We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more

A Sonata Theory Handbook

James Hepokoski

Publication Date - December 2020

ISBN: 9780197536827

352 pages
7 x 10 inches

In Stock

Retail Price to Students: $49.95


Sonata form is the most commonly encountered organizational plan in the works of the classical-music masters, from Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven to Schubert, Brahms, and beyond. Sonata Theory, an analytic approach developed by James Hepokoski and Warren Darcy in their award-winning Elements of Sonata Theory (2006), has emerged as one of the most influential frameworks for understanding this musical structure. What can this method from "the new Formenlehre" teach us about how these composers put together their most iconic pieces and to what expressive ends?

In this new Sonata Theory Handbook, Hepokoski introduces readers step-by-step to the main ideas of this approach. At the heart of the book are close readings of eight individual movements — from Mozart's Piano Sonata in B-flat, K. 333, to such structurally complex pieces as Schubert's "Death and the Maiden" String Quartet and the finale of Brahms's Symphony No 1 — that show this analytical method in action. These illustrative analyses are supplemented with four updated discussions of the foundational concepts behind the theory, including dialogic form, expositional action zones, trajectories toward generically normative cadences, rotation theory, and the five sonata types. With its detailed examples and deep engagements with recent developments in form theory, schema theory, and cognitive research, this handbook updates and advances Sonata Theory and confirms its status as a key lens for analyzing sonata form.


  • Provides a highly accessible introduction to Sonata Theory that mirrors the author's teaching of the method in seminars
  • Illustrates the principles of Sonata Theory through close readings of individual works
  • Embraces influences from cognitive and historical approaches to musical analysis
  • Engages with insights from other theoretical methods for analyzing the sonata form

About the Author(s)

James Hepokoski is Henry L. and Lucy G. Moses Professor Emeritus of Music at Yale University. Bridging the professional domains of music history and music theory, he is a specialist in symphonic and chamber music in the late eighteenth, nineteenth, and early twentieth centuries as well as in current research methodologies and hermeneutics. He is the author, together with Warren Darcy, of the award-winning Elements of Sonata Theory (OUP, 2006), an innovative contribution to "the New Formenlehre."


"An excellent addition and deepening of the standard work from 2006" -- Stefan Keym, Die Musikforschung

"The analyses are consistently subtle and convincing ... A Sonata Theory Handbook will get a lot of use. Incidentally, Hepokoski and Darcy's indexing scheme -- segregation by names, works, and concepts -- remains the best method ever devised." -- B. J. Murray, CHOICE

"Highly Recommended." -- CHOICE

"Much more than simply a how-to guide, this handbook vividly presents and clarifies the concepts of Sonata Theory through a series of penetrating analyses, inviting its readers to share in the exciting interpretive possibilities offered by this landmark approach." -- L. Poundie Burstein, author of Journeys through Galant Expositions

"This book is so much more than a companion piece to the influential Elements of Sonata Theory — it is an invitation to listen to some old favorites from Mozart to Brahms with fresh ears. Each page is brimming with compelling detail and vivid prose. Hepokoski brings sonata form to life." -- Alexander Rehding, Fanny Peabody Professor of Music, Harvard University

Table of Contents


    Chapter 1: What Is Sonata Theory?
    Chapter 2: Mozart, Piano Sonata in B-flat, K. 333/i (Allegro)
    Chapter 3: Mozart, Symphony No. 34 in C, K. 338/ii (Andante di molto più tosto allegretto)
    Chapter 4: The Basics: Sonata Types 3 and 1
    Chapter 5: Haydn, Symphony No. 100 in G, "Military," first movement (Adagio allegro)
    Chapter 6: Haydn, String Quartet in G, op. 76 no. 1/i (Allegro con spirito)
    Chapter 7: Beethoven, Symphony No. 2 in D, op. 36/i (Adagio molto-Allegro con brio)
    Chapter 8: The Minor-Mode Sonata
    Chapter 9: Beethoven, String Quartet in E Minor, op. 59 no. 2/i (Allegro)
    Chapter 10: Schubert, String Quartet No. 14 in D Minor, D. 810/i (Allegro)
    Chapter 11: The Type 2 Sonata
    Chapter 12: Brahms, Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, op. 68/iv (Adagio--Più andante--Allegro non troppo, ma con brio--Più allegro)

    Appendix: Sonata Types 4 and 5

Related Titles