Review of David Damschroder, Harmony in Schubert (Cambridge University Press, 2010)

Gordon Sly

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Received March 2012
Volume 18, Number 2, July 2012
Copyright © 2012 Society for Music Theory

[1] David Damschroder’s provocative and expansive Harmony in Schubert offers an approach to harmonic process and meaning that confronts our pedagogy, illuminates elusive details of Schubert’s harmonic language, and engages a diverse body of Schubert scholarship in contexts provided by a number of the composer’s best-known works.

[2] In part one, Damschroder presents his methodology, taking us through chapters on harmonic and linear progressions, common prolongations and successions, and chords built on II, III, and those derived from modal mixture. Each of the next eight chapters, which comprise part two, focuses on an individual work of Schubert’s that has been the subject of analytical commentary in the published literature, allowing Damschroder to hold up each analysis in turn as a foil for his alternative reading.

[3] Damschroder’s analytical sensibility is thoroughly Schenkerian, but he grafts onto this an approach to Schubert’s harmonic language, and an analytical nomenclature, derived from the nineteenth-century Stufentheorie tradition. Jettisoned from our standard-practice Roman-numeral/figured-bass alloy are, most notably, indications of secondary or applied function and figured-bass numbers used to indicate chordal inversion. For example, an A-major triad in G major is not V/V, but