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Intimacy as a Mode of Expression in Mendelssohn's Mature Instrumental Works

ROWLAND, HAZEL,ELIZABETH,JING-XIA (2021) Intimacy as a Mode of Expression in Mendelssohn's Mature Instrumental Works. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



Intimate exchanges in private, sociable environments were of paramount importance to Mendelssohn and his contemporaries, as they enabled individual participants to express their inner selves to those with whom they were closest. This thesis therefore argues that intimacy as a mode of expression permeates Mendelssohn’s instrumental works. It begins by considering the value placed on intimate exchanges by Mendelssohn and his circle, stemming from concerns surrounding Bildung and self-cultivation in late eighteenth- and early nineteenth- century German thought. It then theorises how intimacy as a mode of expression can be traced in Mendelssohn’s mature instrumental music by considering the musical parameters that suggest intimacy’s private, collective and reciprocal qualities. To demonstrate the merits of such an endeavour, this study proceeds to apply this methodology to several instrumental works from the last decade of Mendelssohn’s career. These case studies not only reveal the salience of an intimate expression in the composer’s instrumental music, but also shed new light on their reception, illuminate Mendelssohn’s idiosyncratic formal and syntactical choices, and illustrate how he transformed the expressive qualities typically associated with certain topics. In arguing that expressive modes provided an important means of expression for nineteenth- century composers, this thesis also acts as a model for further studies on other expressive modes in different repertoires. My methodology, moreover, reflects changes in early nineteenth- century aesthetic preoccupations by re-conceptualising the relationship between form and expression: it regards the former as making a vital contribution to the latter, while also viewing Mendelssohn’s expressive ends providing a possible explanation for his idiosyncratic formal choices. My thesis thus contests the validity of analyses that regard form and expression as two distinct entities. The outcome is a novel approach to analysing nineteenth-century music that considers form and expression in tandem, as mutually interdependent, and inextricable from one another.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:intimacy, theory, analysis, Mendelssohn, form
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Music, Department of
Thesis Date:2021
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:24 Nov 2021 15:28

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