A Milestone of Symbolist Music. A Multi-Perspective Examination of Nikolai Medtner’s Sonata-Ballade, Op. 27

Wendelin Bitzan


Nikolai Medtner’s Sonata-Ballade, Op. 27, is a cyclic three-movement work which incorporates into itself an
independently published ballade as its first movement. The sonata’s refined structure is enriched by a number of
intertextual narratives, establishing motivic cross-references to other compositions by Medtner. In addition, there are
strong religious implications derived from a poem by Afanasy Fet which is closely connected to the genesis of the work.
The article first attempts to examine the score as it appears, and then considers the mentioned semantic implications in
a separate stage of the analysis. The results reveal the Sonata-Ballade to be a unique work of Symbolist art, unfolding
the most personal of the composer’s aesthetic views to the listener.

Keywords: Sonata, ballade, Medtner, Fet, Pushkin, cyclic form, musical semantics, hermeneutics, symbolism,
narrative, spiritualism, self-quotation, muse, temptation

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17674/1997-0854.2016.3.006-014


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