Johannes Brahms Symphony 2 Analysis

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Johannes Brahms composed his Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 73, in 1877, while visiting a rural town in Austria. This composition is typical of Brahms’ works in that it is a mixture of classical form and more modern ideas. The first movement, Allegro non troppo, is in sonata-allegro form and in triple simple meter, this movement is filled with contradictions in mood and contrasting sections. The numerous contrasts between the different sections make the transitional material especially important in this movement. In sonata-allegro form, the transition is a bridge between the Primary area and the Secondary area. Its purpose is to modulate from the key of the Primary area to the key of the Secondary area, as well as create a smooth change from …show more content…
The change in melody is drastic. The first transition area starts with a D major chord in m. 44, firmly establishing home key. The melody in the transition starts in the first violins in m. 44. This melody contains a lower neighbor motif, moving from an A5 down a half-step to a G#5 back up a half-step to a A5 before descending in an arpeggio, then ascending up to D6, and then moving back down stepwise in a turning motif. The lower neighbor motif was first presented in the Primary area in mm. 1-2 in the cellos and basses (D-C#-D-A), and is expanded now in the transition. The flutes play the melody in m. 48, which is an echo of what the violins previously played, and involves the same lower neighbor and turning motifs. However, the melody turns higher than the first phrase, reaching up to F#6 before descending stepwise. The horns and clarinet in A join in at m. 50 with an ascending third and descending whole steps. The violins once again have the melody at a higher register in m. 52, starting on E6, as if about to start a third phrase. Then, in m. 53, the second violin imitates the beginning of the phrase at G5. The flute and oboe follow at m. 54 at the same pitch (E) as the first violins, except that the oboe is doubled an octave lower. The bassoons and low strings follow suit at m. 55 at the same pitch (G) as the second violins, but two octaves lower. At the start of rehearsal letter A, the flutes and oboes have the melody, repeating what the violins had just

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