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Title:Extended Phrase Structure and Organic Unity in Mozart's Vespers: An Approach to Interpreting Form in Classical Choral Music
Author(s):Williamson, Richard Anthony
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Hill, J.,
Department / Program:Music
Discipline:Music
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:D.M.A.
Genre:Dissertation
Subject(s):Music
Abstract:This study presents the theory of Heinrich Christoph Koch (1749-1816) as a precise and historically relevant means of interpreting form in Classical choral music. In his Versuch einer Anleitung zur Composition (1782-1793), Koch explains how one can produce a complete composition by combining and extending phrases. He also shows that pieces consist of smaller formal units nested within larger sections. By applying his theory in reverse, one can divide a piece into successively smaller segments (main periods, periods, internal phrases, and incises) and reduce it to the series of unextended phrases on which it is hypothetically based. In this study, the validity of Koch's theory with respect to Classical choral music is tested in analyses of Mozart's Vespers K. 321 and 339, a small but varied sample of compositions.
Koch's ideas on phrase structure and organization hold true in the Vespers, and his general descriptions of major formal types are consistent with Mozart's practice. There is no consistent relationship between Koch's formal units and text segments. Thus, it is apparent that purely musical factors--not textual ones--determine form in the Vespers. Comparison of Koch-style and Schenkerian analyses of the Vespers yields support for two premises fundamental to both theories: that musical structure is hierarchical and that some material is essential to a piece while other material serves to extend or embellish. The two theories agree as to the relative structural importance of certain formal divisions and as to which material in each movement is most essential. Thus, hierarchical structure must be inherent to the music and not just the two theories. It is also apparent that Schenkerian theory does not necessarily conflict with eighteenth-century musical thought.
Koch analysis offers valuable insights to the performer. It identifies points of phrase articulation and indicates the relative importance that should be accorded to each. In addition, division into Koch's formal units is a stylistically appropriate means of simplifying a piece for pedagogical purposes. Moreover, Koch's theory provides a historically valid conceptual framework around which to organize one's aural image of Classical works.
Issue Date:1993
Type:Text
Description:353 p.
Thesis (D.M.A.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1993.
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/2142/72440
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI9314961
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-17
Date Deposited:1993


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