Dissertation Index

Author: Auerbach, Brent, L

Title: The Analytical Grundgestalt: A New Model and Methodology Based on the Music of Johannes Brahms

Institution: University of Rochester - Eastman School of Music

Begun: May 2002

Completed: May 2005


According to Arnold Schoenberg’s teachings, all musical events in a piece are connected to and dependent upon the Grundgestalt, a multivalent structure encoding motivic, thematic, harmonic, rhythmic, and textural information. Following this definition, many analysts such as Josef Rufer, Rudolf Réti, David Epstein, and Patricia Carpenter have attempted to illustrate the organicism and teleology of works by means of the Grundgestalt. Despite their individual findings, the field of Grundgestalt analysis has continued to provoke skepticism from theorists troubled by its lack of clear terminology and methodology.

Part I of this dissertation advances a new model of the Grundgestalt as well as a new methodology for analysis, one wherein rules are fashioned in response to previous analytical conventions and are based exclusively on the music of Johannes Brahms. The main advances over earlier views of the Grundgestalt include requiring the structure to occur as a polyphonic complex and allowing it to occur at any point within a piece (instead of only at the beginning). The first of these new conventions enhances the Grundgestalt’s ability to reveal a work’s organicism. The second, entailing a reconception of the Grundgestalt as the head of a hierarchy radiating down to local Gestalten and smaller musical segments, allows for multiple narrative analyses of a single work.

Part II of the dissertation provides sample analyses of a number of Brahms’s works: the Capriccio in c# minor and Intermezzo in A major (op. 76, nos. 5-6), the song “Mädchenlied” (op. 107, no. 5), and the Adagio movement of the Second Symphony. The purpose of the analyses is both to demonstrate the method of Part I and to investigate a possible correlation between genre and narrative archetypes in Brahms’s music. Based on the variable location of the core material, the solo piano works are correlated with an “onset Grundgestalt” narrative profile, while the song and symphony are seen to exhibit “cyclic” and “emergent Grundgestalt” profiles, respectively.

Keywords: Grundgestalt, Arnold Schoenberg, Johannes Brahms,
Capriccio in c# minor (op. 76 no. 5), Intermezzo in A major (op. 7 no. 6), Waltzes (op. 39), Mädchenlied (op. 107 no. 5), Symphony no.2 in D major (op. 73), Narrative analysis, Quantitative analysis, Style analysis


Part I: Theory of the Grundgestalt 1

Chapter 1: The Context for a New Conception of the

I. Introduction to Schoenbergian Theory

II. The Problem of Schoenberg’s Theoretical Legacy

III. Re-formatting Schoenberg — A Solution through

IV. The Complementary Roles of Grundgestalt Analysis
and Developing Variation analysis

V. Conclusion to the Introduction

Chapter 2: The Conventions of Grundgestalt Analysis, Past
and Present

I. Arnold Schoenberg’s Grundgestalt in Theory and

II. The Grundgestalt’s Continuing Evolution

III. Old and New Conventions of the Grundgestalt

IV. Redefining the Grundgestalt

Chapter 3: The Analytical Grundgestalt — Model and

I. A New Model of the Grundgestalt

II. Introduction to a Procedure for Carrying out
Grundgestalt Analysis

III. Sample Grundgestalt Analysis: Brahms’s Waltz op.
39, no. 11

IV. Further Considerations of the Method

Part II: Organic and Narrative Analysis 212

Chapter 4: Comprehensive Grundgestalt Analysis of
Brahms’s Capriccio in c# minor, op. 76, no. 5

I. Introduction and Grundgestalt Determination

II. Quantitative Analysis and Organic Map Construction

III. Preliminary Remarks Regarding Narrative

IV. The Musical Narrative of Brahms’s Capriccio, op.
76, no. 5

V. Other Narratives: Texture and Rhythm/Meter

Chapter 5: Three Analysis — Solo Piano Piece, Lied,

I. Intermezzo in A Major, op. 76, no. 6 (Onset

II. “Mädchenlied,” op. 107, no. 5 (Cyclic

III. Adagio non Troppo from Symphony no. 2 in D, op.
73 (Emergent Grundgestalt)


I. Recapitulation

II. The Method Revisited — Critique and Projection

III. Further Avenues of Study


67 Willow Street
Florence, MA 010
e-mail: auerbach@music.umass.edu

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