Dissertation Index

Author: Folio, Cynthia J.

Title: An Analysis and Comparison of Four Compositions by Joseph Schwantner: And the Mountains Rising Nowhere; Wild Angels of the Open Hills; Aftertones of Infinity; and Sparrows

Institution: Eastman School of Music

Begun: June 1983

Completed: May 1985


The dissertation is an analysis and comparison of four compositions by Joseph Schwantner, which documents the essential aspects of his style from 1977 to 1979. The four works share a similar melodic and harmonic vocabulary but are quite different in their construction. Each contains references to a multiplicity of styles, including renaissance, baroque, romantic, and post-tonal music. Also, serial principals are used in the construction of each composition, combined with innovative timbres and textures, so there is a unique synthesis between contemporary and traditional practices.

The references to tonal music in Schwantner\'s compositions often involve establishing a pitch-class center. However, the harmonic progression and the structure of the composition are determined more from the structure of the musical materials themselves than by the functional progressions of tonal music. Schwantner begins with a vocabulary of sounds, then builds the piece from these materials using the following procedures: the unification of materials through set-theoretical relationships: pitch-class invariance between chords, motives, and sections; choice of Tn and TnI invariant sets; combinatoriality; and the use of the intervallic structure of sets (or their complements) from within the composition to control the transposition levels of other musical materials or of entire sections.

The trend in these four compositions is toward an increasing amount of integration of musical materials, combined with an increasing amount of stylistic pluralism. They also demonstrate an ever increasing refinement of a musical language that is distinctive and uniquely Schwantner\'s.

Keywords: Schwantner, post-tonal, pluralism, serial, set theory, centricity, Aftertones, Sparrows, Mountains


1: Introduction
2. And the Mountains Rising Nowhere
3. Wild Angels of the Open Hills
4. Aftertones of Infinity
5. Sparrows
6. Summary and Comparisons


25 Rolling Rd., Wynnewood PA 19096

Date Listed: 08/15/2013

     Return to dissertations