Jason Hooper

An Introduction to Schenker’s Early ‘Formenlehre’: Implications for His Late Work and Its Reception

This paper introduces Schenker’s early ‘Formenlehre’, from his first major theoretical writing Der Geist der musikalischen Technik (1895) to the first published mention of the ‘Urlinie’ in his explanatory edition of Beethoven’s Op. 101 (1920). Along the way, I highlight a tension between (1) the conformational approach to form found in Schenker’s unpublished notes, and (2) the generative approach to form based on motivic development found in his early polemical writings (Bonds 1991). These two impulses are then shown to converge in his conception of sonata form. In light of this earlier work, I conclude with thoughts on how the theory of form expressed in Der freie Satz (1935) involves a cunning sleight of hand (Smith 1996).