Models of unity and diversity in the symphonies of William Schuman : an exploration of genera theories in relation to stylistic change and the dynamics of form
William Schuman's achievements as a composer are often seen as part of a conservative "Grand Tradition", based upon the models of the symphony, concerto and string quartet. But Schuman's conservatism is philosophical rather than stylistic. From an early style owing much to the influence of his teacher Roy Harris and the musical vocabulary (if not the aesthetic philosophy) of neoclassical Stravinsky, Schuman forges an independent path that sees his instinctive and highly personal approach to composition undergo a fascinating, and almost continuous evolution. The essence of this evolution lies in a gradual shift away from static formal archetypes towards a greater fluidity manifest in single movement forms and an ever greater reliance upon development and harmonic conflict. This process is examined in the context of three of Schuman's finest works, the Third (1941), Sixth (1948), and Ninth Symphonies (1968). Drawing upon the writings of Arnold Schoenberg (notably the concepts of "developing variation" and the musical "Idea7), the process of "autogenetic development" is shown to mirror closely the ideals of "growtw' and "Unity within diversity" encountered in Schoenberg's writings. In addition, the pitch-class set genera theories of Allen Forte and Richard Parks are shown to provide effective models of harmonic materials, highlighting the tendency towards the integration of melody and harmony. While this stylistic journey forms the central strand of the thesis, a second, no less important theme is the nature of the analytical tools themselves. The practical application of genera theories to 'real' musical objects is explored in depth, highlighting the contrasting methodologies of Forte and Parks, and the difficulties associated with the interpretation of genera profiles. In both cases the power of genera theory when applied to large-scale works such as these proves to be its ability to model shades of association far beyond simple networks of inclusion.