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Enthusiasm, Contemplation, and Romantic Longing : Reconsidering Schubert's Sectional Songs in the Light of Historical Context

Lund, Tobias LU (2009)
Abstract
In twentieth-century music scholarship, those of Franz Schubert’s songs from the 1810s that form sectional musical structures have normally been presented as being unfortunately dependent on aesthetically disparaged eighteenth-century models. Authors have often treated these songs succinctly, preferring instead to invest their energy in the “masterworks” of Schubert’s later years. The present thesis attempts to find out how Schubert’s circle of friends – the group that normally constituted the composer’s primary audience – interpreted three of the early, sectional songs. On the basis mainly of extant material from the circle, of reviews and other texts from the contemporary Viennese press, and of stylistic features of the songs themselves,... (More)
In twentieth-century music scholarship, those of Franz Schubert’s songs from the 1810s that form sectional musical structures have normally been presented as being unfortunately dependent on aesthetically disparaged eighteenth-century models. Authors have often treated these songs succinctly, preferring instead to invest their energy in the “masterworks” of Schubert’s later years. The present thesis attempts to find out how Schubert’s circle of friends – the group that normally constituted the composer’s primary audience – interpreted three of the early, sectional songs. On the basis mainly of extant material from the circle, of reviews and other texts from the contemporary Viennese press, and of stylistic features of the songs themselves, reconstructions of interpretation contexts are proposed. Analyses are then undertaken with the aim of capturing meanings that Schubert’s circle may have attributed to each song. Die Bürgschaft (D.246), a setting of a ballad by Schiller, is analysed against the background of theories and practices of declamation (the artful reading of poetry), of Neo-Platonic idealism, and of the optimism within the German national movement during the wars against Napoleon. The analysis of Die Nacht (D.534), a setting of an excerpt from Ossian, is based on a consideration of the regenerative force which was attributed to mythology and old tales, of the cultural construction of the Ossianic landscape and its links to the English landscape garden, of the stylistic proximity of Die Nacht to the free fantasia (a musical genre which was explicitly associated with the English garden), and of the increasing political and existential uncertainty which Schubert’s circle experienced after the Congress of Vienna. In the case of the Mayrhofer-setting Liedesend (D.473), finally, the hidden and inconclusive strophic structure that can be found under the sectional musical surface is brought into relation with the concept of “depth” and with the esoteric and Romantic tendencies within the circle. At the end of the thesis, it is suggested that the aesthetic and social values which musicology has attached to musical unity and to certain musical crafts account for the negative reception of sectional songs in the twentieth century. Finally, a discussion of the potential value of such songs today leads to the assumption that the author’s own interest in Schubert’s sectional songs is due to his own bent for heterogeneity and multiple layers of meaning, a common predilection in parts of present-day academia. (Less)
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author
supervisor
opponent
  • FD, Universitetslektor Berglund, Lars, Department of musicology, Uppsala University
organization
publishing date
type
Thesis
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Johann Georg Sulzer, Johann Wötzel, Friedrich Schiller, Romanticism, Neo-Platonism, depth, free fantasia, English landscape garden, declamation, friendship, friends, interpretation, ballad, Lied, Franz Schubert, sectional song, Ossian, Johann Mayrhofer, Die Bürgschaft, Die Nacht, Liedesend.
pages
359 pages
publisher
Department of Arts and Cultural Sciences, Lund University
defense location
Institutionen för kulturvetenskaper / Department of Arts and Cultural Sciences, Biskopsgatan 5, Lund. Room 314 in the Josephson building.
defense date
2009-03-28 10:15
ISBN
978-91-976670-2-9
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
22781f98-1d01-46c7-bd0b-0252cf76169e (old id 1301156)
date added to LUP
2009-02-24 16:53:47
date last changed
2016-09-19 08:45:04
@phdthesis{22781f98-1d01-46c7-bd0b-0252cf76169e,
  abstract     = {In twentieth-century music scholarship, those of Franz Schubert’s songs from the 1810s that form sectional musical structures have normally been presented as being unfortunately dependent on aesthetically disparaged eighteenth-century models. Authors have often treated these songs succinctly, preferring instead to invest their energy in the “masterworks” of Schubert’s later years. The present thesis attempts to find out how Schubert’s circle of friends – the group that normally constituted the composer’s primary audience – interpreted three of the early, sectional songs. On the basis mainly of extant material from the circle, of reviews and other texts from the contemporary Viennese press, and of stylistic features of the songs themselves, reconstructions of interpretation contexts are proposed. Analyses are then undertaken with the aim of capturing meanings that Schubert’s circle may have attributed to each song. Die Bürgschaft (D.246), a setting of a ballad by Schiller, is analysed against the background of theories and practices of declamation (the artful reading of poetry), of Neo-Platonic idealism, and of the optimism within the German national movement during the wars against Napoleon. The analysis of Die Nacht (D.534), a setting of an excerpt from Ossian, is based on a consideration of the regenerative force which was attributed to mythology and old tales, of the cultural construction of the Ossianic landscape and its links to the English landscape garden, of the stylistic proximity of Die Nacht to the free fantasia (a musical genre which was explicitly associated with the English garden), and of the increasing political and existential uncertainty which Schubert’s circle experienced after the Congress of Vienna. In the case of the Mayrhofer-setting Liedesend (D.473), finally, the hidden and inconclusive strophic structure that can be found under the sectional musical surface is brought into relation with the concept of “depth” and with the esoteric and Romantic tendencies within the circle. At the end of the thesis, it is suggested that the aesthetic and social values which musicology has attached to musical unity and to certain musical crafts account for the negative reception of sectional songs in the twentieth century. Finally, a discussion of the potential value of such songs today leads to the assumption that the author’s own interest in Schubert’s sectional songs is due to his own bent for heterogeneity and multiple layers of meaning, a common predilection in parts of present-day academia.},
  author       = {Lund, Tobias},
  isbn         = {978-91-976670-2-9},
  keyword      = {Johann Georg Sulzer,Johann Wötzel,Friedrich Schiller,Romanticism,Neo-Platonism,depth,free fantasia,English landscape garden,declamation,friendship,friends,interpretation,ballad,Lied,Franz Schubert,sectional song,Ossian,Johann Mayrhofer,Die Bürgschaft,Die Nacht,Liedesend.},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {359},
  publisher    = {Department of Arts and Cultural Sciences, Lund University},
  school       = {Lund University},
  title        = {Enthusiasm, Contemplation, and Romantic Longing : Reconsidering Schubert's Sectional Songs in the Light of Historical Context},
  year         = {2009},
}