Chapter

Contrapunctus II: Double Fugue

Stephen Rumph

in Beethoven after Napoleon

Published by University of California Press

Published in print August 2004 | ISBN: 9780520238558
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520930124 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520238558.003.0007
Contrapunctus II: Double Fugue

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In double fugue, Beethoven found a nexus for his peculiar contrapuntal concerns. All the principles he had explored in the “prelude” and “fugue” themes come together in his double-fugal subjects, linear construction, monolithic figuration, inversion, and rhythmic diminution. This chapter takes up the old debate about connections between the late quartets, from the new perspective of Beethoven's “contrapuntal project.” It interweaves the cantus firmus and march found in op. 133, and this is referred to as the “Grosse Fuge texture,” which runs through each of the major sonata forms from the three central quartets, the first movements of opp. 132 and 130, and the finale of op. 131. The chapter presents a contrast between Beethoven's conflicted historical vision and the simpler reactionary outlook of Friedrich Schlegel in the 1820s.

Keywords: double fugue; contrapuntal; Grosse Fuge texture; Beethoven; cantus firmus

Chapter.  7771 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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