Dissertation Index

Author: Dudeque, Norton E.

Title: Music Theory and Analysis in the Writings of Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951)

Institution: University of Reading

Begun: January 1998

Completed: April 2002


Arnold Schoenberg’s theory of music has been much discussed. However, I believe that Schoenberg’s approach to music theory needs a new assessment, both historical and theoretical, in order to provide a clearer picture of his contributions to music theory and analysis. From this general premise, I will address four main topics, which I believe may provide an accurate view of Schoenberg’s work as a theorist.

First, Schoenberg advocated the continuation of the German tradition of music. He also believed that his inheritance of this tradition granted him the authority to evaluate music critically. Naturally, music theory played an important role in this argumentation, and his inheritance of past music theory also endorsed his alleged link to that tradition. In the second topic, I will explore Schoenberg’s refutation of past and contemporary approaches to music theory. In this rejection rests his main claim towards the need of a new systematic presentation of music theory in which aesthetic and stylistic issues should be avoided. These aspects are addressed according to Schoenberg’s theoretical disagreements with Schenker and Riemann. The systematisation of Schoenberg’s tonal-harmonic theory, and thematic-development theory is the third topic. It reveals that Schoenberg’s proposed system of presentation refutes past music theory and aesthetic issues; however, it presents a common g! ro! und with contemporary and past music theories. Fourthly, the application of Schoenberg’s analytical ideas is tested in an essay about theme-and-variations form; the works considered are Schoenberg’s Variationen from the Serenade Op. 24 and Beethoven’s ‘Diabelli Variations’. Finally, the glossary of terms is a compilation of Schoenberg’s definitions of several of his terms and analytical tools; they are complemented with a few of my own.

Keywords: music theory and analysis, Schoenberg, grundgestalt, developing variation, systematization of music theory and analysis, music theory inheritance, Schoenberg and Schenker, Schoenberg and Riemann.


1. Schoenberg’s Project of Music Theory
2. Schoenberg’s Teaching and Music Analysis
3. Outline and Research Argumentation
4. Objectives and Contribution to the Area
I. Schoenberg’s Inheritance of Nineteenth-Century Music Theory
1. Introduction
2. Form
3. Schoenberg’s Debt to Sechter
4. Substitution as Historical Argument
5. Counterpoint
6. Conclusions
II. The Speculative and Polemical Content of Schoenberg’s Tonal Theory
1. Introduction
2. The Rejection of Tonality as Natural Law
3. Consonance, Dissonance, and the Emancipation of the Dissonance
4. Theoretical Polemics I: Non-Harmonic Notes—Schoenberg and Schenker
5. Theoretical Polemics II: Riemann Contra Schoenberg
5.1 Counterpoint and Linear Counterpoint: Riemann, Kurth, and Schoenberg
5.2 Functional Theory: Riemann and Schoenberg, Historical Inheritance and Theoretical Disagreement
5.3 Graphic Representations of Tonal Space, Historical Inheritance and Disagreement
6. Conclusions
III. A Contribution towards a Systematic Presentation of Tonal Harmony
1. Introduction
2. Root Function
2.1 Root Progressions (1)
3. Substitution as the Source for Transformed Chords
4. Transformation of Chords
4.1 The Notation of Transformed Chords
4.2 Transformations of Chords
5. Interchangeability of Major and Minor
6. Multiple Meaning and Vagrant Chords
7. Diatonicism, Chromaticism, and Enriched Cadence
8. The Enriched Cadence
9. Root Progressions (2)—Progression and Succession
10. Regions — Regions and Intermediary Regions
10.1 Regions
10.2 Intermediary Regions
10.3 Classification of Regions
11. Monotonality
12. New Resources — The Whole-Tone Scale and Fourth Chords
13. Fluctuating and Suspended Tonality—Towards the Abandonment of Monotonality
14. Conclusions
IV. A Contribution towards a Systematic Presentation of the Technique ofThematic Development
1. Introduction
2. Grundgestalt and the Unity of Music
2.1 The Concept and its Definitions
2.2 Interpretations of the Grundgestalt
3. Developing Variation (1)
3.1 Motive, Gestalt and Phrase, Sentence and Period
3.2 Stable and Loose Formation
4. Developing Variation (2)
4.1 Formal Procedures and Continuity
4.2 The Extension of Musical Structures
4.2.1 Connecting Techniques (Anschluss-Technik)
4.2.2 Model and Sequence
4.3 Formal Closures
4.3.1 Liquidation and Dissolution
4.3.2 Condensation — Intensification (Steigerung)
4.3.3 Reduction
4.3.4 Formal Closure and The Tendency of the Smallest Notes
5. Developing Variation (3)
6. Conclusions
V. Analyses
1. Introduction
2. Serenade Op. 24/iii—Variationen.
3. Beethoven’s ‘Diabelli Variations’
3.1 Theme or Grundgestalt?
3.2 Motivic Content of the Theme
3.3 Development of the Grundgestalt
3.4 ‘Motives of Variations’
3.5 Grouping Variations: the Tendency of the Smallest Notes
4. Conclusions
VI. Concluding Remarks
VII. Glossary of Terms
1. Introduction
1.1 Tonality
1.2 Form
1.2.1 Formal Procedures
1.3 General Concepts
VIII. Bibliographic References
1. Arnold Schoenberg’s Writings
2. General Bibliography


R. Pe. Agostinho, 2677/15
Curitiba PR Brazil

     Return to dissertations