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Composing Symbolism's Musicality of Language in fin-de-siècle France

Description: In this dissertation, I explore the musical prosody of the literary symbolists and the influence of this prosody on fin-de-siècle French music. Contrary to previous categorizations of music as symbolist based on a characteristic "sound," I argue that symbolist aesthetics demonstrably influenced musical construction and reception. My scholarship reveals that symbolist musical works across genres share an approach to composition rooted in the symbolist concept of musicality of language, a concept that shapes this music on sonic, structural, and conceptual levels. I investigate the musical responses of four different composers to a single symbolist text, Oscar Wilde's one-act play Salomé, written in French in 1891, as case studies in order to elucidate how a symbolist musicality of language informed their creation, performance, and critical reception. The musical works evaluated as case studies are Antoine Mariotte's Salomé, Richard Strauss's Salomé, Aleksandr Glazunov's Introduction et La Danse de Salomée, and Florent Schmitt's La Tragédie de Salomé. Recognition of symbolist influence on composition, and, in the case of works for the stage, on production and performance expands the repertory of music we can view critically through the lens of symbolism, developing not only our understanding of music's role in this difficult and often contradictory aesthetic philosophy but also our perception of fin-de-siècle musical culture in general.
Date: August 2016
Creator: Varvir Coe, Megan E

The Most Expressionist of All the Arts: Programs, Politics, and Performance in Critical Discourse about Music and Expressionism, c. 1918-1923

Description: This dissertation investigates how German-language critics articulated and publicly negotiated ideas about music and expressionism in the first five years after World War I. A close reading of largely unexplored primary sources reveals that "musical expressionism" was originally conceived as an intrinsically musical matter rather than as a stylistic analog to expressionism in other art forms, and thus as especially relevant to purely instrumental rather than vocal and stage genres. By focusing on critical reception of an unlikely group of instrumental chamber works, I elucidate how the acts of performing, listening to, and evaluating "expressionist" music were enmeshed in the complexities of a politicized public concert life in the immediate postwar period. The opening chapters establish broad music-aesthetic and sociopolitical contexts for critics' postwar discussions of "musical expressionism." After the first, introductory chapter, Chapter 2 traces how art and literary critics came to position music as the most expressionist of the arts based on nineteenth-century ideas about the apparently unique ontology of music. Chapter 3 considers how this conception of expressionism led progressive-minded music critics to interpret expressionist music as the next step in the historical development of absolute music. These critics strategically—and controversially—portrayed Schoenberg's "atonal" polyphony as a legitimate revival of "linear" polyphony in fugues by Bach and late Beethoven. Chapter 4 then situates critical debates about the musical and cultural value of expressionism within broader struggles to construct narratives that would explain Germany's traumatic defeat in the Great War and abrupt restructuring as a fragile democratic republic. Against this backdrop, the later chapters explore critics' responses to public performances of specific "expressionist" chamber works. Chapter 5 traces reactions to a provocative performance of Schoenberg's Chamber Symphony, op. 9 (1906) at the Berlin Volksbühne in February 1920. Chapter 6 examines the interplay of musical-aesthetic and sociopolitical issues in critical ...
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Date: August 2016
Creator: Carrasco, Clare

Opera and Society in Early-Twentieth-Century Argentina: Felipe Boero's El matrero

Description: Premiering at the twilight of the gauchesco era and the dawn of Argentine musical Modernism, El matrero (1929) by Felipe Boero (1884-1958) remains underexplored in terms of its social milieu and artistic heritage. Instantly hailed as a masterpiece, the work retains a place in the local repertory, though it has never been performed internationally. The opera draws on myths of the gaucho and takes further inspiration from the energized intellectual environment surrounding the one-hundred-year anniversary of Argentine Independence. The most influential writers of the Centenary were Leopoldo Lugones (1874-1938), Ricardo Rojas (1882-1957), and Manuel Gálvez (1882-1962). Their times were marked by contradictions: xenophobia and the desire for foreign approbation; pride in an imaginary, "barbaric" yet noble ideal wiped out by the "civilizing" ambitions of revered nineteenth-century leaders. Krausism, a system of ideas following the teachings of Karl Friedrich Krause (1781-1832), had an impact on the period as exhibited in the political philosophy of Hipólito Yrigoyen (1852-1933), who served as president from 1916 to 1922 and 1928 to 1930 when he was deposed by a right-wing coup d'état. Uncritical applications of traditional understandings of nationalism have had a negative impact on Latin American music scholarship. A distillation of scholarly conceptions of Argentine nacionalismo, which address the meaning of the word as it was used in the early twentieth century, combined with an examination of major works of important literary figures of the Centenary provide a firmer ground for discussion. Gálvez paints a conservative portrait of a refined, well-traveled dilettante who finds true enlightenment only in his own rural, Argentine culture. A liberal, Rojas understands nationalism as devotion to the development of national institutions and local art. Lugones argues the foundation of national art should be the gaucho, and articulates the hierarchical sociabilities it should articulate. Boero adopts elements of Krausism and ...
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Date: August 2016
Creator: Sauceda, Jonathan