Schubert’s Experiments with Processual Form


  • Gabriel Venegas Carro



This article assesses, from a process-oriented analytical perspective, the role of formal reinterpretation in Schubert’s music. The article builds on the work of Janet Schmalfeldt (in turn inspired by the analytical and philosophical processual approaches to form of Theodor W. Adorno and Carl Dahlhaus). It also draws on the form-functional approach of William Caplin, and the dialogical formal perspective of James Hepokoski and Warren Darcy. The article’s first part considers some typical structural features of form-functional transformations and presents a threefold categorization of them: intrathematic (e.g., continuation ? cadential), interthematic (e.g., introduction ? P-theme), and multilevel transformations (e.g., transition ? contrasting middle). In addition to providing examples drawn from Schubert’s works for piano that illustrate these three types of form-functional transformations (D. 899 no. 3, D. 566/I), the second part of the article discusses instances of theme-type (D. 784/I) and exposition-space-and-type (D. 935/I) transformations and form-functional intertextuality (D. 958/I) between Schubert’s and Beethoven’s works. The article concludes with a detailed consideration of the Piano Sonata in B-flat, D.960/I, addressing aspects of large-scale formal implications related to a particular formal strategy in Schubert’s ternary P-themes: the “double-conversion effect,” a process of form-functional transformation that features the reinterpretation of formal functions not once but twice in a self-contained formal zone.