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date: 21 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Along with the emergence of topic theory, musicological discourse has witnessed a spectacular revival of rhetorical terminology. How can musical topics be defined vis-à-vis rhetorical figures? Any answer is fraught with paradox. Unlike Scheibe’s or Mattheson’s loci topici (which remained conceptually clearly anchored in inventio), Ratnerian topics span the range of res and verba (ideas and words) or inventio and elocutio: like figures, topics are to be recognized as striking foreground events and definitions of them have been style-specific. This chapter discusses three existing examples of figure- versus topic-oriented analysis of solo keyboard sonatas, exploring the compatibility of topic and figure while enlarging the picture to include performance, voluntas (or intent of the speaker), and choice of instrument. The three analyses are Friedrich August Kanne’s (1821) of Mozart’s K. 309/i, Wye Allanbrook’s (1992) of Mozart’s K. 332/i, and Leonard Ratner’s (1980) of Haydn’s Hob. XVI:52/i.

Keywords: figure, topic, loci topici, voluntas, rhetorical, res, verba, inventio, elocutio

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