Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Aspects of the Enlightenment Found in Mozart's "Dissonance" String Quartet
by Bickler, Theresa, M.M., California State University, Long Beach, 2020, 33; 27963857
Abstract (Summary)

Mozart was a child prodigy and began composing music at a young age. Consequently, his early music has a natural innocence and naiveté. His standard approach to music highlighted the obvious aspects of beauty that fit within the general population’s idea of the time, and therefore, his initial compositions contained clear musical forms, symmetrical phrases, regular meter, and consonant harmonies that left his listeners full of delight. While his early music was free of tension, his later music focused more on unconventional beauty. As he began to experience those aspects of life that causes a person to grow and mature– for example, the death of his mother – his music began to take on a more chaotic profile. Perhaps because of those new experiences, his music of this late period presents a lack of clear balance in musical form, irregular meter, and dissonant harmonies.

One composition of this later period is Mozart’s String Quartet No. 19 in C Major, K. 465. Nicknamed “Dissonance,” the introduction is far from the typical Mozart. The opening 4 measures is jarring due to its asymmetrical phrases and vague harmonic rhythm as well as its dissonant harmonies that produces an unclear tonal center. Mozart seems to be using Immanuel Kant’s general philosophy: first a person is aware of their own consciousness and once they are aware, then comes the perception of the outside world. It is possible that Mozart is incorporating Enlightenment ideas by starting a piece without a true sense of tonality or clear harmonic rhythm in order to represent the instability and chaos of the unknown. This compositional technique that he incorporates in his string quartet, “Dissonance,” clearly mirrors the philosophical ideas of the Enlightenment. In studying Mozart’s String Quartet No. 19 in C Major, K. 465, it will be demonstrated how characteristics of Immanuel Kant’s general philosophy and Enlightenment ideas reflect on the piece’s musical chaos and disorder moving to stability and order.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Torres-Santos, Raymond
Commitee: Hickman, Roger, Simeonov, Moni
School: California State University, Long Beach
Department: Bob Cole Conservatory of Music
School Location: United States -- California
Source: MAI 82/4(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Performing Arts, Music
Keywords: Music, Music History, Music Theory, Philosophy
Publication Number: 27963857
ISBN: 9798684689031
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