Date of Degree
L. Poundie Burstein
Esthetics | Music | Theatre and Performance Studies
Analysis, Communication and the arts, Fantasie, Music as narrative, Piano Sonatas, Schumann
This dissertation sets out to examine the finales of Robert Schumann's Piano Sonatas (opp. 11, 14, 22 [original finale]), and Fantasie (op. 17), with an especial focus on their form, which can be broadly categorized as parallel form. The introduction examines historical criticisms of Schumann's large-scale works, pointing out some of the idiosyncratic features found in Schumann's finales. Each chapter will present a comprehensive analysis of one of the finales. I make use of color diagrams in the formal analyses, which expeditiously and efficiently elucidate the repeating patterns of thematic and transitional materials; they also visually reflect the actual number of measures spent in each section, thus helping the viewer to recognize the deformation occurring in the parallel format of the finales. In addition to form, my analysis draws on observations of harmony, voice leading, phrase structure, and pitch/motivic material.
The dissertation then compares Schumann's formal construction of the finales to the plot structure of literary work or film. Based on my analyses, I suggest that the multi-layered design of form and harmony may effectively express a story containing multiple digressions, as depicted in the novels of Jean-Paul Richter, one of Schumann's creative inspirations.
My analysis also suggests that Schumann's way of constructing finales is deeply reflected in his double personality, Florestan and Eusebius. In relation to this, my dissertation includes a discussion of these finales' potential psychological effects on the listeners, utilizing Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytic essay, The Uncanny; I argue that uncanny feelings may be evoked when listeners encounter "alienated repetitions" during these lengthy finales.
The study shall also aid the reader in locating these deceptive alterations in recurring themes and transitions; a complete map of the finale with indications of such subtle changes in the recurring sections shall help pianists who wish to maintain a clear sense of direction while performing these complex and lengthy finales, which are sometimes perceived as amorphous patchworks of short fragments endlessly repeated.
Sato, Emiko, "The Finales of Robert Shumann's Piano Sonatas and Fantasie" (2015). CUNY Academic Works.