Eva Mantzourani

Sonata Form, Sonata Cycle and Multimovement Coherence in Skalkottas’s Free Dodecaphonic Works

Skalkottas’s approach to formal articulation was profoundly influenced by Schoenberg’s tonality-based teaching of the Berlin period and his ideas on musical form, coherence and comprehensibility. Skalkottas appropriated traditional concepts of musical construction and adapted classical formal prototypes to a dodecaphonic context. In particular, he fashioned his twelve-note sonata movements predominantly on a reinterpretation of the eighteenth-century formal prototype with its contrasting thematic and harmonic material. He was also attracted to cyclical forms and cyclical principles of construction as unifying devices, and as a way of ensuring systematic formal and harmonic coherence in multimovement works, particularly the sonata cycle. His approach to achieving cyclic coherence and integration is particularly evident in works built on an undetermined number of sets and exhibiting a free approach to his twelve-note technique. In such cases, Skalkottas treats such works as a single entity by amalgamating a multimovement work with an overarching sonata form.
Using Schoenberg’s fundamental ideas on Formenlehre, and A.B. Marx’s theory of sonata cycle, this paper focuses on Skalkottas’s approach to multimovement structures. It examines his techniques for achieving multimovement coherence in his free dodecaphonic works, and it demonstrates his use of combining an overarching sonata form with the sonata cycle in order to achieve integration of disparate harmonic material. By focusing on the technical and formal aspects of the sonata form and the motivic-thematic and harmonic relationships among the movements of a multimovement work, the paper also considers the extent to which Skalkottas reinterpreted normative formal prototypes and employed deformations of Formenlehre categories to construct the formal designs of each movement of the sonata cycle, with examples drawn from his mid-1930s free dodecaphonic works, such as the Second and Third Piano Concertos, and the Violin Concerto.