Grazyna Bacewicz’s Second Piano Sonata (1953): Octave Expansion And Sonata Form

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Music Theory Online


If Grazyna Bacewicz’s music is so “conservative” and “neoclassical,” why is it so difficult to define the beginning and ending of the Development in one of her best-known works, the first movement of her Piano Sonata II? Thirty students and colleagues arrived at nearly thirty different answers to this question. I propose a linear analysis to best define the Development’ parameters, an analysis which reveals a large-scale octave descent in the bass register. This octave descent spans neither the major nor the minor scale, but instead prolongs a Polish folk mode known as the Podhalean mode.


linear analysis, 20th-century sonata forms, Polish folk music