Form in Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas (X) – No. 15 “Pastoral” 4th Movement

The form of this movement is Rondo-Sonata, thus it is better to analyze it both with the structure of Sonata-Allegro and Rondo-Sonata form.

The main theme occurs between bars 1-16 as the theme is on the tonic pedal. Bars 1-8 and 9-16 have a tonic-dominant relation. Bars 1-4 are repeated exactly in 5-8 and bars 9-12 in 13-16. Transition begins in bar 17 and ends in bar 28. It is made up of arpeggios with broken chords. It is a clear passage work and although it is not symmetrical, it has a tight-knit structure. 4+8 open period since it starts in D but the end is in E Major. The main theme and transition (1-28) can be labeled as “A” (refrain 1) in the structure of Rondo-Sonata. Bars 29-50 are the “B” of Rondo and the subordinate of sonata form. It has a canonic structure as the 1 bar phrase is repeated in other voices successively. In bar 43, there is clear PAC and between bars 43-50 there is a link in order to bring music back to the second refrain.

Second refrain (A) is between bars 51-67. It has some ornamental variations in the melody. The “C” part of rondo and the development of sonata take place between bars 68-113. There is an 11 bar phrase (68-78) which contains the same rhythmic pattern of main theme’s bass line. This phrase modulates to G and prepares the music for a new counterpointal section. This section also has a fugal quality since a 4 bar motive (soprano line of 79-82) is repeated successively in other voices with a different counterpoint. Between bars 79-90, this motive is repeated first in soprano line, secondly in alto and finally in bass line. Between bars 91-94, the motive repeated in bass line in g minor. The texture becomes thicker with 3 voice chords in the upper part. The final entry of the motive is between bars 95-100 in d minor. Retransition (101-113) prepares the forthcoming recapitulation, namely the 3rd refrain of rondo.

There is no alteration in recap in terms of form, thus everything is normative. Before the Coda, there is a bridge link section in which the music stands on the dominant in order to prepare the last refrain. The rhythmic pattern is from the main theme and although it stands on the dominant, there is a lot of secondaries in D Major.

Coda starts with a new tempo indication “piu allegro quasi presto”. This part is the last refrain with small alterations. Bass line becomes thicker as it is presented with octaves. The upper line has a technically demanding passage work. Starting from the first bar of coda, a gradual crescendo makes the music finish in a double forte dynamic level with a maestoso closing with arpeggios.


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