Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Mahler's sonata narratives
by Monahan, Seth, Ph.D., Yale University, 2008, 532; 3317269
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation investigates Gustav Mahler's use of sonata form as a vehicle for musical storytelling. It proposes that the genre served Mahler as a musical plot paradigm—a story-schema built around a series of generic goals or tasks whose dramatized attainment or evasion define a movement's broad narrative outlines. Part One addresses a range of foundational issues. Chapter One reflects on questions of intentionality, agency, and meaning, and offers an initial consideration of the hotly contested topic of musical “narrative.” Chapter Two lays the study's interpretive foundations, merging aspects of Adorno's influential Mahler-image with a process-based sonata-form concept derived from Hepokoski and Darcy's Sonata Theory. Chapter Three addresses narrative effects arising in domains subordinate to the sonata plot master-level and considers the role that trans-symphonic narratives—those spanning an entire multimovement symphony—might play in the analysis of single movements.

Sections Two and Three, comprising Chapters Four through Seven, offer extended essays on four individual movements, grouped in pairs according to “plot types.” Each essay offers a close analytic reading structured around several key questions: (1) the nature and degree of the movement's dialogue with the traditional sonata plot; (2) the extent to which its idiosyncratic plot devices derive from Mahler's earlier sonatas or would influence later ones; (3) the degree to which the emergent interpretation corroborates, qualifies, or undermines the movement's traditional interpretive tropes; and (4) the impingement of trans-symphonic narrative on the movement's self-contained sonata story. The dissertation includes annotated short-score reductions of all four movements.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Hepokoski, James
Commitee:
School: Yale University
School Location: United States -- Connecticut
Source: DAI-A 69/06, Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Music
Keywords: Austria, Mahler, Gustav, Narrative, Sonata, Sonata form
Publication Number: 3317269
ISBN: 978-0-549-65314-1
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