Oxford Seminar in Music Theory and Analysis: Jack Boss
April 29 @ 4:30 pm - 6:00 pmFree
This seminar will now take place electronically. We are currently working out the best way for this to happen and will let you know how to access the seminar as soon as we can.
Jack Boss (University of Oregon) | ‘Visions of Moonlight and Global Coherence in “Mondestrunken” from Schoenberg’s Pierrot lunaire’
The sixth chapter of my new book, Schoenberg’s Atonal Music, presents Pierrot lunaire as autobiographical. The collection of 21 melodramas in three parts portrays Schoenberg being led astray into atonality by the moonlight of modernism, suffering the consequences (alienation from his audience, excoriation by the critics), and attempting to return to his older style but falling short. These different stages of Pierrot/Schoenberg’s journey are depicted in each of the melodramas by ‘basic (visual) images’ drawn from the first two lines of text that then motivate the pitch and rhythmic organization. In my lecture, I will explain one of these basic images in detail: in ‘Mondestrunken’ the image of moonlight streaming down toward the composer in waves gives rise to unending chains of tetrachords linked by common pitch classes, that is, weak and strong Rp relations (Allen Forte’s term). Though other images interrupt the steady streams of descending moonbeams at times, such as expanding and contracting intervallic ‘bodies’ at the beginning of the second stanza, and the image of the unsteady poet at the beginning of the third, the melodrama returns again and again to the descending moonbeams, and in them, it finds its coherence.