Symbols of transformation : reconceptualizing the boundaries of organicism in the music of Béla Bartók
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This dissertation uses Béla Bartók's 1943 Concerto for Orchestra as a focal point for investigating conceptual models of music based on early twentieth-century notions of organicism. In particular, this project brings together two traditions--one structural, one narrative--in an attempt to integrate motivic allusion and programmatic discourse, and places this piece within a metadiscourse of musical 'Fate' stories that continually point back to Beethoven. Based largely on the work of George Lakoff, chapter 1 is an overview of modern category theories that rejects objectivism and establishes a philosophical view of meaning that is shaped by our conceptual models. Chapter 2 is a comparison of the writings of Schoenberg and Bartók that invoke organicist values of musical development and variation. Stemming from Bartók's claim that Schoenberg's Op. 11 showed composers the "new ways and means" of modern composition, this chapter speculates on potential influences and involves a reinvestigation of Schoenberg's Op. 11, No. 1. Chapter 3 examines the difference between strict hierarchical models of music and metonymic reductions. Following a critique of Fred Lerdahl's recent attempts to apply his Chomskian prolongational model to post-tonal and atonal music, this chapter traces the integration of motivic parallelism and key architecture in tonal music as a primary organizing feature of musical form, foreshadowing their use by Bartók as replacements for the structural functions of harmony. Chapter 4 investigates the relationship of musical motives and post-Beethovenian narratives of fate/overcoming and fate/death in music by Bizet, Verdi, Tchaikovsky, and Richard Strauss, providing a context for Bartók's motivic and programmatic allusion to--and transformation of--that very tradition. Chapter 5 draws the material from the previous chapters together in a structural-programmatic reading of the Concerto for Orchestra that situates it as a transformation of the evolving traditions that inform it.