Another Typical German Sonata Form?: Regional Preferences and Georg Joseph Vogler's 'Baierische National' Symphony

Doug Donley, Independent Scholar

Beginning at least as early as Charles Rosen's Sonata Forms, much scholarship has challenged the plausibility of defining any unified sonata theory. This study further complicates the issue by examining what happens when expected formal zones become partially decoupled from their expected key areas. The works of Georg Joseph Vogler (1749-1814), though certainly activating some of the expectations of German Formenverlauf, are nevertheless held together more by tonal bonds than thematic ones. First, my examination explains how the eccentricities of Vogler's oeuvre find historical precedence in the works of the Mannheim kapellmeisters, especially Johann Stamitz. Second, I use Vogler's simple binary-form preludes and the first movement of the "Baierische National" Symphony to show how Vogler operates mostly independently of any strict formal plan. In short, Vogler's compositions employ form, not as a mold to be filled, but as a process guided by tonality itself.