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Musical Form and the Dialectical Moment in Fin-de-Siècle Viennese Symphonic Sonatas

LEE, HEUNG,FAI (2020) Musical Form and the Dialectical Moment in Fin-de-Siècle Viennese Symphonic Sonatas. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Author-imposed embargo until 05 January 2024.


Situating at the intersection between music theory and the history of ideas, this study scrutinises the analytical implications of dialectical thought to address the issue of chromatic tonality in fin-de-siècle symphonic sonata forms. In light of the recent advances in the ‘new Formenlehre’ and neo-Riemannian theory, it pursues a two-part goal: 1) to reappraise the tonal basis of fin-de-siècle sonata form; and 2) from there, reconstruct the sonata teleology that underlies the formal practices in this repertoire. The enquiry begins by examining the intersections between music and dialectics in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Special attention is given to the concept of the Augenblick, which, considered in relation to the philosophies of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Karl Marx and Theodor W. Adorno, leads to the formulation of an original model of dialectical form. The model is subsequently put to test in case studies of symphonic works by Gustav Mahler, Franz Schmidt, Arnold Schoenberg and Richard Strauss, where I attend to issues in contemporary theories of form and tonality, the history of tonal theory, the genre of the symphonic poem and formal logic relevant to the analysis of fin-de-siècle sonata form. The outcome is a novel model of sonata teleology, which concurrently amounts to the elements of a theory of fin-de-siècle symphonic sonata form, as well as a renewed understanding of musical modernism.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:musical form; chromatic tonality; dialectics; modernism
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Music, Department of
Thesis Date:2020
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:08 Jan 2021 09:42

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