Dissertation Index

Author: Tjoeme, Berit K.

Title: The Articulation of Sonata Form in Atonal Works by Fartein Valen. Analyses of his Violin Concerto, Op. 37 and Symphony No. 3, Op. 41.

Institution: University of Oslo

Begun: January 1990

Completed: August 1995


The aim of this study is to examine the most significant characteristics of the sonata-allegro form as it is reflected in Fartein Valen s two compositions. An introductory part of this dissertation illuminates Valen s relations to the tradition. More specifically, I throw light on the most significant inspirational sources of the composer s evolution toward his dissonant polyphony, which are primarily J. S. Bach s counterpoint, late Romanticism, and the new music by Arnold Schoenberg. These three historical aspects, more than any other sources, can be considered to form the premises for Valen s large-scale atonal works.

This dissertation contains a broad spectrum of the stylistic hallmarks of Valen s atonality. The composer s development of a "modified row-technique" is viewed in the light of an "Ausfullung der Zwolftonskala". This is argued for on the basis of the composer s contrapuntal devices, the close relation between foreground and background in Valen s atonal pieces and his voice-leading procedures. The harmonic dimensions of this music, as well as the most significant characteristics of Valen s cadential formulas are discussed in relation to traditional tonality as well as to pitch-class set theory.

This study also focuses on the composer s concern for musical continuity and coherence, and as such this will be examined in the light of the use of the complement relation, the concept of invariance, the importance of basic interval patterns and the significance of pc-set complexes. Furthermore, this dissertation takes a closer look at Valen s use of his developing-variation procedure, and his articulation of a so-called musical prose. Finally, the study focuses attention on the argument that Valen in his atonality makes a synthesis of the principle of variation, a fugal design, and the sonata form.

Keywords: Atonal music, pitch-class set analysis, sonata form, Norwegian music, Fartein Valen, atonal counterpoint, dissonant polyphony


Part I Fundamentals
Ch. 1 Statement of Purpose
Ch. 2 Valen's Premises for His Atonal Large-Scale Atonal Compositions
Ch. 3 Methodological Considerations - the Development of Analytical Approaches to Post-Tonal Music. A Historical Perspective
Ch. 4 Theoretical Reflections - the Problem of Abstraction in Pc-set Analysis
Ch. 5 Theory and Analysis - the Problem of Segmentation and Identification of Structural Components in Atonal Music
Part II Analyses
Ch. 6 The Violin Concerto, Op. 37 and Symphony No. 3, Op. 41
Ch. 7 Valen s Atonal Pieces - Architectural Models or Developing Forms? a Focus on Cadential Patterns in his two Compositions
Ch. 8 The Harmonic Vocabulary in Valen's Violin Concerto and his Symphony No. 3
Ch. 9 A Further Discussion on the Aspect of Harmony in Valen's Post-Tonal Works
Ch. 10 Valen s Development of a "Modified Row Technique" - the Composer's Concern about Musical Continuity and Coherence
Ch. 11 Valen's Atonality as a Consecutive Process - a New Conception of Musical Form in his Mature Atonal Works
Ch. 12 Aesthetic Considerations - Valen's Dissonant Polyphony - Innovation
and Tradition


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