Key Profiles in Bruckner’s Symphonic Expositions: “Ein Potpourri von Exaltationen”? *

Nathan Pell

KEYWORDS: Bruckner, symphonies, Schenker, sonata form, second themes, chromaticism, tonality

ABSTRACT: : Because of their novel harmonic and formal tendencies, Bruckner’s symphonies are often subjected to extravagant analytical practices. Schenker, himself a Bruckner student, viewed them as sublime, but ultimately unworkable, harmonic jumbles: “a potpourri of exaltations.” Darcy has argued that Bruckner’s second themes are largely presented in the “wrong” key, creating a nontraditional “suspension field ... [isolated] from the main line of ... symphonic discourse.” Taking this view as a point of departure, I show (1) that Bruckner’s second theme key choices do not break from tradition—they have precedent in earlier, more canonic literature; and (2) that distinct “profiles” emerge from them: I-to-V in opening movements, I-to-III-to-V in finales. These profiles suggest both that Bruckner conceived of deep structure as chromatically saturated, and that he varied the degree of saturation to differentiate between types of movements. Thus, Bruckner’s chromatic second themes—far from “suspending” a movement’s trajectory—represent powerful, energizing events en route to the dominant.

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Received July 2017
Volume 24, Number 1, March 2018
Copyright © 2018 Society for Music Theory

Bruckner’s reputation in this country is something of a mystery. We are told that he was a simple-minded peasant who wrote over-long and simple-minded symphonies; that he was, moreover, a “Wagnerian symphonist” and mystically linked with Mahler. The average intelligent . . . musician is properly impressed by the German-Austrian musical tradition; but when he is told that in these countries Bruckner is treated as the equal of Brahms and indisputably the superior of Sibelius, he decides that there are aberrations of taste even in the most musical of nations. He expels Bruckner from his consciousness not so much because he dislikes Bruckner’s symphonies—for at best he has probably heard only the fourth and the seventh—but because he has been told by a variety of . . . historians, writing with patronizing conviction, that Bruckner was a well-meaning bore “written up” by the Wagnerites to impress the Brahmins (70).

[0] It may come as a surprise that the above paragraph was penned by an Englishman (Henry Raynor) writing in 1955; for, with a small handful of changes, it could have easily been written yesterday about the current tepid atmosphere of Bruckner reception in North America—although I should add that the symphonies have recently become a more regular presence in concert halls. The theoretical outlook on Bruckner has fallen more or less in step with the general apathy of the performance community. But when theorists have turned to Bruckner’s music, most have done so with a problematic attitude that is well illustrated by one of Raynor’s statements in particular—that Bruckner was a “Wagnerian symphonist . . . mystically linked with Mahler.” The problem does not lie with the first part of this statement, given Bruckner’s well-known efforts to translate the operatic vocabulary of Wagner into a symphonic language. It is the connection with Mahler that I find troubling: How often do we think about composers in terms of their successors? Do we describe Mozart by saying he was linked with Beethoven? Certainly it is crucial to construct chains of effect and influence when talking about music history, but I find this forward-looking, modernizing approach to Bruckner anachronistic and ultimately unhelpful.

Fringe Tonality, Schenkerian Tonality

[1.1] The tendency to group Bruckner with a later band of composers (Strauss, Mahler, Sibelius) represents a significant undercurrent in Bruckner scholarship, specifically among authors concerned with the music’s tonality. The consensus seems to be that if Bruckner’s music is tonal, it is only tonal in an oblique, half-hearted way. Yes, Bruckner’s symphonies start and end in the same key and have many of the trappings of tonal music—but perhaps only as a courtesy to aid the listener. This approximates the view expressed by William Benjamin, concerning the Eighth Symphony:

The listener can construct the apparent monotonality of many late-romantic works but perhaps not experience it as such. In more specific terms, the fact of beginning and ending in the same key may lead to an experience only of return to, and not of the motion within or prolongation of that, properly speaking, constitutes monotonality. (1996, 237–38)

In other words, the music is implicitly or explicitly denied the distinction of ‘organic tonal unity’ that commonly differentiates monotonality from other, looser varieties of tonality.(1) We are left to wonder: Of what sort, then, is Bruckner’s tonality?

[1.2] On the other hand, perhaps this music really is best viewed as tonal in a far stricter way. Benjamin captures well the most central feature of this sort of tonality: “motion within,” or Auskomponierung, an integrative process whereby some voice-leading events are pressed into the service of elaborating others. It is in this sense that I will be referring to tonality throughout this article. Schenkerian analysis of course serves to confirm a work’s tonal unity, and as such can be understood to exert a conservative, “recuperative” (to use Joseph Straus’s [2011] term) force on the music it examines. However, paradoxically enough, the Schenkerian approach has tended to modernize Bruckner: in the Sixth Symphony, Timothy Jackson sees an “anticipatory tonic” in the development of the second movement (2001, 224);(2) analyzing the Fourth Symphony, Edward Laufer reads the entire first movement as an Anstieg (2001, 116).(3) These and other fairly exotic readings suggest that Laufer and Jackson consider Bruckner to occupy the outer fringes of Schenkerian tonality: an assessment which, in turn, seems to have led Julian Horton (among others) to believe that one cannot apply Schenker to Bruckner without extensively modifying the theory or losing fidelity to the music. On the one hand, “a Schenkerian analysis that demonstrates the absence rather than the presence of an Ursatz is effectively self-negating” (Horton 2004b, 93); but on the other hand, “if our aim is to show that Bruckner really composed in a Schenkerian manner after all, then we have simply succeeded in forcing him to submit to the hegemony of a single, encompassing theory” (264).(4) Consequently, recent authors have resorted to Schenker in dribs and drabs, and in a somewhat diluted form.(5)

[1.3] This brings us to Schenker’s own opinion of Bruckner—a position worth taking seriously if we mean to apply the analytic system Schenker himself created. Schenker took classes with Bruckner at the Vienna Conservatory and at the University (Federhofer 1982, 198). Moreover, we know from the lesson books that he played Bruckner symphonies with his students in four-hand arrangements (Schenker 1918–1919) and from Der Dreiklang that he knew all of the symphonies by heart.(6) He appears indeed to have enjoyed quite a bit of Bruckner’s music, at least on the surface. Nevertheless, throughout his life Schenker regarded him as a lesser composer who could not muster a sense of tonal unity because of his compartmentalized thematic processes. He believed that “the very force and splendor of the individual [themes appear] to work against their synthesis.” And he accused Bruckner of “[luxuriating] in the component parts” so as to “lose all sense of form and tonality.” As a result, Schenker found Bruckner’s symphonies to be written in “an exalted manner, reckoned in terms of exaltation, so to speak; a symphony by him, taken as a whole, represents a kind of a potpourri of exaltations (ein Potpourri von Exaltationen)” ([1905–1909] 2005, 116).(7)

[1.4] These problems of “form and tonality” have long hindered Bruckner’s acceptance into the analytic canon. As Horton has written, “canonical preoccupations, perhaps combined with a more general atmosphere of musicological disdain, have created a neglect among Anglo-American analysts that has only recently begun to be redressed” (2004b, 20). But Bruckner’s liminal status within the canon has had ramifications surpassing mere neglect: more generally, such “canonical preoccupations” embody the lasting half-life of Bruckner’s poor reception by his contemporaries. Just as Hanslick and Kalbeck strove to isolate Bruckner’s work from the Beethovenian symphonic tradition, the theoretical community has distanced Bruckner from analytical procedures used on more standard repertoire (Venegas 2017). Searching for a palpable musical basis for this distancing—and for a way forward from it—has become a significant distraction in the scholarship; as a result, many theoretical articles about Bruckner (this one included) are obliged to start with a lengthy prolegomenon that takes pains to justify the author’s chosen approach and that grapples with the attendant methodological pitfalls. These extra hurdles, in my view, have hamstrung analytic work on the symphonies by reinforcing the impression that they are somehow unamenable to traditional means of examination. The present study attempts to undo some of Hanslick’s handiwork, thereby helping to ratify Bruckner’s reputation as a composer of tonal music—as a composer we need not fear addressing with an analytic system rooted in tonality. I hope, in the process, to avoid further reifying the “tonal canon” that has marginalized Bruckner and a great many other composers.

[1.5] Indeed, it is my belief that by resisting the impulse to discount Bruckner’s tonality, we can uncover many relations in the music that the analytical literature has by and large overlooked. This applies specifically to Bruckner’s choices of key areas within sonata form; thus, a main goal of this study is to address Bruckner’s sonata-form design in rather strict Schenkerian terms. In the process, however, we must take care to avoid a dangerous aspect of Schenker’s thought: his equation of a work’s tonality with its quality. For him, as is well known, a piece that was not tonal was bad, and Schenker used his analytic method variously as a pedestal to valorize some works and as a cudgel to denigrate others. In fact, it was a favorite strategy of nineteenth-century critics to shore up value judgments, both positive and negative, with music theory as a bracing. I strongly believe that it is important to study the music one loves, and musicians should not be ashamed to use analysis to express their admiration. But I do not think that music theory should ever be weaponized; and furthermore, too tight a link between theory and criticism risks damaging the accuracy of both. Thus I believe that theoretical claims should stand on their own. I ask the reader to understand that when I engage with the assessments of Bruckner’s critics (Schenker among them), I try to do so based on the theoretical substance of their claims, decoupled from their nineteenth-century aesthetic baggage.

Formality and Deformation

[2.1] Bruckner’s sonata-form movements will serve as our window into these questions of tonality, and so let us consider his approach to form in more detail.(8) We are all undoubtedly familiar with the experience of mistaking a so-called transition theme for the “real” second theme in sonata movements by Haydn, Mozart, or Beethoven. These composers, and countless others, seem to enjoy a certain amount of compositional sleight of hand as to formal design—not to mention that they surely did not rely so heavily on these rigid demarcations as we do. However, such moments are exceedingly rare in Bruckner; often one finds oneself asking, “What key is this theme in?,” but never, “What is the theme?” As a result, Bruckner perhaps calls for less subtlety in this regard than other composers.

[2.2] However, these observations conceal a larger issue: ever since the 1870s, this formal straightforwardness has been cast in a far more negative light, and critics have persisted in lambasting Bruckner for packaging his harmonic innovations in stale forms. Tovey writes: “Bruckner conceived magnificent openings and Götterdämmerung climaxes, but dragged along with him throughout his life an apparatus of classical sonata forms as understood by a village organist” (1935, 121). Franz Schalk, Bruckner’s longtime pupil and assistant, delivered a similar and surprisingly damning assessment: “Nothing is more primitive than Brucknerian form . . . . Bruckner fabricated a very simple schema for his movements, and never speculated about it and held to it regularly in all of his symphonies” (quoted in Korstvedt 2004, 171). This is, in a way, true: from a solely formal perspective, Bruckner follows a simpler layout in his expositions than his predecessors did, and follows this layout more closely as well.(9)

[2.3] But because this “hint of stiffness or formality” (Korstvedt 2004, 173) is deployed in so wide-ranging a chromatic environment, the opposite critique has also arisen, that of an assortment of “tonal shapes willfully strung one after another.”(10) Such claims about Bruckner’s bungled approach to form naturally bleed into a general gainsaying of his harmonic practice and organization that was first articulated by Eduard Hanslick: “It remains a psychological puzzle how this gentlest and most peaceable of all men . . . becomes, in the act of composition, an anarchist who pitilessly sacrifices everything that is called logic and clarity of development and structural and tonal unity” (quoted in Howie 2002, 444).(11) These views have in turn influenced theoretical spheres, where it has become an important goal to reconcile Bruckner’s cut-and-dried thematic sections with their allegedly meaningless keys areas (Horton 2004b, 96). I must stress again that in doing so we keep the critics’ observations about Bruckner’s music separate from the aesthetic scorn with which they were originally freighted, confronting only the theoretical questions they raise.

[2.4] Warren Darcy provides an interesting answer to these questions in “Bruckner’s Sonata Deformations” (1997). Here he addresses the Brucknerian sonata paradigm and explores how it differs from that of earlier composers. Bruckner’s daring harmonic decisions throughout a given movement can trigger various types of “sonata deformations”—a concept that would become a centerpiece of Darcy and James Hepokoski’s Elements of Sonata Theory (2006). A deformation is not a negative event, but rather a noticeable deviation from traditional practices that the movement must address in order to succeed (Darcy 1997, 257–58). One of the deformations proposed by Darcy is the so-called “alienated secondary theme zone,” which simply means that the second theme is presented in an unexpected key (271–74).(12) The expected key is determined by the mode of the movement: the dominant in major and the mediant in minor. For Darcy, second themes that diverge from this mold are not only unexpected, but disruptive: “Beginning with III/4 [the finale of the Third Symphony], most of Bruckner’s expositions make a point of presenting S [the second theme] in the ‘wrong’ key, representing a tonal dissonance that must be resolved, either within the secondary zone itself or later” (272). This ‘wrong key’ “is felt to be tonally alienated from the overall i–III or I–V progression” (272), and the resulting alienation deflects the course of the sonata form, suspending or defeating linear time (263) and creating what Darcy terms a “suspension field” (271). In addition to being presented in a foreign key area, these themes are often repetitive and lyrical, which Darcy sees as heightening the sense of alienation.(13) “The net result,” he concludes, “is to isolate the secondary theme zone from the main line of the default symphonic discourse. This does not mean that the movement as a whole will necessarily ‘fail,’ but it does suggest that ‘success’ is not to be won along the traditional lines of sonata discourse” (274).(14)

[2.5] I find myself skeptical about several of these principles, as they appear in the writings of Darcy and the century of critics that preceded him. In particular, I wonder whether Bruckner’s second themes are arrayed in truly non-traditional keys, and whether they are best felt as “alienated” and “wrong” in comparison to the eventual ascendance of the expected (or “right”) key. Despite my reservations, Darcy’s arguments lie at the very nexus of form and tonality. As such, he has provided us with excellent points for consideration, which I will address below.

[2.6] In the following study of Bruckner’s sonata form, I will evaluate Darcy’s conclusions, as encapsulated by the following guiding questions:

  1. To what extent is Bruckner’s treatment of key in sonata form “along the traditional lines of sonata discourse?” (Darcy 1997, 274).
  2. Are Bruckner’s second themes tonally alienated from the overall harmonic design of the sonata form? In other words, are they in the “wrong” key?

I hope to show that Bruckner’s treatment of sonata form is a natural continuation of earlier approaches; and that despite a tangle of harmonic complexity on the surface, a robust and coherent underlying harmonic structure supports the general form.

Example 1. Key Schemes of the Expositions

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[2.7] The corpus of Bruckner sonata forms that I will examine excludes all of the student works (such as the Study Symphony), as well as the String Quintet and the finale of the Ninth Symphony (which I will comment on only in passing). Although the latter is far more complete than is generally assumed, it is not widely available. I also exclude the Symphony in D minor (“Die Nullte”), the First and Second Symphonies, and the first movement of the Third Symphony. In these, Bruckner follows the so-called traditional sonata paradigm as we might expect: all three symphonies are in minor and the second themes are all in the mediant. What remains are the mature, complete, symphonic sonata-form movements featured in Example 1. Here I list the tonic of each movement, the key of the second theme, and the point at which the structural dominant arrives. For the purposes of this essay, I restrict my discussion to the exposition, except in those cases where the dominant arrives in the development.

Bruckner and Tradition

Example 2a. Formal Precedents for Bruckner’s Key Schemes

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Example 2b. Schenkerian Precedents (from Der Freie Satz) for Bruckner’s Voice Leading

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[3.1] I will start by touching briefly on the first question: Are Bruckner’s key choices “traditional”? We must first compare the symphonies with earlier music, both from a formal perspective (to determine the limits of mid-nineteenth-century sonata practice) and from a Schenkerian perspective (because I argue that this music uses strictly tonal voice leading to compose out middleground harmonies). In Example 2a, every sonata-form movement of Bruckner’s is shown to have a precedent in terms of its key scheme; of course, the voice leading differs widely from case to case, but there is something to be said for examining a work’s key design in broad strokes. From these analogies, I think we can conclude that Bruckner’s key choices are at least no great departure from the nineteenth-century practice of Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Chopin, and Brahms.(15) In order to show that Bruckner’s harmonies behave in ways that Schenker considered tonal, I have included in Example 2b a list of references to figures in Der freie Satz ([1935] 1979). A look at these figures will reveal that my graphs (in Examples 3 through 6 and the Appendix) contain nothing more progressive than may be seen in Schenker’s own examples, some of which are quite extravagant. These comparisons also shed light on a further consequence of Bruckner’s non-canonic status: a double standard that treats, say, a Mendelssohn as conservative, but a Bruckner as avant-garde. The similarities in harmonic and formal procedure between Bruckner and composers whose music resides firmly within the analytic canon should cause us to question the basis on which that canon rests and the wisdom of its rigid boundaries. At the very least, I hope Example 2 will serve to substantiate my claim that Bruckner should not be considered a modernist when very little that he does is without some precedent.

[3.2] So are Bruckner’s sonata-form movements traditional? Largely. Are they textbook? No. But it is hardly reasonable to always expect textbook devices in symphonies written in the late nineteenth century, not to mention that the Formenlehre textbook itself was even then still developing.(16) Updates to Sonata Theory, particularly the advent of dialogic form, have mitigated this problem; but I believe that any approach that centers around forms and deformations thereof puts the emphasis in the wrong place. Rather than merely asking, “What is the key scheme of the movement?,” I think it is more productive to examine how the keys a composer visits contribute to the overall logic of each particular symphony. Schenkerian analysis—the use of which is entirely appropriate owing to Bruckner’s more or less conventional voice leading—will prove instructive in evaluating the sui generis logic of the movements under consideration. Therefore, I will now move to our second guiding question: Are Bruckner’s second themes in the “wrong” key? I will show that, according to Bruckner’s own unique symphonic logic, his choices are very “right,” indeed almost inevitable in their own way, in terms of both form and tonal structure.

Bruckner’s Key Schemes: A Method in the Potpourri

[4.1] Returning to Example 1, note that I have not grouped movements by what symphony they belong to, nor by their mode. For indeed, these groupings shed no light on Bruckner’s key choices. Rather, the governing principle behind the key structure of Bruckner’s mature sonata forms proves to be position within the symphony. First movements express the key scheme I–V, finales for the most part I–III–V.(17) (Our only sonata-form slow movement passes through an entirely different key on its way to the dominant.) There are exceptions, most of which I will return to;(18) but the evidence shows a distinct difference in key schemes between Bruckner’s opening and closing movements.(19) As far as I am aware, this pattern has never been mentioned in the scholarly literature.(20) I should stress that this is somewhat of an idiosyncratic procedure, for normally key areas within a sonata form are determined by the mode of the tonic, regardless of the numeral that appears over the first page of each movement in the score. But it is not unusual to find a formal paradigm that applies to one type of movement but not to another. The sonata-rondo as finale is a ready example. In the case of Bruckner’s key schemes, I do not view this difference between opening and closing movements as a formal aberration. Rather it represents a formal reification of two aspects in particular of Bruckner’s symphonic writing: first, a considerable degree of modal mixture in the middleground and, second, a deep sensitivity to concerns of large-scale symphonic pacing.

Chromaticism as Formal Device

Example 3. Bruckner VIII: Finale Opening

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[4.2] It is well known that Bruckner’s music is chromatic. But I contend that this quality is best understood as a complete chromatic saturation of the tonic diatony, and that part of the explanation behind Bruckner’s key designs lies in the fact that he constantly found ways to incorporate mixture into the middleground. The integrity of chromatic events to Bruckner’s structural conception comes across with particular clarity at the beginning of the finale of the Eighth Symphony. The piece is in C minor, but this movement starts in Gflat as a flatted 5ˆ, one of the least likely chromatic notes in the key. Example 3 follows the opening passage of the movement as it traverses the various structural layers from middleground to surface. Figure A posits that the off-tonic opening derives in the middleground from a simple tonic arpeggiation in the bass and a fourth progression in the top voice. On the next layer, Figure B, note how the opening G begins to come under the influence of the mediant Eflat rather than the tonic; Figure C features the first chromatic event: mixture at the third in Eflat major. I have included Figure C’ to show that this chromatic shift is motivated by the key of the slow movement, Dflat major; the passage in question serves as a transition to reestablish C minor as tonic. In Figure D, a connective motion in the bass is rhythmically displaced from the top voice, and Figure E demonstrates how each of these contrapuntally generated harmonies becomes a local key center (through the process of casting out the root), forming a sequence of downward fourths.

[4.3] Let us now examine the passage’s foreground chromaticism. Figures F through J focus on the composing-out of the initial Gflat, which, following Bruckner, I notate as Fsharp for convenience.(21) The second chromatic event of the passage involves the middleground Gflat/Fsharp major becoming minor in the foreground; thus Figure F shows that it is a Dnatural (and not Dsharp) that prolongs Csharp melodically, and Figure G has the same Dnatural prolonging Fsharp harmonically. Figures H through J show the contrapuntal elaboration of this idea. However, Bruckner makes one additional chromatic alteration before the surface: the Fsharp minor at the start of the phrase becomes major at the end, yielding the chromaticized versions given in Figures F’ through J’. It goes without saying that the hypothetical diatonic version of Figure K is far inferior to Figure K’, what Bruckner actually wrote!

[4.4] From these opening measures, we can see how Bruckner keeps a watchful eye on his deployment of middleground chromaticism for formal reasons. In this case he forges a connection between the third and fourth movements—weakening a formal boundary by building a bridge across it. Bruckner also used large-scale mixture to solidify formal boundaries; and one way he differentiated between movements structurally was by choosing key schemes that treat first movements as if they were in major, and finales as if in minor. Not only does this build a formal parameter that acts across the span of the symphony, but it also creates a seamless impulse of chromaticism through the structural layers, sown in the middleground and brought to fruition in the foreground.

Chromaticism and Symphonic Length

[4.5] The rest of the formal explanation of Bruckner’s key choices has to do with length.(22) Bruckner was the first noteworthy symphonist since Beethoven to consistently push past the thirty- to forty-minute mark. When ideas are given more time to develop, naturally more development can and will occur. Permit me to frame this relation in allegorical terms. If a piece is to be a long one, Time seeks accommodation from Voice Leading; and Voice Leading duly expands, creating more content to fill the space Time has allotted. In particular, I would like to apply this idea to harmonic development: Is it coincidental that the works of the early nineteenth century that exhibit some of the boldest harmonic plans—Beethoven’s Waldstein or Hammerklavier Sonatas; Schubert’s Great C major Symphony or String Quintet in C major—are also the longest? I believe not. We can understand this correlation as an outgrowth of the nature of voice-leading content; the longer a stretch of voice leading, the more likely it is that the resources of an unmixed diatony will become exhausted. This is of course not to say that introducing chromaticism is the only way to expand voice-leading content to fill a certain amount of time: composers have many such resources at their disposal. But because of the tremendous capacity that chromatic elements have for attracting attention to themselves, it is difficult in large movements for composers to avoid monotony without incorporating them. Thus it is no wonder that the nineteenth century, in ever grander works, extended and varied the harmonic aspects of the formal frameworks inherited from the preceding century.(23) Chromaticism and length walk in lockstep.(24)

[4.6] Viewed this way, what might be a renegade harmonic stance in a five-minute piece—the famously problematic Mozart Minuet in D, K. 355 comes to mind (see Oster 1966, 34)—could be contextualized and mitigated into a more normal position when surrounded by more music, thus allowing longer music to have more thoroughly integrated chromatic events. I believe that this principle is crucial for understanding Bruckner’s symphonies: their second themes, though framed in highly chromatic keys in the finales, are made tonally acceptable by the vast temporal space Bruckner affords them. By the same token, their tremendous length can be understood to call for a greater degree of chromatic saturation.

[4.7] Equally important to Bruckner’s formal choices is the difference in scale between first movements and finales. It goes without saying that symphonic finales traditionally have brisker tempos and more rhythmically driven themes than their opening counterparts, to project a certain forward-driving dynamism. Usually finales are shorter as well. But Bruckner follows the trend epitomized by Beethoven’s later works—like the Ninth Symphony and Bflat Quartet, Op. 130—of weighting a piece towards the finale. Thus, Bruckner’s last movements are sometimes just as long as or longer than the first. Perhaps realizing that a fast tempo alone did not provide enough energy to propel such lengthy finales, he found another way: the I–III–V paradigm in finales, where I–III–V could be viewed as a more dramatic and sweeping gesture than I–V. From this perspective, III is not a “suspension field,” but in fact a powerful waypoint en route to a dominant that is in turn strengthened by its delay. Critics of Bruckner often complain of lackluster or aimless finales.(25) While I do not join in this opinion, I would encourage anyone who does to imagine Bruckner finales rewritten so that their second themes were in the dominant.

[4.8] We have yet to examine the issue from a truly Schenkerian perspective; but from a formal one, I hope to have shown so far that Bruckner’s second theme key choices are not random and that the lyric material of a movement is never in the “wrong” key—indeed I view these choices as necessary to an organic structure. The fact that Bruckner used middleground chromaticism as a formal parameter to differentiate first movements from finales reveals that the keys of his second themes are neither otiose, nor wholly unpredictable.

Key Profiles and Voice-Leading Coherence

[5.1] Up to this point, I have focused my discussion of sonata form around Bruckner’s “key schemes”: a blunt term referring to a succession of Roman numerals that indeed may have no structural significance. But from a Schenkerian stance, we cannot really determine the “foreign-ness” or “wrongness” of a given key choice until we have seen how it is incorporated into the voice-leading approach to the structural dominant (which is after all the goal of the first half of Schenker’s sonata form). And so I argue that these “key schemes” are instead better viewed as “key profiles”: a dynamic interaction of structural keys pressed into service by the voice leading that heralds the advent of the dominant.(26) As I noted before, Bruckner’s first movements go directly to the dominant, and thus do not require further comment, so now let us turn our attention to the finales.

Example 4. Bass-Line Sketches of Bruckner’s Finale Expositions

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[5.2] Example 4 comprises bass-line sketches of six all of the Bruckner finales under consideration, with middleground sketches on the right and further reductions—distillations of what I consider the “key profiles”—on the left.(27) (Asterisks mark difficult passages that require more detailed graphs, which I provide in the Appendix. Click on an asterisk to jump to the relevant spot in the Appendix.) A survey of these readings (which should be viewed as just that) will reveal their most salient features. Four of the finales arpeggiate I–III–V: those of the Third, Fifth, Seventh, and Eighth Symphonies. The raised mediant (Fsharp major) of the Third Symphony might seem bizarre in minor, but note the conspicuous place of D major in the voice leading. In the Seventh Symphony, the dominant does not arrive until the third theme of a reversed recapitulation, the 5ˆ of a divided octave descent. And in the Eighth Symphony, the second theme is presented as a passing IV-Stufe (F) between an inner-voice 5ˆ (G) and the structural mediant (Eflat) that is delayed until the third theme. Although the Sixth Symphony appears to feature a structural flatIII, this C major, over which Bruckner presents the second theme, is better read as a voice-leading maneuver to prepare a structural