opening as objective, yet inscrutable. In its athematicism it has more the character of an introduction to a movement in sonata allegro form than of a main theme for such a movement. Not only is its A major unambiguously clear, it also comes forth, through motive x, assertively. With respect to Schubert's own project of musical rediscovery and rebuilding of himself in the aftermath of Winterreise, the A major of this sonata is perhaps most aptly understood simply as home. At the beginning it is a home that the protagonist who is individuated in the second phrase must encounter and question: he cannot sing in it, and for this reason cannot fully live in it. He explores his own imagination—his own subjectivity, his own pleasure gardens—and derives new approaches to home from these explorations. By the first movement's end, its opening idea has already become singable, and in this way it is far more accessible now than at first. A shadow still hangs over this ending, however, a shadow whose menace overtakes the second movement.

Keywords: Schubert; A-Major Sonata; home

Chapter.  9007 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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