Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download campus access dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this dissertation through interlibrary loan.

Dissertations that have an embargo placed on them will not be available to anyone until the embargo expires.



Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type


Degree Program


Degree Type

Master of Music (M.M.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



Although the topoi and elements of what has been described as the “Venerable Style” (V.S.) are found in many places in Mozart’s solo keyboard sonatas, the obsessive juxtaposition of these elements against brilliant, concerted, Empfindsamer Stil, and Sturm und Drang topoi can be shown to define the first and third movements of his minor key piano sonatas K.310 and K.457. This thesis will investigate using the theoretical tools developed by a range of Topic Theory authors such as Ratner (1980,) Allanbrook (1983,) Hatten (2004,) and Monelle (2000, 2006,) a newly developed analytical concept known as topical expansion, and the structural framework provided by Hepokoski and Darcy (2006) to prove that the venerable topoi are not purely referential gestures, but are also vital parts of the structural content of each of the sonatas and their respective single movements. In line with Caplin (2005)’s warning that the venerable and learned styles are some of the only historically developed and generally accepted topoi with formal (structural) ramifications, this thesis will argue that K.310 and K.457’s surface content is built largely upon the application, troping, and expansion of V.S. topoi in the key formal regions given in Hepokoski and Darcy (2006). As a result of comparative analysis, a further topical level of unity and compositional organization will be shown to be present in the works justifying Kinderman (2006) and Irving (2010)’s conception of the works’ stylistic affect as avant-garde and romantic in execution. Additionally, analysis of the works’ strictly controlled topoi will show each work to be in opposition to Allanbrook’s conception of Mozart’s music as a “miniature theater of gestures,” suggesting that their austere affect is programmed at the topical level in addition to their tonal and formal content (Allanbrook 1992, 130).


First Advisor

Stefan Caris Love

Included in

Music Theory Commons