Towards a Harmonic Grammar of Grieg's Late Piano Music: Nature and Nationalism, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Towards a Harmonic Grammar of Grieg's Late Piano Music

Nature and Nationalism, 1st Edition

By Benedict Taylor


158 pages

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pub: 2016-12-15
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The music of Edvard Grieg is justly celebrated for its harmonic richness, a feature especially apparent in the piano works written in the last decades of his life. Grieg was enchanted by what he styled the ’dreamworld’ of harmony, a magical realm whose principles the composer felt remained a mystery even to himself, and he was not alone, in that the complex nature of late-Romantic harmony around 1900 has proved a keen source of debate up to the present day. Grieg’s music forms a particularly profitable repertoire for focusing current debates about the nature of tonality and tonal harmony. Departing from earlier approaches, this study is not simply an inventory of Griegian harmonic traits but seeks rather to ascertain the deeper principles at work governing their meaningful conjunction, how elements of Grieg’s harmonic grammar are utilised in creating an extended tonal syntax. Building both on historical theories and more recent developments, Benedict Taylor develops new models for understanding the complexity of late-Romantic tonal practice as epitomised in Grieg’s music. Such an investigation casts further valuable light on the twin issues of nature and nationalism long connected with the composer: the question of tonality as something natural or culturally constructed and larger historiographical claims concerning Grieg’s apparent position on the periphery of the Austro-German tradition.

Table of Contents

List of Figures

List of Musical Examples


Introduction: Enticements

1 Extending Tonality: Klang, Added-Note Harmonies, and the Emancipation of Sonority

2 Modality and Scalar-Modulation

3 Systematisation:

Chromaticism, Interval Cycles and Linear Progressions

Conclusion: Nature and Nationalism


Index of Grieg’s Works Cited

General Index

About the Author

Benedict Taylor is Chancellor’s Fellow in the Reid School of Music, University of Edinburgh. He is the author of Mendelssohn, Time and Memory: The Romantic Conception of Cyclic Form (Cambridge, 2011) and The Melody of Time: Music and Temporality in the Romantic Era, forthcoming from Oxford in 2015.

About the Series

Royal Musical Association Monographs

Royal Musical Association Monographs

This series was originally supported by funds made available to the Royal Musical Association from the estate of Thurston Dart. Its purpose is to provide a medium for specialized investigations of a topic, concept or repertory - studies of a kind that would not normally be feasible for commercial publishers and that would be too long for most periodicals.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MUSIC / General