Dissertation Index

Author: Paley, Elizabeth S.

Title: Narratives of 'Incidental' Music in German Romantic Theater

Institution: University of Wisconsin-Madison

Begun: January 1995

Completed: July 1998


Because incidental music by definition is not omnipresent within drama (in contrast to music in opera), moments when music intrudes into a play necessarily arouse attention. From purely instrumental overtures and entr'actes to songs and the accompanied declamation of melodrama, incidental music occasions diverse interactions between dramatic and musical narratives. When listeners combine music with verbal texts (programs, poems, plays, a composer's verbal reference to a composition, an analytical narrative such as "sonata form," etc.), they enable it to be read as narrating, as foreshadowing and recalling events of the text and providing musical commentary on it. More importantly, the synergistic whole, the music-plus-text, often points to compelling secret narratives hidden behind those suggested by the text or music alone. A set of Zwischenreden--incidental texts--published in 1821 to accompany concert performances of Beethoven's Egmont-Musik provides the touchstone for Chapter 1, which draws on Der rida's logic of the supplement to argue not only that music supplements narrative, but also that narrative supplements music. In Chapters 2-4, theories of narrative in music, literature, and film inform detailed analyses of Goethe's/Beethoven's Egmont, Shakespeare's/Mendelssohn's A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Byron's/Schumann's Manfred. These diverse musicodramatic works reflect a flourishing theoretical and practical interest in incidental music in Germany during the first half of the nineteenth century. The analyses reveal a mutual supplementarity between music and narrative, demonstrating that incidental music is rarely "incidental."

Keywords: incidental music, narrative, Egmont, Midsummer Night's Dream, Sommernachtstraum, Manfred, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Schumann


Chapter 1. Zwischenreden for Zwischenakte: Incidental Narratives of Incidental Music

I. The Mutual Supplementarity of Music and Narrative
II. Narrating and Narrativizing
III. Carolyn Abbate's Unsung Voices
IV. Lawrence Kramer's Musical Narratology
V. Music Supplementing Music
VI. Incidental Narratives, Incidental Music

Chapter 2. Past, Presence, and Future: Musical Narratives in Beethoven's Egmont

I. Overture
II. What Every Drama Requires
III. The Best of Both Worlds: the First Egmont Entr'acte
IV. The Second Egmont Entr'acte and Narratives of Musical Absence
V. Musical Endings and Death
VI. Bodily Music and Disembodied Codas
VII. The End, Again

Chapter 3. Musical and Dramatic Framing in Mendelssohn's Midsummer Night's Dream

I. The Frame
II. Music Framing Music: or, How to Get into Fairyland
III. The Story Within the Frame
IV. "Music, Such as Charmeth Sleep!": Breaching the Dramatic Frame
V. "If We Offend, It Is With Our Good Will": Musical Frame Parodies

Chapter 4. "The Voice Which Was My Music": Nonnarrative Musical Discourse in Schumann's Manfred

I. Melodrama and the Supernatural
II. Astarte
III. Hearing Silence
IV. Typologies of Discourse
V. Modes of Musical Discourse in Manfred
VI. The Consequences
VII. Does Narrative Trump All? Analyzing the Overture

a. Measure One
b. Measures 95-109

VIII. Coda


Elizabeth S. Paley
Department of Music and Dance
452 Murphy Hall
University of Kansas
Lawrence, KS 66045
(785) 864-9757

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