Tag Archives: Jan Swafford

which came first …?


“… in much commentary, there is a tendency to look at every work in a given form, such as sonata form, as just one more example of that form, perhaps with a few quirks. From a composer’s perspective, that is a backward view of the matter. For a composer of Beethoven’s era, the idea of a work comes first, and then it is mapped into a familiar form that has to be cut and measured to fit the idea. The ‘quirks’ in a given piece are clues to the distinctive nature of that piece. Sometimes for the composer the fundamental idea is such that a new, ad hoc form has to be invented.”

— Jan Swafford, Beethoven: Anguish and Triumph; A Biography



This is a brilliant comment. It applies to all the arts (including, say, writing and poetry).


— Roger W. Smith

    October 2017