Lawrence Kramer

in Interpreting Music

Published by University of California Press

Published in print February 2010 | ISBN: 9780520267053
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520947368 | DOI:

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The Allegro agitato section of Frédéric Chopin's Fantaisie-Impromptu in C-sharp Minor comes to a memorable climax, the end of a story of thwarted purposes and hopes unrealized. The agitation in this Allegro comes from a combination of speed and friction. In a classic analytic article of 1947, Ernst Oster claimed there is a resemblance between Chopin's Fantaisie-Impromptu in C-sharp Minor and Ludwig van Beethoven's “Moonlight” Sonata, also in C-sharp minor. This chapter looks at the resemblance between the two without regard to the allegory. The idea is to read the resemblance between the works as a worldly process, an event rather than a quality. One result is to identify the special type of performative of which resemblance is an instance. Another is to chart the typical origin and behavior of meaning within a large class of artworks, including most classical music. And yet another is to open a hermeneutic window on the early history of modernity.

Keywords: Frédéric Chopin; resemblance; Ludwig van Beethoven; Moonlight Sonata; Fantaisie-Impromptu; agitation; allegory; performative; meaning; modernity

Chapter.  8536 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Music Theory and Analysis

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