Change search
CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf
Where words leave off, music begins: A comparison of how Henry Purcell and Franz Schubert convey text through their music in the compositions Music for a while and Erlkönig
Royal College of Music in Stockholm, Department of Classical Music.
2017 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor of Fine Arts), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis [Artistic work]
Abstract [en]

”The singer is always working through a text that in some way or another inspired the vocal line and its texture,” wrote American pianist, pedagogue, and author Thomas Grubb. But exactly how does a text inspire a composer to create this synergy between words and music?

During the course of my studies at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm, I gradually began to deepen my knowledge and awareness of Henry Purcell and Franz Schubert. I was at once astounded by their ability to seemlessly amalgamate the chosen texts to their music, and decided that this connection required greater research.

The purpose of this study was thus to gain a deeper understanding of how Purcell and Schubert approached the relationship between text and music by studying the two pieces Music for a while and Erlkönig. I also wished to discover any similarities and differences between the composers’ approaches to word painting, in addition to discerning the role of the accompaniment to further illustrate the narrative.

I began by reading literature about the two composers as well as John Dryden and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the poets whose texts were set to music. Once a greater understanding of them had been attained, I proceeded to analyze the texts and music for a greater comprehension of Purcell’s and Schubert’s methods. For early inspiration, I listened to numerous versions of the pieces by different musicians on YouTube.

Both Purcell and Schubert used various tools in their compositional arsenals to accomplish their effortless combination of text and music. Amongst others, Purcell employed tonal ambiguity, unexpected harmonies, and repetition, while Schubert made use of vivid imagery, inventive treatment of chromaticism, and unmistakable rhythmic motifs.

The analysis demonstrated that, while both composers painted lively and dramatic pictures in their compositions, their methods were strikingly different. The role of the accompaniment in Music for a while leaves much to the individual taste and ability of the instrumentalist(s) performing to assist the singer in setting the scene. In contrast, Schubert instructs the pianist in Erlkönig explicitly how they are to play, while additionally the piano personifies the fifth character in the story, the horse. Indeed, the role of the singer in the two pieces is equally at variance with the other. With Purcell, the singer portrays a priest, while the singer in Erlkönig personifies four different voices, each with their own melody, character, and tessitura.

I hope this study will inspire others to delve deeper into the material with which they work to offer a more profound understanding to themselves and, ultimately, the listener.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017.
Keyword [en]
Word painting, poetry, Lied, art song, Purcell, Schubert, Dryden, Goethe, Music for a while, Erlkönig
National Category
Music
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kmh:diva-2342OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kmh-2342DiVA: diva2:1087853
Educational program
Kandidatprogram musiker
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2017-04-11 Created: 2017-04-10 Last updated: 2017-06-09Bibliographically approved

Open Access in DiVA

fulltext(657 kB)26 downloads
File information
File name FULLTEXT01.pdfFile size 657 kBChecksum SHA-512
556e93b3730c4792293daec3e9ee1bf7fcf38b110d76aed92c15b4d5c2ab8ba30b70205a9230d48c13b4ef671d5e88841b460bd243531833c05d1f29224e5472
Type fulltextMimetype application/pdf
Erlkönig(9755 kB)2 downloads
File information
File name AUDIO01.mp3File size 9755 kBChecksum SHA-512
00e59847272218a0ee1638769beb0bca2fe28e71571e7b0b6c1b7620ef864f4094d6e64062269982c539df77616806d803c69bcb270b0e8e31543c4f016986d4
Type audioMimetype audio/mpeg
Music for a while(8517 kB)2 downloads
File information
File name AUDIO02.mp3File size 8517 kBChecksum SHA-512
ba5ed2f753a52d15150f2da869a1dff55c94c860001cd38bd7599eeb3a0f5e2600866f6e566db3e44b6ec74b9dee3ead6c0ddacc582be4bc479f4e61afc48e59
Type audioMimetype audio/mpeg

By organisation
Department of Classical Music
Music

Search outside of DiVA

GoogleGoogle Scholar
Total: 26 downloads
The number of downloads is the sum of all downloads of full texts. It may include eg previous versions that are now no longer available

Total: 83 hits
CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf