Edward Elgar, Modernist

By Weiner, Brien | Notes, December 2007 | Go to article overview

Edward Elgar, Modernist


Weiner, Brien, Notes


TWENTIETH-CENTURY STUDIES Edward Elgar, Modernist. By J. P. E. Harper-Scott. (Music in the 20th Century.) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006. [xiii, 255 p. ISBN-10: 0-5218-6200-0; ISBN-13: 978-0-5218-6200-4. $90.00] Illustrations, bibliographical reference, index.

In Edward Elgar, Modernist, J. P. E. Harper-Scott advances the provocative if questionable thesis that Elgar's music can be best understood through a combination of Schenkerian analysis and Heideggerian philosophy. Harper-Scott thus joins the trend of modifying the more technical methods of Schenkerian analysis with a more subjective approach to musical meaning. Here, however, the seeming incongruity of Heinrich Schenker and Martin Heidegger as well as the specificity of Elgar's First Symphony and Falstaff raise questions whether invoking Heideggerian philosophy is a justifiable expansion of Schenkerian theory or just an expedient, and whether claims to broader applications are valid. Schenkerian theory loses not only the aesthetics but also the syntax of the Ursatz, its harmonic-contrapuntal framework, and therefore the value of Schenkerian analysis for Elgar's music is debatable. But it is precisely these points that make Harper-Scott's book worthwhile reading for Elgarians, Schenkerians, and musicologists in general.

Harper-Scott begins by outlining the aims of his study and the modernist characteristics of Elgar's music. In chapter 2, he discusses the problem that Schenkerian analysis poses for Elgar's music, namely that Schenker's Ursatz is based on Beethoven's heroic goal-oriented style. He then reformulates Schenker's Ursatz in relation to Heidegger's Augenblick, which Harper-Scott defines as "the moment" that changes our perception of ourselves, and that determines the future in light of the past and present, hence a turning point. Chapter 3 presents an analysis of Elgar's First Symphony that draws on the work of James Hepokoski as well as Schenker and Heidegger, and that features the "immuring" and "immured" tonics of A-flat and D respectively, a static Kopfton, and a single four-movement Ursatz. In chapter 4, Harper-Scott examines Elgar's symphonic study Falstaff and builds on Hepokoski's premise that symphonic poems must be interpreted through the interconnection of text (music) and paratext (non-musical image). The drama of Falstaff, Hal, and the Kingship of England plays out through their associated keys of C, E-flat, and E, respectively, which Harper-Scott analyzes through a combination of Schenker's and Hepokoski's methods, especially the "nonresolving recapitulation deformation" and "rotational structure."

Focusing on Heidegger in chapter 5, Harper-Scott formulates his theory of musical hermeneutics, comparing and contrasting it with that of Lawrence Kramer. Harper-Scott's concept of music's mimetic nature derives from the quest narrative in literature. Chapter 6 "examines a possible existential meaning of the temporal unfolding of the First Symphony and Falstaff, characterizing it as a kind of failed quest narrative which rejects the Beethovenian paradigm while-and this is a typically modernist move-ostensibly but disingenuously repeating it" (p. 6). Finally, chapter 7 interprets Elgar's modernism as a commentary on man's nature and future.

To elaborate on the overview above, in Harper-Scott's "Heideggerian refinement of Schenker's theory," which is also the title of chapter 2, Schenker is essentially no longer Schenker. Harper-Scott asserts, "Without acknowledging it [the Augenblick], the analyst cannot properly account for the 'purely musical' parts of the work (its grammar and structural logic)" (p. 64). For example, in his analysis of the First Symphony, "By incorporating the Augenblick into Schenker's phenomenology, the analytical method can be made to accommodate duotonal (and other unorthodox) structures" (p. 66). In a sense, the Augenblick becomes a substitute for the Ursatz, and Harper-Scott discards the foundations of Schenker's theory for a more poetic idea and a more subjective analysis. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Edward Elgar, Modernist
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.