Rediscovering Forgotten Meanings in Schubert's Song Cycles: Towards an Understanding of Well Temperament as an Expressive Device in the Nineteenth-Century Lied

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Rediscovering Forgotten Meanings in Schubert's Song Cycles: Towards an Understanding of Well Temperament as an Expressive Device in the Nineteenth-Century Lied

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Title: Rediscovering Forgotten Meanings in Schubert's Song Cycles: Towards an Understanding of Well Temperament as an Expressive Device in the Nineteenth-Century Lied
Author: Van Evera, Angeline Smith
Abstract: An essential element of Franz Schubert's Lieder has been lost since the advent of equal temperament: the meanings and emotions that manifest when his songs are played in well temperament. Not only did well and equal temperament exist concurrently in the nineteenth century, but a truly equal temperament was not attainable until early in the twentieth century. What was <italic>called</italic> equal temperament in the nineteenth century <italic>sounded</italic> like well temperament; Schubert's music was composed and performed in a system that, regardless of name, sounded like well temperament.Twentieth-century equal temperament eliminates the meanings and emotions that manifest through what I call <italic>Temperaturfarben</italic>, or timbral colors created through the uniquely sized intervals in well temperament. This dissertation presents evidence that Schubert's songs were conceived in well temperament and argues that Schubert exploited the colors of keys and chords to create musico-literary tools. Examining Schubert's use of <italic>Temperaturfarben</italic> provides us with new insights into his interpretation of the song cycles <italic>Die schöne Müllerin</italic> and <italic>Winterreise</italic>, and provides insight into whether or not <italic>Schwanengesang</italic> constitutes a cycle.In this dissertation I present an analytical system for examining <italic>Temperaturfarben</italic>, which includes rankings of major and minor keys according to the amount of color each contains (which are derived primarily from the systematic changes in interval sizes in the tonic, dominant, and subdominant chords). I also examine elements other than key and chord quality (such as melodic vs. harmonic context, tessitura, dynamics, and tempo) that impact how temperament is perceived in a composition. I provide detailed temperament-based analyses of the songs in <italic>Die schöne Müllerin</italic> and <italic>Winterreise</italic> that highlight the extra-musical meanings that Schubert associated with certain keys and chords and reveal how he used <italic>Temperaturfarben</italic> as a tool on par with melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic elements to depict poetic meaning. I also examine how <italic>Temperaturfarben</italic> impacted key choices and the overall formal design of the cycles. The discussion of <italic>Schwanengesang</italic> uses <italic>Temperaturfarben</italic> to examine the cyclical nature of the work, including the potential mini cycles within the work as a whole (Rellstab and Heine) and the often discussed reordering of the Heine songs.
Description: Degree awarded: Ph.D. Musicology. The Catholic University of America
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1961/10295
Date: 2012-06-01


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