Dissertation Index

Author: Marlowe, Sarah R.

Title: Fugue in Context: A Schenkerian Approach to Select Works by J.S. Bach and Dmitri Shostakovich

Institution: Eastman School of Music of the University of Rochester

Begun: May 2010

Completed: October 2013


This study examines aspects of harmony and voice leading in select fugues by J.S. Bach and Dmitri Shostakovich from a Schenkerian perspective. Chapter 1 sets the stage for the entire study by showing the benefits of applying Schenker’s theory to fugue in general. Schenker’s work has been applied to fugal compositions less frequently than to other genres. One contributing factor may be that fugal textures present more complex problems for the analyst than other works. In particular, issues of counterpoint, harmony, imitation, and form must be carefully treated in each study. A slight change in the analysis of these features can drastically affect the reading of a particular fugue. William Renwick’s studies are the most comprehensive to date, but his subject-answer paradigms conflict with the Schenkerian view of tonal structure. The second half of Chapter 1 highlights issues surrounding Renwick’s paradigms, and proposes an alternative paradigm that better agrees with the tonal structure.

After Chapter 1 demonstrates the problematic aspects related to a Schenkerian approach to fugue, Chapter 2 proposes a procedure that the analyst can rely on at the initial stages of graphing. I list specific stages in fugal analysis that can be inferred from Schenker’s published and unpublished sketches of J.S. Bach’s D-minor fugue (WTC I). I test the process--as well as my proposed alternative paradigm 1 from Chapter 1--through detailed studies of J.S. Bach’s Fugues in F major (WTC I) and G minor (WTC II). Chapters 1 and 2 serve dual purposes: first, they are of pedagogical value as they provide a concrete method for the beginning stages of fugal analysis; and second, Chapters 1 and 2 define the specific method I will use when analyzing fugues by Dmitri Shostakovich.

There are additional factors to consider when applying Schenkerian techniques to music by Shostakovich. Chapter 3 addresses the modal-tonal nature of his works. Many Russian scholars have published studies on the modal aspects of Shostakovich’s music--studies that are not widely discussed in Western music theory. I present a brief summary of one of the earliest Russian publications on mode in Shostakovich’s music by Alexander Naumovich Dolzhansky, followed by summaries of two analyses of Shostakovich’s C-major fugue, op. 87, by Dolzhansky and Lev Mazel. Drawing on work by Matthew Brown, I explain how the modal and chromatic elements of Shostakovich’s writing can be subsumed under the processes of mixture and tonicization. I then present my own analysis of the same fugue as a preliminary demonstration of how a Schenkerian approach can lead to further insights into Shostakovich’s compositional language.

Finally, Chapter 4 provides analyses of Shostakovich’s Fugues in F major and G minor, both from op. 87. While the works are not entirely conventional tonal works (as compared to 18th-century tonal works), my studies show how Shostakovich’s works are tonal. The aspects of his writing that are non-normative help us gain deeper insight into how his works are structured. Ultimately, the studies show that we can learn a great deal about Shostakovich’s music through a Schenkerian approach, and lay the groundwork for future research.

Keywords: Schenker, fugue, J.S. Bach, Shostakovich, mode


Chapter 1: A Schenkerian Approach to Fugue: Complex Problems and Conflicting Analytic Paradigms

Chapter 2: Toward a Pedagogy for Graphing Fugue

Chapter 3: The Interaction between Soviet Modal Theory and Schenkerian Theory

Chapter 4: Case Study: An Examination of Harmony and Voice Leading within Two Fugues by Shostakovich



Date Listed: 08/22/2013

     Return to dissertations