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Last edited by Denise Jones
July 14, 2015 | History

Form and unity in Beethoven's Ninth symphony 1 edition

Form and unity in Beethoven's Ninth symphony
Denise Allaine Gudmundson Jone ...

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Form and Unity in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony occupies a unique niche in literature about the Ninth. There is, as yet, no other book or study like it. Although it wasn’t written with the public in mind, it is an excellent, in-depth book not only for the serious student of Beethoven’s works, particularly of the Ninth (in or outside university), but also for others who are somewhat experienced with music or who love the Ninth as much as the author does. It gives insight into Beethoven’s later period and his method of composition, of how he held the longest symphony (and only choral one) to that time together so that it WORKS. And for the author, the Ninth does indeed work, the only questions being how and why? Form and Unity answers the pertinent questions, How did Beethoven utilize FORM? How did he UNIFY the work?

I must preface the rest of the rest of my review with an important note: This book is MY THESIS for my Master of Music degree in Music Theory at the University of Utah, 1980. I AM THE AUTHOR. I had printed and bound the requisite number of copies for the U of U’s Music Department and the U’s Marriott Library, as well as five others: two for the Library of Congress as part of the copyright process, and personal copies for myself, my parents and parents-in-law. The latter two came back to me after our parents’ deaths. I am in the process of DIGITIZING my thesis, from transcribing it to turning it into a PDF, for FREE online public viewing (by Aug. 2015). There will be a link to it from www dot kitkooh dot com.

Because I am the author, writing this review posses an obvious problem, i.e., I am naturally biased toward my work -- a thesis the late Dr. Newel B. Weight, Professor of Music on my master’s committee, described as a doctoral dissertation. Indeed, it goes far beyond the scope, detail and coverage of subject that is generally attempted or expected of master’s theses. Form and Unity in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony was used by the U’s music department as a superior example of a music thesis for many years.

The Ninth Symphony was chosen by me for study in part because “it is Beethoven’s longest and most overtly innovative symphony, and has had the widest influence on post-Classical composers.” Are “Beethoven’s formal procedures also innovative”? Or are they, rather, “a total manifestation of Classical principles”? Form and Unity in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony shows that, “under analysis, the latter holds true, for each movement of the symphony is based on sonata-allegro principles” (Form and Unity, p. iv).

The bulk of the analysis, Chapters I-IV, deals with FORM, accounting for each of the Ninth’s 2,608 measures, and including diagrams and musical examples or quotes from the score. In addition, “unifying devices are often pointed out as they occur throughout the analysis” (Form and Unity, Abstract, p. vi). The final chapter discusses UNITY in full, with elements summarized and conclusions drawn. In all, the “analysis reveals that the movements are unified motivically, harmonically, accompanimentally and by thematic transformation, and that there is a unity of phrase system or structure as well” (Form and Unity, p. vi).

The thesis Abstract (the required statement encapsulating the important points of the study) acts as a preface and would be of benefit to all those interested in this subject. Likewise, the well-researched Introduction which, in addition to form and unity in the Ninth, goes into the symphony’s background, influence, and criticism by later composers. The Table of Contents makes finding sections easy. Before the final Selected Bibliography, is an appendix with Beethoven’s own introductory lyrics and Schiller’s poem, “An die Freude” (“Ode to Joy”) in the original German and two different English translations. A total of 19 pages of the text are endnotes, citing sources or giving an occasional explanatory note.

The only “flaws” in the thesis are perhaps the lack a fuller discussion of Beethoven’s Fantasia for Piano, Chorus and Orchestra in C minor, Op. 80 (the “Choral Fantasy”), with an example comparing the “Ode to Joy” main theme and harmonic setting to the main theme of the Fantasy. It would also help if, here and there, measure numbers were indicated more frequently, and an index added. Finally, a note stating that Beethoven was completely deaf when he wrote the symphony would be in order. All of these flaws are fixed in the digital transcription by the author, with a transcriber’s note stating what has been revised. However, the thesis is far above the average one, offering a more-than-satisfactory study and analysis of form and unity in the Ninth, and one that is unique.

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Form and unity in Beethoven's Ninth symphony
by Denise Allaine Gudmundson Jones.

Published 1980 by Dept. of Music, University of Utah in [S.l.] .
Written in English.

Edition Notes

"A thesis submitted to the faculty of The University of Utah in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Music."


Dewey Decimal Class
Library of Congress
MT130.B43 J6 1980

The Physical Object

viii, 244 leaves :
Number of pages

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Open Library
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July 14, 2015 Edited by Denise Jones Added description (review) with a few quotes
December 4, 2010 Edited by Open Library Bot Added subjects from MARC records.
December 10, 2009 Created by WorkBot add works page