Date of Completion
Music, Vocal Music, Hugo Wolf
Field of Study
Doctor of Musical Arts
By the end of the nineteenth century, the era of the German Lied as a significant artistic expression had begun to draw to a close in favor of larger forms. In the late 1880s, Austrian composer Hugo Wolf reclaimed the Lied, and in his hands the genre enjoyed a last great flowering. Today, Wolf is known almost exclusively for his songs, in contrast to his predecessors and contemporaries. What sets him apart from the others most importantly is his process regarding the setting of text, of transmuting poetry into music. The main purpose of this dissertation is to explore this process in some detail through the study of ten Rollengedichte, or role poems, selected from the Eichendorff and Mörike songbooks. The dissertation investigates Wolf's use of melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic devices, as well as his manipulation of form and design; analyzes Wolf's practice of development and transformation of melodic and rhythm motives; and observes the ingenious ways in which Wolf imbued his songs with humor through musical parody — a unique quality among composers of German Lieder. Further, the dissertation considers Wolf's place in the pantheon of German Lied composers, and the place his songs occupy in the realm of vocal music of the nineteenth century generally. Finally, through careful study of textual-musical connections, this dissertation offers insight toward a deep understanding of the ten Rollengedichte chosen as its focus, with the goal that it may lead to a more complete interpretation of the songs, and a more profound appreciation for Wolf's Lieder in general, than would otherwise have been the case.
Pierce, John C., "Wölferl's Own Howl: Musical Characterization in the Rollengedichte of Hugo Wolf" (2013). Doctoral Dissertations. 147.