Dissertation Index

Author: Stocken, Frederick

Title: Anton Bruckner and Simon Sechter's Fundamental Bass Theory

Institution: Manchester University, UK

Begun: September 2003

Completed: December 2007


Anton Bruckner was immersed in Simon Sechters fundamental bass theory for six years during his thirties whilst a pupil of Sechter, and then made it the basis for his theoretical teaching for the rest of his life. Whilst these facts might suggest that any analysis of Bruckners music would have to take fundamental bass theory into account, the reality is that little attention has ever been given to this issue, mainly because the theory itself was superseded. This research is the most extensive attempt so far undertaken to understand how fundamental bass theory influenced Bruckners harmonic thinking. Three contexts are presented within which Sechters ultra-systematic approach to theory can better be appreciated: first, an examination of the sketchy historical pedigree of one of the theorys most idiosyncratic features, the intermediate fundamental; secondly, Sechters life-long obsession with counterpoint; thirdly, his re-working of Beethovens Sonata in A flat, op. 110. A profile of the theory itself is then drawn in conjunction with examples from Bruckners own exercises for Sechter. Next, starting with Karl Mayrbergers appropriation of fundamental bass theory for his analysis of passages from Tristan from the 1880s, each of the other subsequent applications of the theory to real musical situations is considered the most recent involving Bruckners own music for the lessons that can be drawn from them. Finally, an attempt is made to discern features of fundamental bass theory in the Adagio from Bruckners Ninth Symphony. By concentrating primarily on the question of chordal pivots, it is shown how the theory is surprisingly compatible with late-romantic harmony in its own non-functional terms. However, moving beyond the question simply of compatibility between Bruckners music and fundamental bass theory, the case will be made that the theory actually helps to explain some harmonic structures within the music in previously unnoticed ways, thereby not only suggesting how the influence of fundamental bass theory may be understood, but also demonstrating its benefits as an analytical tool.

Keywords: Simon Sechter, Fundamental Bass Theory, Intermediate Fundamental, Anton Bruckner, Bruckner's Ninth Symphony, Karl Mayrberger, Marpurg's Abhandlung von der Fuge, Sechter's Die Grundsaetze der musikalischen Komposition, Beethoven's Sonata op. 110, nineteenth-century harmonic theory


CONTENTS (with page numbers)

(Preliminary pages)
Chapter One
Introduction: Summaries and Strategies
1.1Bruckner as Sechters pupil and successor11
1.2Simon Sechter15
1.3Introduction to Sechters fundamental bass theory18
1.4Summary of the literature19
1.5Issues and aims38
1.6Methods and resources41

Chapter Two
Locating Sechters Fundamental Bass Theory: Three Contexts
2.2The history of the theory of the intermediate fundamental51
2.3Sechter and counterpoint59
2.4Sechters re-working of Beethovens Sonata in A flat, op. 11072
2.5Conclusion of Chapter Two79

Chapter Three
Presenting Sechters Fundamental Bass Theory
3.1 Introduction81
3.2 Primary sources84
3.3 The sequential model89
3.4 Families of keys91
3.5 Diatonic modulation97
3.6 Chromatic chords and the ninth chord106
3.7 The diminished seventh chord113
3.8 The augmented sixth chord122
3.9 Conclusion of Chapter Three127

Chapter Four
Applications of Sechters Fundamental Bass Theory to Music
4.1 Introduction131
4.2 Karl Mayrberger133
4.3 Josef Schalk142
4.4 Cyrill Hynais144
4.5 Ernst Decsey146
4.6 Graham Phipps150
4.7 Elmar Seidel154
4.8 John A. Phillips160
4.9 Conclusion of Chapter Four163

Chapter Five
Sechters Fundamental Bass Theory
in the Adagio of Bruckners Ninth Symphony
5.1 Introduction166
5.2 The opening phrase168
5.2.1 Bars 1-3168
5.2.2 Bars 1-7172
5.3 Bars 9-15 and 207-13175
5.4 The second subject180
5.5 The three climaxes182
5.5.1 The first and second climaxes182
5.5.2 The third climax184
5.6 The farewell to life and its transfiguration189
5.6.1 The farewell to life189
5.6.2 The transfiguration of the farewell to life190
5.7 Conclusion of Chapter Five193
Chapter Six
6.1 Anton Bruckner and Simon Sechters fundamental bass theory197
6.2 Future research206
Unpublished sources208
Published music209
Other published sources210


Title page of Volume II225
Contents page for Volume II226
Appendix 1: Music examples227
Appendix 2: Sechters re-working of Beethovens Sonata in A flat,
op. 110 alongside Beethovens original271
Editorial notes for Appendix 2316


Frederick Stocken
3 Goodhope House,
Poplar High Street,
London E14 0AQ
+ 44 20 7537 4951

Date Listed: 01/10/2008

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