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An Analytical Study of Paradox and Structural Dualism in the Music of Ludwig van Beethoven

Description: Beethoven's rich compositional language evokes unique problems that have fueled scholarly dialogue for many years. My analyses focus on two types of paradoxes as central compositional problems in some of Beethoven's symphonic pieces and piano sonatas. My readings of Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 27 (Op. 90), Symphony No. 4 (Op. 60), and Symphony No. 8 (Op. 93) explore the nature and significance of paradoxical unresolved six-four chords and their impact on tonal structure. I consider formal-tonal paradoxes in Beethoven's Tempest Sonata (Op. 31, No. 2), Ninth Symphony (Op. 125), and Overture die Weihe des Hauses (Op. 124). Movements that evoke formal-tonal paradoxes retain the structural framework of a paradigmatic interrupted structure, but contain unique voice-leading features that superimpose an undivided structure on top of the "residual" interrupted structure. Carl Schachter's observations about "genuine double meaning" and his arguments about the interplay between design and tonal structure in "Either/Or" establish the foundation for my analytical approach to paradox. Timothy Jackson's reading of Brahms' "Immer leiser word meine Schlummer" (Op. 105, No. 2) and Stephen Slottow's "Von einem Kunstler: Shapes in the Clouds" both clarify the methodology employed here. My interpretation of paradox involves more than just a slight contradiction between two Schenkerian readings; it involves fundamentally opposed readings, that both result from valid, logical lines of analytical reasoning. In my view, paradoxes could be considered a central part of Beethoven's persona and philosophy. Beethoven's romantic endeavors and his relationships with mentors suggest that paradoxes might have been central to his bravura. Furthermore, Beethoven's familiarity with the politics of the French Revolution and Shakespearean literature suggest that paradoxes in some pieces (including the Ninth Symphony) could be metaphorical representations of his ideology. However, I do not attempt to explicitly link specific style features to extra-musical ideas. Modern Schenkerian scholars continue to expand ...
Date: May 2016
Creator: Graf, Benjamin Stewart

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

Looking through a Different Lens, Beyond Censorship: The American Reception of "Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District"

Description: The censorship of Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District is a familiar story to musicologists, but reception of the opera is not frequently mentioned. Examining the reception of a work can bring a work's relative importance into focus. In this thesis, German literary and reception theorist Hans Robert Jauss's model of the horizon of expectations is applied to reviews of American productions of Lady Macbeth. Curiosity about communism following the Great Depression in 1930s, America and American music critics' knowledge that Soviet composers worked for the Soviet regime led to the belief that Lady Macbeth was officially approved export from the Soviet Union. When the article condemning the opera as a Western formalism appeared in the Soviet magazine, Pravda, Americans needed to adjust their understanding of Lady Macbeth as a socialist expression. Following the work's revival in San Francisco in 1981, the influence of Solomon Volkov's Testimony is prevalent in many reviews. Many reviewers use Volkov's narrative of Shostakovich as covert dissident of the Soviet Union to assert that the censorship of the opera was about the content of the plot and not the music. Following the Soviet rejection of the work, American critics tried to claim Shostakovich for the West based on the values of individual freedom and feminism set forth in Lady Macbeth.
Date: August 2017
Creator: Cassell, Holly Kathleen

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

Musical and Dramatic Functions of Loops and Loop Breakers in Philip Glass's Opera "The Voyage"

Description: Philip Glass's minimalist opera The Voyage commemorates the 500th Anniversary of Christopher Columbus's discovery of America. In the opera, Philip Glass, like other composers, expresses singers' and non-singers' words and activities by means of melodies, rhythms, chords, textures, timbres, and dynamics. In addition to these traditional musical expressions, successions of reiterating materials (RMs, two or more iterations of materials) and non reiterating materials (NRMs) become new musical expressions. However, dividing materials into theses two categories only distinguishes NRMs from RMs without exploring relations among them in successions. For instance, a listener cannot perceive the functional relations between a partial iteration of the RM and the NRM following the partial RM because both the partial RM and the NRM are NRMs. As a result, a listener hears a succession of NRM followed by another NRM. When an analyst relabels the partial RM as partial loop, and the NRM following the partial RM as loop breaker, a listener hears the NRM as a loop breaker causing a partial loop. The musical functions of loops and loop breakers concern a listener's expectations of the creation, sustaining, departure, and return to the norm in successions of loops and loop breakers. When a listener associates the satisfaction and dissatisfaction of these expectations with dramatic devices such as incidents, words in dialogues and soliloquies, and activities by singers and non-singers, loops and loop breakers in successions become dramatically functional. This dissertation explores the relations among musical and dramatic functions of loops and loop breakers in Glass's musical commemoration of Columbus.
Date: May 2016
Creator: Wu, Chia-Ying

Negotiating Decades of Change in America: The Houston Chinese Traditional Music Group

Description: For over two hundred years, Chinese immigrants have brought ancient customs and musical traditions to their new homes in America. As in many immigrant communities, a new heritage that embodies and exhibits both the quintessential features of American culture and genuine Chinese heritage have come together to form new expressive cultures that are uniquely "Chinese American." As the youngest of the major American Chinese immigrant centers, the city of Houston, Texas provides an exemplary example of a distinct cultural cohesion that, in part, resulted from significant cultural and political upheavals in the latter half of the twentieth century. During this era of political unrest, many Chinese people's attitudes towards their traditional culture changed drastically. The Houston Chinese Traditional Music Group (HCTMG) is a Chinese orchestra comprised of amateur and professional musicians ranging in age from 13 to over 60 years old. Performing regularly for the Chinese immigrant population in Houston, HCTMG's take on traditional Chinese music deviates greatly from that of older, more established immigrant communities on the East and West Coasts and in some parts of mainland China. Via participant observation, interviews, and analysis of source materials, this paper examines how changing political and economic climates in China during the 1960s to the 1990s—when the majority of HCTMG musicians lived in China –are reflected in the musical decisions of HCTMG and the greater Houston Chinese immigrant community at large.
Date: August 2017
Creator: Mei, Yuxin

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