FOM: a question of vocabulary

Adrian Mathias amathias at
Mon Jul 27 10:19:50 EDT 1998

Suppose I wish to increase my understanding of a great piece of music,
e.g. the Hammerklavier Sonata of Beethoven. 

I see two different approaches. 

1) I can analyse the text: in the first movement mark the first group, 
second group, development, recapitulation, and so 
on; in the last movement, identify all the fugal devices. 

This activity is extremely useful to a pianist who wishes to perform 
the piece in public. His is a problem of rhetoric: he wants to convey 
the work to the audience and he has to decide where to place his 
tensions, climaces and resolutions. 

2) I can ask "how did Beethoven do it ?", and seek to answer that by 
going to his sketchbooks, reading the reminiscences of his 
contemporaries and pupils, making guesses about the psychological 
processes by which the work grew inside Beethoven's mind, and so on. 

This activity is perhaps more important to another composer than to a 
performer, but it may also shed light on doubtful passages in the
published text, such as the notorious A-natural/A-sharp controversy 
just before the recapitulation in the first movement. 

MY QUESTION: is either of the above two activities what Derrida and 
friends call deconstruction ? 

A. R. D. Mathias

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