Dissertation Index

Author: Webber, Miriam B.

Title: Analysis as Dialogue: Bakhtinian Theory and the Music of Dmitri Shostakovich

Institution: University of Kansas

Begun: August 2013

Completed: April 2021


Although recent scholarship has begun to consider the writings of Mikhail Bakhtin in connection with the music of Dmitri Shostakovich, little of the published work to date addresses the two with regard to the topic of musical narratology. The present study examines various ways in which Bakhtin’s literary thought might be applied to Shostakovich’s music, addressing a range of established music-theoretical methodologies located within the broader context of Bakhtinian narrative theory. My analytical approach is consequently multifaceted and engages multiple musical parameters, including pitch organization, rhythm, form, topical content, and emotional valence. In particular, five key terms deriving from Bakhtin’s critical writings form the template in relation to which Shostakovich’s approach to the act of musical narration may be codified: carnival, chronotope, heteroglossia, polyphony, and novelization. Several songs are presented as preliminary case studies that together provide a framework for the interpretation of individual scenes from The Nose and Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk District, as well as aspects of the purely instrumental symphonic repertoire. Issues such as nonclosure are deemed neither to be problematic nor to require any extrinsic accounting for and are instead taken to be wholly Bakhtinian in both conception and practice. Nor does the methodology adopted here seek to disclose any kind of immanent narrative subtext; rather, it argues for modes of musical comprehension shaped in conjunction with Bakhtinian narratological thought.

Keywords: Shostakovich, music, analysis, Bakhtin, dialogism, carnival, heteroglossia, narrative


List of Examples vii
List of Figures ix
Introduction 1
Engaging Bakhtin 5
Shostakovich and Analysis 7
Shostakovich and Narrative 17
Shostakovich and Bakhtin 23
Chapter 1. “Reflection of a Reflection”: First-Order Musical Discourse and Bakhtinian Dialogism 31
Terms 33
Carnival 33
Chronotope 34
Heteroglossia 36
Polyphony 38
Novelization 39
Bakhtin and Music 41
Methodology 42
Analysis: “Fragment,” from Four Monologues on Words by Pushkin (1952) 48
Text 48
Music 51
Chapter 2. Symphonizing the Word: Four Bakhtinian Case Studies 58
“The Donkey and the Nightingale,” from Two Fables by Krylov (1922) 58
Music 62
“Ballada,” from Two Romances on Words of Lermontov (1950) 72
Music 77
“Misunderstanding,” from Satires (Pictures of the Past) on Words by Sasha Chorny (1960) 84
Music 90
“Kreutzer Sonata,” from Satires (Pictures of the Past) on Words by Sasha Chorny (1960) 99
Music 103
Chapter 3. Re-Accentuating the Word: Translating Literature into Opera 112
Act 1, Scene 4, Kazan Cathedral Scene, from The Nose, op. 15 (1928) 115
Analysis 117
Act 1, Scene 2, Courtyard Scene, from Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk District, op. 29 (1934) 133
Analysis 136
Chapter 4. Finalizing “Nothing”: Thematizing Mortality in Symphony no. 14 156
Questions of Harmony 158
Bakhtinian Approaches to Impermanence 161
Third Movement (“Lorelei”), from Symphony no. 14, op. 135 (1969) 163
Concluding Remarks 189
Chapter 5. Hedgehogs and Foxes: Pluralism in Symphony no. 9 190
Fourth and Fifth Movements from Symphony no. 9 (1945) 193
Narrative Archetypes 196
Analysis 201
Concluding Remarks 218
Appendix A. Musical Example Texts and English Translations 220
Appendix B. Copyright and Reprinting Permissions 235
Bibliography 237



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