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Title: Polystylism as dialogue : a Bakhtinian interpretation of Schnittke's symphonies 3, 4 and his concerto grosso No.4 / symphony No.5
Author: Dixon, Gavin Thomas.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3425 6184
Awarding Body: Goldsmiths College (University of London)
Current Institution: Goldsmiths College (University of London)
Date of Award: 2007
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The thesis proposes an interpretation of three of Alfred Schnittke's polystylistic symphonies through the cultural theories of Mikhail Bakhtin. Schnittke's symphonies use stylistic plurality to explore notions of identity, both musical and personal, and to create a sense of engagement between his music and its cultural context. Bakhtin's writings are also concerned with the artistic potential of stylistic interaction. He used the concept of verbal dialogue as a model for stylistic plurality in literature. In dialogue, individuals can be identified by the specific stylistic profile of their speech. The interaction oflanguage styles within artworks can therefore be interpreted through comparison to the verbal interactions of individuals within a society. Notions of identity can be explored in this model through the dynamic interplay of the personal and the collective. In the thesis, Bakhtin's concept ofliterary dialogue is taken as the starting point for an interpretation of stylistic interaction in music. The writings of the Russian musicologist Boris Asafev are used to help translate Bakhtin's languagespecific theories to music through his conviction that musical semantics is closely linked to verbal communication. Each of the three symphonies selected for examination is discussed in terms of the ways in which polystylism is used to explore notions of identity. Much of Schnittke' s music is motivated by the struggle for identity and each ofthe works approaches the problem from a different angle. The Third Symphony explores Schnittke's relationship to German culture, the Fourth to liturgical culture, and the Concerto Grosso no.4/Symphony no. 5 to the legacies of Bach and Mahler. The thesis argues that Schnittke's exploration ofthese issues is highly dialogic, and that the interplay of stylistic identity constructions within the works has the effect of consolidating both the artistic status of the music itself, and the cultural status of its composer.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available