Musical Form, Forms & Formenlehre

Three Methodological Reflections

Edited by Pieter Bergé

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In ‘Musical Form, Forms & Formenlehre: Three Methodological Reflections’, three eminent music theorists consider the fundamentals of musical form. They discuss how to analyze form in music and question the relevance of analytical theories and methods in general. They illustrate their basic concepts and concerns by offering some concrete analyses of works by Mozart (Idomeneo Overture, Jupiter Symphony) and Beethoven (First Symphony, Pastoral Symphony, Egmont Overture, and Die Ruinen von Athen Overture). The volume is divided into three parts, focusing on Caplin’s “theory of formal functions,” Hepokoski’s concept of “dialogic form,” and Webster’s method of “multivalent analysis” respectively. Each part begins with an essay by one of the three authors. Subsequently, the two opposing authors comment on issues and analyses they consider to be problematic or underdeveloped, in a style that ranges from the gently critical to the overtly polemical. Finally, the author of the initial essay is given the opportunity to respond to the comments and to refine further his own fundamental ideas on musical form.

Preface, Ludwig Holtmeier


Considering Musical Form, Forms and Formenlehre, Pieter Bergé

Part I. William E. Caplin & The Theory Of Formal Functions

What Are Formal Function, William E. Caplin

Comments on William E. Caplin's Essay, “What Are Formal Functions?, James Hepokoski

Comments on William E. Caplin's Essay, “What Are Formal Functions?”, James Webster

Response to the Comments, William E. Caplin

Part II. James Hepokoski & The Concept Of Dialogic Form

Sonata Theory and Dialogic Form, James Hepokoski

Comments on James Hepokoski's Essay, “Sonata Theory and Dialogic Form”, William E. Caplin

Comments on James Hepokoski's Essay “Sonata Theory and Dialogic Form”, James Webster

Response to the Comments, James Hepokoski

Part III. James Webster & The Concept Of Multivalent Analysis

Formenlehre in Theory and Practice, James Webster

Comments on James Webster's Essay “Formenlehre in Theory and Practice”, William E. Caplin

Comments on James Webster's Essay “Formenlehre in Theory and Practice”, James Hepokoski

Response to the Comments, James Webster


The Future of Formenlehre, Pieter Bergé


About the Authors

Format: Monograph - ebook

180 pages

ISBN: 9789461660046

Publication: April 15, 2010

Series: Studies in Musical Form

Languages: English

Stock item number: 58580

Pieter Bergé is hoogleraar Musicologie aan de KU Leuven en artistiek directeur van Festival 20.21 Leuven. Zijn boeken, zowel wetenschappelijke als populariserende, werden herhaaldelijk bekroond. Pieter Bergé is Professor of Music Analysis, History and Theory (1750-1900) at the KU Leuven. His main research topics are Arnold Schoenberg, German opera during the Weimar Republic, Formenlehre, instrumental music from 1770-1830, and 'analysis-and-performance'-issues.

I highly recommend this book on all accounts for the reader interested in formenlehre.

By Halvor Hosar (Norway),


But perhaps the most captivating aspect of the book lies in the responses and rebuttals: each of the contributors was invited to venture comments on his collaborators' essays, and each in turn provides a short response to his colleague's comments. Thus, Hepokoski and Webster respond to Caplin's essay, and Caplin replies in turn, then Caplin and Webster to Hepokoski's, and forth. The exchanges are lively, and their result is to silhouette each analytical system against the others. For his having arranged to cast the book in this "dialogic form," students of the new American Formenlehre will long be in Bergé's debt.
Nathan John Martin, Columbia University, Notes, March 2011


Besides its many other merits, 'Musical Form, Forms, and Formenlehre' demonstrates a novel format for cooperative engagement in music-theoretical writing. ... The result is a wonderfully rich and engaging book in which the personalities of the contributors are more evident than in most writing in our field.
Reviewed by Mitch Ohriner, Indiana Theory Review Volume 28