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Haydn and the Analysis Wars: A View from the Sidelines

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Anyone who has spent any serious analytical time with eighteenth-century music knows that standard formal models often do not seem to fit, let alone explain, the music and formal structures of the eighteenth century. Nowhere is this disconnect between theory and practice more evident than in the music of Joseph Haydn, especially his instrumental music. This article examines and compares two analytical systems of particular applicability to eighteenth-century music: Jan LaRue’s Guidelines for style Analysis, and James Hepokoski and Warren Darcy’s Elements of Sonata Theory: Norms, Types, and Deformations in the Late Eighteenth-Century. If we combine elements of both systems, rather than insisting on the superiority of one or the other, we can enhance our understanding and appreciation of the delightful ambiguities and formal quirks of Haydn’s music.