Dissertation

The working title for my dissertation is “Problems of Aesthetics, Coherence, and Large-Scale Form in Germanic Music, 1905–15.” The corpus of works under scrutiny includes Gustav Mahler’s late symphonies, the tone poems of Richard Strauss, and two early modern string quartets: Arnold Schoenberg’s op 7 and Alexander von Zemlisnky’s op 15. The first chapter focuses on addressing the aesthetics of what Richard Taruskin terms “maximalist” music, exploring issues of genre, symphonic and sonata form(s), and coherence. Each of the next three chapters explores a small corpus of works, addressing a single approach to maximalist composition. Chapter 2 considers Mahler’s generic mixture in the sonata-dialogic movements of his last three symphonic works: Das Lied von der Erde, and the Ninth and Tenth Symphonies. The chapter culminates with an analysis of the Rondo-Burleske from the Ninth symphony. Chapter 3 centers around a detailed study of Strauss’s Eine Alpensinfonie, investigating issues of narrative, program, and especially drama. I view the movement as a highly deformational sonata form, which I address by borrowing Gustav Freytag’s (1816–95) theory of dramatic structure. Chapter 4 concerns the notion of cyclic form, and in particular Steven Vande Moortele’s model of “Two-Dimensional Sonata Form.” Vande Moortele analyzes Schoenberg op 7 and Zemlinsky op 15 using this model, but I argue that these movements represent a cyclic form distinct from the Lisztian two-dimensional paradigm. Finally, in Chapter 5, I return to Mahler, analyzing Part 2 of his Eighth Symphony, which employs each of the strategies of the previous three chapters: generic mixture, narrative and program, and cyclic form.


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