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Inner Repeats in the Minuet or Scherzo da Capo

Recent research by Max Rudolf indicates hat the omission of the repeats within the da capo of a
Classic minuet or scherzo lacks any foundation in sources of the period and up to 1850. Rather, the few
relevant comments found suggest that it was the general custom to include the internal repeats the
second time around unless otherwise specified. Johann Mattheson confirmed the custom in 1739. Trk
added an explicit direction in the second edition of his Klavierschule:
A sort of repeat sign is also the Da Capo After the Trio of a Minuet we usually find the words Minuetto
da Capo, or abbreviated, Min. D.C. This indicates that the Minuet is to be played from the beginning, that
is with the prescribed repeats, consequently like the first time, unless ma senza replica (but without repeat)
is explicitly added.

Koch, Hummel, and Czerny all supported this view.


Composers made selective use of senza replica or similar instructions when they wished to avert an
unwanted repetition. And again we see evidence of this from Beethovens early years. In his Piano Trio
Op. 1/1, the end of the Trio bears the marking Scherzo d.C. Senza repetizione e poi la Coda. When
Beethoven changed his mind about a repeat in the Scherzo of the String Quartet Op. 74 after the
manuscript had gone to the publisher, he indicated the deletion of a repeat sign in two letters, and in
another he wrote that he would send a special copy of the first violin part so that there may be no
misunderstanding.
The most obvious intersection of inner repeats and dynamic schemes comes at this point. There is
evidence that the inner repeats of a minuet or scherzo (and its trio) were sometimes played with
dynamics that differed, at least in part, from those of the preceding statement, as was also true of
Baroque practice. In the fifth movement of his Divertimento for String Trio K. 563, Mozart requested
that for the first da Capo of the Menuetto each section was to be played with its written dynamics, then
repeated softly (Menuetto D.C. la replica piano). However, the movement goes on to Trio II and a
da Capo senza replica, so that the Menuetto ends at its original forte (before the Coda).
Czerny left a general direction regarding dynamics in da capo repeats:
On the repetition or Da Capo of a Scherzo after the Trio, the first part of it when played for the second
time, and the following second part when played the first time, must be performed throughout pp, and
almost without any emphasis.

Few would want to use this formula with every da capo, to say the least; but the passage: indicates
observance of the internal repeats, a change of dynamics at least some of the time, and an interference
that the movement does not end softly.
We do not know how often the dynamics were varied in the observance of da capo repeats during
the Classic period undoubtedly this matter was at the performers discretion. But the evidence cited
suggests that at least for some movements (Czerny mentioned scherzos; did he mean to include
minuets?) a bright sound at the end was desirable. This little information is applicable to movements
that have dynamic directions but is more important to those that do not, such as the minuets from
Haydns early sonates. In Hob. 12, for example, one dynamic scheme for the da capo would be first
section forte followed by a softer repeat; second section, mm. 11-16 played piano.
Sources for the minuets in Haydns keyboard sonates often have varying bass lines in the last
measure of each section. In some there may be a dotted half note; in others there may be the typical
quarter note descent of 1-5-1. These differences are carried over into urtext editions. For example,
compare the Menuet of Hob. 12 in JHW and HSU. It may be that the three-note bass was typically used
for continuity but that at the end of the da capo, and perhaps after the repetition before the trio, the first

bass note was held for the measure. Such a hold was sometimes suggested by a fermata over the first of
the three quarter notes.
Source:
Performance Practices in Classic Piano Music: Their Principles and Applications
Sandra P. Rossenblum