Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)



First Advisor

Richard Kaplan


The final movements of Brahms's Cello Sonata in E Minor, Op. 38 and String Quintet in F Major, Op. 88 epitomize Tovey's description of Brahms's style, "from the outset almost evenly balanced between the most dramatic sonata form and the highest polyphony," in combining fugue with sonata form. Although previous authors have discussed Brahms's treatment of various genres, and there are multiple studies of individual movements of Brahms's chamber music, there has been no specific genre study of Brahms's fugal sonata movements. These two movements represent a unique and important aspect of Brahms's music in that they most explicitly illustrate the balance between counterpoint and sonata form. Brahms systematically explores certain types of compositional issues throughout his career, as exemplified by the twenty-year span encompassing the composition of the Sonata (1862-65) and the Quintet (1882). The first chapter of this monograph documents the significance of these issues, as follows: (1) Brahms was a traditionalist, but although he revered his predecessors, and his music represents a vital continuation of the classical tradition, he was also subtly progressive; (2) Brahms made prodigious use of counterpoint in his music; (3) Brahms had an affinity for early music; and, (4) Brahms often alluded to the music of other composers. The final two chapters of this monograph consist of analytical investigations of the two movements, illustrating the highly concentrated way in which they address all these issues. Although the two movements are outwardly similar in format, each achieves its own unique solutions to the compositional problems inherent in that format.