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Lateness and BrahmsMusic and Culture in the Twilight of Viennese Liberalism$
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Margaret Notley

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195305470

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195305470.001.0001

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THEMES AND FIRST MOVEMENTS: QUESTIONS OF LATENESS AND INDIVIDUALISM

THEMES AND FIRST MOVEMENTS: QUESTIONS OF LATENESS AND INDIVIDUALISM

Chapter:
(p.72) CHAPTER 3 THEMES AND FIRST MOVEMENTS: QUESTIONS OF LATENESS AND INDIVIDUALISM
Source:
Lateness and Brahms
Author(s):

Margaret Notley

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195305470.003.0004

This chapter critiques Adorno's observation that Brahms “bears the mark of middle-class society's individualistic phase” (late Liberalism) as against the vision expressed in Beethoven's music. Elsewhere, Adorno implied another perspective: Brahms understood the musical problem, individualized themes at the expense of the formal whole — if not the societal problem (excessive individualism) — and made it central to his lifework. Jenner's account of lessons with Brahms suggests an ethics of composition, supporting meaning found in theme-form relations by Adorno, Gülke, and others who view sonata form in Hegelian terms. In late movements, Brahms's handles theme-form relations by problematizing the formation of a theme and creating new oppositions to replace that between thematic and non-thematic material available to Beethoven but not to him. For Brahms and Adorno, inventing and developing an idea relate to each other in compositional process as themes and schema do in formal process: the relationship is mutual and dynamic.

Keywords:   Adorno, Beethoven, Brahms, Peter Gülke, Hegel, Gustav Jenner, late Liberalism, sonata form, theme-form relations

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