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Vaughan Williams on Music$
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David Manning

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195182392

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195182392.001.0001

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The Soporific Finale

The Soporific Finale

(p.19) Chapter 3 The Soporific Finale
Vaughan Williams on Music

David Manning

Oxford University Press

Last movements are, very often, failures compared to the rest of the work to which they belong. Whether this difficult state of things affects the composition intrinsically or not, it certainly does affect the impression of the work on its hearers. Sometimes the difficulty may be solved by an undisguised appeal to the sensibilities, as in the Finale of the Symphonie Pathétique or by a series of short intellectual exercises, as is the case where the last movement takes the form of variations; but these two solutions only cover a few instances. In almost all cases the complete scheme seems to demand that very kind of movement which, if not carefully manipulated, produces the drowsiness we wish to avoid; that is to say, the usual vigorous, swinging Allegro. In a movement such as this, no amount of thematic beauty or structural interest will serve to rivet the jaded attention of the listener.

Keywords:   last movements, composition, Finale, Symphonie Pathétique, intellectual exercises, variations, Allegro

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