Music History and Theory Forum: Lee Rothfarb

Event Date: 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016 - 3:30pm to 4:45pm

Event Date Details: 

Event Location: 

  • Music Room 1145 (UCSB)

Event Price: 

Admission is free and the event is open to the public.

Event Contact: 

Adriane Hill
Marketing and Communications Manager
UC Santa Barbara Department of Music
(805) 893-3230
Professor Lee Rothfarb (Professor of Music Theory, University of California, Santa Barbara) will present a lecture entitled "Hanslick's Hauptsatz: Brahms and Bruckner" as part of the quarterly Music History and Theory Forum on Wednesday, November 9, 2016 from 3:30-4:45 p.m. in Music Room 1145. Admission is free and the event is open to the public.
Talk Title: 
Hanslick's Hauptsatz: Brahms and Bruckner
As philosophical discourse, Eduard Hanslick's Vom Musikalisch-Schönen sticks largely to generalities in referring to the "specifically musical." However, it does provide some detail on the notion of a theme as a composer's starting point and germinative bud for producing a coherent composition that qualifies as musically beautiful. This paper explores the music-analytical implications of Hanslick's Hauptthema—labeled here Hauptsatz, after 18th and 19th-century authors—and its architectonic significance for a musical work, based on passages from Brahms's Second Symphony and Bruckner's Eighth. The discussion highlights fundamental differences in the nature and handling of their respective Hauptsätze, which are the sources, at least in part, of Hanslick's sharply differing attitudes toward the two composers. Additionally, the paper suggests that Hanslick's ingrained attunement to the rigorously dramatic-teleological design of Brahms's sonata-form movements may have prevented him from appreciating Bruckner's epic-episodic design.
About Professor Lee Rothfarb:
History of music theory and analysis from the Greeks through Schenker, with an emphasis on the period 1800-1930; nineteenth-century German aesthetics; early development of the sonata form in keyboard music (1740-70), chromatic harmony. Current research includes early music-analytic reception of Bruckner and the nature and significance of lay-education in music during Germany’s Wilhelmine and Weimar periods. Author of Ernst Kurth: Selected Writings (Cambridge University Press, 1991) and Ernst Kurth as Theorist and Analyst (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1989). The latter book received the Society for Music Theory Outstanding Publication Award in 1989. He is a Contributing Scholar to the online publication of The Correspondence of Heinrich Schenker, as translator of the letters between Schenker, August Halm, and Karl Grunsky. His articles include “Musical Body and Spirit in Brahms and Bruckner” (19th Century Music), “Energetics” (Cambridge History of Western Music Theory, Cambridge University Press, 2001), “Zwischen Originalität und Ideologie: Die Musik von August Halm (1869-1929) (Musik Baden-Württemberg, 1998),”Musik und Theologie: August Halm am Kreuzungspunkt seines beruflichen und schöpferischen Weges” (Musik Baden-Württemberg, 1996), “Beethoven’s Formal Dynamics: August Halm’s Phenomenological Perspective” (The Beethoven Forum, 1996), “Music Analysis, Cultural Morality, and Sociology in the Writings of August Halm” (Indiana Theory Review, 1995), “Hermeneutics and Energetics: Music- Theoretical Alternatives in the Early 1900’s” (Journal of Music Theory, 1992); “The ‘New Education’ and Music Theory, 1900-1925” (Music Theory and the Exploration of the Past, Chicago University Press, 1991); “Ernst Kurth’s Die Voraussetzungen der theoretischen Harmonik and the Beginnings of Music Psychology” (Theoria, 1989); and “Ernst Kurth in Historical Perspective: His Intellectual Inheritance and Music Theoretical Legacy” (Schweizer Jahrbuch fur Musikwissenschaft, 1986-87). He has lectured in Tübingen, Freiburg, Munich, and St. Florian (Austria) on the writings of August Halm, and on the analytical methodology of Heinrich Schenker.  His new book, August Halm: A Critical and Creative Life in Music, based on Halm’s writings and extensive information from unpublished Estate Papers, will appear in the series Eastman Studies in Music, published by the University of Rochester Press.
Professor Rothfarb is past member of the Editorial Board of The Journal of Music Theory, Founding Editor of the SMT electronic journal Music Theory Online (MTO), founder of SMT’s networking, and former administrator of its original networking host, Boethius.
Professor Lee Rothfarb. Photo by Eric Isaacs.