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Universidad de Costa Rica

Analyzing Bruckner through Manuscript Sources: Form in the Second Symphony’s Adagio, 1872-1873

To be sure, the scores of the Neue Bruckner-Gesamtausgabe (NGA) represent a significant step forward in both foregrounding Bruckner’s penchant for compositional revision and making different conceptual states of his works widely accessible. Yet, analyzing Bruckner’s music from these scores and their text-critical import has produced a lacuna in coming to a fair understanding of Bruckner’s characteristic handling of slow-movement form. Due to the constrains inherent to publishing and the mediation of an editor’s agency, the picture drawn by the NGA’s scores stops short in conveying what, as witnessed by authorial sources, seems to have been the composer’s conception of the work as a dynamic process, thus minimizing the score’s potential as witness and conveyor of the first author’s compositional endeavors. In the proposed presentation I will survey the compositional development of the Adagio of Bruckner’s Second Symphony from 1872 to 1873 through its extant textual sources, emphasizing the gradual emergence of Bruckner’s conceiving of its formal plan. The manuscript-based approach to formal analysis displayed in the proposed talk aims at highlighting and circumventing the dangers of advancing analytical claims from edited scores. Using autographs and other archival documents to support every claim, I will (1) provide a critique of the two most recent editions of Bruckner’s Second Symphony and a revised compositional chronology of this work, (2) clarify misconceptions about this symphony’s large-scale form, (3) challenge common views of Bruckner as a schematic composer, and (4) substantiate a more appropriately fluid perspective of Bruckner’s symphonies as de facto works in progress.


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Gabriel Venegas-Carro is currently full-time assistant professor of music theory and analysis at the Music School of the University of Costa Rica. He holds undergraduate degrees in piano performance from the UCR (2006 and 2009) and graduate degrees in music theory from the University of Arizona (MM: 2013; Ph.D: 2017). He has presented his research at professional conferences in the U.S., Europe, and South America, including the 2017 Society for Music Theory 40th Annual Meeting (Arlington), the 2017 European Music Analysis Conference (Strasbourg), the 2015 and 2017 Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music (Campinas, Kassel). His works on Schubert’s piano music, Bruckner’s symphonies, and Costarrican 19th-century music will appear in three forthcoming edited collections published by the German publisher Olms Verlag and the University of Costa Rica. In 2015 Gabriel was selected the University of Arizona School of Music Distinguished Graduate Student. His presentation at the 2014 Rocky Mountain Society for Music Theory annual conference (Phoenix) was awarded the Best Student Paper Award. In the past four years Gabriel has taught invited seminars on approaches to popular-music tonal analysis, Sonata Theory and 18th- and 19th-century form at the Universidade Federal da Integração Latino-Americana, Foz do Iguaçu (Brazil), the Hochschule für Musik / Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz (Germany), and the Universidad de la República de Uruguay, Escuela Universitaria de Música (Uruguay). His current research interests involve analytical and theoretical approaches to tonal-music syntax, Bruckner’s symphonies, 19th-century sonata form, textual criticism and music editing, and functional harmony in Pop and Rock music.

Gabriel Ignacio Venegas-Carro

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