top of page

Conservatorium van Amsterdam / Utrecht University

Structure, Prolongation, and Form: A historical-critical (re-)appraisal

Over the course of his illustrious career, Felix Salzer grappled with a crucial question: what is the relationship between voice-leading structure, prolongation, and form? Salzer’s 1952 textbook, Structural Hearing, is a testament to the belief that voice-leading and formal considerations go hand in hand; without a doubt, it set the groundwork for generations of analysts intent on reconciling these seemingly contradictory methodologies. Whether acknowledged or not, Salzer’s ideas continue to exert an influence on analysts and musicians alike, sometimes overtly, and sometimes in less obvious ways. For historians of music analysis, it is thus imperative to understand the implications of Salzer’s commitment to these three core concepts, where they come from, and what they can mean for us today.

To this end, this paper offers a historical and theoretical (re-)assessment of Salzer’s approach to structure, prolongation, and form, with the aim of bringing Salzer’s wider pedagogical and scholarly agenda into closer contact with the history of Formenlehre in the second half of the twentieth century. Beginning with a critical précis of Salzer’s use of these terms in Structural Hearing and elsewhere, the paper will go on to explore the ways in which later generations of analysts have described, deployed, critiqued, and refashioned Salzer’s model. Along the way, it will discuss Salzer’s handling of select works in Structural Hearing, Counterpoint in Composition, and The Music Forum, as a way of describing some of the underlying motivations behind Salzer’s theoretical agenda.


Conference Photo Nicholas Hunter.jpg

John Koslovsky is on the music theory faculty at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam, and holds an affiliate research position in the humanities at Utrecht University. His research deals with the history of Schenkerian theory, music analysis and the history of music theory more generally. He is currently co-editing a book volume (with Michiel Schuijer) on performance theory, entitled Researching Performance, Performing Research, and is engaged in his own book project dealing with Felix Salzer’s work and its impact on post-WWII music theory. He is a member of the Schenker Documents Online project and former president of the Dutch-Flemish Society for Music Theory.

John Koslovsky

bottom of page