"Expectation and Denial in Hindemith's Sonate für Harfe"

Rachel Mazzucco, Texas Tech University

In her 2008 article "Hindemith's Sonate für Harfe: an Analysis for Performance," Wenonah Govea identifies the pitches B♭, D♭, and E♭ as the "germ" of the work. Closer analysis reveals a serial treatment of the germ; transpositions, rotations, and retrogrades saturate multiple levels of structure to the extent that conspicuous manipulations of the three note series provide an opportunity for expressive pattern completion and denial.

Though the germ is present in all three movements, the main thematic material of movements one and three contain the most prominent examples. Additionally, the first members of all three movements' opening permutations of {t, 3, 1} themselves create {t, 3, 1}. Not only does {t, 3, 1} govern the nature of melodies, but it also connects centricities of phrases within movements, and the overall centricities of the three movements themselves with the first movement centered on Gb, the second on Ab, and the final movement on Eb, creating T5R {t, 3, 1}.

Though not readily comparable to existing models of harmonic function or tonal language, {t, 3, 1} provides a unifying element and a backdrop with which to compare new material. Moments utilizing a different melodic and harmonic vocabulary placed amongst {t, 3, 1} and its transpositions and retrogrades are given the potential for expressive nuance. In cases such as the climax of the first movement, the series guides the performer to an interpretation filled with potential cadences searching for completion, and bringing special weight to the moment when they are ultimately completed.