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Mahler's Symphonic Sonatas$
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Seth Monahan

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199303465

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199303465.001.0001

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Sonata Form in Mahler’s Narrative Imagination

Sonata Form in Mahler’s Narrative Imagination

(p.11) Chapter One Sonata Form in Mahler’s Narrative Imagination
Mahler's Symphonic Sonatas

Seth Monahan

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues, against critical precedent, that sonata form was a driving force in Mahler’s narrative imagination. It shows that the genre’s central teleology—the resolution of tonal tension—is in fact a central concern in these works, and one that is intimately bound up with issues of expression and narrative arc. Adopting key concepts from Hepokoski and Darcy’s Sonata Theory (2006), it shows that the form served Mahler not as a rigid “mold” but as a paradigmatic tonal and thematic drama, a plot-schema whose attainment (or nonattainment) of generic goals could be staged over vast spans of Mahlerian time. After surveying the controversies surrounding Hepokoski’s concepts of “dialogic form” and sonata-form “deformation,” the chapter closes by charting the intertextual networks that link Mahler’s sonatas to one another, through shared plot devices or all-out recomposition.

Keywords:   Sonata Theory, Mahler, dialogic form, sonata form, sonata deformation, recomposition

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