Dissertation Index

Author: Pye, Richard, C.

Title: The Music of William Schuman

Institution: University of Newcastle

Begun: January 1995

Completed: January 1999


The study traces the development of Schuman's style with particular emphasis upon his approach to the symphony. Three works are studied in detail, each focussing on significant aspects of his approach to structural delineation and development: Symphonies no. 3 (1941), no.6 (1948) and no.9 (1968).

Pitch-class set analysis is employed in the examination of the extended diatonicism of the early 1940's, through to the quasi-serial circulation of the aggregate in the Ninth Symphony. Key analytical concerns include the processes of motivic manipulation that lie behind Schuman's instinctive approach to "autogenetic development," and the changing nature of the symphonic duality as the early diatonicism gives way to a contextual, self-referential motivic vocabulary.

From a theoretical perspective the focus of inquiry is the relevance of different approaches to set-complex relations to the various stages of this stylistic evolution. A number of questions are addressed: To what extent are the generic relations outlined by Forte and Parks applicable to large-scale symphonic works with their stylistic roots in the diatonic/neo-classical tradition? Does Schuman's approach to the symphony reflect a Schoenbergian view of form and structure? Are concepts outlined in Schoenberg's theoretical writings (such as the Idea, the Grundgestalt and developing variation) useful here?

Keywords: Schuman, symphony, diatonic, genera, pc-set, developing variation, autogenetic development, Schoenberg, theory


Chapter 1: A brief overview of the musical language of String Quartet no.2 (1937), American Festival Overture (1939), String Quartet no.3 (1939) - stylistic characteristics, formal devices, diatonic collections.

Chapter 2: Analysis 1:Symphony no.3 (1941): Passacaglia. The influence of Haubiel and Harris. Harris as teacher and theorist. Formal design. Diatonic collections.

Chapter 3: Analysis 2: Symphony no.3: Chorale. Harmonic
ambiguity. "Floating tonality".

Chapter 4: Influence of the dance: Undertow (1945) and Night Journey (1947)

Chapter 5: Analysis 3: Symphony no.6 (1948): Autogenetic Development

Chapter 6: Analysis 4: Symphony no.6 : Harmony and structure

Chapter 7: Further developments: Credendum (1955), Violin Concerto (1959), Symphony no.7 (1960)

Chapter 8: Analysis 5: Symphony no. 9

Conclusion: The developments of Schuman's musical language. The role of generic pc-set theory.


R.C. Pye
4 Coniston Road
Longlevens, Gloucester GL2 0NA
United Kingdom
Telephone: 01452 506603
E mail: r.pye@virgin.net

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