Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Analytic approaches to the music of Anton Bruckner: Chromatic third-relations in selected late compositions
by Ramirez, Miguel Javier, Ph.D., The University of Chicago, 2009, 382; 3362458
Abstract (Summary)

In the works of Anton Bruckner (1824-1896), chromatic third-relations within chord progressions and tonal regions occupy an important place, and they help to expand the tonal language and enhance the expressive quality of the music. This dissertation offers a historical and analytic examination of the role played by chromatic tertian relations in several Bruckner compositions written between 1880 and 1890. Focusing on non-functional chord progressions, symmetric divisions of the octave, and the temporary suspension of tonic centricity, the analysis takes into account local levels of harmonic syntax as well as large-scale levels of tonal organization. Given the prominence of these features in the compositions selected for examination, the study draws heavily upon neo-Riemannian transformational theories for the analysis of the music.

The dissertation is divided into two parts, the first of which presents a critical assessment of the analytic models that have been traditionally utilized in the examination of Bruckner's music, while the second provides an overview of neo-Riemannian theory and applies it to the analysis of selected Bruckner compositions of the 1880s. Chapter 1 offers a critique of the hermeneutic perspectives that have been invoked in the analytic and critical discourse on Bruckner's oeuvre. Given the importance of Sechterian fundamental bass for Bruckner's musical training and for his didactic activities, scholars have applied Simon Sechter's theories to the analysis of his music. Chapter 2 provides an assessment of this analytic strategy by pointing out specific limitations of the Sechterian system for the examination of chromatic third-relations in Bruckner's music. Chapter 3 addresses the challenges of traditional analytic models vis-à-vis Bruckner's harmonic language. Focusing on the handling of chromatic tertian relations, the chapter discusses some of the difficulties in the application of Roman-numeral, "extended-functional," and Schenkerian approaches to the analysis of Bruckner's works. While chapter 4 furnishes an overview of neo-Riemannian theory and a discussion of its problematic aspects, chapter 5 is devoted to the analysis of four Bruckner compositions and excerpts: the coda from the opening movement of the Sixth Symphony, the motet Ecce sacerdos magnus, and the Adagio and Finale of the Eighth Symphony.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Christensen, Thomas
School: The University of Chicago
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: DAI-A 70/06, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Music
Keywords: 19th-century music, Austria, Austrian music, Bruckner, Anton, Chromatic third relations, Chromaticism, Neo-Riemannian theory, Nineteenth century
Publication Number: 3362458
ISBN: 978-1-109-21386-7
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