2018 PAIG Meeting at AMS/SMT

“Since Schnabel: Pondering Hypermeter in Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas”

Presented by William Rothstein (The Graduate Center and Queens College, CUNY)

Friday, November 2, 12:30–2:00 (Crocket CD)

Our upcoming meeting will take the form of a 45-minute presentation (see abstract below) followed by an extended analytical discussion.

For those who wish to do a bit of “pondering hypermeter” in advance of the meeting, Prof. Rothstein has generously prepared some study materials about the first movement of Beethoven’s Sonata in E-Flat, op. 33, no. 3. These materials may stimulate your thinking and serve as food for thought for the discussion. Click here to download them in PDF format

We wish to emphasize that this preparatory material is completely optional. Everyone is welcome at the meeting and in the discussion, regardless of whether they have perused the preparatory materials. A handout will be available for the talk, and it will be possible to follow without having done any preparation.

We hope to see you there!


Abstract: According to his pupil Konrad Wolff, Schnabel said that when he began to play a passage, he needed to know how far away the end was. Hence the “metrical periods,” as he called them, that he marked in his edition of Beethoven’s piano sonatas, first published in the 1920s. Unfortunately, he never defined very clearly what a “metrical period” is.

Many performing musicians have felt a need similar to Schnabel’s: how to feel, or count, Beethoven’s rhythms of medium size (3–16 measures). The terms “meter,” “metrical period,” and “hypermeter” have been used by many, but the same term often conceals different meanings, as John Paul Ito has rightly pointed out. In this talk, I consider the views of several writers since Schnabel, from Tovey to Temperley to Ito. Excerpts from most or all of the following Beethoven movements will be discussed: op. 28, i; op. 31/3, i; and op. 90, i.