ssm 46

Dmitri Smirnov

The Anatomy of Theme
in Beethoven's Piano Sonatas



  appears in December 2008

English Edition only.


paperback, 324 pp., Format 14,2 x 21 cm, (= studia slavica musicologica, vol. 46),
music. illus.
, price: 59,95 EUR (Germany), 61,75 EUR (Austria), 118,00 CHF (other countries), ISBN 978-3-936637-19-9


This book investigates the anatomy of Theme – the foremost part of a musical organism, aiming to set out the principles of a strong and clear definition of this basic music term, and also to develop a detailed theory of its wider implications. It presents examination of Beethoven’s piano sonatas based on the post-Webernian approach to musical form and in particular on the principles of the teaching of Philip Herschkowitz (1906-1989), one of the most important pupils of Alban Berg and Anton Webern. It includes a lot of references to Herschkowitz’s works as well as a translation of his important essay to this particular subject: “Webern and His Teaching”. It also uses some unconventional methods of analysis, and includes a complete catalogue of every theme found within the sonatas, with classification of more than 500 themes according to their intervallic typology.


Dmitri Smirnov (b. 1948, Minsk), Russian composer and music theorist, living in the U. K. since 1991. He graduated from the Moscow Conservatoire in 1972, where he studied composition with Nikolai Sidelnikov, orchestration with Edison Denisov, and analysis with Yuri Kholopov. Since 1970 he also studied with Webern's pupil Philip Herschkowitz. In August 1972 he married the composer Elena Firsova.

He has written over one hundred and fifty compositions in various genres including 3 operas, 3 symphonies, 10 instrumental concerti, oratorio, cantatas, chamber and electronic music. Smirnov’s recent commissions have been from the London Symphony Orchestra, L’Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Leeds Festival Chorus, Brodsky Quartet, London Sinfonietta, The Nieuw Sinfonietta of Amsterdam, The Netherlands Blazers Ensemble, Karine Georgian and Mstislav Rostropovich.

As a music theorist, he has written around fifty works including books and articles on different aspects of contemporary music, researching the work of Webern, Boulez, Ligeti, Birtwistle, Ferneyhough, Shostakovich, Denisov, Schnittke, Gubaidulina, etc. His larger works include “Contemporary Treatment of Woodwind Instruments”,  “Musical Idea”, “Fragments about Denisov” (written together with Elena Firsova) and “A Geometer of Sound Crystals”.

ISBN 978-3-936637-19-9


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