Unconventional: Sonata-Form Manipulations in the Multi-Movement Works of Fanny Hensel
Lee, Frances Shi Hui
Doctor of Musical Arts
Fanny Hensel challenged the conventions of her time, not only by writing works that ventured outside of the domestic realm prescribed to women of her social class, but also by deviating from structural norms within her compositions. With this document, I intend to further the theoretical study of Hensel’s instrumental works, using her manipulation of sonata-form conventions as an entry point. The first three chapters comprise analyses of ten movements in sonata and sonata-rondo form that are found across six of her multi-movement works, spanning the course of her compositional output: the Piano Quartet in A-flat Major, the Piano Sonata in C Minor, the Ostersonate (Easter Sonata) for piano, the String Quartet in E-flat Major, the Piano Sonata in G Minor, and the Piano Trio in D Minor, op. 11. Each movement presents a unique take on sonata form, building its narrative through a dialogue with the structural model. The pieces chart Hensel’s journey as she emerges out of eighteenth-century traditions to boldly experiment with formal organization and cyclicism, then, in her last years and with publication on her mind, adheres more closely to structural conventions in the Piano Trio, while still employing innovative strategies. General stylistic tendencies also emerge, such as an avoidance of redundancy, via both constant variation and sectional omissions, and the creation of cohesiveness within and across movements by means of motivic and harmonic references. The concluding chapter discusses these and other trends found across the works, and proposes paths for further research.