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Joseph Riepel's Theory of Metric and Tonal Order:

Phrase and Form

John Walter Hill
January 15, 2015

471 pp.

2 illustrations

ISBN: 978-1576472453

Paperback 6X 9 $96.00

Purchase on Boydell & Brewer


This book offers a clear and consistent English translation of Riepel�s first two volumes, which contain a substantially complete presentation of the first and most influential comprehensive compositional and analytical theory that relates to the major homophonic instrumental forms of the eighteenth century, the symphony, concerto, and sonata. Used in conjunction with the glossary of translated terms, this translation offers new illumination of Riepel�s theory, even for native German speakers. The five chapters of commentary demonstrate that Riepel conceived of macrorhythms at the phrase and period level based on the dynamics of implication and realization; that he distilled this theory from his study of works by Benda and the Grauns, their teacher Pisendel, and, to some extent, his teacher Vivaldi; that Leopold Mozart used Riepel�s approach to train his young son, Wolfgang; that Koch�s theory of symphonic composition is essentially a partial modernization of Riepel�s; and that Riepel�s theory of analysis amounts to a kind of parsing that does not depend on intention for its validity. Riepel�s focus on the Absatz (�comma�) and cadence as segment-defining punctuations simplifies the task of informed listening for the modern student and provides a secure, consistent, and non-essentialist foundation for period-sensitive analysis and criticism.


John Walter Hill:

John Walter Hill is Professor Emeritus of Musicology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where he taught from 1978 to 2008. Previously, he taught at the University of Chicago, University of Pennsylvania, and University of Delaware. His Ph.D. is from Harvard University, where he studied with Nino Pirrotta, John Ward, Randall Thompson, and Leon Kirchner. His A.B. is from the University of Chicago, where he studied with Howard Brofsky, Howard Mayer Brown, Edward Lowinsky, Leonard B. Meyer, and H. Colin Slim. He served as Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the American Musicological Society, 1984-86, and as Chair of the Program Committee of the American Musicological Society in 1991. His research, particularly in Italy, on music of the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, the American Philosophical Society, the Fulbright Commission, and the Arnold O. Beckman Foundation, among other organizations. His most recent book, Baroque Music: Music in Western Europe, 1580-1750, The Norton Introduction to Music History (New York: W. W. Norton, 2005), together with its companion Anthology of Baroque Music (New York: W. W. Norton, 2005), were preceded by his Roman Monody, Cantata, and Opera from the Circles around Cardinal Montalto, 2 vols. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), Vivaldi's Ottone in villa: A Study in Musical Drama, Dramma�turgia musi�cale veneta, 1 (Venice: Fondazione Giorgio Cini, 1983), and The Life and Works of Francesco Maria Veracini (Ann Arbor: UMI Re�search Press, 1979). He was elected to membership in the Accademia Filarmonica of Bologna in 1989. Biographical articles about Professor Hill have been published in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2nd ed. (London: Macmillan, 2001), and Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, 2nd ed. (Kassel: B�renreiter, 2002). A symphonic trumpet player in his youth (studied with Adoph Herseth and Renold Schilke), John has revived this activity in retirement: recent samples can be found by searching YouTube with �John Hill, trumpet.�


January 1, 2015

Riepel is known for his theoretical work especially in a novel melody and morphology. Riepels writings form one of the foundations for the theory of composition of the later 18th century. "Joseph Riepiel's Theory of Metric and Tonal Order: Phrase and Form" is a solid work of truly exceptional scholarship by John Walter Hill and the twentieth volume in the Pendragon Press 'Harmonologica: Studies in Music Theory' series. Enhanced with the inclusion of a six page Bibliography and a comprehensive Index, "Joseph Riepiel's Theory of Metric and Tonal Order: Phrase and Form" would make a valued addition to academic library Musicology reference collections. Micah Andrew, Bookwatch

James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief
“Midwest Book Review”
MBR Bookwatch: January 2015

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