Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.

Oxford Seminar in Music Theory and Analysis: Jack Boss

April 29 @ 4:30 pm - 6:00 pm


This seminar will now take place electronically.

The meetings will begin as scheduled at 4.30pm and will follow the established pattern of a 45-minute presentation plus 45 minutes of discussion.

The seminars will take place via Zoom. You do not need to subscribe to Zoom to participate. In order to join the seminar, please email the convenor Jonathan Cross (jonathan.cross@chch.ox.ac.uk) by midday the day before the seminar with just the message line ‘OSiMTA seminar attendee’ followed by the date of the seminar you wish to attend and your full name as it will appear on Zoom. You will then be sent a Zoom invitation about an hour before the start of the seminar. On joining the meeting you will enter a ‘waiting room’ and will be admitted at the scheduled start time. Further instructions will be sent with the invitation.

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.


April 29
4:30 pm - 6:00 pm
Event Category:


Faculty of Music
01865 (2)76133