The Snake Bites Its Tail: Cyclic Processes in Brahms's Third String Quartet, op. 67

Frisch, Walter M.

Brahms's Third String Quartet, op. 67 in Bb Major, represents one of his greatest efforts in cyclical form, but has been neglected in the analytical and critical literature, which has focused on the Third Symphony, the Schicksalslied, and the German Requiem. Brahms's cyclic techniques fall between the procedures of Beethoven, who aims for thematic unity or coherence across a work, and French composers at the end of the 19th century, who use extensive, intricate thematic transformation to bind a piece. Brahms designs the finale of his Bb Quartet, a theme and variations, to evolve toward the reappearance of the main thematic material of the first movement. In the coda of the finale, the themes of the two outer movements are superimposed in ways that reveal their latent kinship.



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The Journal of Musicology

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University of California Press
Published Here
July 29, 2015