AuthorRIVERS, JOSEPH LAROCHE, JR.
KeywordsBax, Arnold, 1883-1953.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe seven symphonies of Arnold Bax, written between 1921 and 1939, are the climax of a fruitful career of music composition. This study investigates the determinants of form in these works, considers some of the formal problems, and makes a correlation between form and style. The two primary formal determinants are thematic organization and textural formation. Other factors, such as rhythm, dynamics, timbre, register, and harmony, act on the thematic and textural process in a secondary way. Tonality sometimes plays an important formal role and is discussed in conjunction with thematicism and texture. Harmony, though an important aspect of Bax's style, frequently has an ornamental rather than structural significance. For the sake of generalization and comparison, formal patterns of individual movements are outlined. Formal patterns are described by simple diagrams of how themes appear in a movement as defined by textural formation. In some cases, these bear a resemblance to traditional formal models, though in an individual way. Formal patterns serve to show that Bax has definite formal shapes in mind. Bax, however, does not artificially impose these patterns on the music; instead, they arise from Bax's need for creative expression. A conclusion of this study is that textural-thematic contrast and variation are fundamental to the form and style of Bax's symphonies. Contrast, especially, is vital to Bax's romantic aesthetic, and variation is largely responsible for the variety of textural change and the evolution of thematic ideas. The Second Symphony is analyzed in some detail. In that work, a cyclical use of themes and motives provides an interesting study. Contrast and variation are very pervasive and result in a very individual and satisfying formal design.