The inauguratory theme of the Adagio from Bruckner's Symphony no. 9 as paradigmatic of a "second practice" of Nineteenth-Century tonality
VanDyke, Peter A.
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"The inauguratory theme of the Adagio from Bruckner's Symphony No. 9 as paradigmatic of a 'second practice' of nineteenth-century tonality" by Peter A. VanDyke, Master of Arts, Music Theory, University at Buffalo. Though few would argue against the notion of an inherently tonal quality within the music of Anton Bruckner, recent decades have seen a profusion of frustrated efforts to parse the seemingly ambiguous harmonic nature of his symphonic compositions. Indeed, Bruckner's compositional output has largely defied comprehensive analytical attempts from either Schenkerian or neo-Riemannian-functionalist perspectives. The difficulties encountered by music theorists has led, in part, to a significant exclusion of the composer's oeuvre from discussion concerning Austro-Germanic music of the late-Romantic era. Yet, there can be no denying Bruckner's prominence as a composer, instrumentalist, and teacher of harmony and counterpoint in Vienna through the waning years of the nineteenth century. Motivated by analyses by Derrick Puffett and Charles Smith, and employing as its primary source the initial thematic statement from the third movement of Bruckner's final, unfinished symphony, this study chiefly refrains from deciphering the harmonic framework of the music in favor of a contrapuntal reading of essential voice leading. In addition to motivic analyses, justification for such an approach derives from evaluation of the composer's socio-cultural background and musical training, which suggest that Bruckner was composing from an inclination rooted as much in the Baroque, as it was pre-modern.