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This article establishes a dialogue between twenty-first-century music theory and historical modes of enquiry, adapting the new Formenlehre (Caplin, Hepokoski/Darcy) to serve a historically oriented hermeneutics. An analytical case study of the first movement of Haydn's Symphony No. 92 (1789) traces the changing functional meanings of the opening ‘caesura prolongation phrase’. The substance of the exposition consists largely of things functionally ‘before-the-beginning’ and ‘after-the-end’, while the recapitulation follows a logic of suspense and surprise, keeping the listener continually guessing. The analysis calls into question Hepokoski and Darcy's restriction of the mode of signification of sonata-form movements to the narration of human action. The primary mode of signification of the recapitulation is indexical: it stands as the effect of a human cause. This account matches late eighteenth-century concepts of ‘genius’.
The discovery of a satirical list from 1732 helps us revisit Handel's affairs during the early 1730s. Placing the composer among elite guests at the opening night of Vauxhall Gardens in 1732, the new document predates his known links with the venue by six years, offers a rare description of him as subservient to John James Heidegger and possibly alludes to his medical condition prior to 1737. It also invites an exploration of hidden affinities between English oratorio and John Henley's much-abused Oratory, including a hypothesis about the strictures applied to Esther by the Bishop of London. Much more important, it helps launch a re-examination of Handel's role in the ‘Second Academy’ as a court composer in an entrepreneurial milieu.