Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Poundie Burstein

Committee Members

William Rothstein

Kofi Agawu

Scott Burnham

Subject Categories

Music Theory


Dvořák, Nineteenth Century, Form, Harmony, Period, Modulation


Discussions of the tonal construction of parallel periods usually focus on the standard eighteenth-century layout in which the cadence at the end of the antecedent is either an imperfect authentic cadence (IAC) or half cadence (HC) in the main key. In exceptional cases, antecedents may deploy a reinterpreted HC—i.e., a perfect authentic cadence (PAC) in V that is reinterpreted as a tonic-key HC. Especially in music of the nineteenth century, however, one also often finds periods in which the antecedent concludes with a PAC in a key other than V. In these modulating antecedents, cadences of the antecedent and consequent establish their hierarchy of cadential strength not by cadence type, but rather by key. Though this alternate possibility has been underexplored in the music theory literature, it carries significant consequences for the study of musical form in the nineteenth century.

This dissertation investigates the use of modulating antecedents in the music of Antonín Dvořák, who utilizes these devices with surprising frequency. Through analyses of various periods in which foreign-key cadences in the antecedent are answered by home-key ones in the consequent, I investigate this layout in the music of Dvořák and propose a new model that allows understanding a foreign-key cadence as reinforcing not only its own key, but also the home key. Chapter 1 outlines this formal phrase type and situates it within current literature on musical form.

In the process of studying the modulating antecedent, numerous related questions arise, a number of which are addressed in Chapter 2. This chapter draws on historical music-theoretical concepts and current-day formal principles to re-examine the standard cadential hierarchy. The revised hierarchy proposed in this dissertation incorporates the foreign-key perfect authentic cadence. It also reassesses the cadential strength of the imperfect authentic cadence, suggesting that the IAC is particularly flexible, allowing it to take on a variety of cadential strengths through its dialogue with IAC-like guises.

Chapter 3 outlines several instances in which formal theme types are called into question by the modulating antecedent. These include a curious phenomenon that commonly appears in the music of Dvořák in which the consequent concludes with the same foreign-key perfect authentic cadence as did the antecedent. Additionally, this chapter investigates periods with modulating antecedents that appear in the context of a larger sentential-theme type or as framing the outer sections of a small ternary form. Lastly, this chapter studies situations in which the modulating antecedent is deployed within a modulating period. This formal deployment calls for an overview of Dvořák’s harmonic language with respect to his antecedent modulations, especially regarding which elements differentiate key choices for the modulating antecedent from those in a standard modulating period. To this end, this chapter examines Dvořák’s preferred key choices in these modulating antecedents and argue for a connection between his music and that of Russian composers.

Chapter 4 explores these formal components in Dvořák’s music through analyses of three works that utilize the modulating antecedent. These analyses explore implications of the modulating antecedents that reverberate throughout the movement, as well as across movements of a multimovement cycle, in ways that impact the deep level harmonic structure as well as the understanding of the larger formal design. Studying these properties sheds light on both the analytical study of Dvořák’s music and formal issues in the nineteenth century and beyond.

Included in

Music Theory Commons