Grounded in basic proposals laid out in Elements of Sonata Theory (2006), this paper defends the role of the medial caesura (MC) as the most normative marker of the onset of a secondary theme within “classical‑style” sonata expositions and argues that in its absence we do indeed have what is best considered to be a continuous exposition, lacking a secondary theme.  While Sonata Theory grants that the MC may be treated flexibly, even occasionally obscured, masked, or “composed-over,” it remains the most reliable, most musically intuitive guide to secondary‑theme identification.  In making this case our methodology resists the music‑analytical reduction to harmonic factors alone, arguing that musical “structure”—or “form”—should be more generously understood as an integrated whole that calls upon several other aspects as well, including thematic rhetoric, rhythmic drive, texture, dynamics, articulation, and register.  As Koch noted in the late‑eighteenth century, fundamental to the hearing of musical form in this period was the idea of rhetorical punctuation—pauses or gaps in the texture associated with central cadential moments: rhetorical breaks analogous to periods, semicolons, or commas in written discourse.  The result is a “punctuation form” (interpunctische Form).  When an MC is articulated, as it is in most cases, it is clearly the most explicit moment of mid‑expositional punctuation (Koch’s Hauptruhepunct des Geistes), dividing it into two parts and setting off the secondary theme that immediately follows.  When an MC is absent, the mid‑expositional effect that we perceive—and one that we believe is intentionally conveyed by such expositions (especially in large‑scale, Allegro compositions)—is one of a continuous rhetorical flow, at times a “breathless” continuous flow, an uninterrupted stream that by calculated design chooses not to articulate a mid‑expositional pause, or gap, or caesura.

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