Forming Form through Force

Alessandro Cecchi
  • August 2017, Oxford University Press (OUP)
  • DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199316090.003.0005

The structural function of highpoints in the symphonies of Anton Bruckner and Gustav Mahler

What is it about?

This book chapter offers a comparative analysis of the first movements of Bruckner's Ninth and Mahler's First Symphonies relying on the cross-fertilization of Kurth's 'energetic' and Adorno's 'material' theories of form. The main aim is to show how the compositional and formal strategies of the two composers are related in terms of a new structural function of highpoints. Detailed diagrams of formal tensions in the two symphonic movements are provided.

Why is it important?

The chapter focuses on the role of secondary parameters in the late-19th-century Austrian symphonic tradition. Here, the convergence of dynamic, density and melodic peak in climactic moments ("highpoints") offers a significant criterion for formal organization, which encourages a re-consideration of the relation between "structural" and "rhetoric" aspects in sonata movements.

The following have contributed to this page: Dr Alessandro Cecchi