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Sonata Form as Temporal Process: A Form-functional Approach to Anton Bruckner’s Symphonic First Movements

KIM, SUN,BIN (2024) Sonata Form as Temporal Process: A Form-functional Approach to Anton Bruckner’s Symphonic First Movements. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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The clichéd view that Bruckner’s sonata form is a motionless architecture devoid of dynamic processes has long contributed to detaching his form from the mainstream post-Beethovenian tradition. In aiming to overcome this view, this study seeks to elucidate processual aspects of Bruckner’s form with a modified form-functional approach, which conceptualises sonata form as a hierarchical temporal process based on the dialectical interaction between stability and instability. By shedding light on Bruckner’s exceptional care for formal syntax on various levels and its close association with the overarching tonal plot, this study reveals that the expression of continuous temporality occurring across discrete formal entities is Bruckner’s fundamental tool for reinvigorating sonata form’s inherent temporal process in the post-Romantic context. Bruckner’s treatment of low-level syntax in the opening themes indicates that he often employs prematurely harmonic instability, which in turn contributes to the linear expression of the beginning–middle–end temporal cycle
inherent in sentence construction. At the higher level, the inter-thematic beginning, middle and end in the exposition are redistributed to the three theme groups, which express their unique temporal domain involving a dialectic interaction between teleology and recursion while delineating a gradual and continuous tonal journey from the home key to the subordinate key. The rest of the movement is
arranged as a gradual homecoming journey, with each subsequent large-scale part making meaningful contributions and addressing the previously suggested tonal instability. These findings suggest how meticulous Bruckner was in his attention to the inherent dynamic process of sonata form by skilfully arranging the hierarchical form-functional syntax to align with the teleological tonal discourse.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Bruckner, sonata form, formal function, analysis, symphony
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Music, Department of
Thesis Date:2024
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:05 Mar 2024 10:43

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