Dissertation Index

Author: Amato, Alexander G.

Title: Thematic and Formal Narrative in Respighi’s Sinfonia Drammatica

Institution: University of North Texas

Begun: April 2011

Completed: November 2013


Respighi’s scarcely-known orchestral work Sinfonia Drammatica lives up to its title by evoking a narrative throughout the course of its three movements. In this dissertation, I argue how the work’s surface, subsurface, and formal elements suggest this narrative which emerges as a cycle of rising and falling dramatic tension.

I explain how Respighi constructs the work’s narrative in the musical surface through a diverse body of themes that employ three motives of contour. The disposition and manipulation of these motives within the themes suggest frequent fluctuations of the level of conflict throughout the symphony as a whole.

To show the involvement of musical forms in the narrative, I employ an approach which integrates harmony and thematic behavior. I utilize analytical methods including terms from James Hepokoski and Warren Darcy’s sonata deformation theory and William Caplin’s theories of formal functions to elucidate ties between the forms of the Sinfonia Drammatica’s movements and those of conventional sonata forms of the late-eighteenth century.

This dissertation also employs Heinrich Schenker’s theories of structures, voice leading, and reduction to illustrate large-scale aspects of the Sinfonia Drammatica’s narrative. The resulting analyses show Respighi’s elaborations of common structural paradigms which serve to heighten the articulation of the narrative.

Keywords: Ottorino Respighi, Schenkerian Analysis, Form, Narrative


2.Sinfonia Drammatica, 1st Movement
3.Sinfonia Drammatica, 2nd Movement
4.Sinfonia Drammatica, 3rd Movement
5.Sketch Analysis
6.Similarities Between the Sinfonia Drammatica and Marie Victoire
7.Summary and Conclusions


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