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Neoclassic and Anachronistic Impulses in Twentieth-Century Music

Author(s): Martha M. Hyde
Source: Music Theory Spectrum, Vol. 18, No. 2 (Autumn, 1996), pp. 200-235
Published by: {oupl} on behalf of the Society for Music Theory
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Neoclassic and Anachronistic Impulses
in Twentieth-CenturyMusic

MarthaM. Hyde

PREFACE The theoretical confusion surrounding neoclassicism in

music mandates an introduction placing some of the various
Any attempt to work out a theory of neoclassicism in mu- impulses that can be termed "neoclassical"in a general con-
sic, or even to give coherent content to the term, confronts text of historicism in the arts. After a brief review of the
a long history of careless or tendentious usage. Alone among confused usages of "neoclassicism"in music, I propose sev-
the other arts-architecture, painting, literature-music has eral categories helpful in talking about the uses of the past
been unable to distinguish between genuine neoclassical in twentieth-centurymusic. I identify two general modes of
works and those that wear a ruffle here or perform a dance returningto the classics-antiquarianism and accommodation
step there as witty gestures or momentary satires in an al- -and argue that the latter is the more important in under-
lusive pantomime. This article works toward a theory of neo- standing twentieth-centurymusic. I then describe two com-
classicisminductively, through four extended analyses meant mon modes of accommodation: allegory and what, for want
to illustratefour distinct impulses or strategies by which early of a better term, I call metamorphicanachronism.Allegorical
twentieth-century composers have created modern works interpretations have characterized several important recent
that engage or reconstruct the past without sacrificingtheir discussions of neoclassicism in twentieth-century music, in-
own integrity in the history of styles. Because my aims are cludingthose by Burkholderand Straus.Metamorphicanach-
broadly synthetic, I have chosen pieces that have been much ronism, the less direct but more importantaccess to the past,
analyzed by others, and I draw on several published analyses involves various kinds of imitation. Any imitation involves
to demonstratehow representativeanalyses can be organized anachronismwhen two different period-styles confront each
into a broader and less technical understandingof neoclas- other, but not all uses of anachronismare neoclassic (as, for
sicism. example, in parodies). I then identify four general types of
imitation (reverential, eclectic, heuristic, and dialectical),
each a mode of metamorphic anachronism, and each illus-
trated with an analysis meant less to be the last word, how-
I wish to express my gratitude to David Lewin for thoughtful comments ever temporary, on its subject, than to suggest a mode of
on an earlier draft of this article. attention and argument that others may want to explore.

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Neoclassic and AnachronisticImpulses in Twentieth-Century
Music 201

THE USES OF ANACHRONISM the model composition do not recognize or engage the his-
torical processes that separate them from the "Classics";they
Whenever any kind of secular canon-formation occurs-- do not strive to put anachronismto work. By contrast, the
whenever any choice of authorities or models for either ped- more general varieties of musicalneoclassicismexplored here
agogy or new artisticcreation is made-T. S. Eliot's question do not require any predetermined identification of classical
"What is a classic?" arises inescapably.1 A classic is a past style. What makes a classic in this broader sense is being
work that remains or becomes relevant and available as a chosen as a model for some sort of anachronism,some man-
model, or can be made so through various techniques of ner of crossing the distance that divides the new work from
accommodation discussed below. When an age or an artist its model.
denies that there are classics or that they can serve as models There is one difficultyin applying the term neoclassical in
(which is close to the same thing), then an old--even a its broader sense to twentieth-century music. A twentieth-
classic-quarrel is joined: the ancients versus the moderns.2 century recreation of a baroque suite is neobaroque, but also
Among the modernismsof the early twentieth century, music neoclassical in this broader sense. Although confusing, this
is almost alone in strivingto be modern as well as ancient--to is in fact ordinary usage in writing about twentieth-century
be neoclassical. music. Schoenberg's Piano Suite, op. 25, unquestionablyfol-
Neoclassicism, of course, has another, narrowerdefinition lows a baroque model, but is commonly grouped among
than the one suggested above: the borrowing of conventions Schoenberg's neoclassical works. One might try to clear up
and devices characteristicof what is generally agreed to be this confusing usage by restrictingneoclassical to the narrow
"Classical"style. Most Roman sculptureis neoclassical in this sense, reserving it for imitations of models in the classical
sense of the term. So is a courthouse fronted with Doric style. I do not choose this remedy, for two reasons. First, the
columns, although such a buildinginvokes an idea of the state general sense has too much richness of implication in other
that goes beyond mere style. In music, classical style has disciplines. We should not impoverish our professional dis-
nothing to do with Antiquity, of course, and we would not course by cutting it off from questions like Eliot's, "What is
refer to a superb sonata in the style of Haydn or Mozart by a Classic?" Second, we impoverish our understanding, even
a student in a model composition course as neoclassical. In of pieces within the narrow sense, if by emphasizing surface
music, as in poetry, mere borrowingof stylisticfeatures, how- features our terminology encourages neglect of the meaning
ever successful, does not make a neoclassic, because mere of the composer's engagement with the past. In the examples
borrowing does not involve an effort to resume or revive an that follow, that meaning is sometimes political, but we
out-of-date tradition. The Roman bust, the courthouse, and should not simply substitute a set of political ideas for the old
repertoire of stylistic conventions.
Nothing said so far should be controversial.But the works
and scholarshipof early twentieth-centurymusic amply illus-
1T. S. Eliot, "What is a Classic?" in On Poetry and Poets (New York: trate a confusing variety of answers to the question "What is
Noonday Press, 1968), 52-74.
2FrankKermode, The Classic (Cambridge, Mass. and London: Harvard a neoclassic?"The clearest instance of this confusion is among
University Press, 1983), 15-16. The Classic rewards close reading for those the standard surveys of twentieth-century music, which al-
interested in the vagaries of musical "classics." most always include chapters entitled "Neoclassicism,"

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202 MusicTheory Spectrum

though seldom without some sort of disclaimer.3No two his- Negative evaluations of neoclassicism seem to find their
torians seem to agree which composers ought to be called most forceful proponents among composers, who have ar-
neoclassical. Bryan Simms in his recent survey lists the prin- tistic agendas of their own that exacerbate the ambiguities
cipal neoclassicists as Stravinsky, Poulenc, Milhaud, Hon- investing historical assessment. Beginning with his notorious
egger, Strauss, Hindemith, Britten, and Tippett.4 Robert "Schoenberg is Dead," Pierre Boulez has relentlessly cam-
Morgan omits Strauss, but adds Bart6k, Ravel (in his later paigned against the compositional schools that proliferated
music), and Schoenberg (in his twelve-tone music).5 William between the wars and were "distinguishedfrom each other
Austin's even more extensive list includes, among others, only by vague poetic principles as poor in definition as in
Debussy, Reger, and Prokofiev.6Any of us so foolhardy as content."8Composers continue to echo Boulez's attack. Not
to ask students on a final exam "Name the major neoclassical that long ago-in 1971-Milton Babbitt branded neoclassi-
composers of the twentieth century and defend your choices" cism a meaningless slogan, an advertising gimmick in the
would have to give credit for almost any list. marketing of modern music.9
The confusion evident in historical surveys is matched by Theoriststypicallyhave taken another tack, but not a more
scholars' varied accounts of neoclassicism. Some argue that fruitful one. Most have dodged the issue of neoclassicism by
the ambiguities investing the term derive from semantic treating it as a matter of surface mannerisms, divorced from
change, nationalistic prejudices, and the polemical torsion "real"musical concerns like compositional structure.But not
inevitable among composers vying to create a niche for them- surprisingly,dissenters have surfaced, attackingthis position
selves in the overpopulated state of the repertoire. Others as a conveniently simplistic ploy to justify mathematical or
believe that neoclassicism evolved as a reactionaryploy trig- abstractmethods that cannot accommodate the allusive sur-
gered by the social and political convulsions of the Weimar face gestures that characterize the styles of so many early
Republic. Still others-assuming a more formalisticstance- twentieth-centurycomposers.10Despite the many reports of
adapt Harold Bloom's Freudian "anxiety of influence"to re- its demise as a category in our professional discourse, then,
vise radically the term's usual meaning.7 neoclassicism shows a persistent, if messy and equivocal life.

3WilliamAustin, for example, presents neoclassicismas a "catchword"of Garland Publishing, 1989); Joseph N. Straus, Remaking the Past: Musical
twentieth-centurymusic, but promptly dismisses its usefulness, in Music in Modernismand the Influenceof the Tonal Tradition(Cambridge,Mass. and
the 20th Century: From Debussy through Stravinsky (New York: W. W. London: HarvardUniversity Press, 1990); RichardTaruskin, "Revising Re-
Norton, 1966), 32. vision,"Journalof theAmericanMusicologicalSociety46 (1993): 114-38, and
4BryanR. Simms,Musicof the TwentiethCentury(New York and London: "Back to Whom? Neoclassicism as Ideology," 19th-CenturyMusic 16 (1993):
SchirmerBooks, 1986), 274-303. 286-302.
5RobertP. Morgan, Twentieth-Century Music (New York and London: W. 8PierreBoulez, "Schoenbergis Dead," The Score 6 (1952): 18-22. Boulez
W. Norton, 1991), 126-27, 159-200. refers to Gebrauchsmusikand "some ideally purified 'classicism'" in Ori-
6Austin, Music in the 20th Century,31, 451. entations,trans. MartinCooper, ed. Jean-JacquesNattiez (Cambridge,Mass.:
7Scott Messing, Neoclassicismin Musicfrom the Genesis of the Concept Harvard University Press, 1986), 31.
through the Schoenberg/StravinskyPolemic (Ann Arbor and London: UMI 9MiltonBabbitt, untitled memoir, Perspectivesof New Music 9/2 and 10/1
Research Press, 1988); Stephen Hinton, The Idea of Gebrauchsmusik:A (1971): 106-7.
Study of Musical Aesthetics in the WeimarRepublic (1919-1933) with Par- '?Pieter C. van den Toorn, "What Price Analysis?," Journal of Music
ticular Referenceto the Worksof Paul Hindemith (New York and London: Theory 33 (1989), 165-89.

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Neoclassic and AnachronisticImpulses in Twentieth-Century
Music 203

The following discussion suggests how we might divest neo- should not be surprisedat the allegoricalimpulse which some
classicism of some equivocation by considering how and for scholars identify in much early twentieth-century music.
what purposes composers invoke the past by imitating an In a series of recent articles, Peter Burkholder argues that
older piece or style and the kinds of relation to that past that the unifyingfeature of twentieth-centurymusic is not a shared
such imitations suggest. style, but a shared preoccupation with the past, making this
To speak very broadly, there are two modes of returning music essentially historicistin nature: "I wish to define 'mod-
to the classics, two routes giving access to classical models. ern music' as music written by composers obsessed with the
The firstis philological or antiquarian;it asks what the classics musical past and with their place in music history, who seek
meant in their original context to their creators and best read- to emulate the music of those we call the 'classical masters,'
ers, and what they may still mean to those with the requisite measuring the value of their own music by the standards of
knowledge and skill. It is the route of much musicology and the past."'3 Shifting attention towards the impact of the mu-
what we often call "authenticperformance."The second ac- sical past on the shared musical, social, and intellectual con-
cess to the past-and for the history of the arts the more cerns of twentieth-centurycomposers, Burkholderinterprets
important-is translation or accommodation, both of which compositional techniques as allegories (though he uses other
are anachronistic in the sense of incongruously linking dif- terms) for a composer's perceived historical moment.14For
ferent times or periods.1' Reading our own concerns and example, Burkholder reads twentieth-century composers'
needs into the classics, we recognize the classics advancingto avoidance of repetition and preference for continuing de-
meet us on the path we are following. No doubt the greatest velopment as an emblem of their desire not to repeat what
example of this kind of accommodation occurs when Dante earlier composers had already done. Similarly,he argues that
depicts and perhaps experiences his own reading of the Ae- Babbitt's term "contextuality"signifies the composer's own
neid as an encounter with Virgil sent from hell to meet him. engagement in his context-his moment in history, including
Two modes of accommodation are worth comment here: the history of his own music. Contextuality, I might add,
allegory and what, for lack of a better term, I call "meta- requires him to avoid repeating not only others, but also
morphic anachronism." Historically, the chief technique of himself. In Schoenberg's music, Burkholder views the rein-
accommodation is allegory. In Antiquity and later, for ex- terpretation later events impose on earlier ones as reflecting
ample, philosophical disapproval of scandalous myths about the reinterpretationhe seeks to impose on musical tradition.
the gods prompted interpretersto discover hidden philosoph- Similarly, in Burkholder's view, Stravinsky's use of inter-
ical meaning (hupnoia, allegoria) within those same myths.'2 ruptions and discontinuities refers to his own experience of
Allegory has saved many an old story from cultural obso- displacement and exile. They are emblems of the isolation
lescence by accommodating it to modern ideas. Thus we Stravinskyfelt as a Russian composer "exiled from his native
1Kermode, The Classic, 40. Kermode defines the second mode, accom-
modation, somewhat differently: "any method by which the old document 13Peter Burkholder, "Brahms and Twentieth-CenturyClassical Music,"
may be induced to signify what it cannot be said to have expressly stated." 19th-CenturyMusic 8 (1984): 76.
12JeanP6pin, Myth et Allegorie (Aubier: Editions Montaigne, 1958), 97- 14PeterBurkholder, "MusicalTime and Continuityas a Reflection of the
98; Robert Lamberton, Homer the Theologian (Berkeley, Los Angeles, and HistoricalSituation of Modern Composers,"Journalof Musicology9 (1991):
London: University of California Press, 1986). 412-29.

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204 MusicTheory Spectrum

land, engaged in a foreign musical tradition, and composing century music. In Remaking the Past, Straus adapts a theory
post-tonal music for audiences for whom tonality was still the from Harold Bloom that rightly stresses the unprecedented
norm. "15 refusal of past masters to retire gracefullyand make room for
In Remakingthe Past, Joseph Straus reads a more general their early twentieth-centuryfollowers. Straus is convincing
allegoricalplot in the features of early twentieth-centurymu- in a number of his interpretations,I think, but not in others.
sic. The "undermeaning"of this allegory is the struggleof the My aim here, however, is not to dispute Straus on his own
new against the weight of the old.16 The classical tradition ground by advancing sunnier views of some of the same
burdens modern composers with a powerful sense of anxiety works. Instead, I want to survey a broader territory, unre-
and belatedness which Strausfinds them representingin their stricted by Freudian categories.17I seek a theory, or perhaps
music through a struggle for priority between new and old at this stage only a taxonomy, applicableto the less agonistic,
elements. The composers Straus values undercut and iron- more accommodative, engagements with tradition that, in
ically comment on tonal conventions; they mimic tonal pro- different arts and different ages, have proclaimedthemselves
cedures; they evoke and then suppress the classics-all as a neoclassical. One place to find such a theory is in Thomas
means of pushing their precursorsaside and clearing creative Greene's The Light in Troy, which develops several generally
space for themselves. useful categories in the course of its discussionof the greatest
Allegory is not the only mode of accommodation com- of all revivals of the classicalpast, the Renaissance.18 In what
prised in what I am calling the second access route to the past. follows, I reshape several of Greene's concepts and terms to
There are several others, one of which I call "metamorphic adapt them to a discussion of music.
anachronism" and explicate in what follows. Despite the Perhaps we can agree at the outset that neoclassicism in
range of techniques analysts employ in describing neoclas- any of the arts contains an impulse to revive or restore an
sicism in early twentieth-centurymusic, these analytic tech- earlier style that is separated from the present by some in-
niques almost always concern imitation in some sense of the tervening period. The Renaissance created itself by breaking
word: imitation of classical rhythm, phrase structure, har- one historical continuity in order to repair another broken
monic progression, tonal centers, and the like. Moreover, continuity. That is, the Renaissance created the Middle Ages
analysesof neoclassicalworks tend to isolate the features they by recognizing that the Middle Ages had broken or fallen
focus on, but at the same time seem uniformlyto lack a theory away from "classicalantiquity." Any neoclassicism does the
of imitation that would help identify and categorize imitative same, rejecting a prevailing period style in the name of re-
resources and effects-that would, in other words, help us storing an earlier, more authentic, still relevant-and there-
give content to the term "neoclassical."Literarycriticismand fore classic-style. That is precisely what happened when
art history, by contrast, have highly developed theories of
imitation. We need to construct from the large body of an- '7KevinKorsynoffers a furtherapplicationof Bloom's theories to musical
alytical treatments of neoclassicism a theory that can do jus- analysis, but like Straus remains within restrictive Freudian categories in
"Towardsa New Poetics of Musical Influence,"Musical Analysis 10 (1991),
tice to the imitative ambition and richness of early twentieth-
l'Thomas Greene, The Light in Troy: Imitation and Discovery in Re-
15Ibid.,428. naissance Poetry (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1982),
16JosephStraus, Remaking the Past, 1-20. 28-53.

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Neoclassic and AnachronisticImpulses in Twentieth-Century
Music 205

early twentieth-century French composers repudiated what ample of a serendipitous use of anachronismfrom the visual
they saw as the Teutonic excess and obscurity of Romantic arts: Brunelleschi, mistakenly believing the Florentine bap-
music, which had itself lost the classical virtues. A neoclas- tistery to be ancient (that is, a classic), lifted some of its
sical aesthetic reaches across a cultural gap and tries anach- Romanesque elements to create his neoclassic masterpiece,
ronisticallyto recover or revive a past model. It clears ground the Pazzi chapel. Anachronism can also be used abusively,
for modern artists by expelling intervening styles, and some- often because the artist wants to repress history, not out of
times clearing ground is all it does. In such cases, neoclas- ignorance but out of a misconceived or inflexible opinion of
sicism is only a slogan or a marketing gimmick. But richer his own historical context.20
possibilities are inherent in this process of rejecting the im- The type of anachronism most relevant to a neoclassic
mediate past in favor of a more distant past, and they are aesthetic is one that "confrontsand uses the conflict of period
worth questioning. styles self-consciously and creatively to dramatize the itin-
A brief digression may help to clarify what I mean by erary, the diachronicpassage out of the remote past into the
anachronism or an anachronistic impulse. To perceive mu- emergent present."21This is the type I call "metamorphic
sical anachronismnecessarily requires you to recognize that anachronism,"as in metamorphic rocks which fuse or com-
history affects period style and that period style affects com- press the old into the new. In music, metamorphic anach-
position. This is not controversial;we all are probably willing ronism involves deliberate dramatization of historical pas-
to assume that pieces are datable on internal evidence. But sage, bringingthe present into relation with a specificpast and
this recognition of historical change also suggests that pieces making the distance between them meaningful.
will become "dated"in the negative sense that they will even- Is anachronism-that is, the conflict between period el-
tually sound "out of date." Music, like the other arts, can ements in a piece of music-put to use? Does a live phoenix
incorporate or exploit this capacity for datedness, but only spring from an imitation, or does only a corpse emerge,
by juxtaposing or contrasting at least two different styles. shrunken and mummified from the tomb, though perhaps
That contrast or clash of period styles or historical aesthetics ornamented with modern trinkets? The main question is not
is the simplest definition of anachronism.19 whether anachronismhas been suppressed, but whether it has
Anachronism can be used in art in a number of different been controlled. If not, then no itinerary between past and
ways, often reflecting the degree to which a culture possesses present is opened, no genuine renewal occurs, and the re-
or lacks a strong historical sense. Greene gives a good ex- vivalist impulse has to be seen as abortive or trivial.22

19ThomasGreene offers a fuller account of anachronismand its use in 20Thisusage has something to do with Straus'sview that composers de-
literary texts in "History and Anachronism,"in The VulnerableText:Essays stroy or suppress history in order to validate themselves. But on a deeper
on Renaissance Literature(New York: Columbia University Press, 1986), level, "abusiveanachronismstems from a failureto create a coherent itinerary
218-35. In part to clarify and extend the treatment of anachronismin The from an understood past to a vital emergent present" (Greene, "Historyand
Light in Troy, Greene develops five categories of anachronism:naive, abu- Anachronism," 221).
sive, serendipitous, creative, and pathetic or tragic. Furtherstudy of musical 21Ibid.
anachronism requires an equally sophisticated typology, although the 22Greene, The Light in Troy, 37-38. Henceforth, I avoid the term "neo-
categories-with the possible exception of Greene's fourth-likely will re- classicism"in this theoretical discussion (thereby avoiding some distracting
quire extensive reformulation. ambiguities), using instead the term "metamorphicanachronism."

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206 MusicTheory Spectrum

One mode of controlled anachronism-parody-is easily incompatiblewith neoclassicism. If anachronismis controlled

dealt with. Parody's favorite target is "an utterance that and not parodic, if the impulse to revive is successful, how
claims transhistoricalauthority"-that claims to transcendits are we to describe the imitative process? Here I want to
own historical context.23 Instead of insisting on historicity, describe four broad strategies of imitation, each of which
such a target implicitly denies history by trying to escape its employs a distinct response to the problem of controlling
historical moment into sublime timelessness. This usage rep- anachronism,as well as implicitlyportraysone perspectiveon
resents a kind of false neoclassicism and often creates works history.25
that become the most dated-in the negative sense of the It would be easy to oversimplify the imitative strategies
word. Music contains many examples, and they do indeed employed by early twentieth-centurycomposers by seeking
seem to invite parodic anachronism, a kind of anachronism their origins or earliest uses. But these strategies need not
that does not restore or renew, but rather mocks. It should represent new techniques for engaging the past, nor do they
hardly surprise us that at the turn of the century and after, need to have occurred only in the early twentieth-century.
one of the most frequent victims of parodic anachronismwas Rather, we should regard them as "ideal types," what Dahl-
just that composer who claimed to be producingtimeless and haus defines as a group of features whose dynamic interplay
transcendentalart, the artwork of the future: Richard Wag- uniquely engages the cultural and historical forces of a par-
ner. To choose just two examples from among many, Rimsky- ticular period. In the early twentieth century, these forces
Korsakov, who chided Wagnerfor "fritter[ing]his conscience confronted "neoclassic"composers with a specific and urgent
away in his quest for grandiosity and novelty," at one point challenge: to create a modern work of art that reconstructed
in his opera Kashchei the Deathless unambiguously recalls the past without sacrificingits own integrityin the chronology
Wagner, but then deploys all of what he took to be Wagner's of styles. The four broad imitative strategies, while distinct
faults: "The form will be Wagnerian; there will be abrupt from one another, nonetheless share this challenge as their
transitions and chords with incoherent voice leading."24A principal concern and thereby distinguish themselves from
second, perhapsless esoteric example appearsin Hindemith's earlier or unrelated uses of the musical past.
puppet play, Das Nusch-Nuschi, op. 20, which surrounds a
quotation from Tristanby obscenities to comment ironically
on the plight of a character about to be castrated-repre-
senting perhaps the height of "anti-Romanticism."Such pa-
rodic or satiric imitation deliberately parades a mummified The first and simplest strategy, reverential imitation, fol-
lows the classical model with a nearly religious fidelity or
corpse and is ordinarily, though perhaps not categorically,
fastidiousness. A brief analysisof Ravel's "Forlane"from Le
tombeau de Couperinwill help develop a concise description
23GarySaul Morson, The Boundaries of Genre (Austin: University of
Texas Press, 1981), 118; quoted by Greene in "History and Anachronism," of reverential imitation.
24Rimsky-Korsakov,letters to his disciple, Vasilii VasilievichYastrebtsev
(Iastrebtsev), dated June 15, 1901 and July 10, 1901, cited by Richard 25Greene,TheLightin Troy,37-38. Since Greene illustrateseach strategy
Taruskin in "Chernomorto Kashchei: Harmonic Sorcery; or, Stravinsky's chiefly from Petrarch, accommodatingthese strategies to musical examples
'Angle,'" Journal of the American Musicological Society 38 (1985): 117. alters Greene's meanings.

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Neoclassic and AnachronisticImpulses in Twentieth-Century
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In the springof 1914, Ravel wrote that he was transcribing soprano leap to scale-degree 3 followed by a stepwise descent
a "Forlane" by Franqois Couperin-probably the very one to scale degree 1 that omits harmonicsupport of scale-degree
that appeared in the April issue of La revuemusicale de SIM, 2. (Because Ravel inserts a full measure rather than half
an issue to which Ravel also contributed.26By October he had measure pick-up to the phrase, the eight-measurephrase ex-
decided to incorporate his own forlane into the suite later tends to the downbeat of m. 9.) But Ravel's imitation of these
entitled Le tombeau de Couperin. Example la shows the structural features is scarcely evident on the surface, for
opening of Couperin's"Forlane"and Example 2a Ravel's. At Ravel has updated Couperin'stheme with the modernismsof
firstglance, we might think that Ravel imitates only the nearly his impressionist vernacular, above all disrupting the func-
literal repeat of the four-measure phrases, some rhythmic tional norms of tonality. The least ambiguous tonal feature
patterns, the tonic pitch of E, and the rondeau design of of Ravel's theme is the ascending sequential pairs of falling
refrain and couplet. But there are deeper similarities that fifths in the bass that outline the conventional harmonicpro-
have apparently not been recognized.27 gression I-IV-II-V-I. As shown in Example 2b, the place-
The chordal sketch of Couperin's "Forlane" in Example ment of #7 in the soprano suggests that the soprano will
lb shows how the phrase repetition in mm. 5-8 begins with sequentiallyunfold a staggered stepwise ascent with an outer-
an ascending harmonic sequence of paired ascending fifths voice counterpointof 10-7. But what actuallyhappens is that
with a 10-5 outer-voice counterpoint supporting a staggered resolutions are transferredfrom the soprano to inner voices,
stepwise ascent in the soprano that culminates on scale- and simultaneouslyinner voices are transposedto the highest
degree 5. A leap to scale-degree 3 followed by a stepwise voice. The result is an odd surface effect: a descending pat-
descent to scale-degree 1 leads to the cadence in m. 8. No- tern in the soprano superimposed on an implied ascending
tably, the soprano descent through scale degrees 3-2-1 omits sequential progression in the bass.
harmonic support for scale-degree 2 by moving directly from This oddity prompts the question of what purpose Ravel's
V6 to I. unconventional soprano serves in his imitation of Couperin's
Ravel rewrites Couperin's "Forlane" by recreating the theme. Example 2c shows a simplifiedharmonicand rhythmic
most essential features of the theme: an opening ascending reduction of the theme (with figures added) that offers one
sequence that emphasizes scale-degree 5 in the soprano, a plausible interpretation of the voice-leading, although I
would argue that Ravel also suggests several others.28 Ex-
ample 2c clarifies how Ravel's theme imitates the structure
26Ravelwrote that he was transcribinga "Forlane"by Couperinin a letter
of Couperin's. Even though Ravel's theme, unlike Couper-
to Cipa Godebski in the spring of 1914. Ravel could also have known this
"Forlane"by Couperin from an edition of the Quatriemeconcertof the Con- in's, begins on scale degree 41,its descent arrives on scale-
certs royaux by Georges Marty that appeared before 1908. A fuller account degree 5, like Couperin's, and is followed by a leap to scale-
of the circumstancesof Ravel's transcriptionand his likely use of Couperin's degree 3 and a stepwise descent to scale-degree 1 that omits
"Forlane"as a model appears in Messing, Neoclassicism in Music, 50-52.
27Messinggreatly understates the similaritiesbetween Ravel's and Cou-
perin's "Forlanes": "Ravel's response to his model resembles the general 28Ravel'scarefully balanced tonal ambiguitiesallow for several plausible
attitudeof his contemporariestowardtheir eighteenth-centurytraditionto the interpretationsof the theme's voice-leading, as became evident when I con-
extent that the most overt sense of similarityderives from the recurrenceof sulted Jonathan Bernard, Pieter van den Toorn, and Charles Smith in pre-
a rhythmic gesture" (Neoclassicism in Music, 51). paring Example 2c.

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208 MusicTheory Spectrum

Example 1. a) FranSois Couperin, Concerts royaux, Quatrieme concert, Forlane, mm. 1-8
Gayement + I
n ~ u, : _ ' i r +

y?Bt J, , r1 c r T

6--- 6 5_ 3

T77 L

; 1 J

6 - 6
b) Mm. 5-8: chordalanalysis
3 (2) 1

.;,- !.
fl"" J J_ . A r
6 6

harmonic support of scale-degree 2. But this point of imi- of resolution, or not to resolve at all. Consider, for example,
tation seems purposely clouded by at least three disruptive how difficult it is to follow the descending resolution of D#
processes that together threaten the functionalnorms of tonal (#T) that appears in m. 5. First it extends to the middle of
voice-leading. m. 6 and then resolves to COin an inner voice; but COitself
First, as mentioned above, in mm. 5 and 6 inner-voice is preceded by an ornamental B t, a suspended ascending
pitches are transferred into higher registers (marked with chromaticpassing tone (B-B#-C#). Simultaneously,the sus-
arrows in Example 2c), and soprano pitches are transferred pended B# in m. 6 is transferredto the soprano and returns
down to inner voices, as for example in mm. 6 and 7. Second, to Bt; thus B# seems to resolve both to Ct and to B~ si-
essential resolutions seem to move simultaneouslyin opposite multaneously. Another example of an ambiguousor irregular
directions, or to be frozen in time beyond their normal point resolution occurs on the downbeat of m. 7 where the soprano

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Neoclassic and Anachronistic Impulses in Twentieth-Century Music 209

Example 2. a) Maurice Ravel, Le tombeau de Couperin, Forlane, mm. 1-9. ? 1918 by Editions DURAND Paris avec l'aimable autorisation
des Editions ARIMA Corp. et DURAND.

Allegretto .-=96

- _alsi
,i Mm5. ch.or

b) Mm. 5-9: chordal analysis

c) Mm. 5-9: voice leading

5 3 (2) 1 A

# Rn.
C ^-L. 5^: ^': 7 L
) I-1 l|tt^^=^^
'. i I: \
r f A
I9 - 3
#7 #4 #3 01 9
7 7
5 6 - 5

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210 MusicTheory Spectrum

projects scale-degree 5 (B t) as a chordal 1lth; because scale- the music of Couperin and Rameau. Debussy, for example,
degree 5 enters in the previous measure as a 9th, it appears when lamentinghis aesthetic distancefrom Rameau and Cou-
either not to resolve in m. 7 or to be suspended beyond its perin, "the most poetic of our harpsichordists,"acknowledges
normal resolution. Measure 7 accentuates this effect when, a fall from grace and fixes blame on the barbaric(Teutonic)
as an 11th, the Bt again fails to resolve, as if somehow frozen influence of the Romantics. "It is annoying,"he writes, "that
in time. A final example occurs in m. 8 where the resolution we should have forgotten these ways which were once our
of the soprano GO(pt9)in m. 7 is transferredto an inner-voice own, replacingthem with our barbarousattitudes."30"Infact,
G~; in fact, it is this motion that prevents scale-degree 2, Ft, since Rameau, we have had no purely French tradition. His
in the soprano from being harmonizedby V, for it delays the death severed the thread, Ariadne's thread, that guided us
resolution of G to Ft and makes it occur later in an inner through the labyrinthof the past. Since then, we have failed
voice. A third disruptive process involves extensive use of to cultivate our garden, but on the other hand we have given
modal mixture. For example, in m. 5 $"is borrowed from the a warm welcome to any foreign salesman who cared to come
major mode; in m. 6 IV is major instead of minor; in m. 7 our way . . . We begged forgiveness of the muses of good
II could be either minor or diminished;and in m. 8 the leading taste for having been so light and clear, and we intoned a
tone D (scale-degree 7) is not raised. This final instance of hymn to the praise of heaviness."31
mixture throws into question the resolution of the cadential But this kind of reverent reproduction of a model has
11th (E-D) in m. 8; again, the dissonant 11th seems frozen difficulty, I think, functioning transitively, for the reproduc-
in time, made consonant only with its suspensioninto the final tion must be made in an idiom that is alien or unbecoming
tonic. to the original and whose violations of the model's norms
Thus a number of modernisms affect Ravel's imitation of threaten to remain out of artisticcontrol. For example, in his
Couperin'stheme, including chordal 9ths and llths, omitted "Forlane" Ravel makes the tonally disruptive processes in-
or freely transferredresolutions, and modal mixture-all of teract in such a way that augmented triads are repeatedly
which interact to disrupt or make ambiguous the functional projected in right and left hands, giving the theme an overall
norms of tonal voice leading. Nonetheless, Ravel's imitation dissonant, unresolved quality. The recreated tonal theme
of the essential structuralfeatures of Couperin's theme rep- must co-exist with a structureantitheticalto tonality itself, a
resents in one sense a reverent recreation of the classical feature that accounts for several plausible interpretationsof
model, perhapsimplyinga sacramentalversion of history;the the voice-leading that on some level structures this theme.
imitation celebrates the classical model by almost ritual rep- This sort of unresolvableambiguityis perhapsthe reason why
etition, "as though no other form of celebration could be reverential imitation did not, in itself, produce a large body
worthy of its dignity."29For Ravel, the model exists in its own of masterworks, a predicament that Ravel mourns shortly
perfection as a sacred text on the other side of an abyss (in after completing Le tombeau: "I have failed in my life . ..
this instance Romantic music)-accessible, but beyond al- I am not one of the great composers. All the great have
teration or criticism. Just this kind of religious tone colors produced enormously. There is everythingin their work: the
statements by the contemporariesof Ravel who championed 30ClaudeDebussy, Debussy on Music, ed. and trans. Richard Langham
Smith (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1977), 231; originallyin Le Figaro, May
8, 1908.
29Greene, The Light in Troy, 38. 31Ibid., 322-23; originally in L'intransigeant,March 11, 1915.

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Neoclassic and AnachronisticImpulses in Twentieth-Century
Music 211

best and the worst, but there is always quantity. But I have and Baroque contrapuntaltextures. We can call this type of
written relatively very little."32We need not take so bleak a imitation eclectic or exploitative.35It treats the musical past
view of Ravel's achievement to recognize that reverential as an undifferentiated stockpile to be drawn on at will, and
imitation of the sort represented by Le tombeau de Couperin it permits the kind of brilliant manipulation of new and old
can celebrate rather than control anachronism. But it may that produced some of the most undisputed masterpieces of
embalm rather than revive the past model, and perhaps Rav- early twentieth-century music. Stravinsky himself acknowl-
el's title carries both these implications. Each movement of edges this imitative process when he borrowed a term from
Le tombeau is dedicated to the memory of a friend killed in Kurt Schwitters in remarking of Oedipus Rex (written in
World War I. Le tombeau honors Couperin's memory too; 1927) that "much of the music is a Merzbild [constructionof
it stands in for the monument the composer apparentlynever random materials], put together from whatever came to
had-but it cannot revive the dead.33Consider, for contrast, hand," including "such little games as ... the Alberti-bass
Ben Jonson's poem to the memory of Shakespeare, greatest horn solo accompanyingthe Messenger" and "the fusion of
poet of the language, who nevertheless lacked a monumental such widely divergent types of music as the Folies Bergeres
tomb in Westminster Abbey: tune" that occurs when "the girls enter, kicking" and the
frequent use of "Wagnerian7th chords." He defends this
Thou art a monument, without a tomb,
procedure by asserting that "I have made these bits and
And art alive still, while thy Booke doth live, snatches my own, I think, and of them a unity. 'Soule is form,'
And we have wits to read, and praise to give.34
Spenser says, 'and doth the bodie make."'36 Stravinsky's
allusion to Spenser, who wrote the first English epic in a
ECLECTIC IMITATION: STRAVINSKY'S OCTET made-up language designed to seem archaic, reflects on
Stravinsky'splayful anachronism.
A second, quite different type of imitation characterizes Eclectic imitation describes a process by which sources and
the compositions most often called neoclassic. They are models are compiled. Rather than a well organized museum,
tradition becomes a warehouse whose contents can be re-
pieces in which allusions, echoes, phrases, techniques, struc-
tures, and forms from an unspecified group of earlier com- arranged and plundered without damage or responsibility.
That is, of course, also a way of freeing the modern com-
posers and styles all jostle each other indifferently. Such an
eclectic mingling features prominently in the early neoclassic poser. After all, nothing new gets created in a museum. At
works of Stravinsky, which often join both diatonic and oc- its weakest, of course, this kind of eclectic imitation simply
tatonic pitch structures and self-consciously imitate classical sports with anachronismor wallows in it, but when used with
phrase structure, simple dance patterns, various tonal forms, precision it can create a vocabulary of a new and higher
power-a power that gains strength from rhetorical skill,
32Ravel'scomments appear in a letter to Claude Delvincourt quoted by rather than from a necessarily unified or integrated vision.37
Victor I. Seroff in Maurice Ravel (New York: Henry Holt and Company,
1953), 207.
33If Couperin was buried in the church of Saint-Joseph, no monument 35Greene, The Light in Troy, 39.
survives. 36IgorStravinskyand Robert Craft, Dialogues and A Diary (New York:
34"Tothe Memory of My Beloved, the Author Mr. William Shakespeare: Doubleday & Company, 1963), 11.
And What He Hath Left Us," 11. 22-24. 37Greene, The Light in Troy, 39.

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212 MusicTheory Spectrum

Stravinsky'sOctet for wind instruments, written in 1922, use of the last remaining pitch of Collection III, D#. The
is a particularlysuccessful example of eclectic imitation, a theme then continues with the tetrachord'sreturn to the cen-
work whose effect derives from a kind of rhetorical con- tral pitch A by the first trombone three measures before No.
frontation between various classical forms-set forth in 26 (staff no. 3a).
Baroque-like textures-and the composer's idiomatic use of The complete theme uses all eight pitch-classes of Col-
diatonic and octatonic pitch structures. Stravinsky confirms lection III's octatonic scale. The transpositionof the theme's
some of these historicalmodels when he commented that the initial tetrachord to C and the subsequent emphasis of that
Octet was influenced by the terseness and lucidity of Bach's pitch identify C as a symmetrically defined partitioning el-
two-part Inventions and by his own rediscovery of sonata ement which approachesthe weight and independence of the
form.38Of the numerous imitative strategies at work in this centralpitch, A. The theme thus embodies a wholly octatonic
piece, the focus here is on how Stravinskyjoins diatonic and structure, one which emphasizes the (0,1,3,4) tetrachord, its
octatonic pitch structuresto create an analogue for tonal clo- transposition, and the subsequent symmetrical partitioning
sure (or cadence). by pitches A and C.
One clear example occurs at the opening of the second However, beneath the theme (beginning at No. 24) there
movement ("Theme and Variations"), whose variation form appears an accompanimentthat unambiguouslyalludes to a
features a theme and an initial variation that recurs in a diatonic structure, one that stresses D and implies what van
rondo-like design. (To safeguardagainst slanting the analysis den Toorn calls "an A-scale on D, or a kind of pseudo
to fit better the imitative category, the analysis here follows D-minor reference." The bassoons' ascendingbass line moves
Pieter van den Toorn's discussionof this passage in TheMusic stepwise up from D to an implied dominant, A, and then
of Igor Stravinsky.39)Example 3 shows van den Toorn's returns to D, suggesting a I-II-V-I harmonic progression.
abridged reduction of the complete variation theme. The But neither D nor the tonic triad (D-F-A) is part of Col-
theme's first part, presented by the flute and clarinet at No. lection III, the octatonic collection that structuresthe theme.
24, uses seven of eight pitches from an octatonic scale and Consequently, among other tonal ambiguities-such as the
stresses A as the central pitch-class. The octatonic scale, la- Bb-A in the theme's main tetrachord which overlaps with
beled Collection III, appears at the beginning of staff no. 5 scale-degrees 5 and 6 in D minor-Stravinsky forges a bond
at the bottom of Example 3. Typical of octatonic structures between the variationtheme and its accompanimentthat cre-
in Stravinsky's neoclassical works, the theme exploits the ates the allusion to a dominant-tonic relation. The allusion
(0,1,3,4) tetrachordwhich here structuresthe initial contour is consummated in the final measure (No. 25+6) by what
of the theme, using the pitches (A, Bb, C, C#) (shown on sounds like a cadential dominant-to-tonicresolution on D, in
stave no. 3 in Example 3). The second part of the theme, which the variationtheme's last pitch, Ft (which appearsonly
presented by the second trumpet at No. 25, begins with a twice, as the final note of theme's two principal phrases),
transposition of this same tetrachord on C, thereby making neatly unites Collection III with a traditional Picardy-third
closure of the implied D-minor tonality.
38Stravinsky,Dialogues, 71. Apart from the "Theme and Variations"form and its con-
39Pietervan den Toorn, The Music of Igor Stravinsky(New Haven and ventional texture of theme plus accompaniment,the imitative
London: Yale University Press, 1983), 333-36. strategiesone can call neoclassic derive from the Octet's join-

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Neoclassic and Anachronistic Impulses in Twentieth-Century Music 213

Example 3. Igor Stravinsky, Octet, Tema con Variazioni: excerpts from variation theme and analysis from Pieter van den Toorn, The
Music of Igor Stravinsky (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1983), 334. Used by permission.


A .l? ; a1 ii i L ; bl e 1 zt

'I ~i ' etc.

mp.\ ss I
P ^ y^---Yp7 ^; P f

ff: ;iff F*J^ }b ga


t 0-
fp stacc. trb.

({~~H3 1~~ .~ i i I~ t i .

. I -I __. _M-'--- . j. 4I_tr 1- .0 __3
v e'r''t
-'*>!1>: 'e - 1 F r
V p- 7'L L 1-'7-I '~r "'r--`L L`'
_.:_ rL _ -IF. L I r

1. 0
t (V)
2. 0, 3

3. (0 1 3 4)
3a. (0 3 4) (3 4 6 7) ,,,L
(r^bo r? !

4. (0 1 3 4 7 9 10)
theme (
br @o"))
, .r, ()(
4a. (0 1 3 4 7 9 10) ^
(3 4 6 7 0)

5. 0 1 3 4 6 7 9 10 0) M,Ao
bot4} - - ?|
A-scale on D
w o '
Collection m
A-scale on D

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214 MusicTheory Spectrum

ing of diatonic and octatonic structures. The bond is loose, HEURISTICIMITATION:BART6K'S IMPROVISATIONS,
OP. 20
comprising only several elements held in common, but the
overall effect creates an allusion to a dominant-toniccadence, When a deeper engagement does occur, a third type of
appropriatelyconsummatedonly in the theme's final measure imitation, called heuristic, arises. Heuristic imitation accen-
with the intersecting F#. Still, the allusion is only approxi- tuates rather than conceals the link it forges with the past.
mate, for octatonic structuresintrude and block an authentic It advertisesits dependence on an earlier model, but in a way
tonal cadence; octatonicism here remains superimposedover that forces us to recognize the disparity, the anachronism,of
a D-minor tonality, both octatonicism and tonality maintain- the connection being made. Heuristic imitation dramatizes
ing their identities despite their superimposition. The inev- musical history and relies on the datedness of musical styles
itable ambiguities this superimposition creates are essential for aesthetic effect. It provides composers a means to position
features of the theme. The clash of diatonic and octatonic themselves within a culture and a tradition. It opens a tran-
elements creates an equilibrium that resists fusion or syn- sitive dialogue with the past by which composers can take,
thesis. No definite meaning emerges from their melding since and take responsibility for, their places in music history.41
for their effect both must maintain their independence; they Bart6k provides the best examples of heuristic imitation
function primarilyas rhetorical counters. The movement, as in early twentieth-centurymusic, mostly because of the music
a whole, reveals an allusive sophistication, but its dexterity he wrote, but also because he so clearly understood and ex-
remains a little cold. It does not achieve-and probably does plained his use of past models.
not attempt-a cultural or historical continuity that tran-
Every artist has the right to sink roots in the art of the past. It is
scends the anachronisms so freely introduced. Such a con- not only his right, but also his duty. Why should we then not have
tinuity is usually beyond the aspirationof eclectic imitations. the right to regard folk-art as such a rooting ground?42
Because their past is fragmented, jumbled, and in effect de-
For composers eager to bring about "the blossoming of a
historicized, they have difficultymediating between past and
national musical art," folk songs are the true classics.43They
present. They tend to evade the problem of anachronismor
to play with it within a hospitable texture; they seldom con- are, of course, national, and-according to Bart6k-suggest
front it directly. Eclectic imitation can reconcile within its in their distinctive rhythms and modal and pentatonic ele-
framework momentary conflicts among heterogeneous ments the cultural history of eastern Europe.44 They thus
elements-as in Stravinsky'sOctet-but it cannot easily ar- offer an alternativeto the immediate, and western European,
rive at a deeper, more dramaticconflict and engagement with past-that is, to the "ultra-chromaticismof the Wagner-
the past.40

41Ibid., 40-41.
42BelaBart6k, "On the Significanceof Folk Music," in Bela Bart6k Es-
says, ed. Benjamin Suchoff (London: Faber & Faber, 1976), 346, as quoted
in Austin, Music of the 20th Century,229.
40Thisdescriptionof eclectic imitation closely follows Greene, The Light 44BelaBart6k, "HungarianPeasant Music," Musical Quarterly19 (1933):
in Troy, 40. 272-73.

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Neoclassic and AnachronisticImpulses in Twentieth-Century
Music 215

Straussperiod" which grew, not from deeply rooted popular must seem an anachronism to one who is not a peasant.
tradition, but in the hothouse of Romantic individuality.45 Fruitful use of such timeless material requires genuine cul-
Even more important, however, folk songs are the true clas- tural and anthropologicalengagement, not antiquarianstudy
sics because they have the classical virtues: and not facile or formal imitation.
All this is implicit in the metaphor of folk classics as a
Every single [authentic] melody of the peasant music ... is per-
fection itself-a classical [klasszikus] example of how the musical rooting ground for new organic growth. The growth Bart6k
thoughtcanbe expressedin the mostidealmannerwiththe simplest imagines is a tree, not a flower bed. What kind of tree?
meansand in the most finishedform.46 Perhaps a chestnut like Yeats's "Great rooted blossomer."51
At any rate, a tree whose flowers are "the blossoming of a
Again and again in his writings, Bartok contrasts his own national musical art," deeply rooted in tradition, organically
use of earlier models with what is here termed eclectic im- connected, but also transforming the soil, the model, into
itation. "It is not enough," he writes, "to study [peasant mu-
something new, tall, enduring, and fecund.
sic] as it is stored up in the museums."47It is not enough "to One example of heuristic imitation occurs in Bart6k's
have something to do with folk art and to graft its formulas
Eight Improvisations on Hungarian Peasant Songs, op. 20.
onto those of Western music."48That kind of imitation, ac- This work belongs to a larger group of pieces that Bartok
cording to Bartok, "will only lend our music some new or- completed during the five years following World War I, in
naments, nothing more."49In contrast, Bart6k recommends which he experiments with placing folk melodies in complex
study of folk music, not in museums, but "in the country as atonal settings derived from the intervallicand linear features
part of a life shared with the peasants."50This passage sug- of the original melodies. Some readers may find it odd not
gests why Bart6k thought he was sinking roots into the past to have picked one of Bartok's later compositions that more
in his use of folk music, even though that music was still alive
clearly derive from classical tonal forms, but this essay is less
in the village life of the countryside. In a museum, folk music concerned with the term neoclassic than with the various im-
would be categorized and made subject to history. As "part
pulses and strategies that have been confusingly lumped un-
of a life shared with the peasants," its past endures in what der the term. Bart6k's early Improvisations,like Ravel's Le
tombeau and Stravinsky'sOctet, dates from the period im-
mediately following World War I, just when the so-called
45Bela Bart6k, "The Relation of Folk Song to the Development of the neoclassic style was beginning to emerge. Imitative experi-
Art Music of Our Time," in Bartdk Essays, 323; Bela Bart6k, "On the Sig- ments seem clearer in this period than later on. Finally, the
nificance of Folk Music," 346.
war itself created a break with the past that encouraged a
46Bart6k,"HungarianPeasant Music," 270 (italics added).
47BelaBart6k, "The Influence of Peasant Music on Modern Music," in radical and anxious awareness of a broken continuity affect-
Bart6k Essays, 341. ing all the arts.
48Vanden Toorn, The Music of Igor Stravinsky,333-36. This discussion focuses on the first two improvisationsof
49Bart6k,"HungarianPeasant Music," 272-73.
5?Ibid.An acute discussionof the backgroundand implicationsof Bart6k's
op. 20. To discourage tendentiousness, the analysis follows
advocacyof Hungarianfolk music appearsin JuditFrigyesi, "Bela Bart6k and
the Concept of Nation and Volk in Modern Hungary,"Musical Quarterly78
(1994): 255-87. 51W.B. Yeats, "Among School Children," stanza 8.

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216 MusicTheory Spectrum

a published analysis by Paul Wilson.52The first two impro- Example4. a) Folk song used in Bela Bart6k,Improvisationson
visations are based on the Magyar folk songs that appear in Hungarian Peasant Songs, op. 20, first movement
Examples 4a and 5a. As is clear from comparing the two
X k ,
improvisationsthat appear in Examples 4c and 5b with their
respective folksongs, the melodies have been transposed and 2 r ir r r Ir- i 1 1
some rhythms are altered slightly. The two-fold dramatic
function of the opening piece is (1) to advertise the piece's
historical model and (2) to portray in miniature its passage -
through time, leading the listener by progressive stages from
T Ifr F ftt Ir J J 11
the monophonic modal realm of pure folksong to the thresh-
old of Bart6k's idiomatic atonality. This miniature historical a descent by major second to Eb and then by a minor third
journey in the first piece turns out to mirror the diachronic to C. The lowest system of Example 4b presents a higher-level
passage among the pieces as a group. Each improvisation graph which posits a more general structure to the melody,
becomes progressivelymore modern, graduallyincorporating the large descending fourth F to C with an intervening Eb.
more complex harmonies, rhythms, and forms. The criteriafor this structureare primarilyrhythmand meter,
Within the firstpiece, the repetitions of the folk song mark which directly reinforce the song's symmetryof contour. No-
the stages of the historical journey, while the changing char- tice that this underlying structureis also present as a motive
acter of the accompanying sonorities accomplish the actual in m. 1, that its contour is inverted in m. 2 and reversed in
movement. Example 4b offers Paul Wilson's structuralgraph m. 4. Motivically, then, the folk song is integrated on two
of the unaccompanied folk tune, in which higher rhythmic separatelevels, and this structuralfeature motivates the three
values indicate greater structuralweight and beams indicate successive settings in Bartok's first Improvisation, shown in
important connections, but do not imply any particularkind Example 4c.
of voice leading. We should not be surprisedthat the melody The sonorities Bart6k chooses to accompanythe firststate-
has some sort of underlying structure, but neither should we ment of the song are spare and unobtrusive, as is appropriate
expect a structurethat falls into a particularformat, such as for this initial stage of diachronicpassage. The intervals and
a descending stepwise line. The graph shows F as the mid- pitches derive exclusively from the primary pitches of the
point of two conjunct fourths which move symmetricallyto melody: the dyads Eb-F and Bb-C. The second statement
lower C and upper Bb in turn. The symmetry around F is introduces triads as elaborations of the important melodic
reinforced by the lower and upper neighbors, Eb and G, in pitches of the tune. There is no chord progression in a tonal
the third measure. The song ends in the fourth measure with sense. Rather the movement of chords mimics the contour
of the melody, sharing its symmetries and structure. Minor
52PaulWilson, "Conceptsof Prolongationand Bart6k's Opus 20," Music triads dominate the setting, except for four major triads that
TheorySpectrum6 (1984): 79-89. Elliott Antokoletz discusses only sections Bart6k uses to emphasize the song's main structuralpitches:
from various of the Improvisations, using a different means to show how
Bart6k deriveshis setting from the originalsong; but a more extended analysis F, G, Eb , and C.
would show a similarimitative strategy(The Music of Bela Bartok [Berkeley, The third and final repetition of the tune presents the last
Los Angeles, and London: University of California Press, 1984], 55-62). stage of this piece's introductoryjourney. The initial D-minor

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Neoclassic and AnachronisticImpulses in Twentieth-Century
Music 217

Example4. b) Analysisof the folk song from Paul Wilson, "Conceptsof Prolongationand Bartok'sOpus 20," Music TheorySpectrum
6 (1984): 80.

(a) 'tI -F


triad at first seems to provide the same sort of harmonic first folk tune, the structural pitches of the second (G-F-
elaboration already heard, but the setting soon veers off into Eb-C) follow a descending-but not always stepwise-
simple atonal sonorities. Example 4d breaks each measure motion that Bart6k uses as a cue for a series of parallel move-
into an initial chord followed by a second sonority, which in ments in two or three lower voices. The single Arabic figure
each case presents the pitch-class (pc) set 4-18, tetrachord "6" below the graph shows the parallel movement between
(0,1,4,7). In each measure except m. 11, pc set 4-18 becomes melody and bass, while the atonal set names identify the
part of a larger harmony, pc set 5-16 (0,1,3,4,7), that recurs vertical harmonies, pc sets 4-19 (0,1,4,8) and 4-12 (0,2,3,6).
in the second piece and is further developed. The parallel movement is not continuous, as the graphshows;
The tentative incursion into atonality in the first piece rather, the voices move apart and come together repeatedly
becomes much bolder in the second. Like the first piece, the to form successive statements of pc set 4-19 at precisely those
second (the opening of which appears in Example 5b) com- points needed to set the primary structural pitches of the
prises repetitions of a folk song (shown in Example 5a) whose tune. The special importance of the cadential sonority, pc set
atonal accompaniments become increasingly complex. Un- 4-12, becomes apparentonly as the piece progresses, but the
like the first piece, however, the repetitions are now trans- relative complexity of this setting compared to those pre-
posed; the folk tune first occurs on C, is then transposed to ceding illustrates how atonal structures gradually become
E (m. 14), next to Ab (m. 30), and then returns on C (m. 42). more complex, thereby slowly coaxing us along a diachronic
The transpositions divide the octave symmetrically, creating path from pure modality toward Bart6k's emerging atonality.
a more complex form than that in the first piece. Comparison As shownin Example 5d, Bart6k uses the increasingatonal
of the original folk song with Bart6k's setting shows that he complexity to develop and connect successive settings of the
uses meter, rhythm, and dynamics to determine pitches hav- folk song. For example, recurrencesof earlier structuralhar-
ing greater structuralweight. Example 5c shows that as in the monies (pc sets 4-19 and 4-12) now join a new pc set, 5-26

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218 Music Theory Spectrum

Example4. c) Bartok, Improvisationson HungarianPeasantSongs, op. 20, firstmovement.Romannumeralsshow the three statements
of the folk song. Copyright1922 by Hawkes & Son (London) Ltd., by permissionof Boosey & Hawkes, Inc.
6 Molto moderate I I -, poco nl. 9 a tempo
/ - _ P 2t btu a*3 l
(Ar IF
0^ r ,0
Af p dolce

- ^ -
b bJ | JI J-S
J J J D; X jI
rI I
-' I

a tempo
poco ail. ,, 1 , 1 k 1 II I 1L. J

(I b! Ii bbi Ks C ir t

(0,2,4,5,8). In addition, the presentation of structural har- Bart6k uses to bind together forms of successive pieces. To
monies becomes more varied, occurring not only vertically appreciate more fully how Bartok structures the song's in-
-as before-but also horizontally, structuring individual creasingly complex settings, the reader should review
voices. (One instance occurs with the separately stemmed Wilson's detailed analysis. But these few examples suggest
alto voice that unfolds pc set 4-19.) Most importantly, new how Bart6k leads us from a relatively pure modal setting to
harmonies tend to appear at cadences, a technique that the more complex atonal structuresthat make up his modern

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Neoclassic and AnachronisticImpulses in Twentieth-Century
Music 219

Example 4. d) Mm. 9-12: analysisfrom Paul Wilson, "Conceptsof Prolongation,"81.

4-18 4-18 4-18 5-16

( r r' i 'r r rr r Fr
r s Ir r f r I F-

I I/
5-16 5-16 4-18

Example5. a) Folk song used in Bela Bart6k,Improvisationson

Hungarian Peasant Songs, op. 20, second movement classic exhibits its own cultural awareness and creative mem-
ory. Because heuristic imitation defines itself through its re-
lationship to one source or model, it sketches far more
0 I rL: ' explicitly than eclectic imitation its own etiology, its own
historicalpassage and artisticemergence. But by invoking the
r- I past so explicitly, the composer also makes the work vul-
;.I z
X7 1b : nerable to comparisonwith the past and to criticismfor being
derivative or engaged in mere repetition compulsion.53Fear
of such criticism no doubt prompted Bart6k's repeated as-
vernacular. Through this process, Bart6k also reveals a par- sertion that, contraryto what many assume, "to [harmonize]
ticular historical perspective-a specific route from past to folk melodies is one of the most difficult tasks; equally dif-
emerging present: as atonal structures become more com- ficult if not more so than to write a major original compo-
plex, they also become more powerful and graduallyweaken sition."54To succeed, a heuristic imitation must be heuristic;
the modal structures from which they derive. it cannot lead to a dead end in the past. It must lead some-
Bart6k's Improvisationsrepresent heuristic imitation. The where new; it must liberate ratherthan constrict. A composer
piece singles out a folk source separated from Bart6k's style who uses imitation in this way need not be seen as an Oedipal
by a cultural divide and defines itself by making that folk son in a Freudian family romance, which is to say he is not
source up-to-date. The piece invites specific comparison be- Romantic in Straus's or Bloom's terms. He may be like the
tween two traditions; it proclaims an inheritance that it puts
to new use. The piece enacts a historical and culturaljourney
from a specified past to an emerging present, from an earlier
semiotic matrix to a modern one. Through this diachronic 53Greene, The Light in Troy, 42.
drama, through this acting out of passage, this kind of neo- 54Bart6k,"On the Significanceof Folk Music," 345.

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220 MusicTheory Spectrum

Example5. b) Bartok, Improvisationson HungarianPeasantSongs, op. 20, second movement,mm. 1-22. Romannumeralsshow two
statementsof the folk song. Copyright1922 by Hawkes & Son (London) Ltd., by permissionof Boosey & Hawkes, Inc.

acceerando ampre - al
Molto capriccioso n
. I =^iA' -
I rr g -
.... T I

le2~ 4i77l
bj ,br
g rp r b ly n
I --

son in a classical comedy to whom the wise father entrusts DIALECTICAL IMITATION: SCHOENBERG'S THIRD QUARTET, OP. 30
the fortune and the girl at the moment of recognition or
reconciliation.55 A fourth kind of imitation is the "dialectical"(although I
do not maintain that there are only four kinds, or that their
boundaries are clear and unchanging). Here the connections
55Greene, The Light in Troy, 41. with literary imitation are weaker. The term "dialectical"is

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Neoclassic and AnachronisticImpulses in Twentieth-Century
Music 221

Example5. c) Mm. 2-9: analysisfrom Paul Wilson, "Conceptsof Prolongationand Bart6k'sOpus20," Music TheorySpectrum6 (1984):

4-19 4- 19

d) Mm. 15-22: analysisfrom Paul Wilson, "Conceptsof Prolongation,"83.



not completely satisfactorybecause in discourse about music, music, also revived the form of the Platonic dialogue. Claude
"dialectical" usually carries its more restrictive meaning Palisca argues that this dialectical form "had the advantage
drawnfrom Hegelian philosophy, where it describes the pro- of airing both sides of a controversial subject, and . . . in-
cess of thought that develops by a continuous unification of troducing novel methods or indirectlyattacking previous au-
opposites. This is not the meaning I intend; rather, I invoke thors or the opinions or deeds of the powerful."56The term
the word's earlier and broader meaning, in which dialectic is "dialectical"here carries this broader meaning, emphasizing
the process of critically examining the truth of an opinion
throughdiscussionor debate or dialogue. This broader mean-
ing of "dialectic" characterizes Renaissance music theorists 56ClaudeV. Palisca, Humanism in Italian RenaissanceMusical Thought
who, as part of their attempts to revive ancient theories of (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1985), 9 (italics added).

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222 MusicTheory Spectrum

the dialogue of at least two voices or positions and involving able point in his attack on "folklorists"in the foreword to
their indirect or oblique comparison. Three Satires, op. 28:
There is a unique tension or ambivalence in heuristic im- Withdelight,I also attackthe folklorists,who wantto applyto the
itation to which dialectical imitation seems to respond. It natural,primitiveconceptsof folk musica techniquewhichis suit-
should be no surprise that artists and composers responding ableonlyfor a complexwayof thinking-obligedso to like it (since
to revivalist or neoclassic impulses also experience resistance to themproperthemesare not at theirdisposal)or not (although
or ambivalence toward imitation in general. Such resistance an existingmusicalcultureandtraditioncouldeven still ultimately
emerges in the frequently defensive or contradictory state- sustainthem).
ments by just those composers most strongly associated with
Schoenberg criticizes not the potential strength of heuristic
twentieth-century neoclassicism. Scholars have typically at- imitation-its ambition to enact an historical and cultural
tributed such contradictions to political pressures and pro-
journey-but its distinctive limitation: an incompleteness or
fessional ambitions, rather than to genuine aesthetic ambiv- fictiveness in the purportedrelation between the "primitive"
alence. But these explanations, I think, can obscure the and the "complex,"between culturestoo distant or estranged
natural resistance, even hostility, in any effort to create the for their relation to be entirely free of make believe.
new by copying the old. Imitation, after all, was not merely Dialectical imitation responds directly to this lack of ex-
a compositionaltechnique; it was an aesthetic stance, a some-
change or contest in heuristic imitation by initiating more
times polemical definition and recreation of a tradition that
aggressivedialogue between a piece and its model. It is often
provoked and tolerated tangled attitudes and intense am- historicallyand culturallysavvy, acknowledginganachronism
bivalences.57 but exposing in its model a defect or irresolution or naivete.
Each kind of imitation nourishes some ambivalencesmore But at the same time dialectical imitation invites and risks
stronglythan others. Heuristicimitation, for instance, is most reciprocal treatment-a two-way dialogue, a mutual ex-
vulnerable in the fictive nature of its diachronic passage.
change of criticism, a contest between specificcomposers and
Bart6k uses folk music as his authenticatingmodel, but suc-
specific pieces. Dialectical imitation implicitly criticizes or
ceeds only to the extent that we intuitively accept the es-
challenges its authenticating model, but in so doing leaves
sentially fictive passage he makes from one semiotic or cul- itself open to the possibilityof unfavorablecomparison.Most
tural region to another. This kind of neoclassic piece does not
importantly, this kind of critical exchange as a rule does not
compete against its model; it pretends to be directly de- lead to a clear-cut final synthesis, for dialectical imitations
scended from the model-the historical and natural heir to create a contest that is neither free of ambiguity nor easily
its cultural authenticity. Schoenberg targets just this vulner- resolved. This feature is essential, for by withholding easy
resolution, dialectical imitation acknowledges its own histo-
57Greenediscusses such resistance among writers and poets in The Light
ricity and thereby protects itself from its own anachronistic
in Troy, 43-45. Messing identifies numerous examples of contradictoryor
ambivalentstatements by early twentieth-centurycomposers associated with
neoclassicismin Neoclassicismin Music; Taruskindiscusses Stravinsky'sneo- 58Greeneargues that in literaturedialectical imitationsexhibit a sense of
classicismas the result of political attitudesand pressuresin "Backto Whom? nostalgia for the model's lost power, thereby distinguishingthemselves from
Neoclassicism as Ideology." parodic or satiric imitations (The Light in Troy, 45-46). In music, dialectical

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Neoclassic and AnachronisticImpulses in Twentieth-Century
Music 223

How can a piece imitate and sustain a dialogue with an- mous A-minor Quartet, D. 804, in his own Third Quartet,
other piece or a dead composer? How can a piece enter a op. 30, as the height of Schoenberg's neoclassicism, but
contest with its model? Or put differently, how can a piece misses the depth of the relation Schoenberg establishes.
reveal an artist making sense of-telling the story of-his or Rosen concludes that Schubert's Quartet is only a general
her place in the history of music? In poetry, the devices are "paradigm . .. a form to be filled with a new content that
better understood, but nonetheless require interpretation. is intended in no way to recall the older work."59On the
Satan, awakeningin hell in Book 1 of ParadiseLost, wonders contrary, I argue that Schoenberg's imitation of Schubert's
at the change that has overcome his fellow rebel Beelzebub Quartet is so integral to op. 30 that to dismiss it as an or-
in a phrase that translates Aeneas's wonderment when he nament for initiates is to ignore an intense and far from com-
recognizes the ghost of Hector in Book 2 of the Aeneid: fortable dialogue with the past that accounts for much of the
later work's structure and should deepen anyone's appreci-
If thou beest he; but O how fallen, how changed/ Fromhim
ation of its achievement.
(Paradise Lost, 1.84-85)
ei mihi, qualiserat! quantummutatusab illo There is no question that Schoenberg's Quartet imitated
(Aeneid, 11.274). Schubert's. Schoenberg's relentless, anxious, and exception-
ally dense opening echoes many classical gestures and forms,
Milton uses the echo to establish a link to the tradition he as well as other works by Schoenberg. What identifies Schu-
both invokes and transforms;it invites the reader to notice bert's A-minor Quartet as the primary model are recurring
how changed that tradition is from what it was in Virgil. The structuralreflectors, approximations, or echoes that persis-
effect is repeatable; Pope, for example, echoes Milton's echo
tently emerge, fade, and then return. Instrumentation, tex-
of Virgil to describe the death of the Duke of Buckingham
ture, motivic style, and contour all signal the imitation of
in the Epistle to Bathurst (305). These are allusions, but they Schubert's opening theme. These overt allusions serve to
accomplish more than merely paying incidental homage or highlight other parallels that might otherwise remain unde-
flattering the memory of a class of classically educated read- tected, but that initiate and sustain Schoenberg'simitation of
ers. In each instance, the echoed line suggests the newer Schubert. The musically literate listener will not miss the
poem's place in a history of styles, modes, and values. But surface similarities between Schubert's and Schoenberg's
the imitation is dialectical because the older poem seems to
opening themes (shown in Examples 6 and 7). Both open with
demand a say in locating the newer one. a repeating, arpeggiated figure in eighth notes, followed by
Music critics and scholars have long recognized allusions a sustained lyrical theme in the first violin. Both themes are
to earlier pieces, of course, but have seldom interpretedthose dominated by gestures with descending contour set forth in
allusions as signs of an imitative relationship, and have never, similarperiodic phrase structures, and both are supportedby
to my knowledge, explained how that relationship can be a slowly changing bass line that uses only four pitches to
dialectical or reciprocal. Even as acute a critic as Charles
accompany the first eight-bar phrase.60
Rosen, for example, sees Schoenberg's use of Schubert'sfa-
59CharlesRosen, Arnold Schoenberg(New York: Viking Press, 1975), 89.
imitations are less nostalgic, but their critical stance is easily distinguished 60Strausdiscusses the surface similarities between these two themes in
from parody or satire. more detail in Remaking the Past, 161-65.

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224 MusicTheory Spectrum

Example6. Franz Schubert,StringQuartetin A minor, D. 804, first movement, mm. 1-10: first theme

/ Allegro mal non troppo.

Violino I.
v"-' I 1j 'I JL i
Violino II. .!
pp - p
Viola. t .

J3 J. J. ?
zy- 1 l___ __ J.__ a J
Violoncello. ^r
~_~~~~ -ILj^^ ~ i~ dI

} r"?^
tr___ r r_^ xp

t~ =

I e-. j. m . m J


Schoenberg reinforces the thematic allusions in his open- bert's spans twenty-fivemeasures, Schoenberg'stwenty-eight
ing theme by imitating almost exactly the function, texture, measures. Schoenberg's second theme again replicates Schu-
and length of the various sections that make up Schubert's bert's in style, texture, and structure:both are sustained and
sonata form. In both movements, the first theme ends in m. lyrical and return to the opening texture; both use gestures
32, followed by a transitionwhose texture, in contrast to the whose contours now predominantly ascend; and both use a
unchangingtexture of both first themes, consists of thematic periodic phrase structure that groups an odd rather than an
entries alternating among the four instruments. Atypically, even numberof measures. Schoenberg'sdevelopment section
both transitionsapproachthe length of the first theme: Schu- continues to imitate Schubert's in duration, texture, and in-

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Neoclassic and AnachronisticImpulses in Twentieth-Century
Music 225

Example 7. Arnold Schoenberg, String Quartet No. 3, op. 30, first movement, mm. 1-12: first theme. Used by permission of Belmont
Music Publishers, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272.
8 9

) Moderato a =100
I. Geige
-- -
p -J]

II. Geige

f 2 3 4 5 p sempre stacc.

~~~~~-~~~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~~ -
IB? - JJ1O W.-
m p
12 3 4 5 VP sempre stacc.

Violoncello P7


8 11

102 39 12

12 3

2 4 12 3 4 5



r-L "k - p-io 77 -

$ ^^ ,^ _j
6 p7 (0,2,3,7)_ 7 :.- ~ 4-14 (0,2,3,7)

P7: G E D# A C Ep F# B Bb C# Gt D

4-14 (0,2,3,7)

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226 MusicTheory Spectrum

ternal structure. Both development sections comprise four trast between principal themes. The lyricism of Schubert's
sections and both end in m. 173. Most strikingly, the final first theme, as well as its continuous and static texture, make
section of Schubert'sdevelopment (the retransition)prepares it stylisticallycloser to the second theme of a Romantic sonata
the recapitulation not with increasing intensity and climax, than the usual first theme. In contrast to this unconventional
but with a decrease in rhythmic and harmonic motion, a de- opening theme, much of the movement's form seems entirely
crescendo in dynamics, and a gradually emerging textural conventional, especially when compared to Schubert'sother
stasis. The final section of Schoenberg'sdevelopment mimics late chamber works.63The movement's conventional form
this pattern precisely. makes even more striking the unconventional lack of the-
Until the end of the development, a listener attentive to matic contrast.
the allusions to Schubert will expect Schoenberg's form to If Schubert could build a conventional sonata form using
sustain the imitation. The beginning of Schoenberg's reca- themes too similarto provide the conventional contrast, why
pitulation will therefore come as a surprise. Unlike Schubert, could Schoenberg not compose a sonata form using a com-
Schoenbergbegins the recapitulationwith the second theme, positional method that precludes such contrast? Schubert's
which the first then follows. Other than reversing the order quartet does more for Schoenberg's than simply suggest an
of the two themes, the two recapitulationscorrelate in texture answer to a compositional problem, however. It is a model,
and length much like the two expositions. almost a partner, not just an inspiration or source.
So much is readily apparentonce a listener begins to follow Schoenberg's piece responds to Schubert'sin more detail
Schoenberg's piece as an imitation of Schubert's. The chal- and at deeper levels than have yet been recognized. For in-
lenge comes in the coda. But a discussion of the dialectical stance, Schoenbergmakes the stylisticsimilarityof Schubert's
nature of the relationship between Schoenberg's piece and principalthemes a structuralprincipleof his piece throughthe
Schubert's must precede addressing that issue. Imagine the partitioningof his 12-tone row. Throughout the first move-
challenges Schoenberg faced in attempting to write the first ment, the row is partitioned into two principalsegments: the
quartet ever to use a twelve-tone sonata form. One challenge first segment contains five pitches, order numbers 1 through
must have seemed primary: how to compose a three-part 5 (hereafter, ONs 1-5), the second, seven pitches, ONs 6-12.
form that depends fundamentallyon thematic contrast using This partitioningmakes a general tonal allusion, for the larger
a compositional system that seems to preclude just such con- segment contains all seven pitches of a harmonic-minor
trast.61Schubert provided the answer to this dilemma in his scale.64In 13(shown in Figure 1), for instance, the row divides
A-minor Quartet, a piece that Schoenbergstudied closely and
mentioned repeatedly.62Schubert's first movement, uncon- 63The quartet's sonata form uses a straight-forwardtonal scheme, key
ventionally for a Romantic sonata form, is not based on con- changes are preparedand not abrupt, the exposition uses only two key areas
instead of three, no tonal instabilityoccurs in the second key area, there is
61ThatSchoenbergsharedthe usual late-romanticunderstandingof sonata no introduction, and the internal proportionsof the various sections are un-
form (a three-partform whose dramaticforce derives from contrastbetween exceptional. John Gingerichdiscusses Schubert'sA-minor Quartet and other
principal themes) is clear from Fundamentalsof Musical Composition, ed. late chambermusic furtherin "Genre and Style in Schubert'sLate Chamber
Gerald Strangand Leonard Stein (New York: St. Martin'sPress, 1967), 200. Music" (Ph.D. Diss., Yale University, 1996).
62Schoenberg,Fundamentals,131, and StructuralFunctions of Harmony 64Schoenberg'stwelve-tone rows rarely include segments whose unor-
(New York: W. W. Norton, 1954), 156-58. dered pitch-classescomprise tonal scales. There is only one other instance:

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Neoclassic and Anachronistic Impulses in Twentieth-Century Music 227

into a group of seven pitches that together make up an A Figure 1. Schoenberg, String Quartet No. 3: partitioning of basic
harmonic-minor scale and a group of five pitches that com- set
4-14 (0,2,3,7)
plete the twelve-tone aggregate. (The label 13 designates the
inversion of the row whose first pitch-class, ON 1, is pc 3, or
I3: Eb Fi G Ct Bb F E B C A D G#
Dt.) This tonal segment of the row allows Schoenberg to
make the imitation of Schubert's themes explicit, for the or-
complement A harmonic-minor
dering of its pitches simultaneously alludes to each of Schu-
bert's three principal themes, including that of the develop-
ment section. As shown in Examples 6 and 8, the first four
notes of Schubert's first theme (excluding pitch repetitions), almost exact duplication, in the final hexachord, of the new
E-C-A-B, and the first four notes of the second theme, theme that Schubert unconventionally introduces at the be-
E-F-G-C, both represent forms of pc set 4-14 (0,2,3,7). The ginning of his development section and brings back in the
two forms are not identical: the ordering of their respective coda to structure the movement's final climax (mm. 282-88).
pitches differs and they relate by inversion. Any listener will Example 9 shows this correlation by aligning Schubert's new
hear the tonal quality of both forms, however, for they unfold theme with the inversion of the row, I1, that duplicates its
a minor triad with the lower third filled in diatonically and, pitch content. Only one pitch in the row, E, appears out of
in the inverted form, the major triad with the upper third order in relation to the new theme. Schoenberg must tolerate
filled in diatonically. This pc set 4-14, which refers to both this reordering, however, to maintain pc-set 4-14 as a linear
of Schubert's first and second themes, occurs as a segment segment, the set that simultaneously alludes to Schubert's
of Schoenberg's row, ONs 7-10, as if Schoenberg were re- first two themes. It seems clear, then, that the seven-note
marking on the unusual stylistic similarity between the be- tonal segment of Schoenberg's principal row is ordered so as
ginnings of Schubert's principal themes (Figure 1). to allude simultaneously to all three of Schubert's themes.
The seven-note tonal segment of the row contains other Schoenberg thus makes the unconventional stylistic similar-
clear allusions to Schubert's themes.65 Most explicit is the ities among Schubert's principal themes a structural feature
of the row that generates his twelve-tone sonata form.
What is the point of such an esoteric allusion or imitation?
the row that structures the first of Three Satires, op. 28, a piece in whose What, if anything, does Schoenberg mean by composing his
foreword Schoenberg claims he is mocking, among others, the "quasi-
sonata form in imitative relationship with Schubert's? One
65Theorderingof the principalrow's final hexachorddevelops furtherthe answer, it seems clear, is that Schoenberg sought continuity.
likeness to Schubert'sfirsttheme. In Schubert'sfirsttheme, the fifth and sixth His twelve-tone sonata is not a "cliche typical of a roman-
new pitches to enter are D (m. 5) and GO(m. 7). Schoenbergduplicates this ticism at once ostentatious and outmoded," as Boulez, for
succession exactly in the principal row (ONs 11 and 12), as shown in 13 in
Figure 1. In addition, the hexachord represented by ONs 6-11, which com-
prises all but the last pitch of the harmonic-minorscale segment, replicates 4-14 4-14
the first six notes of Schubert'ssecond theme (E-F-G-C-B-F), not in the Schubert 6-25' Schoenberg 6-z25
orderingof its pitches, but in its internalpc-set structure:4-14 (0,2,3,7), 5-20 Theme 2: IE F G C BiD P1 (ONs 6-11): ;B C F E GID'
(0,1,3,7,8), and 6-z25 (0,1,3,5,6,8): 5-20 5-20

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228 Music Theory Spectrum

Example 8. Schubert, String Quartet in A minor, first movement, mm. 59-69: second theme
/ f - -


frK j r r -

S j,, r;^ ; rfr --

p dolce

'U: j
^ f-f 7*r^T^tf
p77 ^.''if ^~~~~4 f^- ^r (^ r- ^
P ^

- ' /^" j^T^r

% r^ r^" ^^7

. "" . ^ :, , J j o

one, has since maintained.66 Instead, in Schoenberg's re- appear as an upstart in period costume, but as the legitimate
creation, Schubert's abandonment of conventional thematic heir of the tradition.
contrast seems to evolve into a deeper structural principle. A more complete answer, I suggest, will recognize com-
Schoenberg aspires to compose a sonata form that will not petition as well as continuity, dialogue as well as imitation.
I do not pretend to be able to follow more than a few of the
66Boulez, "Schoenbergis Dead," 21. detailed interchanges that make up this dialogue, and even

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Neoclassic and AnachronisticImpulses in Twentieth-Century
Music 229

Example 9. Schubert,String Quartet in A minor, first movement, mm. 125-28: new theme from developmentsection

A ^h- -=
rfrr rr7- - - : r- r -r r
I_ L cresc.

fZ?p jcresc.====-

-P ,Sp cresc.
4t_. i. I I_~>
I--I-II , .
, , I
j -i_ cresc.
*IX ~I~~~~~~~~~~
7 8 9 10 11 12
I (ONs 7-12): C G (E) Ab F BE E

4-14 (0,2,3,7)

those few may seem insufficientlydemonstrable, at least by bert. It spans the entire theme and consists of two pitches
the norms of traditional music scholarship. Consider, how- (ONs 6-7) from both forms of P7. Even though these four
ever, Example 7, Schoenberg's opening theme, which com- pitches are not adjacent in either P7 or its alternateform P7(1),
prises two repetitions of the row. The firstis the principalrow together they create a form of pc-set 4-14, the same tetra-
form P7 <7 4 3 9 0 5 6 11 10 1 8 2>. The second repetition chord that appears at the beginning of both of Schubert's
uses one of the two alternate orderings of the row, P7(1) <7 principal themes.67 The cello presents these pitches in the
4 3 9 0 8 1 5 11 6 2 10>, that appear in Schoenberg's quartet.
The basic set itself differs from its two alternate orderings
67ElsewhereI have discussed Schoenberg'scompositionalsketches for the
only in the ordering of their last seven pitches, and thus all
opening phrase in which he marks with brackets and bar lines the harmony
maintain the seven-note tonal allusion. The cello's four-note that structuresthe cello. The sketch leaves little doubt that he regards these
bass line shown in Example 7 allows us to overhear the di- four pitches as a single, unordered harmony that relates to its occurrence as
alectical exchange that Schoenberg is beginning with Schu- a linear segment of the basic set, and its prominent position in the opening

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230 MusicTheory Spectrum

exact order of Schubert'ssecond theme, E#-F#-GO-CO, and matic structure of his quartet's recapitulation and coda. To
even mimics its pitch notation (E-F-G-C) and much of its make this argument, I offer an abbreviated summaryof Jo-
ascending contour and durational proportions (Example 8). seph Straus'sdetailed analysisthat elegantly connects Schoen-
The cello's phrase thus strongly invokes Schubert's second berg's partialanalysisof the Schubertquartetto the harmonic
theme, even while the many overt allusions that I have noted structure of his own Third Quartet.68
earlier unmistakablyinvoke his first theme. It is as if Schoen- Schoenberg judged that Schubert'soriginalityin harmony
berg makes Schubert's two themes accompany each other. was to make "the actual transition to Wagnerian and post-
This double presence of both of Schubert's themes in Wagneriancomposers'procedures."69In his analysis, Schoen-
Schoenberg's opening theme has a startling effect. The lis- berg concentrates on the extraordinarymodulations in the
tener hears just enough to grasp the allusion to Schubert's development section of the A-minor Quartet, emphasizing
first theme when the cello's quotation of the second theme the tonally distant keys of F minor (the submediant) and D,
sharply intrudes. The effect is especially aggressive and jar- major (the submediant of the submediant) before the reca-
ring because we cannot yet hear how the cello line derives pitulation in A minor.70In the Third Quartet, Schoenberg
from the row and its variant. The discomfort or instabilityof uses exactly this large-scale progression by major thirds to
Schoenberg's opening contrasts strongly with Schubert's build and connect each of the three sections of his sonata
opening and, once the imitation of Schubert is recognized, form, but in place of tonal keys he substitutes twelve-tone
seems to derive from the simultaneous presence of the two areas delineated by inversional axes. Harmonic progression
composers. (For example, Schoenberg's theme, in marked within these areas now depends not on tonal norms, but on
contrast to Schubert's, creates rhythmicinstability by avoid- inversional symmetry and balance.
ing downbeats.) Without this source or dimension to its dis- In the Third Quartet, Schoenberg typically presents pairs
comfort, the various tonal gestures and allusions of Schoen- of inversionally-related row forms. The succession of
berg's opening would be both superficialand unsubstantiated. I-relatedrow forms creates, in turn, a sense of balance around
Nothing like this uneasy or aggressive relationship charac- some axis of inversion. For the movement's principalpair of
terizes the kinds of imitation I have called reverential, eclec- inversionallyrelated row forms, P7 and I0, the inversionalaxis
tic, or heuristic. is A/B -E/D #; the remainingpitches in both row forms bal-
It remains to explain more fully why Schoenberg's imi- ance symmetricallyaround this axis (as shown in Figure 2).
tation of Schubert can be called dialectical. The reason Theorists have long recognized that Schoenberg viewed the
emerges in the way that Schoenberg's quartet challenges the balance of a twelve-tone aggregate created by such an in-
harmonic structure of classical sonata form, an even more versional axis "as something quite analogous to the balance
basic premise of tonal form than contrastingthemes. Schoen- induced by a tonal center."71Similarly,in the Third Quartet
berg's twelve-tone method both challenges and is challenged
by Schubert's tonality. Schoenberg's imitation of harmony
and motive together suggest an interpretation of the enig- 68Straus,Remaking the Past, 121-32, 165-68.
69Schoenberg,StructuralFunctions, 156.
theme reflects its special importance. MarthaM. Hyde, "The Roots of Form 71DavidLewin, "InversionalBalance as an OrganizingForce in Schoen-
in Schoenberg's Sketches," Journal of Music Theory 24 (1980): 16-19. berg's Music and Thought," Perspectivesof New Music 6/2 (1968): 2.

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Neoclassic and AnachronisticImpulses in Twentieth-Century
Music 231

Figure2. Schoenberg,StringQuartetNo. 3: primaryinversional Figure 3. Schoenberg,String Quartet No. 3: primaryand sec-

axis ondaryinversionalaxes
P7: G E D# A C F Ft B Bb CO Ab D
Io: C Dt E Bb G D COtAb A F# B F c C
Bb D


Gr Fd\ F PrimaryAxis

(as shown in Figure 4). Schoenberg, then, makes his sym-

Schoenberg uses inversional axes to define areas around metrical harmonicprogressionreplicate on a deeper level the
which other areas or regions balance. To chart the progres- form's new thematic symmetry. Moreover, on a larger scale,
sion of inversional axes in Schoenberg's form is to discover with only a few exceptions, the forms of the row that comprise
that each of its three principal sections comprise inversional the recapitulation are simply the inversions of the corre-
axes tracing a large-scale progression in major thirds, the sponding forms in the exposition around the movement's
same progression that Schoenberg discovered as the har- principalaxes. In other words, inversionalsymmetryprovides
monic structure of Schubert's development section. But in- harmonic structure within and among all three sections.
stead of a linear progression by major third, Schoenberg uses Both these features of the Third Quartet-thematic struc-
the primary inversional axis (A/B -E/Dt ) as a fulcrum, ture and inversional symmetry-point toward a dialectical
againstwhich is balanced on either side (that is, inversionally) engagement with the earlier model, but we are free to read
the two subordinate axes (C#/D-Ab/G and F/F#-C/B), each that engagement in several ways. Perhaps Schoenberg means
separated by a major third (as shown in Figure 3). to explore the structuralimplications of a sonata form that
Schoenberg revises the usual thematic design of the tonal lacks thematic contrast. What is the point, Schoenberg may
sonata to create an analogue for the symmetrical harmonic seem to ask, of traditional harmonic progression in a form
progressionof inversional axes. By reversingthe order of the that has abandoned thematic contrast? Does that question
two themes in the recapitulation, he creates a symmetrical suggest Schoenberg's reworking of Schubert'stonal progres-
thematic design that balances the exposition against the re- sion by major third as three twelve-tone areas with inver-
capitulation and uses the development section as its center sional axes balanced by major third? I do not pretend that

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232 MusicTheorySpectrum

Figure 4. Schoenberg,String QuartetNo. 3, first movement:formal sections

Exposition Development Recapitulation

First theme Transition Second theme Second theme Transition First theme Coda

1-32 33-61 62-94 94-173 174-206 207-238 239-277 278-341

the answerto this question is clear, which is to say that, given ues, are "rich, coherent musical structures that, with paro-
the interpretive tools now available, we would most likely distic effect, refer to the music of an earlier era." Straus
disagree on how and by what evidence any answer should be concludes that Schoenberg was not imitating Schubert, nor
tested. But I am convinced that our interpretive tools will being influenced by him in the usual sense. Following Harold
remain undeveloped and our understandingof music history Bloom's Oedipal view of the engagements between new art-
impoverished if we remain unwilling to entertain such ques- ists and their precursors, Straus finds Schoenberg's use of
tions. Schubert to be marked by the "anxiety of influence" and by
Straus, who deserves credit for bringing such questions to the standard post-romantic misreading of too authoritative
the attention of theorists, takes a different view of the re- classics that "clears creative space" for the new.
lationshipbetween Schoenberg'sQuartet and Schubert's.He In my own view, Schoenberg's anxiety was to connect his
recognizes the imitative relationship between the principal own ample creative space to the German classical tradition,
themes, but argues that "beneath the surface Schoenberg's which he did not necessarily view as a suffocating presence.
Quartet misreads Schubert's, reinterpretingboth the phrase But that is not the argument I am advancing here. Instead
structure of its exposition and the large-scale harmonic or- I propose that recognitionof Schoenberg'sdialecticalengage-
ganization of its development section."72Schoenberg's imi- ment with Schubertcan help explain and enrich Schoenberg's
tation of Schubert'ssurface features simply alerts the listener otherwise unaccountable coda.
to the earlier model, but there the imitation ends, in Straus's At its outset, the coda is not unaccountable. There is a
view. The large-scalestructuresof both development sections gesture toward Schubert'sdevelopmental theme in mm. 278-
derive from different and incompatible compositional sys- 82, and Schoenberg's principal themes make a fleeting ap-
tems. By substitutinginversionalsymmetryfor harmonicpro- pearance soon after. These opening gestures promise a coda
gression, Schoenberg misreads and marginalizes the feature conventionally related to the preceding movement and con-
that generated Schubert's form. The results, Straus contin- tinuing the imitative engagement with Schubert, but that
promise proves a tease. Schoenberg's coda is three times
72Straus,Remaking the Past, 161. longer than Schubert's (63 versus 21 measures) and ap-

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Neoclassic and AnachronisticImpulses in Twentieth-Century
Music 233

Example 10. Schoenberg, String Quartet No. 3, op. 30, first movement, mm. 324-41: coda. Copyright by .. . Used by permission.

324_ Tempo I _

...- ..I,I 11.,, "r f rr r.rL I

I I [r-
f : -
I #:I:fz r11' .'
I IGgl> _f i-
-li---I_- Ib7 ' {{' P -t

Br r f

Vcl - - f 1 b
P7 iIo P7

Vcl 9-
i 7 _| i
I. Gg$ - nt
10 13 PI) P7 7 0

P3 14 P7 Io

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234 Music Theory Spectrum

proaches the length of his development section. After their taining only three or four notes (typicallyechoed by inverted
initial appearance, neither of Schoenberg'sthemes returnsin contour) effectively prevents any recognition of the move-
a recognizable form. Rather than the conventional epilogue ment's principal themes. Instead, new chromatic motives
that reaffirmsthematic contest and resolution, Schoenberg's serve to accentuate and connect the three primaryaxes that
coda presents and even develops at least two new motives, previously have structured the movement's form.
the more prominent of which is an ascending chromatic line In the coda's final eight measures, chromatic motions be-
comprised of five or six half-steps that often is accompanied come vertical as well. Harmonic and melodic chromatic
by shorter descending chromatic segments (as shown in Ex- clashes saturate the texture. The row appears in radical re-
ample 10). Repeated listening may locate the seeds of these orderings, as though the coda, as it relinquishes motivic in-
new motives in earlier sections, but Schoenberg'scoda none- tegrity, were also relaxing the integrity of the row itself in
theless seems to lack a dramatic function, apparently dis- order to project chromaticlines as themes. In this section of
connected both from Schubert'scoda and the rest of Schoen- this piece, at least, even the fundamental premise of the
berg's movement. What seemed a display of imitative twelve-tone method becomes flexible-that all the music of
experimentation and inventiveness ends confusingly and in- the piece derive from the fixed orderingof the row. The coda
conclusively. No clear synthesis emerges, no obvious reso- seems to employ this flexibilityin order to project more force-
lution, but only an extravagantlyprolonged ending, ambig- fully the movement's inversional axes and their respective
uous in thematic origin and dramatic function. Why would twelve-tone areas. The extraordinarylength of the coda may
Schoenberg, having spent so much effort inducing a listener be necessary to give integrityto an entirely twelve-tone form,
to understand his piece in relation to Schubert's, choose at now that he relinquishes the features that previously delin-
the end to depart so markedly from his model? And why do eated form-Schubert's unconventional themes and his own
so in the coda, a section that conventionally is least essential twelve-tone analogue of themes.
to the overall form? A listener attentive to the quartet's im- Schoenberg'scoda is difficultto analyze, but perhaps that
itation of Schubert will ponder and interpret the coda's dra- difficulty, made more unexpected by the movement's earlier
matic departure from the expected, not dismiss it as merely relationship to the Schubert quartet, itself suggests a line of
an imitative fumble. interpretation. Until the coda, Schoenberg prompts his au-
To understand the coda is, I believe, to understand the dience to understandthe sonata in an unfolding relationship
point, or at least the outcome, of Schoenberg'sdialogue with with Schubert's.In Schoenberg'sre-creationof the Romantic
Schubert, as well as to confirm the reason that Schoenberg sonata, Schubertprovides almost a commentary. Imitation is
chose the Schubertquartet as his model. Instead of using the the device by which Schoenberg places his work in relation
coda to reaffirmthe movement's principal themes, as Schu- to the earlier tradition, and that placement is one clear way
bert did, Schoenberg reasserts the movement's primaryaxis, that a piece of music can generate meaning-suggesting the
with its symmetrical and inversional secondary axes. history of its own existence. But then in the coda Schoenberg
Throughout, the coda presents pairs of I-related row forms abandonsmeaningfulthematic form and all relationshipwith
whose respective partitions share identical rhythms, but in- Schubert.The effect is frustratingas one turnsand turnsagain
vert contour (as occurs, for example, in mm. 278-324). The to Schubert, trying to hear the commentary that should be
coda's persistent use of partitioned thematic segments con- there. Perhaps next year a colleague will take me to task for

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Neoclassic and Anachronistic Impulses in Twentieth-Century Music 235

missing a deeper and more conclusive role that Schubert is ABSTRACT

made to play in Schoenberg's coda, but as I presently un- Among the modernisms of the early twentieth century, music is
derstand the coda, it does not resume or resolve what has almost alone in striving to be modern as well as ancient-to be
neoclassical. This article works toward a theory of neoclassicism
gone before so much as transcend it. Schubert disappears in
indirectly-by concentrating on four pieces, each of which exem-
Schoenberg's coda, as I now view it, in the way that Virgil,
who has been Dante's steady commentator for 64 cantos, plifies a different variety of engagement between the modern com-
poser and the past model. Because its aims are broadly synthetic,
simply disappears in Purgatorio XXX. The new piece invokes the chosen pieces have been much analyzedby others to demonstrate
the old and conjures it to speak of the coming into being and how representativeanalysescan be organizedinto a broaderand less
the affiliations of the new. Out of this dialectical imitation, technicalunderstandingof neoclassicism.The paper suggests how we
this not wholly fictive dialogue, Schoenberg's twelve-tone so- might divest neoclassicismof some equivocation by consideringhow
nata locates itself in the German tradition, which is made to and for what purposes composers invoke the past by imitating an
anticipate and authorize his development of that tradition. older piece or style and the kinds of relation to that past that such
The coda makes clear how enabling the dialogue has been. imitations suggest.
Schoenberg's imitation of Schubert does not lead backward
into deepening engagement with a past classic. It leads for-
ward into a new territory and asks its audience to follow.

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