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Memory and Rhetorical Trope in Schoenberg's String Trio

Michael Cherlin
Journal of the American Musicological Society
Vol. 51, No. 3 (Autumn, 1998), pp. 559-602
DOI: 10.2307/832039
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/832039
Page Count: 44
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Memory and Rhetorical Trope in Schoenberg's String Trio
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Abstract

Conceived of by Schoenberg as depicting a near fatal illness that he experienced on 2 August 1946, the String Trio, Op. 45 is noteworthy for its extreme contrasts and even apparent non sequiturs. Beyond that, the work seems alternately to remember and then abandon the musical languages of its antecedents; these "memorial" aspects include form, phrase design, evocations of tonality, associations with the music of Beethoven, and the centrality of an emergent "waltz strand." The paper develops two tropes, distraction and imperfection, that interpret the work's rhetoric and provide a general framework within which to interpret Schoenberg's twelve-tone technique and its grounding in the compositional sketches.

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