Towards an understanding of Mozart’s use of tempo and proportion: Temporal strategies in the finales of Le nozze di Figaro

Keenan, Peter (2017) Towards an understanding of Mozart’s use of tempo and proportion: Temporal strategies in the finales of Le nozze di Figaro. MMus(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

This dissertation uses the two chain finales from Le nozze di Figaro as a case study, exploring how Mozart uses tempo and proportion to manipulate time. Each tempo indication and metre employed in both the acts II and IV finales is surveyed using three treatises which Mozart was possibly engaged with, two of which were well established by the mid-1780s (Quantz’s Versuch einer Anweisung die Flöte traversiere zu spielen, Kirnberger’s Die Kunst des reinen Satzes in der Musik), while the other was more incipient (Koch’s Versuch einer Anleitung zur Composition). This enquiry highlights the prospect that Mozart used metre in a typically idiomatic manner for the eighteenth century whilst also heralding a more innovative use of metre. What emerges is the possibility that Mozart’s approach to metre was much more nuanced and elegant than one might expect.

While the study of tempo and metre forms an evaluation of Mozart’s overt use of time in these finales, this dissertation attempts to reopen critical discourse surrounding his covert use of proportion. Consideration is given to Mozart’s apparently advanced mathematical ability which may have influenced his intellectual curiosity as a composer. Through investigating the apparent cutting of a 69-bar section during the 1786 production of Le nozze di Figaro, the resulting presence of Golden Section is given a critical assessment. Aspects of how Mozart may have become aware of this ratio are deliberated through his association with Freemasonry.

The thesis culminates with the suggestion that further research is merited both with regards to Mozart’s use of tempo indications, metre and proportion, through which we might gain a greater understanding of the composer’s temporal strategies and how they were used in the chain finales in particular.

Item Type: Thesis (MMus(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Keywords: Mozart, Le nozze di Figaro, Figaro, Tempo, Rhythm, Metre, Meter, Proportion, DEMR, Division in Extreme and Mean Ratio, Golden Ratio, Golden Section, Koch, Kirnberger, Quantz, Chain Finale.
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Culture and Creative Arts > Music
Supervisor's Name: Butt, Professor John and Code, Doctor David
Date of Award: 2017
Depositing User: Peter Keenan
Unique ID: glathesis:2017-8776
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 26 Apr 2018 09:58
Last Modified: 06 Jun 2018 07:16
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/8776

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