Dissertation Index

Author: Tobiason, Anders

Title: Non-Assimilation in Schubert Song

Institution: University of Wisconsin, Madison

Begun: January 2008

Completed: April 2013


Schubert’s songs have long fascinated music analysts but far too many have attempted to create universal precepts by which to account for Schubert’s harmonic adventures. My dissertation takes the songs on their own terms and suggests that a flexible notion such as the non-assimilation of a particular anomaly into the whole can help us understand their unique nature. But non-assimilation is not only applicable to issues in Schubert’s handling of harmony. It, in fact, can be applied more broadly to the project of music analysis itself: the assimilative perspective embodied in much historical and modern music theory is shown to write-over and miss important musical moments that give insight into the unique nature of Schubert’s song subjects.

In Chapter 1 I analyze “Der Atlas” D. 957, No. 8 (1828) showing how non-assimilation underlies the song, including a discussion of its problematic Schenkerian third-divider. In Chapter 2 I turn to the history of music theory, illuminating how a range of theories — from Weber through Rafael Atlas — accomplish assimilation and compromise various analytical principles in deference to an aesthetics of coherence. Chapter 3 shows how neo-Riemannian theory assumes assimilation and utilizes its theory to promote an analytic stance predicated on a closed system. Chapter 4 returns to Schenkerian concepts and investigates Harald Krebs’s extension of Schenkerian monotonality. I interrogate Krebs’s pictures of “Der Alpenjäger” D. 524 (1817) and “Meeres Stille” D. 216 (1815) and then present my own readings of the songs. Chapter 5 turns to Ernst Kurth. I first illuminate the unique perspective Kurth brings to the issue of harmonic connectivity, then move to his most “complete” analysis of a Schubert song, “Sei mir gegrüsst” D. 741 (1821), before presenting my own analysis of the song, which shows how it assimilates its chromatic interior at an exorbitant price.

The idea of non-assimilation is thus shown, by the end of the dissertation, to be able to provide a unique analytical perspective even on song’s that assimilate their chromaticism to a diatonic frame. These songs pay a price for their integration, with the diatonic frame not always completely connected to what it embraces.

Keywords: Schubert, Harmony, Kurth, Song, Schenker, Non-Assimilation, Adorno, Analysis, Neo-Riemannian, Criticism.


Chapter 1. Divisive Tones: Discontinuity in “Der Atlas” 1
I Harmonic Disruption in “Der Atlas”
II The Third Divider 26
III Der Atlas 47

Chapter 2. Non-Assimilation in the History of Harmonic Theory 75
I Weber and Classification
II Schenker’s Stufen 93
III Enharmonic Scale Degrees 116

Chapter 3. Non-Assimilation in Neo-Riemannian Theory 134

Chapter 4. Mono vs. Duotonality 166
I Schenker, himself
II Two Tonics? 183
III “Der Alpenjäger” 194
IV “Meeres Stille” 214

Chapter 5. Energetic Connectivity 234
I Harmony and Its Aesthetic Implications
II “Sei mir gegrüsst” 259


Anders Tobiason

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