Tonality, form, and stylistic features in Sergei Rachmaninoff's Etudes-tableaux, op. 39

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1992
Authors
Surdell, Jacob Joseph
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Like the etudes of Chopin and Liszt, Rachmaninoff's Etudes-Tableaux, Op. 39, go beyond the role of being virtuosic display pieces. They are well-constructed, often formally complex tone paintings that project a variety of moods. Harmonically, Op. 39 typifies Rachmaninoff's late nineteenth-century chromatic style. Although a tonic-dominant polarity is the underlying source of tension, a good deal of harmonic ambiguity undermines this polarity. How Rachmaninoff establishes tonal areas while maintaining chromatic and/or nonfunctional harmony is one of the primary issues of this treatise. Other important compositional issues such as formal design and motivic development will also be examined
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