Expectation and Treatment of Dissonance in Wolfgang Rihm’s Third String Quartet

Author: Top, Edward

Publication details: Dutch Journal of Music Theory 14, no. 3 (2009): 143-54.

Weblink: https://lup.be

Abstract: In his Third String Quartet, as in many of his works, composer Wolfgang Rihm demonstrates his fascination with the unexpected. It appears that in order for expectation to be thwarted, a passionate, though highly sophisticated level of expectation first has to be established. In the second movement, he employs a classical tonal progression to conjure up the expectation of resolution, without necessarily fulfilling it. In this article, it is shown how the major seventh appoggiatura is used as the driving force behind these expectations in the post-Darmstadtian stylistic context of the other sections of the work. To show how the major seventh can be employed as the antidote to the appoggiatura, the first of Webern’s Six Bagatelles Op. 9 is briefly analyzed.