Franz Liszt and the Post-Classical Sonata Deformation

Bryan Whitelaw

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


As recent attempts to theorise the practices of post-classical composers gain renewed momentum, a comprehensive study of Liszt’s engagement with the principles of sonata form is overdue. Save for a selective number of analyses, recent attempts at the formal study of nineteenth-century repertoires have tended to disregard Liszt’s output.
Due to Liszt’s apparent resistance of standard sonata-form models—those recently captured by both William Caplin (1998) and Hepokoski and Darcy (2006)—his works are often explained solely in terms of their programmatic content. While it is important to acknowledge the programmaticism of some of Liszt’s music, and its poetic and literary inspirations, its relationship with formal models demands more attention than it has previously received.
Hepokoski (1993, 2006) has suggested that composers from the turn of the nineteenth century were occupied with a variety of sonata deformational features that imply a ‘post-sonata’ generic subtype, and in light of this, this paper attempts to explore what these structural features are and how they manifest in Liszt’s sonata compositions. Calling for a hybridised theoretical discourse beyond the models of the Viennese-classical, I show how Liszt employs a common formal process across a number of symphonic works, and in turn, attempt to endorse his significance for the pursuit of a Romantic Formenlehre.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jun 2019
Event17th Annual Plenary Conference of the Society for Musicology in Ireland - Maynooth, Ireland
Duration: 28 Jun 201930 Jun 2019


Conference17th Annual Plenary Conference of the Society for Musicology in Ireland


Dive into the research topics of 'Franz Liszt and the Post-Classical Sonata Deformation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this