Thesis

Ostinato forms and techniques from 1750 to 1890

This thesis has three purposes: to account for the decline of ostinato forms in the last half of the 18th century and their revival in the 19th century; to trace the growth of the primary ostinato forms, namely, the chaconne and passacaglia; to classify the remaining ostinato techniques and describe their use from 1750 to 1890. Chapter 1 seeks to understand the reasons for the rather sudden obsolescence of the c/p (=chaconne and passacaglia) after 1750. This chapter and the following emphasize the sociological background. In addition, chapter 2 concerns itself with the importance of the gradual revival of Bach's works. Chapter 3 attempts to define and characterize the chaconne and passacaglia based on Baroque practice. The c/p after 1750 is divided into three chapters (4-6) covering 1750-1850, 1850-1870 and 1870-1890. Along with well-known ostinato forms by Liszt and Brahms others are analyzed that are little known: works by Franz Lachner, Joseph Joachim Raff and Carl Reinecke. Several important tendencies are observed including the influence of the sectional variation and the steady growth toward the confidence with which Brahms treats the c/p. The seventh chapter includes semi- variational ground-bass compositions by Johann Anton Andre, Rheinberger and Brahms. Chapter 8 is devoted to the ostinato in sectional variations with analyses of ostinato works by Verdi and Stainer and partial ostinati by Beethoven and Schumann. The ninth chapter deals with the folia--a sectional-variation type with both bass and treble ostinato elements. The ostinato motive is the most significant ostinato technique in the 19th century. The Alberti and murky basses hold the same position in the late 18th century. Chapters 10 and 11 deal with these techniques and trace the reasons for their importance. The final chapter contains a description of some well-known works of the late 18th century and salon-chaconnes of the late 19th century, all of which are ostinato in name only. This thesis covers a previously neglected period (at least in the English language) of ostinato decline and revival. It is hoped that the analyses and musical examples (there are fifty-six) will aid the reader in developing a more comprehensive understanding of the history of ostinato.

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