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McClatchie, Stephen C.

Alfred Lorenz as Theorist and Analyst

Ph.D. The University of Western Ontario, 1994
(mcclatch@julian.uwo.ca)

Given the prominence of his name in the history of Wagnerian analysis, it is surprising that a detailed consideration and evaluation of the work of Alfred Lorenz (1868-1939) has never been attempted. While the basics of Lorenz's approach are relatively straightforward and have long been common knowledge--the division of Wagner's works into tonally unified poetic-musical periods, each shown to follow one of Lorenz's formal types (most famously Bars and Bogens)--the philosophical and esthetic bases for this approach have seldom been considered, resulting in a skewed portrayal of his work. Failure to consider the foundations of Lorenz's work is symptomatic of a general blindness toward the ideological underpinnings which operate behind yet propel all scholarly inquiry.

What is needed is not an attempt to "redo" or "rehabilitate" Lorenz, but an evaluation balanced between an objective description of his system and an account of the ideologies shaping its development and reception. The first chapter, a biographical sketch of Lorenz, includes an account of his personal and professional relationship with National Socialism, and of the close ties between Nazism and Lorenz's analytical methodology. The aesthetic and philosophical foundations of Lorenz's approach are presented in the second chapter: a description of the Schopenhauerian expressive aesthetic position and its influence on the study of musical form in the early twentieth century. The central three chapters are concerned with the details of Lorenz's method of analysis. A discussion of Lorenz's views of such matters as musical form, the leitmotive, and the Gesamtkunstwerk (chapter 3), is followed by a detailed explanation and exemplification of the method itself (chapters 4 and 5). The reception history of Das Geheimnis der Form bei Richard Wagner in the sixth chapter chronicles the radical shift in Lorenz's reputation before and after the Second World War, and reveals the central role of ideology in this process. It is prefaced by a survey of the further development and extension of Lorenz's method, both in the later volumes of Das Geheimnis der Form and in his non-Wagnerian analyses. The final chapter relates Lorenz to the aesthetic and analytical context presented in the second chapter, and concludes with an evaluation of his work and its influence.