Honors Projects


A performance of any piece of music is not complete if the performer has not looked at the piece from historical and analytical perspectives. Having decided to perform the first movement of Johannes Brahms’s Sonata in F Minor, Op. 120 No.1 on my senior recital, I wanted to analyze the piece so that I had an understanding of how it was composed, hoping that this knowledge would influence my performance. Knowing that Brahms is considered a formalist composer writing in the Romantic era, I hoped to discern how Brahms was able to create a piece that was both Romantic and Classical. Using Schenkerian Analysis, I quickly found that, on the surface, Brahms frequently broke rules that are inherent to Schenkerian Analysis - namely, writing many nonfunctional harmonic progressions. Yet, from having played and listened to the piece, I could still discern clear cadences, even though on the page, they did not seem to be functional cadences. This led me to the creation of the term “faked functionality:” phrases that sound functional yet appear nonfunctional. In combination with ambiguity, Brahms uses the idea of faked functionality to prolong the background structure over 200 measures of music without ever writing a Perfect Authentic Cadence in F Minor. In doing so, Brahms creates a piece that is somehow both Romantic and Classical: Romantic on the surface, but Classical in the background.


Music Performance Studies


Music Performance

First Advisor

Kevin Schempf

First Advisor Department

Music Performance Studies

Second Advisor

Gregory Decker

Second Advisor Department


Publication Date

Spring 4-28-2017