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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Interacting foreground and middleground structures in Berg’s Altenberg Lieder, opus 4, nos. II and III Dick, Karen Jane


Although Berg's Altenberg Lieder were composed at the time when tonal boundaries were being broken and have many atonal features, they also employ tonal elements and traditional features such as Bogenform. In song JJ the tonal elements might be interpreted as middleground structures, leaving the more atonal ones as foreground structures. While such foreground materials remain more or less constant from song II to song III, it becomes evident that the middleground elements in song HI have developed into more atonal structures than in song H This coincides with the progressive nature of the entire cycle from tonal to more atonal. In this thesis, analyses of songs II and IH, based on their foreground and middleground elements, show how middleground elements emerge from foreground structures. Interaction between the foreground and middleground suggests a relationship between them, not only in each song but also in the two songs together. These relationships are defined in this thesis as "links"—a term derived loosely from Theodor Adorno's idea of the "smallest link" and "continuous transition" techniques in Berg's music. This thesis shows how the middleground and foreground elements interact in songs II and III and ultimately establish relationships between the two songs.

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