Basic Analytical Techniques (025:240), Fall 2009
Essay 3: Contrast and Connection in a Beethoven Romance for Violin and Orchestra
The opening period of the Adagio cantabile from Beethoven Romance in F Major for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 50, presents an intricate structure of contrasting phrases linked by their motivic and harmonic content.
Structurally speaking, the excerpt constitutes a perfect example of contrasting period. The antecedent, mm.1-4, ends with a half cadence on the downbeat of m.4 (V) while the consequent, mm.5-8, ends with a perfect authentic cadence on the upbeat of m.8. (I) The second phrase, by virtue of beginning with dominant (V)- more specifically with a V7 chord, in which the melody line conspicuously occupies the very 7th note (Bb)- with which the first phrase ends, and thereby moving away from tonic, provides the period with the sense of a continuous flow.
This rendition to which insertion of a sentence in the first phrase in part contributes, is further supported by the use of embedded phrase model. While the entire excerpt presents a distinct example of phrase 9model (T-PD-D-T), it harbors within it a mini “T-PD-D-T” model, particularly from m.1-3 (m.1: T-PD/m.2: D/m.3: T). Worth noting here is the ways in which the first PD-D-T progression is weakened by the use of inversions (e.g. Bb note of bass in m.1 and m.2). With the otherwise drastic change of bass notes relatively subdued (from Bb to C in m.1, from C to Bb to A in m.2), a listener is not likely to confuse it with the actual cadence of the phrase model.
Despite this continuous aspect, the overall structure remains not so much a parallel as a contrasting one. Melodically as well as rhythmically, the first phrase is clearly contrasted with the second. Besides the clear differences in terms of melody and the structure of accompaniment, the former repeats and develops the rhythmic motif of the first two beats in m.2 with slight modifications in m.3-4. The second...