Dissertation Index

Author: Williams, Matt

Title: Beethoven’s Egmont, Count Egmont: An Imaginary Reading of Beethoven’s Overture

Institution: SUNY - University at Buffalo

Begun: May 2016

Completed: February 2021


Much of the surface structure—the immediate drama of the music—has become lost in scholarship concerning Beethoven’s Egmont overture. References to large-scale processes, whether they manifest as exhumations of deeply-embedded hierarchical events or as organic outgrowths of smaller motivic germs, paint an interpretive picture of a composer obsessed with high-level compositional practices. This dissertation instead develops a theory of analysis in which the musical surface drives the analytical perspective. Rather than deferring to subsurface musical events, I highlight the drama often missed in traditional large-scale analysis using hyper-focused, shallow-level technologies unified with agency.

My fictional, mixed-reality agency machine, Reactive-Environment-Musical-You (or REMY), incorporates surface-level methodologies with historically-indebted musical agency. The analytical methodologies include pitch-class counterpoint, slicing the musical surface into distinct yet interconnected harmonic states, and maximal outerplanar graphs, graphically depicting musical hierarchy. “REMY” folds surface-level analyses and musical agency into a second-person, user-generated mixed-reality set within the historical confines of the programmatic work in question; here, in the mid-16th century Low Countries. This particular historically-driven perspective provides new musical insights of Beethoven’s programmatic Egmont, and fashions the high-level, linear-minded composer into one reveling in the moment-to-moment dramatic immediacy of the Dutch Beeldenstorms.

Keywords: Beethoven, Egmont, pitch-class counterpoint, mixed-reality, Beeldenstorms, agency


Chapter 1: Exploring the Musical Surface
Chapter 2: Egmont and Egmont



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