The Classical Sonata Form: Archetypes and Political Constants

By Rossella Marisi.

Published by The Arts Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

A musical form succeeds when it well interprets the thoughts and feelings of a large audience. The classical sonata form, on which sonatas, quartets, concertos for soloist and orchestra, and orchestral symphonies written between 1730 and 1820 are composed, enjoyed great success in this period. Contemporary audiences also appreciate these pieces, and even
request them in concert programs, so that these pieces are very often included in twenty-first century concert seasons.
Yet the line of thought which characterized the eighteenth century - widespread rational optimism - is no longer espoused by contemporary philosophy. Therefore, which peculiarities of these pieces allow contemporary audiences to understand and appreciate them? Are there “depth” characteristics which make this form suitable for all audiences?
The classical sonata form, however, underwent substantial changes during Romanticism, and was practically abandoned by composers during the twentieth century.
Therefore, two hypotheses can be proposed: i) the sonata form can be understood and appreciated by audiences living in different centuries because it is based on archetypes which, as Jung argued, are a perennial heritage of mankind; ii) the sonata form originated, spread and succeeded in a specific context, characterized by peculiar economic, political, and cultural factors, and was abandoned when the context changed dramatically. This article aims to define the probable causes of the spread of the
classical sonata form, examining it from a psychoanalytical and political viewpoint, identifying the conditions which made the success of this form possible, and searching for its hidden message.

Keywords: Music, Form, Classical Sonata, Archetype, Political Constant, Agricultural Revolution, Industrial Revolution, Jung, Leibniz, Hume, Rousseau, Burke, Enlightened Absolutism, Balance, Social Order

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 5, Issue 5, pp.41-50. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 2.419MB).

Rossella Marisi

Student, Department of Politics, University of Teramo, Pescara, Italy

In 2008 Rossella Marisi earned her degree in flute at Pescara Conservatory. She attended courses in French and Belgian Universities and is now a student at the Teramo University (Italy). Winner of 2 flute prizes, she performed about 100 recitals in Europe and the USA, as a soloist and a member of various musical ensembles. She recorded 2 CDs, and authored 3 books, 2 essays and some articles on music and politics. Since 2008 she teaches flute at the Istituto Comprensivo “A. Moro”, Seriate (Italy).

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