Dissertation Index

Author: Reese, Alan M.

Title: Analytical Approaches to the Middle-Period Compositions of Karol Szymanowski

Institution: Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester

Begun: November 2016

Completed: June 2018


The music of Karol Szymanowski (1882–1937), widely revered and studied in Poland, has received considerably less attention in American music-theoretical scholarship. Moreover, Szymanowski’s middle period compositions (1914–1918), so-called “transitional” works adrift between tonality and atonality, have proven a distinct challenge for the analyst. The present study addresses the problem through comprehensive and detailed analyses of selected middle-period compositions using a variety of theories and tools, with a particular focus on the interaction and conflict between tonal structures and interval-cyclic organization. Other methods and techniques employed in the dissertation include transformational theory, paradigmatic analysis, German harmonic theory, and the cyclic tools of both George Perle and Howard Hanson, among others. Examined works include Myths (op. 30) for solo violin and piano, Songs of the Fairy-Tale Princess (op. 31) for voice and piano, and Métopes (op. 29), Masks (op. 34), and the Twelve Etudes (op. 33) for solo piano.

Keywords: Szymanowski, Perle, Lonely Moon, Etudes op. 33, Narcissus, Hanson, Hook, Rings, Riemann, Transformational Theory


Chapter 1: Analyzing Szymanowski
Chapter 2: Reflections on “Narcissus” (from Myths, op. 30)
Chapter 3: Tonality and Symmetry in “The Lonely Moon” (from Songs of the Fairy-Tale Princess, op. 31)
Chapter 4: Three Studies on Twelve Etudes (op. 33)
Chapter 5: Keyboard Bitonality and Scalar Alignment Networks



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