A class Note Guide on the Relationship of a Few Important Music History Terms
Rhetoric reached its nadir as a scholarly discipline at the close of the 19th century: in 1872 Nietzsche's course on its history attracted only two students and in 1902 Benedetto Croce noted that 'rhetoric in the modern sense is above all a theory of elocution'. In such an environment the early 20th-century investigations of the musico-rhetorical tradition by Kretzschmar, Hugo Goldschmidt and Schering were important rediscoveries. The immediate cultural background supported the tendency (seen particularly in Schering) to regard the musical surface as saturated with rhetorical symbols, much as Wagner's operas were permeated with leitmotifs. In the mid-20th century H.-H. Unger compiled an extensive catalogue of musical figures, which he used to label the rhetorical devices presumed ubiquitous in Baroque compositions. The opening gesture of Schütz's Saul, Saul, was verfolgst du mich?, for example, was found to contain 15 such figures. In the late 20th century Krones extended this tradition to the analysis of works by Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and even later composers. His account of the first three bars of Wagner's prelude to Tristan und Isolde proposes the use of exclamatio (the rising minor 6th), passus duriusculus (the rising and falling chromatic lines), catachresis (the 'Tristan chord') and suspiratio (the rest at the end of the phrase). Here figures no longer ornament the language, as in traditional rhetorical theory, but comprise the very stuff of the language itself.…
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