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Mahler's Symphonic Sonatas$
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Seth Monahan

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199303465

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199303465.001.0001

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Dimensions of Mahlerian Narrativity

Dimensions of Mahlerian Narrativity

(p.61) Chapter Three Dimensions of Mahlerian Narrativity
Mahler's Symphonic Sonatas

Seth Monahan

Oxford University Press

In advance of the book’s four extended narrative analyses, this chapter surveys some of the challenges and controversies surrounding the concept of musical narrative in general and of Mahlerian narrative in particular. After reviewing the 1990s’ narrative debates, the chapter then takes up Byron Almén’s theory of musical narrative as an overarching framework. Though the movement-spanning sonata plot serves as the “primary narrative level” of each analysis, other narrative domains and processes are operative throughout. Most are subordinate to the main level: these include gesture, transformed repetition (including rotational form), and affective/topical state-change. But the chapter also considers at length the complex relation of single-movement narratives to the broader, transsymphonic narratives that embed them and which often insinuate themselves into the former by way of strategic prolepses and analepses. The result is a more nuanced image of Mahlerian narrative, one capable of dealing with its often complex interaction of story levels.

Keywords:   musical narrative, Byron Almén, transsymphonic narrative, rotational form, variant form, musical gesture

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