Timothy Jackson

Anton Eberl's Innovative Conceptions of Sonata Form: The Example of the First Movements of E-flat Major Op. 33 and D Minor Op. 34 Symphonies

I shall attempt to show that the usual procedure in the major-mode sonata of prolonging the dominant initiated at the beginning of the second group through to the end of the development is not operative in Eberl’s conception of sonata form. Rather, in the exposition of Eberl’s E-flat major Symphony, tonic prolongation cuts through the dominants of both second groups or ‘Seitenthemas’ such that the definitive arrival on the dominant (which I designate ‘DDA’) is postponed until the closing group or ‘Schlussgruppe’. The intervention of the tonic into putative dominant prolongations has consequences for the recapitulation since in it the parallel interventions are made by the subdominant into tonic prolongations. The result is the destabilization of the tonics associated with the first and dual second groups in the recapitulation; indeed, given the emphasis on the subdominant, these tonics also become dominants of the subdominant. According to this logic, then, only at the end of the recapitulation in the closing group is the tonic definitively secured – as a parallel to the definitive arrival on the dominant only at the end of the exposition. Far from being an anomaly, Eberl employs this type of ‘tonic override’ resulting in ‘dominant delay’ in the expositions of other works, including his Symphony in D minor, Op. 34. Indeed, Eberl's D minor Symphony is an even more innovative and ‘experimental’ work. In the first movement, Eberl begins with a ‘standard’ tragic introduction in D minor, but then he presents a second introduction, a jaunty march (!) in D major complete with its own internal formal organization, and from these two highly contrasting introductions, he derives the entire symphony! These innovations are combined with the technique of reversed recapitulation - in the outer movements - to create a novel type of sonata structure.