Dissertation Index

Author: Schumann, Scott C.

Title: Making the Past Present: Topics in Stravinsky’s Neoclassical Works

Institution: The University of Texas at Austin

Begun: October 2013

Completed: April 2015


Igor Stravinsky’s neoclassicism has frequently been discussed in terms of its relationship to earlier musical styles. While a number of scholars, employing a wide variety of analytical approaches, have examined this aspect of Stravinsky’s neoclassical music, only a few scholars have used topic theory to explore the composer’s link with music of the past. Seeking to fill this gap in the literature, this dissertation uses topic theory as its primary analytical approach, examining how Stravinsky’s connections to the past can offer multiple ways of interpreting potential stylistic and expressive meanings in his neoclassical works.

Chapter 2 analyzes Stravinsky’s topics and tropes utilizing Robert S. Hatten’s four tropological axes: compatibility, dominance, creativity, and productivity. Each axis examines related but separate aspects of each trope, analyzing criteria related to the musical and stylistic associations of a trope’s component topics along local and globalscales. Studying the different ways in which each of these four axes interact in Stravinsky’s tropes provides a means to arrive at more nuanced musical and stylistic interpretations of these topical interactions.

Chapter 3 develops my concept of “distorted topics.” Building on Pieter C. van den Toorn’s discussions of “displacement” in Stravinsky’s music, this chapter examines the composer’s rhythmic and metric manipulations of certain dance topics. Using Wye Jamison Allanbrook’s discussions of rhythm and meter pertaining to dance topics, this chapter examines these important rhythmic and metric characteristics of Stravinsky’s neoclassical works, and explores ways in which these distortions can be interpreted musically and expressively.

Chapter 4 analyzes how Stravinsky used topics in four traditional formal models throughout his neoclassical period: ternary form, theme and variations form, sonata form, and cyclic form. First, the form itself is examined in order to determine how Stravinsky both adheres to and subverts the traditional model. Second, I examine the ways in which topics and tropes provide a sense of coherence to Stravinsky’s appropriation of these forms. Using analytical techniques developed in chapters 2 and 3, chapter 4 examines the formal, stylistic, and expressive ways in which topics and tropes contribute to Stravinsky’s manipulations of conventional formal structures.

Keywords: Topic Theory, Semiotics, Expressive Interpretation, Stravinsky, Neoclassicism, 20th-Century Music


Chapter 1 Introduction: Topics in Stravinsky\'s Neoclassical Works
Chapter 2 Topics and Tropes: Applications of Hatten\'s Four Tropological Axes
Chapter 3 Distorted Topics: Musical and Expressive Manipulation of Dance Topics
Chapter 4 Formal Models and Topical Prominence in Stravinsky\'s Neoclassical Works
Chapter 5 Conclusion


Scott C. Schumann

Date Listed: 06/03/2016

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