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Beethoven´s E Minor Piano Sonata, Op. 90: A multi-player platform for ambiguity and subthematics in Germany and North America.

Two works (Treber, Denton 2010; Luong, Montreal 2012) have recently reconsidered the collection of papers about opus 90 by Schenker and Elias housed in the Ernst Oster Collection, New York. Vivian Luong examines the question of Schenker's concepts of performance and analysis, using Agawu's and Smith's definitions of ambiguity and incorporating revisionist Schenkerian theories of multiple analytical and performance interpretation. Her research on Schenker´s conflicting graphs and annotated scores outlines two critical passages: the exposition´s transition and the development´s end. The ambiguity of the placement of the subordinate theme (mm. 45 or 55?) in Schenker's graphs is supported by a consideration of Caplin's formal functions. On the other hand, Luong's explanation of the transition ignores the Eb (mm. 37-38) in the enharmonic reinterpretation of Bb (mm. 37-44) and underestimates the „few textural changes“ in the recapitulation. Why does the transition begin at the distance of a third (mm. 24/167) and land at the distance of a fifth (mm. 45/188)? I will insert my analysis (Hamburg 2012) here, integrating tools of historical and systematical German-speaking theory, and then compare my results for the first movement with Schenker's ambiguity among “apparent tripartite organization” and “underlying two-part interrupted structure”. Stefan L. Treber embeds his Schenkerian analysis in a biographical-historical frame: according to Schindler/Krones, a program could explain the two-movement-structure of opus 90. My approach renounces to any non-musical references but the category of Historicism in art applied to Beethoven's harmonics. It extends the definition of enharmonischer Wendepunkt (Besseler 1955, Bahr 2005), reflects on funktionale Mehrdeutigkeit (s. Holtmeier 2011) and opens to a multi-level interpretation of subthematics:

  1. Single ton: Distinctiveness principle, autonomous and integrated tone, signum (Hohlfeld)
  2. Several tones: Tonfolge (“ton succession”), model(s), paradigm
  3. Abstraction: Formel (Dahlhaus/Hohlfeld?), Vehikel (Sprick 2011).

This path conducts to a coherent large-form including both movements of the sonata.