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An analysis and comparison of the clarinet and viola version of the two sonatas for clarinet (or viola) and piano OP. 120 by Johannes Brahms

by Lee, Kyungju.

Abstract (Summary)
Johannes Brahms was one of the first composers to appreciate fully the viola’s potential, allowing the instrument a chance to shine in his chamber music. Although Brahms’ Two Sonatas in f-minor and E-flat major, Op.120, were originally written for clarinet and piano, they are also greatly loved in the viola repertoire. Upon examination of the clarinet and viola versions of the sonatas, Brahms seems to have been keenly aware of the potential of each instrument. He intentionally sought different effects from these two instruments by composing two different versions. Each version is different not only with regard to its tone color or timbre, but also regarding practical techniques, such as vibrato, lip pressure, leap shifting, volume, and range. In my document, I will observe the differences between the clarinet and the viola versions, especially focusing on the unique characteristics of the each instrument. Then I will investigate why Brahms made such alterations for the viola, and I will also discuss how and why identical passages can sound and be expressed differently according to the instrument. In the first part of my document, I will provide a short historical background of the Op. 120 sonatas. I will also identify some of the composer’s musical idiosyncrasies, concentrating especially on his chamber music and his high regard for the role of the clarinet and the viola in these works. Secondly, I will compare the clarinet and viola versions of these sonatas and point out the possible reasons for the differences between these versions. Finally, the third part will focus on how identical passages can be heard and expressed differently according to each instrument. 3 4 4 5
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School:University of Cincinnati

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

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