Dissertation Index

Author: Nelson, Thomas K.

Title: The Fantasy of Absolute Music

Institution: University of Minnesota

Completed: June 1998


This dissertation addresses the genealogy of the fantasy of absolute music. It begins with the pastoral of reconciliation in a prelapsarian alternative world compensating for the dysfunctions of the social world. It concludes with the dissolution of the musical means to support that fantasy. The Lieder of Schubert comprise the primary repertory of this investigation of Austro-Germanic art music. The central chapters, 3 and 4, develop a theory of romantic tonality based on Schubert's own poetics of the bVI complex as manifested in his songs. Two preliminary chapters provide a wider cultural-historical context of Schubert's practice. The first chapter explores the literary and artistic figurations of the pastoral, the socio-psychological motivations for fantasy, and Schiller's philosophical theorization of the elegiac idyll as an allegorical idealization of the absolute. Chapter 2 discusses the poetics of 18th-century Galant-Classical musical discourse.

The legacy of the fantasy of absolute music in the 19th century coincides with the confusions and mystifications of aesthetic ideology. The concluding chapters discuss how the allegorical approach to fantasy, cultivated in Early German Romanticism as a collaboration of philosophy and poetics, succumbed to the desire for a purely symbolic certainty in an age marked by growing pessimism. By the end of the century, the desire for the musical absolute had driven the musico-poetic language of common practice tonality toward its own absolution. Chapter 6 includes a detailed interpretation of two songs composed in the 1880s that illustrate the full potential of bVI musical poetics.

The methodological premise of the dissertation rests on an Early Romantic form of dialectical mediation based on the metaphor of Schweben (hovering or fluctuation) as a means of transcendence. Schweben yields a fundamental concept of the romantic fantasy of absolute music itself and the key to its understanding. Similarly, the bVI provides an allegory for German music history in which the aesthetic experience of tonality is itself subject to a temporal fate of disillusionment. Works examined include art by Klinger, Poussin and Watteau; essays by Nietzsche, Schiller, Schenker and Wackenroder; music by Beethoven, Brahms, Mahler, Marenzio, Mozart, Schubert, and Wagner.

Keywords: submediant, lieder, harmony, effect, pastoral, galant, aesthetics, ideology, Arcadia


Accorde, or The Fantasy of Absolute Music 1

Chapter 1:
Pastoral Reconciliation of Modern Estrangement

Introduction 44
Pastoral Origins 52
a. The Golden Age Pastoral in Myth and Bible
b. Arcadia: Home of the Pastoral Fantasy
c. Nature as a Pastoral Alternative to Arcadia
Pastoral Motivation 83
a. The Dysfunctions of Order
b. Surplus Order Pastorals: Royal and Romantic
c. The King's Court as Pastoral
d. Literature as Aesthetic Compensation
e. Pastoral of Nature: Aristocratic Romanticism
Ut Poesis Pictura: the Painted Pastoral 126
a. The Sister Arts
b. Romantic Absolutism
c. Et in Arcadia Ego
f. FÍte Galante
Schiller's Naive and Sentimental: the Elegiac Idyll 164
a. Introduction
b. Sentimental man
c. Toward the elegiac idyll
d. Beyond the elegiac idyll
g. Schiller's legacy for pastoral thought
Chapter 2:
The Romanticism of Galant Music 206

The Galant Compromise
a. Envy and Resentment
b. French Court to German Bourgeoisie
The Figural Language of Galant Musical Discourse 227
a. Marked Correlations
b. Battle of the Pastorals
c. Toward a Dictionary of Musical Figuration
A Fantasy of Absolute Music: The Pastoral Replete 261
a. Topological Inventory
b. Scholarship and the Syntactical Fallacy
c. A Pastoral of Galant Courtship
Questions of Reception 304
a. The Noncontemporaneous
b. Alternative Autonomies
Assaulting the Galant 322
a. The Origins of the Sturm und Drang
b. From the Storm-Style to Sturm und Drang
c. Mozart's Opera of Storms
A Second, Romantic Practice 358
a. Toward the bVI complex
b. Conclusion
Chapter 3:
Theory of the bVI Complex: The Logic of its Arcadian Poetics

Introduction 379
The Arcadian Pastoral 383
Why the bVI for Arcadia? 388
The bVI Complex 401
a. Progressions by Third
b. bVI Effect
c. Submerged bVIs
d. More Members of the bVI Family
e. The Rogue bVI
f. An Alternative Route to Distant Parts
The Early bVI: A Subconscious Metaphor? 433
Musical Scholarship and the Romantic bVI 451
The Arcadian bVI: Elegiac Idyll of Romantic Music 475
a. On the Value of the Ideal Type
b. Initial Setting
c. Entry into bVI Fantasy
d. Residence: Illusion
e. The Exit: Dis-illusionment of the Fantasy
f. Final Reality
Chapter 4:
Schubert bVI Song Studies

Part I: Schubert Studies 502
a. Introduction
b. Approaches to Lieder
c. The bVI and Schubert's Dysfunctional World
d. General Observations on Schubert's bVIs
Part II: bVI Songs 539
a. An den Mond, D.193
b. Schaefers Klagelied, D.121
c. Ihr Bild, D.957 #9
d. Nacht und Traeume, D.827
e. Die Goetter Griechenlands, D.677
h. The bVI as a Sign of Mental Clarity
(1) Erstarrung, D.911 #4
(2) Fahrt zum Hades, D.526
(3) Aus Heliopolis II, D.754

i. Ihr Grab, D.736
j. Tonic as bVI

(1) Geistes-Gruss, D.142
(2) Der Alpenjaeger, D.588
(3) Grenzen der Menschheit, D.716
(4) Selige Welt, D.743
(5) Am Fenster, D.878
(6) Laube, D.214
(7) Der Fluss, D.693
(8) Der Hirt auf dem Felsen, D.965
(9) Der Musensohn, D.764
(10) Bie dir allein, D.866
(11) Staendchen, D.889
(12) Mein!, D.795 #11

k. Meeres Stille, D.216
l. bVI = V as pivot to bII

(1) Gruppe aus dem Tartarus, D.583
(2) Prometheus, D.674
(3) Szene aus Goethes Faust, D.126
(4) Wehmuth, D.772
(5) Suleika I, D.720
(6) Ganymed, D544
(7) Der Zwerg, D.771

m. Auf dem Flusse, D.911 #7
n. The song cycles as tonal 'whole'

(1) Winterreise, D.911
(2) Schwanengesang, D.957

o. Kennst du das Land, D.321

(1) Beethoven
(2) Schubert

p. Conclusion

Chapter 5:
The Poetics of Absolute Music, or Schweben and its Ideological Discontents

Introduction: Song and Absolute Music 657
Allegory and Symbol as Philosophy and Ideology 664
Words and Music: Uneasy Accord 677
The Rebirth of Spirit in the Music of Allegory 690
As if a Presence in Music 700
The Foaming Chalice of Romantic Music 707
German Music History: The Long, Hard Line 721
Chapter 6:
The Absolution and Dissolution of Pastoral Fantasy

Schenker as Arch-allegorist 740
Brahms: "Wie melodien zieht es" 755
Mahler: "Wenn mein Schatz Hochzeit macht" 782
Symptoms of a Fatal Condition 810
List of Works Cited 866

Appendix # 1: Concordance of bVIs in Schubert's Lieder 903
Appendix # 2: Longer German Quotations 947
Appendix # 3: Outline of Pastoral Types in Western Culture 959
Appendix # 4: Examples of music and art 969


Thomas K. Nelson
2733 40th Ave. South
Minneapolis, MN 55406
(612) 724-1651

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