Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The A major Waltz as Trio to D779n12

D. 779 is a collection, not a cycle. The designs for functional dance music varied according to the length of the dance: the music might be arranged in a simple chain (ABCDE . . . ), in the five-part design familiar from the contredanse tradition (ABACA), as a dance with multiple trios (ABACADAEA . . . ), in the alternativo manner (ABAB or ABABCDCD), or in some ad hoc design that suited the occasion. We should also note in this connection that dances are sometimes labelled "Trio" in Schubert's manuscripts but not in print (and vice versa) (Litschauer, "Tänze," 3.)

In published works, however, the "standard" Viennese waltz design was already apparent in the 1820s: sets of five to six waltzes, usually without introductions but many with codas of varying length. The key schemes are closed, meaning that the final waltz and the coda are in the key of the first waltz. Key relations are close--the majority of waltzes are in the home key, with diversions restricted to dominant or subdominant.

The manuscript evidence and internal evidence of key sequences suggest that the A major Waltz was intended as a trio to No. 12 (in D major) ((Litschauer, 113-114); this is MS. 45 in Brown's list (Essays 237)). In the holographs, Nos. 12 and 14 appear as Nos. 6 and 8, respectively, of a collection of seventeen German dances. The first eight pieces in that set are clearly arranged in functional dance/trio groups, with the key succession: D, D, A, D, G, D, G, D. In this sequence, our A major Waltz would have taken the place of No. 7 in G major. (216-217). In the graphic at the end of this file, I have combined these three pieces in a dance-with-two-trios design: n12-n13-n12-n14-n12.

If we want to think of this design in Schenkerian terms, the waltz in A Major expresses a prolongation of an interruption on E5, or ^2 of D major (see the graphic below), a reading that resonates with--though it flips the structural priorities of--a statement by Carl Schachter as he seeks to explain the prominence of scale degree ^5 in the A Major Waltz: "A curious feature of the upper line is its beginning on [F#5] . . . A glance at the Waltz that precedes this one helps to explain: . . . No. 12 is in D major with [F#5] as its most prominent melodic tone. The [F#5] forms a link between the two Waltzes; such links occur fairly often in a chain of short pieces" (71).


Litschauer, Walburga. "Franz Schuberts Tänze: Zwischen Improvisation und Werk." Musiktheorie 10/1 (1995): 3-9.
Brown, Maurice. "The Dance-Music Manuscripts." In Maurice Brown. Essays on Schubert, 217-43. London: Macmillan, 1966.
Litschauer, Walburga, ed. Franz Schubert. Neue Ausgabe sämtlicher Werke, Series 7, part 2: Werke für Klavier zu zwei Händen, Band 6: Tänze I. Kassel: Bärenreiter, 1989.
Neumeyer, David. "Synthesis and Association, Structure and Design, in Multi-Movement Compositions." In James M.Baker, David W. Beach, and Jonathan W. Bernard, eds. Music Theory in Concept and Practice, 197-216. Rochester: University of Rochester Press, 1997.
Schachter, Carl. "Rhythm and Linear Analysis: Durational Reduction." Music Forum 5 (1980): 197-232. Reprinted as "Durational Reduction" in Schachter 1999, 54-78.

The graphics below are thumbnails; click on them to see the original files.