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2008 Illness Narratives in Nineteenth-Century German Instrumental Music Deborah Mutch Olander

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A Dissertation submitted to the College of Music in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Awarded: Fall Semester, 2008

Copyright © 2008 Deborah Mutch Olander All Rights Reserved The members of the Committee approve the Dissertation of Deborah Mutch Olander defended on 30 October 2008.

______Douglass Seaton Professor Directing Dissertation

______Carolyn Bridger Outside Committee Member

______Michael Bakan Committee Member

______Charles E. Brewer Committee Member


______Douglass Seaton, Chair,

______Don Gibson, College of Music

The Office of Graduate Studies has verified and approved the above named committee members.

ii To John C. Mutch, M.D. (1924-2003) My greatest inspiration


I am especially grateful to the Florida State University Foundation and the College of Music for naming me the inaugural Curtis Mayes Orpheus Scholar for the academic year 2006-2007. In addition, the University Dissertation Research Grant made possible the funds for necessary books and scores.

The Interlibrary Loan (ILLiad) staff at Strozier Library worked wonders whenever I had a request; once or twice they obtained a book or microfilm that I had requested even though they judged the request “unavailable” initially. I must also thank Reggie Jones who managed to untangle pounds upon pounds of spaghetti-like glitches when I lost my FSU ID card — and had eighty-two books from three different campus libraries checked out to me at the time.

Without the support of my family, even though they really had no idea what I was doing (or why), this dissertation would not exist today.

The First-Year Writing Program in FSU’s Department of English generously extended me teaching assistantships year after year, even five years after I had completed the Master’s Degree in Creative Writing. The Creative Writing program also allowed me to take courses in the Department, even when it meant making a seat for me and overriding the registration cap. This was my “other sandbox,” and I had a blast.

I owe a true debt of gratitude to the members of my committee. Each one possesses the perfect blend of a mellow personality with a vigorous mind.

What could I possibly say about Douglass Seaton’s thirty-year commitment to mentoring, chairing, cajoling, lecturing, advising, challenging, empowering, restraining, directing, inspiring, motivating, supporting, encouraging, reading, guiding, disciplining, editing, befriending, rescuing, and all-around putting up with me? No one could have predicted that two Master’s theses and this dissertation would result from making his acquaintance in 1979, well before CDs existed, before the above-listed activities caused him to pull out his hair, and before I became the poster child for illness narratives. Are we there yet?


List of Tables...... vii List of Figures...... viii List of Musical Examples...... ix ABSTRACT...... xii


I. Statement of Purpose ...... 1 II. Background and Justification ...... 1 III. Dissertation Repertoire ...... 3 IV. Review of Literature ...... 4 V. Definitions and Discussion of Key Terms ...... 17


I. Overview ...... 22 II. Background and Typologies ...... 22 III. Shape and Plot in Illness Narrative ...... 25 IV. Other Considerations of Plot Structure ...... 41


I. Introduction and Overview ...... 45 II. Themes and Metaphors in Illness Narrative ...... 46 III. Illness Narrative in Music ...... 74

4. , STRING QUARTET IN A MINOR, OP. 132 ...... 79

Introduction ...... 79 I. Musical Annotations, Biographical Considerations ...... 80 II. Illness Narrative in the A-minor Quartet: Shape and Structure ...... 97 III. Characteristic Analogies and Themes ...... 119 Summary ...... 130

v 5. , PIANO SONATA IN B¯ MAJOR, OP. POSTH. (D. 960)...... 132

Introduction ...... 132 I. Musical Annotations, Biographical Considerations ...... 132 II. Illness Narrative in the B¯-major Sonata: Shape and Structure ...... 139 III. Characteristic Analogies and Themes ...... 171 Summary ...... 183

6. , SYMPHONY NO. 2 IN C MAJOR, OP. 61 ...... 185

Introduction ...... 185 I. Biographical Considerations ...... 185 II. Score Studies...... 195 III. Illness Narrative in the Symphony no. 2: Shape and Structure ...... 198 IV. Characteristic Analogies and Themes ...... 229

7. , CLARINET QUINTET IN B MINOR, OP. 115...... 231

Introduction ...... 231 I. Musical Annotations, Biographical Considerations ...... 231 II. Illness Narrative in the Clarinet Quintet: Shape and Structure ...... 236 III. Characteristic Analogies and Themes ...... 286

CONCLUSION: ...... 291




Table 3-1. Typical Themes and Analogies with Associated Keywords ...... 49 Table 3-2. Other Themes and Analogies with Associated Key Terms ...... 69 Table 3-3 Potential Correspondences Between Illness Narratives and Musical Works About Illness Experience ...... 76 Table 5-1. Mvt. 1, Narrative Structure Superimposed on Sonata Form...... 157 Table 5-2. Narrative Framework, Mvt. 4...... 163 Table 6-1. Phases of Composition and Corresponding Health Status...... 194 Table 6-2. Dueling Scales...... 223


Figure 2-1: Comparison of Narrative Contours...... 26 Figure 2-2: Shape and Plot Points of an Illness Narrative ...... 27 Figure 4-1: Shape and Plot Points, Beethoven’s String Quartet in A minor, op. 132 ... 98 Figure 5-1: Shape and Plot Points, Schubert’s Piano Sonata in B≤ major, (D. 960)...... 139 Figure 6-1: Shape and Plot Points, Schumann’s Symphony no. 2 in C major, op. 61... 202 Figure 7-1: Shape and Plot Points, Brahms’s Clarinet Quintetin B minor, op. 115...... 239


BEETHOVEN: String Quartet in A minor, op. 132 Ex. 4-1. Op. 132, Mvt. 3, mm. 168-73...... 83 Ex. 4-2a. “Heiliger Dankgesang,” Op. 132, Mvt. 3, mm. 1-5...... 90 Ex. 4-2b. “Doctor’s Canon,” WoO 189...... 90 Ex. 4-3. Mvt. 1, mm. 1-8...... 99 Ex. 4-4. Mvt. 1, mm. 1-8...... 104 Ex. 4-5. Mvt. 1, mm. 1-10...... 105 Ex. 4-6. Mvt. 1, mm. 9-10...... 106 Ex. 4-7. Mvt. 1, mm. 10-29...... 109 Ex. 4-8. Mvt. 4, mm. 25-46...... 114 Ex. 4-9. Mvt. 5, mm. 270-88...... 117 Ex. 4-10. Mvt. 5, mm. 383-404...... 118 Ex. 4-11. Mvt. 2, mm. 1-12...... 127

SCHUBERT: Piano Sonata in B≤ Major, (D. 960), op. posth. Ex. 5-1. Plot Point 2: Mvt. 1, mm. 1-21 ...... 145 Ex. 5-2a. “More Trouble”: Quintet in C Major, Mvt. 1, mm. 425-29...... 147 Ex. 5-2b. Quintet in C Major, Mvt. 4, mm. 422-29...... 147 Ex. 5-3. Mvt. 1, mm. 38-53...... 148 Ex. 5-4. Mvt. 1, mm. 42-45...... 149 Ex. 5-5. Mvt. 1, mm. 46-53...... 150 Ex. 5-6. Mvt. 1, First and Second Endings...... 152 Ex. 5-7a. “The Wanderer” (D. 489) ...... 155 Ex. 5-7b. Mvt. 1, mm. 130-39...... 159 Ex. 5-8. Mvt. 1, mm. 325-57...... 156 Ex. 5-9a. Mvt. 1, mm. 1-4...... 158 Ex. 5-9b. Mvt. 1, mm. 67-69...... 158 Ex. 5-9c. Mvt. 3, Opening...... 159 Ex. 5-10a Mvt. 2, mm. 1-13...... 160 Ex. 5-10b. Quintet in C, Mvt. 2, mm. 1-6...... 161 Ex. 5-11. Finale, mm. 1-34...... 163 Ex. 5-12. Finale, mm. 59-88...... 164 Ex. 5-13a. Mvt. 1, mm. 18-30...... 167

ix SCHUBERT: Piano Sonata in B≤ Major, (D. 960), op. posth., Cont’d. Ex. 5-13b. Mvt. 1, mm. 47-48...... 165 Ex. 5-13c. Mvt. 4, mm. 82-85...... 165 Ex. 5-13d. Mvt. 4, mm. 163-64...... 165 Ex. 5-14. Mvt. 4, mm. 150-87...... 167 Ex. 5-15. Mvt, 4, mm. 493-515...... 168 Ex. 5-16. Mvt. 4, mm. 504-40...... 170

SCHUMANN: Symphony no. 2 , C major, op. 61 Ex. 6-1. Mvt. 1, mm. 1-7...... 204 Ex. 6-2. Mvt. 1, mm. 15-23...... 206 Ex. 6-3. Mvt. 1, mm. 24-28...... 201 Ex. 6-4a. Mvt. 1, mm. 29-32, violins ...... 209 Ex. 6-4b. Mvt. 1, mm. 33-36, violins...... 209 Ex. 6-5. Mvt. 1, mm. 41-49...... 210 Ex. 6-6. Mvt. 1, mm. 50-58, strings...... 212 Ex. 6-7. Mvt. 2, mm. 1-6...... 213 Ex. 6-8. Mvt. 2, mm. 22-29...... 213 Ex. 6-9a. Mvt. 2, mm. 223-29, Strings...... 214 Ex. 6-9b. Mvt. 2, mm. 230-45...... 214 Ex. 6-10. Mvt. 3, mm. 1-7...... 216 Ex. 6-11a. Mendelssohn’s Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream...... 217 Ex. 6-11b. Mvt. 3, mm. 16-24...... 218 Ex. 6-12. Mvt. 3, mm. 97-113...... 221 Ex. 6-13a. Mvt. 4, mm. 127-33...... 223 Ex. 6-13b. Mvt. 4, mm. 127-33...... 224 Ex. 6-14. Mvt. 4, mm. 175-81...... 224 Ex. 6-14. Mvt. 4, mm. 175-81, Continued...... 225 Ex. 6-15a. Mvt. 4, mm. 387-97...... 226 Ex. 6-15b. An die ferne Geliebte, no. 6...... 227 Ex. 6-16. Mvt. 4, mm. 428-37...... 228 Ex. 6-17. Mvt. 4, mm. 503-16...... 228

x BRAHMS, Clarinet Quintet in B minor, op. 115 Ex. 7-1. Mvt. 1, mm. 1-11...... 241 Ex. 7-1. Mvt. 1, mm. 18-27...... 242 Ex. 7-3. Mvt. 1, mm. 28-35...... 245 Ex. 7-4. Mvt. 1, mm. 36-41...... 248 Ex. 7-5. Mvt. 1, mm. 47-54...... 248 Ex. 7-6. Mvt. 1, mm. 55-59...... 249 Ex. 7-7. Mvt. 1, mm. 60-70...... 250 Ex. 7-8. Mvt. 1, mm. 88-95...... 251 Ex. 7-9. Mvt. 1, mm. 96-107...... 252 Ex. 7-10. Mvt. 1, mm. 108-18...... 253 Ex. 7-11. Mvt. 1, mm. 119-23...... 254 Ex. 7-12. Mvt. 1, mm. 192-95...... 256 Ex. 7-13. Mvt. 1, mm. 196-99...... 257 Ex. 7-14. Mvt. 1, mm. 204-18...... 258 Ex. 7-15a. Mvt. 1, mm. 3-4...... 260 Ex. 7-15b. Mvt. 2, mm. 1-2...... 260 Ex. 7-16. Mvt. 2, mm. 1-11...... 262 Ex. 7-17. Mvt. 2, mm. 37-51...... 263 Ex. 7-18a. Mvt. 2, mm. 52-3...... 264 Ex. 7-18b. Mvt. 2, m. 58...... 265 Ex. 7-19. Mvt. 2, mm. 66-68...... 266 Ex. 7-20. Mvt. 2, m. 69...... 267 Ex. 7-21. Mvt. 2, mm. 70-73...... 268 Ex. 7-22. Mvt. 2, mm. 79-86...... 270 Ex. 7-23. Opening Sinking Motives, Compared...... 272 Ex. 7-24. Mvt. 3, mm. 21-27...... 273 Ex. 7-25. Mvt. 3, mm. 28-33...... 275 Ex. 7-26. Mvt. 3, mm. 34-40...... 276 Ex. 7-27. Mvt. 3, mm. 41-59...... 277


Illness Narratives in Nineteenth-Century German Instrumental Music identifies the illness narrative as a distinct genre and shows how composers organized their experience of illness in music. For years the discipline of musicology has investigated plot archetypes or narrative models that underlie structures of musical works, bringing critical theory developed in literature to the study of music. Concurrently, researchers in medicine, psychology, sociology, and anthropology have focused on the phenomenology of illness and the use of narrative models to enable patients to cope with their suffering and the major life adjustments that illness requires. This dissertation brings together literary critical theory, models observed in studies of illness, music history, and musical analysis in a way that has not been explored until now. It demonstrates how several important musical works employ a shared narrative type in nine plot points, as well as images and themes associated with illness narratives. In doing so, it reveals new clues to the expressive substance in Beethoven’s String Quartet no. 15 in A minor, op. 132; Schubert’s Piano Sonata in B¯ major, op. posth. (D. 960); Schumann’s Symphony no. 2 in C major, op. 61; and Brahms’s Clarinet Quintet in B minor, op. 115. Each may be read as an illness narrative extending across a complete four- or five-movement cycle. This study redresses the failure of formalist criticism to recognize expressive content and style. It also demonstrates how a rigorous hermeneutic interpretation can avoid baseless programs that post-Romantic and postmodern writers indulge in. The hermeneutic continuum between formalism and the kind of narrative treatment that devises programs for works without any contextually authentic basis must allow that the expressive content and interpretations of this repertoire derive from a range of approaches, from style convention, through allusion, to outright programmaticism. Finally, because exploration of the interdisciplinary nature of illness narratives has neglected illness narratives in music, the musical case studies herein expand upon substantial work that doctors, clinicians, literary critics, anthropologists, sociologists, writers, and patients have already conducted. This study validates music’s and musicology’s contribution to this variety of approaches and styles, and within musical hermeneutics itself.

xii Illness Narratives in Nineteenth-Century German Instrumental Music


I. Statement of Purpose

This dissertation demonstrates how German Romantic composers organized their understanding of the experience of illness in instrumental works. The analyses and explications of specific compositions as illness narratives offer a model for critical and hermeneutic understanding of this previously unexplored genre.

II. Background and Justification

Artists in the nineteenth century frequently adopted plot, a principle most familiar, of course, in drama and the novel, as the fundamental model for expression, emphasizing personal experience. This approach to art, with its focus on the tensions and triumphs (and occasionally defeats) of the protagonist, also incorporated an interest in nature and natural processes. Romantic composers, too, were particularly fascinated with the possibilities of expressing nature and human drama in music. Some compositions reflected their composers’ preoccupation with natural, physical processes, and among these their recognition that the illness experience constitutes a human drama fraught with emotion. In certain notable works illness, often the composers’ own (but not always or necessarily so), achieved a dominant position within the musical narrative, supplying the emotive content and governing the form of the work. For several decades the discipline of musicology has investigated plot archetypes or narrative models that underlie structures of musical works, bringing critical theory developed in literature to the study of music. At the same time researchers in medicine, psychology,

1 sociology, and anthropology have focused on the phenomenology of illness and use of narrative models to enable patients to understand and deal with illness, and to cope not only with their suffering but also with major life adjustments that illness requires. The case studies in this dissertation bring together literary critical theory, models observed in studies of illness, music history, and musical analysis in a way that has not been explored until now. Specifically, the case studies demonstrate that several important musical works employ particular narrative types and content associated with illness narratives. Some of these works have previously been discussed with regard to their illness-related content, but others have not. This dissertation examines the ways in which the sufferer of the illness may be relegated to the position of merely the passive protagonist within the narrative, while the illness itself becomes controlling. The protagonist’s deepening struggles with the controlling illness emerge in the music until his convalescence enables him to reassert his presence and to regain control of musical means as the first-person narrator. In other instances the composer persona remains the narrator throughout the work; he could be presenting his own illness narrative, or, less often, telling the story of another’s illness. Lacking the explicitness of point of view that a piece of literary fiction creates, textless musical narratives allow different narrative interpretations. Within the special genre of illness narrative, particularly in music, opportunities for interpretation increase in direct relation to the effects of illness on the sufferer’s psyche and emotions. The present investigation necessarily focuses on interpretations and implications of voice, perspective, and distance as expressed in the music, with a view toward illuminating the illness experience as the subject of the work. The justification for this study is threefold. First, it redresses the failure of formalist criticism to recognize expressive content and style. The idea that Romantic-period instrumental music can be “absolute,” devoid of ideational content, is no longer tenable.1 Second, at the same time, this study demonstrates how a rigorous hermeneutic interpretation can avoid the sort of baseless programs that some post-Romantic and postmodern writers indulge in.2 The hermeneutic continuum between formalism and fantasy must allow that the expressive content of

1 For a survey of viewpoints on the subject, see the discussion in the Review of Literature, Section IV.F, below.

2 The case studies that comprise Chapters 4-7 discuss some interpretations that fall into this category, and others that do not. The issue of baseless interpretation is treated at length in Chapter 7 in particular.

2 this repertoire, and interpretations of it, derive from a range of approaches, from style convention, through allusion, to outright programmaticism. As the third justification for this study, the ongoing exploration of the interdisciplinary nature of illness narratives has, until now, largely neglected illness narratives in music. Thus the examination of musical case studies expands upon the substantial work that medical doctors, clinicians, literary critics, anthropologists, sociologists, writers, and patients have already conducted. Enid Rhodes Peschel asks in her interdisciplinary compilation, Medicine and Literature, What does medicine have to offer literature? And what does literature have to offer medicine? . . . By considering literature from a medical angle, the authors [represented in this volume] have learned as much as will the medical and literary people reading these essays. . . . The experiences of medicine can help bring the often overly intellectualized humanist back to reality, and to his body.3

This study thus engages two questions: “What do literature and medicine offer musicology, composers, and music?” and “What does music have to offer literature and medicine?” The case studies presented here demonstrate that the human being’s experiences of her or his body, especially of an ill body, offers increased insight and greater understanding to the “overly intellectualized” doctor, musicologist, clinician, literary critic, and all those who have investigated the interrelationships between literature and illness. The illness literature of music needs representation in this area of scholarship. Peschel’s work values “a variety of approaches and styles. Diversity, and not uniformity, is the rule.”4 This study seeks to validate music’s and musicology’s contribution to this variety of approaches and styles, while also re-valuing the variety of approaches and styles within musical hermeneutics itself.

III. Dissertation Repertoire

Critics and scholars have traditionally located toward the extreme “absolute” end of the hermeneutic continuum chamber works such as string quartets and quintets and piano sonatas,

3 Enid Rhodes Peschel, ed. Medicine and Literature (New York: Neale Watson Academic Publications, 1980), xi.

4 Ibid.

3 particularly those that lack subtitles or other overt extramusical references. For the same reasons, modernist critics and scholars are reluctant to impute programmatic content to unsubtitled symphonies, beyond suggesting that some overarching concept might influence the form and content of a work. This dissertation therefore examines four compositions from those genres, demonstrating the ways in which they are exemplars of illness narratives in instrumental music:

1. Ludwig van Beethoven String Quartet no. 15 in A minor, op. 132 July 1825

2. Franz Schubert Piano Sonata in B¯ major, op. posth. (D. 960) September 1828

3. Robert Schumann Symphony no. 2 in C major, op. 61 1846

4. Johannes Brahms Clarinet Quintet in B minor, op. 115 Summer 1891

IV. Review of Literature

Because no body of literature exists on the subject of illness narrative in music, it must be assembled from a variety of disciplines, and this in itself constitutes one of the major challenges for the present study. This dissertation must necessarily draw from diverse disciplines and schools of thought. The subheadings within this review reflect the synthetic nature of its investigation. More importantly, however, the literature survey seeks to assemble methodologies and critical concepts that have not previously been brought to bear in musicology. The following discussion should be read with reference to the organization of the appended Bibliography.

4 A. Romanticism in the Arts

This group of sources contains general studies of Romanticism, including writings on German Romanticism. Within this category, however, two separate bodies of work are important. The first is a collection of journalistic writings from current periodicals, including The New York Times, Slate, and Arts Journal, devoted to new exhibitions, retrospectives, and topical groupings of Romantic-period painters and paintings; these articles reveal that a new appreciation and redefinition of Romanticism in the fine arts is a strong theme in arts journalism today. The second category consists of scholarly monographs whose authors are concerned with the way present-day thinkers are now approaching Romantic works. The inclusion of the two bodies of work in this section reveals that these authors’ expressed concerns and approaches mirror those included in the other sections of the Review of Literature. The trend of re-visioning Romanticism in the arts and the appearance of several noteworthy scholarly monographs established the year 2000 as a high watermark. Marsha L. Morton and Peter L. Schmunk edited the compilation of essays The Arts Entwined: Music and Painting in the Nineteenth Century; Joseph C. Sitterson, Jr., published Romantic Poems, Poets, and Narrators; and Anita Brookner authored Romanticism and Its Discontents. In her introduction to The Arts Entwined Marsha L. Morton explains that the volume’s essays “explore specific details of [the] interchange”5 among the arts about which Charles Baudelaire observed: “they len[t] each other new powers.”6 And in the Romanticism of the nineteenth century, music came to assume primacy of place among the arts. She writes,

Although considerable interest in has been shown in this subject during the previous decade, primarily among German scholars, few publications have appeared in English. Our book is intended to address this omission and to stimulate further investigations. Music’s meteoric ascent among the arts in the nineteenth century . . . is a well-known fact. Ut pictura poesis was succeeded

5Marsha L. Morton, “From the Other Side,” in The Arts Entwined: Music and Painting in the Nineteenth Century, ed. by Morton, Marsha L. and Peter L. Schmunk, Critical and Cultural Musicology 2 (New York: Garland, 2000), 1.

6 Citation ibid. Charles Baudelaire, “The Life and Work of Eugène Delacroix” (1863), quoted in Edward Lockspeiser, Music and Painting: A Study in Comparative Ideas from Turner to Schoenberg (New York: Harper and Row, 1973), 47. Full text reprinted in The Mirror of Art: Critical Studies by Charles Baudelaire, ed. and trans. Jonathan Mayne (Garden City, NJ: Doubleday, 1956), 306-38.

5 by ut pictura musica, and painters . . . shifted their sights to a new model. . . . [But] efforts to pinpoint influence from the visual arts in music are muddied by the fact that those influences are often entangled with literary sources (characterization in music, for example, does not reflect a uniquely pictorial quality but a narrative one that could also be found in a written text) and with general vision (musical evocations of nature do not distinguish between “real” landscapes and their painted versions).7

Ralph Sitterson’s motivation for writing Romantic Poems, Poets, and Narrators is his displeasure with the pluralism of the recent critical history of Romanticism studies, whose practitioners he finds lacking in their ability to “speak of speakers and narrators.” For this reason and many more, Sitterson’s writings are particularly germane to this dissertation, whose subject relies on the very ability that Sitterson explores. He claims that “new criticism is bankrupted by deconstruction, which in turn is bankrupted by new historicism; or, Cleanth Brooks is buried by Paul de Man, who in turn is buried by McGann.”8 Sitterson’s central concerns are narrative mastery and the subject position:

“The subject” . . . is not the stable voice hypothesized by authorial intention; at the same time, the subject is not the wholly decentered and empty shifter “I”— . . . It is both. Even though it cannot be reduced to one or the other alternative, however, subjectivity is not achieved on some higher plane of synthesis. In their coexistent stability and instability, readers are like textual subjects, so that as a reader of Romantic texts I shall inevitably encounter limits to my understanding of those texts. . . . Readers are less concerned with the problematics of their own interpretive mastery than with the question of narrative mastery or understanding within the poetry . . .9

7 Morton, 2.

8 Ralph C. Sitterson, Jr., Romantic Poems, Poets, and Narrators (Kent, Ohio: The Kent State University Press, 2000), 1. 9 Ibid., 2-3. Sitterson elaborates, “Like Romantic authors, narrators, and characters, then, we are not masters of our world. But we cannot come to terms with, understand, or even locate our limits without exploring the possibility of mastery. (As I am implying here, mastery and understanding are not synonyms. ‘Mastery’ may include what we might call a complete or final understanding, but it also suggests the desire for a kind of control or domination that fuels it, a desire sometimes in but hidden by the word ‘understanding.’)”

6 Through identifying the shortcomings of modern and postmodern critical approaches to narrative mastery, Sitterson is able to devise a new model for evaluating the “problematics” of interpretation. His exploration of the reader in this process leads directly to the subject of this dissertation because, by extension, listeners are engaged in the same evaluative processes that readers are. One can, of course, read a musical score and interpret not only who or what is speaking but also evaluate the quality of the expression. Making the connection between Sitterson’s reader-critics of Romantic poems, poets, and narrators, and musicological interpreters of Romantic-period illness narratives is straightforward and productive. Brookner’s writing proceeds from a stance similar to Sitterson’s in that she illustrates the importance of emotion over reasoned analysis. She uses the example of Mme du Deffand, whom she describes as “a modest and discreet person, whose salon was attended by leading men of letters and the more notable thinkers of her day.”10 Brookner’s work attempts to answer the question that Madame du Deffand posed to Voltaire: “Mais, M. de Voltaire, vous combattez et détruisez toutes les erreurs, mais que mettez-vous à leur place?” (“But Mr. Voltaire, you combat and destroy all the errors, but what are you putting in their place?”). Brookner mentions that Deffand’s question never received a thoughtful response, but it needs one:

Romanticism, rather than the Romantic Movement, has to be examined with the good faith that Mme du Deffand gave to her question . . . because it produced an organically connected number of resounding masterpieces in a relatively short space of time. More than that, we know it to be central to the most profound feelings and aspirations of ordinary men and women who will never produce a masterpiece, may never see or read or hear one, but who will, either consciously or unconsciously, recognize the quality that Romanticism seemed to bring to the fore: infinite longing. It is in essence a longing for what is missing, and an attempt to supply it.11

That same “quality of infinite longing” that Brookner focuses on in her study pervades the illness narrative in Romantic-period music. The universality of the illness experience in “ordinary men and women” as well as creators of “resounding masterpieces” is, if anything, even

10 Anita Brookner, Romanticism and Its Discontents (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000), 1.

11 Ibid., 3.

7 more pronounced in textless musical narratives whose plots center on the unfolding of illness. This dissertation engages the very recognition of longing that Brookner’s study explores. The bicentennial anniversaries of the birth of Romantic-period figures have created a lively concentration on the biographies and works of a great many important thinkers and artists in the form of new editions, biographies, collections, festivals, and concerts. All of these, individually and in the aggregate, have received attention in the press. Writers such as Holland Cotter, Emily Eakin, Christopher Hitchens, Michael Kimmelman, Alan Kozinn, Roberta Smith, and a host of other critics have been quick to evaluate and reevaluate the work of their counterparts in scholarly publications and on the stage. The writings in this category of the literature survey show that arts journalists are in a period of renewed interest in the origins and manifestations of Romanticism; their concentration on Romantic-period artists in the past few years alone represents a trend in the current literature. Further, they go beyond general observations by delving into the issues that this dissertation engages, and they advance the discourse in the field almost in real time. Another benefit of the print medium is its interactive nature; articles and reviews are accessible online in timely fashion, and most contain links to related articles that enable researchers to follow the development and proliferation of new attitudes toward the subject. In the case of book reviews, the entire text of first chapters often accompany the reviews via hyperlink.

B. Narrators, Storytellers, Speakers, and Plots

These sources present a range of definitions for terms having to do with aspects of narration, narrative, storytelling, and speaking. Narrative theory and narratology form the basis for discussing specific elements of literature such as plot. Narratology and narrative theory are twentieth-century critical terms and concepts, originating primarily in Russian Formalism. Beginning with Vladimir Propp’s Morphology of the Folktale (1928), Russian Formalists established a set of basic plots or themes common in folktales, classifying myths as variations on a limited number of constant, basic, and universal structures. From this beginning, one can trace an unbroken line of development in the study of narrative right up to the present day. The late 1950s saw a rich body of new scholarship, and branching off from the Formalist tree in many directions. Northrop Frye wrote Anatomy of Criticism in 1957, Claude Lévi-

8 Strauss’s Anthropologie structurale appeared in 1958, and Laurence Perrine published Story and Structure in 1959. Remarkable developments in this field continue. Prolific writers today include Catherine Kohler Riessman, Shlomith Rimmon-Kenan, Jerome Davis, and Mieke Bal. Owing to such a profusion of definitions, this dissertation contains a special section titled “Definitions and Discussion of Key Terms” (Section V) drawn largely from the work of Claude Bremond and Gerald Prince.

C. Narratives of Illness, Personal and Clinical

The principal literature in this section represents the history of the illness narrative itself. This subject has only recently (i.e., in the past twenty-five years) come to be accepted in the curricula of medical schools, chiefly in the United States. On the other hand, ill people have been telling their stories for centuries. The belated recognition that illness narrative constitutes a distinct genre poses an interesting challenge to many fields, including musicology, because even recent illness narratives and contemporary chroniclers of disease see it as a manifestation of the Romantic. For example, the writer Anatole Broyard wrote in Intoxicated by My Illness (1992), “Illness is primarily a drama, and it should be possible to enjoy it as well as to suffer it. I see now why the Romantics were so fond of illness.”12 He later states, “The space between life and death is the parade ground of Romanticism. The threat of illness itself seems to sound a Romantic note.”13 This category of sources also displays an extravagantly rich panorama to contemplate in terms of era, place, and genre. Between the early nineteenth century and the late twentieth illness narratives created a need for examination that critical theory, methodologies, and cultural studies have only recently begun to meet. A major portion of the literature in this category consists of illness narratives from nineteenth- and twentieth-century literature. Like their musical counterparts, they assume many forms: diaries, journals, plays, poems, verse, nonfiction essays, and book-length narratives.

12 Anatole Broyard, Intoxicated by My Illness, and Other Writings on Life and Death, comp. and ed. by Alexandra Broyard (New York: Fawcett Columbine, 1992), 7. 13 Ibid., 23.

9 Moreover, toward the end of the twentieth century illness narratives individually confined themselves less and less to one genre, becoming instead literary collages or montages of various types and styles. This tendency is also relevant to the musical repertoire of the present study. As medicine became multidisciplinary in the twentieth century, the variety of narrative style and content expanded. Medical anthropologists, socio-medical physicians, physio- sociological clinicians, psycho-social analysts, and other practitioners of medicine entered the mainstream of medical education and patient care. Not surprisingly, individual brands of medical practice became hybridized. Not until the beginning of the 1980s, however, did the explosive breakthrough in the writing of illness narratives take place. Within a short span of years, several seminal works were published. Their influence was deep and far-reaching, not because these illness narratives were brilliantly written literature but because the majority of their authors were physicians who had suffered life-threatening, extensive illness themselves and wrote about it. Norman Cousins14 and were soon joined by Arthur Frank, Arthur Kleinman, and Donald Polkinghorne, all medical doctors or clinical practitioners. They published Anatomy of an Illness, A Leg to Stand On, At the Will of the Body and The Wounded Storyteller, The Illness Narratives and Writing at the Margin, and Narrative Knowing and the Human Sciences, respectively, between 1979 and 1995. Moreover, they established the importance of the illness narrative in their clinical practices and in the curricula at their own academic institutions. While all of these authors had been writing about medical issues—and, with the exception of Cousins (1912-1990), they continue to do so—they began writing personal illness narratives when they became patients. For this reason, preliminary expositions in Chapters 2 and 3 of the shape and content of the illness narrative make considerable use of these authors’ works.

D. Literary Criticism of Illness Narratives

This category includes new perspectives on the literary works of writers such as Robert Louis Stevenson, Henry James, William Wordsworth, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Two aspects of this grouping require explanation. First, while these and other writers wrote about their illnesses, new perspectives on their writing have seldom examined the literary works as

1. 14 Cousins was not a medical doctor. Following his retirement from Saturday Review in 1978, however, he joined the faculty of the University of California at Los Angeles School of Medicine. There he taught ethics and medical literature and continued his research into the relationship between attitudes and health.

10 illness narratives. This dissertation has necessarily placed those works within the special genre because they exhibit all the characteristics of illness narratives as described in Chapter 2. Second, an entirely new and important offshoot of this literary criticism has grown up practically unnoticed—namely the unmistakable move to include the works of these writers’ female relatives in the discourse, and to focus attention almost exclusively on the illness component of such writings For example, the diaries of Alice James have received even more attention than the work of her brother Henry. The poems of Dorothy Wordsworth, many of them about illness, have generated numerous articles about her life. And the letters and diaries of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s daughter Sara dwell on her cancer. As wives and daughters they were privy to immediate, intimate details of their more famous husbands’ and fathers’ creative lives, not unlike the relationship that Clara Schumann had with Robert Schumann and Johannes Brahms, and Alma Mahler had with Gustav Mahler. While these women’s status as immediate family members of prominent male authors and composers is not necessarily significant in itself, their writings achieved an almost automatic acceptance by virtue of their relatives’ prominence; their writings conveyed authority and almost guaranteed a ready readership.

E. Music (and Painting and Literature) and Medicine

Since Antiquity relationships between music and medicine have been accepted as given. Moreover, modern psychology indicates that aptitude for both disciplines resides in the same area of the brain. Supporting this observation is the strong evidence that many prominent physicians through the ages have been musically inclined. In fact, medical professionals from the Romantic period to the current day have held a fascination for music extending to passion. Within the medical community, and in the curricula of both medical and music schools, is a well established field. As a result, much literature that might broadly be included in this category deals specifically with music therapy, which, however, is outside the scope of this dissertation. For that reason the confluence of music and medicine as a subject will necessarily be confined—or indeed steered—to a new area devoted mainly to discussions of physio-musical processes, the interrelationships between illness and the composition process,

11 and representation of phases of illness in music. Composers themselves have described physical ailments in medical terms, and physicians in turn have discussed processes of illness in musical terms. Of particular interest are cases when the composer uses medical terminology, medical practitioners use musical terminology, or writers use both medical and musical terminology. The dynamics of such dialogue assume new significance for the purposes of this dissertation. The literature is replete with examples of this phenomenon. For example, Arthur Frank writes, “When the body is healthy, it coheres, its parts work in concert. . . . In pain the natural rhythm of rest and activity is lost.”15 He also writes, “The origins of music are inseparable from dance, and dance is one of the great metaphors of life itself. Until I was ill I had never heard so clearly the dance in the music, and life in the dance.”16 Related to this set of writers who combine music and medicine is the group of performers who have written about their illness experiences. Their accounts center on the importance of music in the process of becoming ill, suffering through an illness, and struggling to survive the health crisis. The idea that music plays a crucial role in the illness process is not new, of course, and many writers such as Oliver Sacks, Arthur Frank, and their medical colleagues have recounted story upon story about what they perceive as a phenomenon. Not only can they not explain what happens when music becomes an integral part of their own illness but also when their patients report experiencing the same thing.17 In the past decade many professional musicians have contributed to the body of literature on this subject. Conductor and author David Blum wrote, “I felt mentally trapped in a kind of medical box that left little room for my own personality. I dreamed that I did, indeed, need an operation. To effect a cure, however, I had to be a surgeon unto myself and inject a fluid into my brain—a fluid called ‘Schubert.’” Blum adds, “Musical dreams unrolled like a film . . . a voice told me to listen to a Mendelssohn symphony rather than one by Bruckner. The dream said, in

15 Arthur W. Frank, At the Will of the Body: Reflections on Illness (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1991), 31. Hereafter referred to as Frank WB.

16 Ibid., 63.

17 Oliver Sacks, Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain (New York: Knopf, 2007). Sacks describes these phenomena in detail, calling them “sudden musicophilia.” He categorizes them in his own terminology as “musical seizures,” “musicogenic epilepsy,” “music on the brain,” “brainworms,” “sticky music,” “catchy tunes,” and “musical .”

12 effect: It is not the moment to live on a monumental Brucknerian level. Give yourself to the music of springtime . . .18 Blum describes his personal “relationship” with specific compositions during the battery of actual medical procedures he underwent for his cancer; he mentions a foray “into the imaginative world” during a three-and-a-half-hour MRI, where his then-deceased dog Papageno joined with other animal friends to perform the “Brook Scene” from Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony. In a very telling passage Blum writes,

Glory be to the “Onco-Scint” (a nuclear scan that searches for traces of carcinoma); at last I was able to use my Discman! I chose . . . Beethoven piano sonatas played by Richard Goode. The scanning proved inconclusive; what did prove conclusive was the way Beethoven’s spiritual odyssey parallels our own. As I lay under the gamma camera, I found myself understood, embraced, as it were, by music that encompasses every emotion and could alleviate my sense of alienation. I thought of those practitioners of “gender studies” in musicology who reduce Beethoven to a male stereotype. One OncoScint scan accompanied by Beethoven’s music and they would revise their theories.”19

Musician Jessica Duchen references a wealth of similar stories from fellow musicians who experienced the power of music to help them cope with illness. She asks, “Why does music have such power to support us during the most demanding times of our lives? Why does it carry us through when nothing else can?”20 She cites Daniel Barenboim who, she says, “is better placed than many to understand the full implications of [turning to music’s healing power], having lost his first wife, the cellist Jacqueline du Pré, to multiple sclerosis”:

There were times, while Jacqueline was ill, when I found it very difficult to get through the day at all. Playing music and conducting made my life bearable. Music has that capacity, if you give yourself to it and don’t remain outside it.21

18 David Blum, “The Healing Power of Music,” BBC Music (April 1996), 30-31. The specific composition was the Symphony no. 3, “Scottish.” 19 Ibid., 31.

20 Jessica Duchen, “Musician, Heal Thyself,” BBC Music (October 2004), 28. 21 Ibid., 28-29.

13 Finally, this category of literature also points toward the quite modern discipline of forensic music biography, in which late twentieth-century technology combines with medical hindsight to generate credible diagnoses for the illnesses of Romantic composers. By far the most productive writer in this area, Anton Neumayr, published three volumes of Music & Medicine that detail the relationships between composers’ works and their illnesses. He has written extensively about Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert (vol. 1); Hummel, Weber, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Brahms, and Bruckner (vol. 2); and Chopin, Smetana, Tchaikovsky, and Mahler (vol. 3). In a parallel series, Kunst & Medezin, he explores similar relationships between painting and illness (Leonardo da Vinci, Francisco Goya, and Vincent van Gogh). Neumayr has also written a third series (Literatur & Medezin) about the illnesses and writings of Goethe, Hölderlin, and Heine.

F. Musical Narratology

Modern theoretical constructs and approaches have much to say when applied to Romantic-period topics. Musical narratology is a relatively recent area of the discipline, although plot in music has long been taken for granted. Programmatic compositions assumed primacy of place in the instrumental music of the Romantic period, due in part to the natural affinities between writers of fiction (or creative nonfiction) and composers in the nineteenth century. Composers wanted to make the content and the form of their unconventional works “understandable” to audiences, and programmatic clues were helpful in this regard. “Absolute” music, on the other hand, was assumed to have virtually no extramusical content. In the absence of verbal references, either in epigraphs, expressive titles, or texts, the tensions, complications, and resolutions—in other words, the dramatic shape—inherent in sonata-allegro form were deemed insufficient to identify narrative content beyond generic, archetypal plot. Purely instrumental music therefore seemed to belong to the realm of abstract design or spiritual ineffability. This view largely prevails even today. In the past twenty years, in a parallel, albeit an unnoticed one, with medical scholarship, music scholars have begun to apply critical theories adapted from literature to musical works of the nineteenth century and to music history in general. These initial efforts in musicology have focused on linguistics and grammatology as one possibility, and on sociology or social sciences

14 as another. Investigators have drawn conclusions that range from specifying the genderedness of musical narratives (sometimes the foregrounding of the persona more than the plot) to the very impossibility of musical narrative as such. By and large, these musicological forays have often been short-lived and their spirit quite contentious. Susan McClary’s Feminine Endings: Music, Gender, and Sexuality and Carolyn Abbate’s Unsung Voices: Opera and Musical Narrative in the Nineteenth Century contain examples of these viewpoints. In the preface to Unsung Voices Abbate states that voice in music indicates “a sense of certain isolated and rare gestures in music, whether vocal or nonvocal, that may be perceived as modes of subjects’ enunciations.” The operative words here are “isolated” and “rare.” Her study “What the Sorcerer Said” has received rather stinging rebuttals, as it did in Gregory Karl’s “Structuralism and Musical Plot”: “Abbate suggests that the notion of musical narrative manifests an irresistible, if sometimes misguided, human impulse to rationalize experience in narrative terms.” Karl criticizes Jean-Jacques Nattiez’s study, “Can One Speak of Narrativity in Music?” when Nattiez states, “Any description of [music’s] formal structures in terms of narrativity is nothing but superfluous metaphor.” Karl also criticizes Lawrence Kramer’s belief that “music has no narrative capacity by any accepted definition of the term.” Kramer actually states, “Anyone looking to narratology as a means of illuminating musical structure and musical unity had better look somewhere else . . . because narrative elements in music represent, not forces of structure, but forces of meaning.”22 Extending the argument about narrative and meaning to the discipline of musicology as a whole, Ivan Hewett wrote, “Deconstructionists, traditionalists, radical feminists—they all have their axes to grind in today’s many branches of musicology.”23 Hewett scrutinizes these “axes” in terms of the discipline itself:

At first glance, musicology today seems like a Tower of Babel; the

22 Susan McClary, Feminine Endings: Music, Gender, and Sexuality (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1991; repr. 2002). Carolyn Abbate, Unsung Voices: Opera and Musical Narrative in the Nineteenth Century (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991), ix. Gregory Karl, “Structuralism and Musical Plot,” Music Theory Spectrum 19, 13. Jean-Jacques Nattiez, “Can One Speak of Narrativity in Music?”, Journal of the Royal Music Association 115, 257. Lawrence Kramer, “Musical Narratology: A Theoretical Outline,” Indiana Theory Review 12 (1992), 161-52, later published as Chapter 4 in Classical Music and Postmodern Knowledge (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1995), 98-121.

23 Ivan Hewett, “The Great Divide,” BBC Music (January 2003), 28.

15 problem is not so much agreement or disagreement, but the lack of a common language. Even identifying the discipline’s subject matter has become problematic.”24

Sorting through the various, often conflicting, schools of thought regarding narrative and music can be confusing and discouraging. For the purposes of this dissertation, however, two writers have contributed much of value. Edward T. Cone’s groundbreaking volume The Composer’s Voice led the way in introducing the subject of voice in instrumental music. Cone extended his thoughts in numerous other studies, taking on specific compositions as in the article “Three Ways of Reading a Detective Story — or a Brahms Intermezzo.”25 Fred Everett Maus has continually added to the body of literature since the late 1980s. His work is particularly helpful due to his summary of general points of view, problem areas, and the state of music narratology studies.26 His summary here moves away from narrativity, however:

Contemporary interpretation of culture often emphasizes historical and social context, and casts suspicion on approaches that adopt the traditional self-limitations of textual analysis. From this perspective, music criticism based on narrative analogies may share with the arguments against those analogies a dubious attachment to the critical tradition of commentary on isolated musical works. The exploration of instrumental music as narrative remains a tantalizing, confusing, problematic area of inquiry.27

G. Special Musical Narratives of Illness: The German Romantics

All sources in this section discuss the specific works under consideration in this dissertation and are listed in the Bibliography’s Section G, 1-6. Some of these sources establish the biographical and cultural contexts for these compositions. Physicians’ statements,

24 Ibid. 25 Edward T. Cone, The Composer’s Voice (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1974). “Three Ways of Reading a Detective Story — or a Brahms Intermezzo,” Georgia Review 31 (1977), 554-74; repr. in Music: A View From Delft, ed. Robert P. Morgan (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989), 77-93. 26 Fred Everett Maus, “Narratology, narrativity” in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians 17, ed. by Stanley Sadie (London: Macmillan, 2002), 641-3.

27 Ibid, 642.

16 composers’ letters and diaries, score studies, theoretical analyses, and genre studies will be brought to bear upon specific compositions. The preponderance of sources will be musicological in nature, but the multidisciplinary aspects of the topic itself require a wide-ranging technical base that includes several other disciplines and approaches (as mentioned above) to make the case for musical narratology. This section will therefore include many nonmusical sources that support the fine points of the works in question, even though these sources might also fall into one of the previous categories.

V. Definitions and Discussion of Key Terms

A. Narrative

A review of criticism, both musicological and literary, reveals the confusing array of terms and their definitions that writers in all disciplines have been using. This dissertation adapts most definitions from Prince’s A Dictionary of Narratology and Bremond’s thorough discussion of narrative in Logique du récit. Since these works were published, however, the genre of the illness narrative has achieved some amount of definition in itself, and because illness narrative is a special genre, it does not necessarily fit into Prince’s categorizations. The following discussion identifies where illness narrative requires further consideration. A narrative is defined as a recounting of a series of existents or events, and the establishing of some connection between them. Prince states that an existent may be an actor or an item of setting, whereas an event is a change of state conveyed through a “do” or “happen” statement.28 By themselves, existents and events in series do not constitute a narrative; in Prince’s view there must be a causal connection between them. The event can be an action or an act brought about by the type of existent that Bremond and others call an agent, or this event can be a happening that occurs more or less passively to the type of existent that Bremond calls the patient.29 Bremond’s typology of roles as delineated in Logique du récit further distinguishes between many subtypes of agents and patients. Agents, patients, and subtypes of them are narrative roles. Although events and existents are the two fundamental constituents of the story, a

28 Gerald Prince, A Dictionary of Narratology (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1987), 28. 29 Claude Bremond, Logique du Récit (Paris: Seuil, 1973), 137-38.

17 common misconception is that a story is the same as a plot. These terms are not interchangeable. The most important distinction to observe between stories and plots is the way in which their events are ordered and recounted. For example, if a story consists solely of existents, which are static, rather than events, which are active, it is not plotted. Prince states that the story constitutes the “content plane” (the narrated, “the what”) of the narrative, rather than its “expression plane” (the narrating, “the how”). To put this another way, any event sequence is of two main types: temporal or causal. Generally speaking, a story’s structure is based on chronology (as in the annal, chronicle, or history), whereas a plot’s structure is based on causality. Of course, a causally propelled narrative might also adopt a chronological organization—but for present purposes, plot is viewed as a subcategory of story because some stories do not have a plot, but all plots are stories. Through dialogue and/or action, all narratives reveal at least one character (a protagonist), but usually two or more by adding an antagonist, which may or may not be a human(ized) character. Bremond’s typology is based on the premise that, among a narrative’s characters, or roles, patients—who in this context are not necessarily to be understood as sick people—are affected by certain processes that agents initiate. Agents modify patients’ situations for better or worse, or maintain patients in the same positive or negative state. Notably, the character, either as protagonist or antagonist, can also be agent or patient, and may even change roles within the narrative. In Prince’s view, agents and patients, as narrative roles, are not necessarily (or even usually) synonymous with the narrator. The distinction can be problematic, however. The narrator can be the agent- character in the situations and events that the narrative recounts. This first-person narrator, whom Prince calls the “narrator-agent,” differs from the undramatized narrator (Prince’s “narrator-I”), who is not a character. Moreover, narrators, agents, and patients are never to be confused with the author, whether real or implied. Given more recent inquiries in the field of illness narrative, the foregoing distinctions do not entirely hold true, however. For example, interpretation of illness narrative must allow for a first-person narrator to be the patient, but Prince has no category for this function. If a story does consist of events but is not narrated (i.e., if it is enacted directly), it is not a narrative but a drama. Narratives must have at least one narrator or speaker from whose point of view the events and situations of a story or plot are presented, even if the narrator is covert or

18 “absent.” An absent narrator is the most covert kind of narrator, the least intrusive, although not completely absent, of course; this speaker interjects little to no personal bias in the story or plot, “presenting situations and events with minimum narratorial mediation and in no way referring to a narrating self or a narrating activity.”30 Point of view refers to what (or from where) the narrator sees. It is “the perceptual or conceptual position in terms of which the narrated situations and events are presented.”31 This position is most commonly evaluated by the narrator’s degree of insight (ranging from limited to complete). This is meaningful in illness narrative because a person in the grip of illness may not be aware of the depth or nature of the problem, whereas the undramatized narrator might be. On the other hand, the fully recuperated patient-turned-narrator has gained a much more complete point of view by virtue of hindsight. A speaker may also be judged on the basis of reliability. This judgment comes from the narratee, Prince’s term for the one whom the narrator addresses. This narratee may have confidence in the speaker’s trustworthiness or find reason for suspicion, largely because the narratee and narrator share the same diegetic level. Each narrative has “at least one (more or less overtly represented) narratee,” he explains, and “there may, of course, be several different narratees, each addressed in turn by the same narrator or by a different one.”32 This narratee may also be a character, but is usually not. In any case, just as the narrator, agent, or patient is never to be confused with the author, real or implied, our understanding of the narratee must maintain the absolute distinction between the narratee and the reader, real or implied. The voice of a narrative indicates who is speaking and what kind of persona the narrator adopts. By evaluating the narrator’s tone, mood, and distance (showing versus telling, for example), the reader/listener is sometimes able to deduce whether the narrator is a character in the drama and, if so, what emotions the narrator/character articulates. In illness narrative such an examination is even more useful because, as the Background and Justification (Section B) of this chapter has explained, deductive reasoning can lead to determining when and where the illness becomes the narrator-agent, and when and where the ill person regains control of the material as the speaker. Narrative voice can also convey the patient’s emotional and mental state in

30 Prince, Dictionary, 1.

31 Ibid., 73. 32 Ibid., 57.

19 response to the predicament. As before, however, illness narrative requires the inclusion of the narrator-patient; because the patient’s perspective widens as the narrative unfolds, illness narrative must allow for a narrator-patient’s changing distance.

B. Illness

As with narrative, definitions of illness vary. For the purposes of this study, illness is defined as the human experience of physical symptoms of significantly disordered or impaired health, as well as the perception on the part of the patient that she or he is suffering, or has suffered, from such a condition. Illness, however, is not synonymous with disease. As Arthur Kleinman, M.D., explains,

Disease is what the medical practitioner constructs in the recasting of a patient’s illness in terms of theories of disorder. Disease is what medical practitioners have been trained to see through the theoretical lenses of their particular form of pratice. That is to say, the practitioner reconfigures the patient’s and family’s illness problems as narrow technical issues, disease problems.33

The distinction between illness narrative and medical history is likewise one of individual versus clinical perception. Also applicable to this study will be the concept of pathology, which is to be understood as the study of the essential nature of illness and the structural and functional changes that illness produces. In its literal, etymological meaning as the “study of feeling,” pathology resonates with the Romantic view of suffering. David L. Khan’s and Richard H. Steeves’s investigation of the phenomenology of suffering in “An Understanding of Suffering Grounded in Clinical Practice and Research” is quite helpful to the present investigation.34 The researchers first understand suffering to be the result of an individual’s (or a “whole person’s”) recognition that an event has threatened and measurably disrupted what Khan and Steeves call “his or her meaning structure of personal identity.” They then view suffering as “the gap or abyss that opens when one meaning

33 Arthur Kleinman, M.D., The Illness Narratives: Suffering, Healing, and the Human Condition (n.p.: Basic Books LLC/Penguin: 1988), 5. 34 David L. Kahn and Richard H. Steeves, “An Understanding of Suffering Grounded in Clinical Practice and Research,” in Suffering, ed. by Betty Rolling Ferrell (Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett, 1996), 3-27.

20 structure has been challenged or destroyed and a new one has not been formed.” Suffering, then, is not “defined as a meaning given to events that threaten personal identity but as meaninglessness caused by that very threat,”35 be it pain or loss or something else. Pain, by contrast, is “a symptom to be managed,” according to Jeanne Quint Benoliel in her introduction to Suffering. She explains, “Reading the professional literature, one often gets an impression that pain and suffering are used as synonymous terms. . . . Such is not the case. Pain as response to disease or injury is not the same as that sense of disruption and fractured identity experienced as suffering.” She agrees with Kahn and Steeves that suffering is also a private, lived experience of a whole person, unique to each individual, “an all-encompassing experience of the person that must be endured or lived through alone.” Moreover, suffering is not—contrary to its portrayal in most literature—a “degree of pain or some other kind of distress,” although pain and distress may also be present for the sufferer.36

35 Ibid., 8-9. 36 Jeanne Quint Benoliel, “Introduction” and “Chapter 1” in Ferrell, vii-5.



I. Overview

No established methodology exists for analyzing compositions as illness narratives. This study therefore creates a systematic yet flexible approach that reflects the multi-disciplinary nature of this topic, recognizing that each work’s narrative reflects a personal reality that will always differ from that of every other illness narrative. No two people’s stories or works are ever exactly the same, and so the expression of any two people’s illnesses will correspond only loosely in the details. And because no conventional methodology exists, the most effective way to explicate a methodology is actually to carry it out. As a preliminary step, this process begins with establishing basic principles of illness narrative.

II. Background and Typologies

The breakthrough in the genre of illness narrative took place at the beginning of the 1980s when physicians who had become patients then wrote about their experiences. These accounts, combining personal suffering with their professional experience, provide the most authoritative and helpful descriptions of the stages of illness. Moreover, these physician-writers go beyond describing their own illness by shifting between autobiographical narrative, the meta-narrative of examining the act of narrating itself, and clinical narrative as they engage their patient-informants’ stories. Thus whether autobiographical or clinical, narrative became an important process and product of the illness experience. For these reasons, the discussion here of the shape and content of illness narrative makes considerable use of these authors’ works. Interestingly, however, these practitioners-turned-patients do not seem to see a cause-to-effect relationship between writing about their own illness, personally or in the aggregate, and the change in attitudes toward discussing illness.

22 Arthur Frank writes about this reconceptualization in The Wounded Storyteller. He asserts, “I do believe that over a period of time, perhaps the last twenty years, how people think about themselves and their worlds has changed. . . . Illness has come to feel different during the last twenty years.”37 His illness and his writing have helped to shape this view, of course. The Wounded Storyteller, he explains, “is a work of theory, but it is equally a collection of stories and a kind of memoir.” Frank adds, “For almost a decade I have been a wounded storyteller, and I have cultivated the stories of others who are wounded, each in different ways. The ‘theory’ in this book elaborates my story and theirs.”38 Frank theorizes that there are three principal types of narrative. The first is the restitution narrative, whose storyline says, “Yesterday I was healthy, today I’m sick, but tomorrow I’ll be healthy again.”39 The second type, the chaos narrative, manifests itself as mute illness and non-plot, “the opposite of restitution: its plot imagines life never getting better.” The chaos narrative lacks order, proper causal sequence, and hope. It is a story that cannot be told properly, because “To turn the chaos into a verbal story is to have some reflective grasp of it. . . . [but] the person living the chaos story has no distance from her life and no reflective grasp on it. Lived chaos makes reflection, and consequently storytelling, impossible.”40 The third type is the quest narrative, which Frank describes in relation to the other two types:

Restitution stories attempt to outdistance mortality by rendering illness transitory. Chaos stories are sucked into the undertow of illness and the disasters that attend it. Quest stories meet suffering head on; they accept illness and seek to use it. Illness is the occasion of a journey that becomes a quest. What is quested for may never be wholly clear, but the quest is defined by the ill person’s belief that something is to be gained through the

37 Arthur W. Frank, The Wounded Storyteller (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997), 4-5. Because this dissertation draws upon so many of Frank’s writings, references to this book hereafter appear as Frank WS.

38 Ibid., xiii.

39 Ibid., 77. Frank also discusses these three types of narrative in his article “Reclaiming an Orphan Genre: The First-Person Narrative of Illness,” Literature and Medicine 13/1 (Spring 1994), 1-21. Hereafter referred to as Frank, OG. In this article Frank describes the nature and quality of these “three voices of illness.”

40 Ibid., 97-98.

23 experience.41

In recognizing a triad of narrative typologies Frank is not suggesting that a story is exclusively one or another type. The opposite is the case, he explains. Variations will occur as patients tell their personal stories, “adapting and combining narrative types that cultures make available. . . . No actual telling conforms exclusively to any of the three narratives. Actual tellings combine all three, each perpetually interrupting the other two.” In fact, in his discussion of the challenge that ill people face in attempting to find “a voice they can recognize as their own,” Frank emphasizes that his three underlying types of illness narrative are meant to serve not as fixed categories but as aids to listening—they “are to be used as listening devices.”42 He suggests, “This sense of need for a personal voice depends on the availability of the means—the rhetorical tools and cultural legitimacy—for expressing this voice . . . [and knowing] when the capacity for telling one’s own story is reclaimed.”43 This view is central to an understanding of the illness narrative in instrumental music. Moreover, it facilitates discerning when in the narrative the ill person recuperates to the point of being able to regain control of musical means as speaker. The overall methodology for the present investigation consists of three discrete but complementary phases or task strings. These task strings reflect the multidisciplinary nature of the topic and can best be described as “comparative narrative.” One track focuses on narratives in literature; one track investigates the medical profession’s concept of narratives and histories; and the third track examines musical narrativity. These strings interweave in the process of looking at illness narratives in literature and medicine, and their potential correspondence to illness narratives in music. A significant aspect of this study is the analysis of nineteenth- and twentieth-century illness narratives, as well as an in-depth investigation of the illness narrative within the modern clinical and academic setting.

41 Ibid., 115.

42 Ibid., 75-76. Italics Frank’s.

43 Ibid., 7. Italics Frank’s.

24 III. Shape and Plot in Illness Narrative

The shape of the illness narrative’s plot, its most distinctive feature, emerges from the process of “connecting the dots” that are the genre’s plot points. Nine such plot points exist, and every illness narrative contains them; all illness narratives therefore possess some version of the same distinctive shape. This is true whether the subject is a literary illness narrative, a medical case history, or a nineteenth-century instrumental composition that narrates an experience of illness. Illness narrative differs considerably from the conventional literary narrative in that its shape is a retrograde inversion of the standard narrative’s path. The contour of the illness narrative is, simply stated, upside down and backwards. Figure 2-1 compares the shapes of conventional and illness narratives, and it shows that compared to conventional narrative, the dramatic contour in accounts of illness is a retrograde inversion. This is explained in Plot Point 1 below. In most myths, and all fairy tales and conventional narrative, the hero is never less than he had been at the outset of the story. He goes through a series of trials, challenges, and missteps in the course of the action, but that action is always an upward journey—even literally climbing a mountain—designed to give the protagonist additional insight and power, such as in the Sisyphus and Hercules stories. The heroes survive their tribulations to emerge better than they were before, generally. In the case of illness narrative, however, the protagonist is always less than she or he was before, and the upward climb is toward the state that had existed at the beginning of the story. This norm is never achieved.44 Figure 2-2 charts the shape of the illness narrative, along with a brief description of what occurs at each plot point. In the discussion that follows, quotations from literature and medicine illustrate the characteristics of each discrete point to clarify its characteristics. As a matter of clarification, the term “point” may refer to an instance that lasts longer than what may be thought of mathematically as a “point” (which would have zero dimensions). The listener is to

44 This is not to say, however, that some myths and stories cannot be illness narratives; some indeed are. For example, the Jonah story in the Bible is a classic illness narrative. A great many children’s stories, such as Alice in Wonderland, fit the classification as do any myths involving journeys to the underworld. Fairy tales, on the other hand, do not. The critical evaluation of the fairy tale is based on Vladimir Propp’s Morphology of the Fairy Tale, and this imposes far different criteria for analysis. Further, the fairy-tale ending “. . . and they lived happily ever after” precludes analysis as an illness narrative.

25 understand that each point, although identified as a specific moment, initiates a “plot phase.” Compositions vary, of course, in the time that they devote to each “point,” but they do not deviate from the overall shape and plot-point scheme.

CONVENTIONAL the story NARRATIVE C space/time D


5 7 6

CONVENTIONAL NARRATIVE A — beginning, exposition B — rising action, development, middle C — climax, turning point D — dénouement, resolution E — end of narrative time ILLNESS NARRATIVE 1 — actual onset of illness 2 — beginning of narrative time 3 — transition point 4 — downward spiral, rapid descent into illness 5 — episodes, complications, gains & setbacks 6 — rock bottom, low point, despair 7 — beginning of actual recuperation, adjustment 8 — end of narrative time 9 — the new normal

Figure 2-1: Comparison of Narrative Contours

26 beginning of end of narrative narrative time time

1 2 (Before 8 9 the com- 3 4 position (After the

begins) variable degree composition 5 ends) of recovery

7 6 variable degree of suffering

ILLNESS NARRATIVE 1 — actual onset of illness 2 — beginning of narrative time 3 — transition point 4 — downward spiral, rapid descent into illness 5 — episodes, complications, gains & setbacks 6 — rock bottom, low point, despair 7 — beginning of actual recuperation, adjustment 8 — end of narrative time 9 — the new normal

Figure 2-2: Shape and Plot Points of an Illness Narrative

A discussion of the retrograde phenomenon that illness narrative exhibits relative to conventional narrative requires further explanation. Aristotle, in his Poetics (350 B.C.) elucidated the structure of Greek tragedy, particularly the moment of anagnorisis. In Section XI of Poetics Aristotle wrote about the “Reversal of the Situation . . . a change by which the action veers round to its opposite.”45 Anagnorisis is a moment of insight that normally occurs in

45 Aristotle, Poetics [350 B.C.], trans. by S. H. Butcher. . Also available at .

27 conventional narrative at the crisis or turning point, after which the dénouement unfolds. It is also called the “moment of no return,” because the protagonist has arrived at a critical realization after which his further actions and experiences are more or less determined. The function of the dénouement is to unravel threads of plot twists and ground the tension, just as the reprise does in sonata form. In Greek tragedy anagnorisis may assume many forms or result from many causes, notably the recognition of tokens, amulets, scars, signs, or even characters’ utterances.46 Etymologically stemming from the root gno- (γνο-), the term acquires specific connotations including the words “diagnosis,” “knowledge,” “recognize,” and “narrate,” upon all of which illness narrative depends. “This recognition,” wrote Aristotle, “combined with Reversal, will induce either pity or fear; and actions producing these effects are those which . . . Tragedy represents.”47 Aristotle elaborates, “[these] two parts, then, the Plot-Reversal of the Situation and Recognition--turn upon surprises. A third part is the Scene of Suffering. The Scene of Suffering is a destructive or painful action, such as death . . . bodily injury, agony, wounds, and the like.”48 In Figure 2-1 above, the conventional anagnorisis occurs at point C, the climax of the narrative, near the end. In the illness narrative, however, the anagnorisis happens quite soon, at Plot Point 3. In both narrative shapes, the plot line reverses direction. This “Plot-Reversal” is the hinge upon which the retrograde structure swings. This will be discussed below in Plot Point 3: Transition Point. Another contrast to observe in the juxtaposition of the two plot types is the times at which the respective moments occur. In conventional narrative the moment of recognition precipitates the dénouement, a fairly rapid downslope in terms of plot time late in the story. In illness narrative, the moment of recognition precipitates the rapid downward spiral into illness, and it occurs quite early in the narrative. Thus the location of the anagnorisis point constitutes narrative reversal (retrograde). The ensuing discussion develops the plot points of illness narrative.

46 Ibid., Section XVI. 47 Ibid., Section XI.

48 Ibid.

28 Plot Point 1: Actual Onset of Illness

Plot point 1 must have occurred outside the narrative’s story space and time. Despite the actual onset of the illness the soon-to-be-sick individual is as yet unaware of her or his impending descent into illness. Significantly, no plot points hereafter intersect with the x-axis in Figure 2-2 that represents the status quo ante. The entire shape of the narrative falls below this horizon. Plot point 1 therefore represents the permanent point of departure, down and away from health and well-being. This physical deterioration goes unremarked until later, within the narrative. Almost without fail, as authors reflect on their situations and attempt to reconstruct what led them to their present conditions, they later imply or state outright that they did not know what had hit them. Many people who survive an initial traumatic event that plunges them into full-blown suffering never regain memory of the triggering event. Instead, their narratives make use of the pluperfect tense, often anecdotally, conversationally, or parenthetically, to acknowledge that there had been a “before,” before they actually started to narrate. Nicholas V. Steiner, M.D., uses this device:

I had already delayed recognition of the problem. It had all begun one evening some weeks earlier when my wife first noticed the strange little growth behind my right knee as I stood at the bathroom sink. Surprised, I had glanced at it, then gone to bed, and by the next morning had forgotten about it.49

Even then, nothing of a narrative nature can or does occur in plot point 1. It is not inside the story space and time. But because the narrator can and will insert the substance into the narrative at a later point, when there is a narrative, plot point 1 can be viewed as a place-keeper for important information.

49 Nicholas V. Steiner, “Malignant Melanoma,” in When Doctors Get Sick, ed. by Harvey Mandell, M.D. and Howard Spiro, M.D. (New York: Plenum Medical Book Company, 1987), 295.

29 Plot Point 2: Beginning of Narrative Time

Because the onset of the illness has already occurred, what would be called “the beginning” in a conventional narrative does not occur in the illness narrative. Instead, plot point 2 is denoted “the beginning of narrative time,” or “first symptoms unnoticed.” Unlike the other eight plot points, which follow one path, plot point 2 follows one of two possible scenarios. In the first, the protagonist experiences initial confusion that leads to the crisis of plot point 4; she or he has a sense, although not yet completely conscious, that something is wrong. In the second scenario, the protagonist appears to be going about business as before; warning signs are present, but she or he does not ignore them as Dr. Steiner admits to have done. Another example, again using the pluperfect tense, comes from Arthur Frank’s At the Will of the Body:

For much of the winter I had had a virus, but it was March, spring was beginning, and last week’s cold seemed to be over. I went for a jog along the river behind our house. I was running easily, but my pulse seemed too fast. Passing a parking lot, I saw another runner get out of his car and took the excuse to stop and talk. I leaned on the hood of his car, started to say something about my heart beating fast, and then woke up on the ground.50

The preceding quotation illustrates the “blackout time” that most illness narratives feature. Quite often the sufferer will have no recollection of a period of time between the actual onset of the medical predicament and the second (or even the third) plot point. The continuation of Frank’s quotation illustrates the other important aspect of “narrative blackout”: the protagonist needs to be told what happened to him, in order to tell the story himself. As before, the narrative depends on the use of the pluperfect:

I had undergone what cardiologists would later call ventricular tachycardia. Simply put, my heart had sped up, beating erratically and uncontrollably fast, then had stopped for a moment. A year later my cardiologist would tell me I was lucky that my heart had started again and that it had not stopped long enough to cause permanent damage. But at the time I did not know what had

50 Frank, WB,, 9.

30 happened. I had a scraped shin, and I felt shaky.51

A narrative’s “blackout time” is not to be confused with another important feature of plot point 2, the state of consciousness of the protagonist. Only in rare cases is she or he completely conscious; most illness narratives contain descriptions of a state that is suspended between dreaming and waking. The protagonist does not know what has happened but is aware of dreamlike imagery and sensory details, many of which are vivid. In this stage the protagonist also has a body sense that is not at all like the one an alert and oriented patient will have. In A Voice Through a Cloud, Denton Welch describes these feelings and visions:

For a long time I was in that troubled half-conscious state when the reasoning faculty is extraordinarily active but utterly awry. Everything that is heard or seen or thought is turned into a terrifying threat. You are not asleep, and yet you are not awake; you hang between the two states feeling mad.52

He knows practically nothing. This is also the case with Lawrence R. Freedman, M.D., who confesses, “It is hard to be precise about when I began to realize that I had had a bicycle accident and had been hospitalized for a week.”53 Even a medically savvy person such as Frank tells his readers,

I got a ride home, took a shower, and that night I even went to a party. I was worried because I had never passed out before, but how serious could it be? I was an athlete, even if a middle-aged one. My mind wanted to forget it. My body said no. Something was wrong; something had changed, seriously.54

The continuation of Frank’s story brings several important considerations to the surface here. First, this is the second period of time during which he was either holding his symptoms in

51 Ibid. 52 Denton Welch, A Voice Through a Cloud (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1966), 78. Orig. publ. London: John Lehmann, 1950.

53 Lawrence R. Freedman, “Cerebral Concussion,” in Mandell and Spiro, 132. 54 Frank WB, 9.

31 abeyance or ignoring them outright. Another prominent feature is the jarring dissonance between the “it’s nothing” frame of mind and the “something had changed, seriously” one. He was worried, but at the same time he was at a party. And third, time is experienced as wildly out of phase; this is characteristic in any normal reporting of real events, certainly, but the reader/listener must bear in mind that narrative time is not real time. In one sentence Frank is passed out on the ground. In the next he has gone home in the car, showered, and set off for the party. Moreover, in another huge burst of narrative acceleration, the next two sentences reveal that he has managed to talk to his doctor, who “went along with my mind’s version, dismissing what had happened but ordering a cardiogram just to be sure.” A week goes by. Only now is he at the end of plot point 2. Compare Frank’s preceding paragraph with one that William D. Sharpe, M.D., writes:

It began innocently enough like a spring cold—pressure in my left ear, the blahs, and an occasional sniffle. My left ear gradually began to feel fuller, and I was constantly aware that I had a left ear. . . . One day I stood up, lost my balance, and fell to the left and slightly forward. . . . Something was obviously amiss, perhaps seriously so.55

The onset and nature of the medical condition has not yet emerged, mainly because the individual has not realized what has occurred. This has much to do with the nature of becoming ill. More important, however, the fact that the sufferer has not yet sought medical care reveals the depth of denial. In Frank’s case, even when he did speak with his doctor, both of them dismissed what had happened.

Plot Point 3: The Transition Point

Frank continues without pausing or even starting a new paragraph as his new reality has not yet begun to sink in. This stage of the narrative is usually quite short and rather static, the calm before a storm, even though time has obviously passed. The narrator is poised before the precipice, his anagnorisis mere moments away. Typically the few words that narrators use to mark plot point 3 have an offhand quality, but a barely noticeable shift in tone and rhythm

55 William D. Sharpe, “Meniere’s Disease,” in Mandell and Spiro, 59.

32 signals that a transition is in progress. Frank writes the simple words: “A week later [my doctor] called . . .” An interesting characteristic of plot point 3 is that it is usually marked by silence. The narrator may gloss over a stretch of time altogether, or his story might go into a holding pattern of sorts. Either way, the bottom is about to fall out.

Plot Point 4: Recognition, Downward Spiral, Rapid Descent Into Illness

Narrators typically dwell on shock, fear, confusion, and denial as the protagonist makes the mental and emotional leap into plot point 4. Frank continues,

. . . to tell me [the cardiogram] showed I had had a heart attack. He seemed uncertain of the medical details, but I hardly heard him; I was lost in a sense of sudden and profound change. In the moments of that call I became a different person.56

Virtually every writer conveys a sense of momentous upheaval, only in different words. For Benjamin Felson, M.D., “[My illness] had a dramatic onset—a sinking sensation . . . that seemed to have ominous portent.”57 Similarly, Barbara Young, M.D., writes, “The early symptoms were dramatic . . . the furniture and even the floor seemed to be bucking and rearing. . . . Soon, I’m not quite sure how, I found myself lying on the floor in the middle of the pub with an anxious and fascinated crowd of onlookers staring down at me from a great height.”58 Robert L. Seaver, M.D., takes the reader through the moment of recognition: “My body screamed in panic what my mind dared not accept. . . . At once, my terror, shame, and guilt were overwhelming. The unthinkable was happening to me. . . . Suddenly, drastically, everything had changed.”59 These are all accounts of the beginnings of the illness experience, which Frank says “begins when ill people recognize that more is involved in their experiences than the medical story can tell. The loss of a life’s map and destination are not medical symptoms, at least until

56 Frank WB, 9. 57 Benjamin Felson, M.D., “Coronary Artery Disease and Coronary Artery Bypass Graft,” in Mandell and Spiro, 19. 58 Barbara Young, M.D., “Anaphylaxis,” ibid., 383. 59 Robert K, Seaver, M.D., “Myocardial Infarction,” ibid., 30-31.

33 some [psychological] threshold is reached.”60 These sufferers, all medical people, have clearly reached the point that Seaver writes about as anagnorisis: “My life had reached a blank wall. There was to be no future, the past had no meaning. Here, now, all ended.”61 Most illness narratives at plot point 4 describe violence, screaming, and terror, usually associated with pain. Denton Welch remembers,

Then the pain, like some huge grizzly bear, seemed to take me between its paws. I screamed from sheer shock at its sudden increased violence. I must have screamed again, for all I can remember is a shriek and a pain invading my whole body. The shriek seemed to be following the pain into every limb. I was nothing but a shriek and a pain. I was sweating. Everything was wet. I was crying. Saliva dribbled out of my mouth.62

Perhaps the most important consideration of this phase, as these physicians have demonstrated, is that few words exist for the holding pattern of plot point 3 and the descending spiral of plot point 4. Hitting the emotional wall and recognizing the immensity of the repercussions are significant markers, but the only sound associated with plot point 4, as in the quotation above, is the scream. David B. Morris, author of The Culture of Pain, details the muteness and the phenomenon of the scream at this stage of the illness narrative. Citing the example of Oedipus in the Sophocles tragedy Oedipus Tyrannus, Morris writes, “When Oedipus finally speaks, what we hear is not words but only a single, repeated cry of agony: speech rolled back into mere sound and torment . . . a frozen moment of pain that contains nothing except the mutilated human body and its wordless suffering.”63 A second example that Morris presents is the undoing of Shakespeare’s King Lear:

60 Frank WS, 6

61 Seaver, 31. 62 Welch, 18.

63 David B. Morris, The Culture of Pain (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1993), 248. This scene takes place in II. 1278-1279.

34 In the final act . . . Lear suffers the final catastrophe he cannot survive. Shakespeare never lets us forget, from the opening scene, that the king is old and infirm. We now see him emerge, frail and in defeat, carrying in his arms his innocent, loyal daughter, Cordelia . . . Still holding the corpse, Lear utters three words, but they are not so much words as sounds, less spoken than bellowed like an animal cry: “Howl, howl, howl.” As with Oedipus, we enter into an almost intolerable suspended moment when the eloquent field of tragic action—with its rich language of ceremony, wars, loves, and plots—suddenly drops away into the void. We witness simply the ruined human body and the sound of suffering. Nothing more.64

The patient also writes of mental violence. For Welch, the voice is sometimes his; at other times the agony is speaking:

I tried to tell myself that the agony was not real, that I would wake up to find it a dream. It seemed too violent and extraordinary to be real; but then I knew that it was real and that the comforting thought was the lie.65

Plot Point Complex 5: Episodes, Complications, Gains, and Setbacks

Plot point 5 marks the beginning of the longest phase of the narrative, by far. From a medical standpoint, the ill person experiences episodes of improvement and setbacks, reaches plateaus of stability, and undergoes treatments that can often be characterized as trials and errors. The body requires time—often years—for treatments to take effect, for healing to take place, and for mental and physical adjustments. As a result, this narrative phase’s content is extremely varied. Most often it consists of a series of sub-narratives involving memories, dreams, present experiences, and even thoughts of the future. Lewis Dexter, M.D., admits, “At first, I wondered whether I would be alive next spring.” He later writes, “My illness has given

64 Ibid. This scene takes place in V. iii. 258. 65 Welch, 15.

35 me plenty of time to consider my inevitable demise.”66 “The modern experience of illness begins when popular experience is overtaken by technical expertise, including complex organizations of treatment,” Frank believes, in that sick people no longer take to their beds and languish there. Instead they go to medical facilities, where “the [medical] chart becomes the official story of the illness. Other stories proliferate. . . . Illness becomes a circulation of stories, professional and lay.” He adds that while “not all stories are equal,” one illness story “trumps all others in the modern period,” namely the medical narrative.67 Only in retrospect will sufferers be able to reconstruct events and describe them, and many times the patients need medical help (i.e., the descriptions and details that their physicians have supplied) in order to reconstruct events that they cannot remember. Another marker of this stage after the downward spiral into illness is giving in, body mind, and spirit, to the illness. For Arthur Frank the clinician-turned-patient, the surrender was even more significant:

I understand this obligation of seeking medical care as a narrative surrender and mark it as the central moment in modernist illness experience. The ill person not only agrees to follow physical regimens that are prescribed; she also agrees, tacitly but with no less implication, to tell her story in medical terms. . . . The physician becomes the spokesperson for the disease, and the ill person’s stories come to depend heavily on repetition of what the physician has said.68

Hastings K. Wright, M.D., surrendered to his caregivers, but not without self-recrimination:

In retrospect, I could have avoided the whole scene if I had been smart enough to self-diagnose my case, or at least to have seen a physician before going into frank congestive failure and triggering atrial flutter. Once this occurred, I had to pass through hospital

66 Lewis Dexter, M.D., “Cardiac Arrest,” in Mandell and Spiro, 39, 43. 67 Frank WS, 6.

68 Ibid. One important implication of this statement is that the physician, not the illness, narrates, at least in what Frank calls the “modernist narrative.” Frank focuses on “modernist” and “post-modernist” illness narratives in particular, although his views apply no matter the school of critical thought. For Frank, the issue here is not so much a literary perspective but rather the climate of the medical care profession.

36 doors, and the diagnostic events that then occurred had a momentum of their own, that even my internist and cardiologist had little control over. I was swept like a log in a swollen stream through rapids which bumped and bruised me.69

In a certain sense, patients seek to absorb facts and details that enable them to establish enough of an independent perspective to tell the story themselves (i.e., narrate), even if the story makes little sense at first. This effort is not without irony, given that some patients do not remember the event (and maybe never will). A Voice Through a Cloud contains many passages in which Welch works through his sketching to form images that reflect his understanding of his situation:

I turned angrily to my drawing book. Clare had brought it for me. Sometimes I tried to draw the other patients; but usually I did things out of my head: bent tubes with tulips and daisies growing out of them; butter-balls on a dish; a strangely shaped vessel, like an alchemist’s retort, or the lower and more sinuous part of a lavatory basin; a stone lion on a column; and a boat with high pointed prow and veils floating in the water behind. With the drawings were mixed lines of writing. They were usually built round some imperfectly remembered and therefore mysterious word; a classical name perhaps. For days and nights this half-remembered name would drum through my head; and I would ask, “Who was she? What did she do? Was she a traitress or a heroine?” A jingle would form and I would write it down, devising a sort of secret sense out of the jumbled phrases.70

From a narrative standpoint, one significant aspect of plot point 5 is the position of the protagonist in regard to voice. In this phase the protagonist or sufferer may begin to own her or his story, however imperfect (or absent) the details are. Frank writes that even though “the . . . claim to one’s own voice is halting, self-doubting, and often inarticulate . . . such claims have

69 Hastings K. Wright, “Viral Myocarditis,” in Mandell and Spiro, 48-49. In this quotation, the diagnostic machinery actually controls events. 70 Welch, 48.

37 enough currency for illness to take on a different feel.”71 The implication is that even inarticulate accounts are an initial sign of progress, both mentally and physically, a signal to the physician that recuperation is beginning. Such improvement is short-lived, however, as this sign turns out to be a practice run of sorts, a false start.

Plot Point 6: Rock Bottom, Low Point, Despair

Arthur Frank refers to plot point 6 as the point when “the self is unmade.” The nadir of the illness experience is particularly cruel, usually coming after a period of optimism and attempts on the part of the patient to get back on his feet. Frank confesses, “I was unmade as my mind sought to hold onto the promise that this treatment was curing me, while my body deteriorated; my intactness, my integrity as a body-self, disintegrated.”72 M. R. Gallagher, an Australian biologist, writes, “There were no good days anymore and no quality to my life that motivated me to cling to my life. No one could promise me things could be better and I couldn’t promise anything better for myself.” She “decided to surrender the fight” on 18 January 1995. “It was time to die.”73 And for the ill person who finds and ease in any moment that is brighter or better, as Kat Duff confirms, “Relapses are made much worse by the fact that they follow temporary remissions, when we think, with the eternal optimism of well-being, that we have escaped the clutch of pain for good.”74

71 Frank WS, 5. Frank situates his arguments within a modern-postmodern context. He emphasizes, however, that in using the term “postmodern,” he does not “propose any strict periodization.” While his views reflect a relatively recent environment accurately, they resonate in a Romantic-period context as well, as this investigation will demonstrate. Further, we now recognize that post-Romanticism may be regarded as a part of postmodernism.

72 Ibid., 173. 73 Denise Fassett and M. R. Gallagher, Just a Head: Stories in a Body (St. Leonards, New South Wales, Australia: Allen & Unwin, 1998), 124. M. R. Gallagher earned degrees in biomedical sciences from Deakin and Melbourne Universities, as well a Master of Science degree in Nutrition and Public Health. Her primary research interest concerned the relationship between body dimensions and diabetes, the goal of which was to develop a predictor for late-onset diabetes. Her own sudden decline into chronic illness interrupted this work.

74 Kat Duff, The Alchemy of Illness (New York: Bell Tower, 1993), 16.

38 Plot Point 7: Beginning of Actual Recuperation, Adjustment

This phase represents the protagonist’s struggle to climb out of the abyss of illness.75 The signs are tentative but encouraging, suggesting a renewal of energy. Saying that the protagonist is now reclaiming a true narrative function is possible, whereas before, the protagonist’s accounts were mere impressions imperfectly “remembered,” (i.e., furnished by the physician); the false sense of improvement in plot point 6 was wishful thinking. These accounts are always created in retrospect; however, in plot point 7 the events of the illness appear to catch up with the timeframe, and the action moves forward more synchronously. In Cry of the Damaged Man by Tony Moore, M.D., the process is musical:

Eventually, recovery started to become harmonious. In the early months it was like an orchestra tuning up with the physical, emotional and spiritual elements of life scratching their own unconducted, untuned sounds. Then the time came when I felt ready to be tapped into a tune. Different parts started playing together and I slowly began to feel the strength of a united wellbeing.76

Moore states explicitly that listening to music was a prerequisite for recovery: “On those difficult days when everything seemed to be an overwhelming effort, quietly listening to special music was an achievement. These tiny triumphs . . . provided the first real building blocks of my body’s recovery.”77 Oliver Sacks, M.D., recalls, “There was, so to speak, a ladder of freedom to be climbed rung by rung, the ascent of which needed a double prerequisite—the necessary degree of organic recovery and the necessary audacity, permission, or moral freedom.”78 The first big breakthrough for him was, like Moore’s, musical. Sacks could not “remember” how to walk until “I

75 The “abyss” is a key word in illness narrative and is discussed in Chapter 3. 76 Tony Moore, M.D., Cry of the Damaged Man: A Personal Journey of Recovery (Sydney: Picador/Pan Macmillan, 1991), 131. I had been eager to read this book, but the InterLibrary Loan staff sent me a message saying that the book was not available in the United States, and that my request was therefore canceled. Imagine my surprise when the book arrived unexpectedly at Strozier Library ten days after my request was canceled. The book came from the faraway land of Texas.

77 Ibid., 67. 78 Oliver Sacks, M.D., A Leg To Stand On (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1984), 131.

39 remembered walking’s natural, unconscious rhythm and melody; it came to me, suddenly, like remembering a once-familiar but long-forgotten tune, and it came hand in hand with the [unnamed] Mendelssohn rhythm and tune.”79 From these accounts the reader may deduce that the writer is more in control of himself, his body, and his awareness of environment. Moore, Sacks, and other writers of illness experience also indicate their recovery in abandoning the pluperfect tense in favor of the simple past tense.

Plot Point 8: End of Narrative Time

Omitted or ambiguous details imply that the story is not yet over. Despite indications of renewed strength and power, signs of uncertainty remain. Virtually all writers of illness narratives imply the future at the ends of their stories. This vision is usually conservative and hesitant, taking nothing for granted, but narrators now move from the simple tense into present tense and even the future form of the verb. Hugh L. Dwyer, M.D., writes,

Meniere’s disease is a chronic and supremely unpleasant disease. I wish I didn’t have it. Scarcely a day passes that I am not reminded of its existence. It could have been worse. And may yet be.80

Compare Dwyer’s ambivalence with the doubt that Hastings K. Wright, M.D., expresses:

My illness has given me plenty of time to consider my inevitable demise sometime in the next few years. I’m probably not as prepared as I like to think I am, but only time will tell.81

Plot Point 9: “The New Normal”

As with plot point 1, which occurred before the narrative time began, plot point 9 occurs outside the story time. Once again, this phase of the illness is always implied in the narrative

79 Ibid., 117. 80 Hugh L. Dwyer, M.D., “Meniere’s Disease,” in Mandell and Spiro, 62. 81 Wright, ibid., 43.

40 proper. The protagonist has not returned to his or her previous state of excellent health but will have made adjustments to the “new normal.”

IV. Other Considerations of Plot Structure

Some scholars call illness narrative the “anti-narrative” or even a “failed narrative” because of its plot contour as compared to traditional narrative arc. The tags “anti-” and “failed” narrative are but two attempts to establish what an illness narrative is (and is not). This description illustrates several important tendencies in current literary theory and criticism (i.e., over the past three decades). The first and most important tendency that the title “anti- narrative” reveals is one that permeates critical discussion and analysis on the subject of illness narrative: the question of genre. This study proceeds on the premise that an illness narrative is a special genre unto itself; it neither exerts pressure against conventional story-telling nor fails in narrating any part of the experience of illness. Moreover, it is not a subgenre whatsoever. What critics call it reveals a great deal about philosophical issues regarding the genre, although “illness narrative” is now the accepted designation. Some of its champions have addressed philosophical considerations in detail in a kind of meta-narrative specific to the topic of illness. Among the most penetrating in this field has been Arthur Frank, whose study “Reclaiming an Orphan Genre: The First-Person Narrative of Illness” articulates what the genre is, how it is situated with other genres in literature, and how it should be treated.82 The second tendency to emerge is that some critics adopt the “what it isn’t” approach, automatically placing them in negative territory. The present study concentrates on “what it is.” Defining a genre in negative terms does not work; interpreting a characteristic as “missing” or “anti-” implies that something is proveably, positively present. Third, using the term “anti-narrative” reflects a tendency that many may see as being rooted in popular culture, politics, and protest. This stands to reason, because each literary

82 Arthur W. Frank, “Reclaiming an Orphan Genre: The First-Person Narrative of Illness,” Literature and Medicine 13/1 (Spring 1994), 18. Hereafter referred to as Frank OG. Frank writes, “Several scholars, notably Anne Hunsaker Hawkins, prefer the term pathography. My feeling is that alternative usages of pathography seem bettter established: first, as biography that emphasizes the psychological and moral flaws of celebrity subjects; and, second, as medical studies hypothesizing that some historical figure suffered from an undiagnosed disease causing him to act as he did. Illness narrative has its own baggage, but lacking any perfect term, I choose what seems more generic. I mean orphan genre in the sense of an orphan disease, for which the incidence rate is too low to make research and drug development profitable. Illness narratives are respectable neither as social scientific data nor as literature, unless their authors are otherwise social scientists or novelists.”

41 illness narrative is different, depending on what point of view the narrator adopts, his or her technical background, and the cultural context of the narrative. These differences are manifest in the borrowing of terminologies and vocabularies from the many fields that now intermingle in the multidiscipline of illness narrative. Christopher Nash edited a collection of essays titled Narrative in Culture. In his preface he explains that the authors to whom he has given “voice . . . describe narrative . . . as a technique for getting coherence.” He probes the theories and premises that “lie behind this ‘getting’, and how convincing [they are].” Moreover, he states that the products of the investigations— specifically their implications—require further exploration. An open-ended goal moving beyond the answers that Narrative in Culture provides, Nash says, is that “for the benefit of a culture in the making,” his book may “flush into the open even better questions.” He wants to know whether the “getting” is “the discovery or the production of coherence.”83 The same concerns apply to Romantic-era composers who were undergoing the same process in their music. Nash’s book gives the reader multiple points of view that come from writers of many disciplines. One discipline whose studies of illness narrative have proven most applicable to the present study is psychiatry (or psychoanalysis). A writer whose analysis directly applies to the process that this dissertation adopts is J. M. Bernstein, a psychoanalyst, who claims in his article “Self-knowledge as Praxis” that human beings make sense of their lives, “assess[ing] and interpret[ing] the events . . . through the construction of plausible narratives.”84 He also posits that the life events of illness are not to be interpreted “as instances of general laws but rather as elements of a history where a continuing individual or collective subject suffers or brings about dramatic, i.e., meaningful changes.”85 He adds, “A change is meaningful in virtue of its relation to past and future events,” which accounts for the great importance of time in narrative, both causally and temporally. Bernstein affirms that “Constructing narratives involves eliciting connections between

83 Christopher Nash, ed., Narrative in Culture: The Uses of Storytelling in the Sciences, Philosophy, and Literature, Warwick Studies in Philosophy and Literature No. 5, gen. ed. David Wood (London and New York: Routledge, l990), xii-xiii. 84 J. M. Bernstein, “Self-knowledge as Praxis: Narrative and Narration in Psychoanalysis,” ibid., 55.

85 Ibid. Italics mine. Note also the use of the word “history,” as in story or narrative.

42 events by describing them in one way or another.”86 Given the causal nature of plot versus story, this is on point, but from the standpoint of an individual’s psychic makeup, no therapy, healing, or even an illness narrative can exist unless the individual makes his or her own sense of what has happened. For a physician or clinical practitioner to create a diagnosis or find a cause for an illness is not sufficient. It explains nothing to the patient, nor does it establish connections between events. The sufferer must create that meaning, that plausible meaning, by plotting his or her story, history, or narrative (regardless of what it is called in the author’s context). This one way rather than another results in a meaningful narrative. In addition, sufferers “can form the narrative [that] would make their misery comprehensible. . . . Where pointless behavior was, there narrative shall be. Therapy just is, in part, the constructing of a narrative, the making of a generalized biography into a specific autobiographical tale.”87 Point of view can effect illness narrative to a fairly important consideration. In fact, the central issue in the illness narrative Just a Head: Stories in a Body is that it has two narrators, both of whom have medical or scientific backgrounds. Denise Fassett writes in first and third person about M. R. Gallagher’s illness; Gallagher only writes in the first person, as this is her illness and thus her illness narrative. Moreover, each author has her own agenda in writing about M. R.’s illness, and sometimes these priorities conflict. Fassett describes the conflict this way:

When we had the flexibility to move beyond the research to writing this book we found that we still followed some of the structures we had used for the research. That is we always went back over the stories (re-storying) which enabled us to add a rich depth of understanding that we both shared. . . . I then dealt with the process of weaving yet another story (mine) into the text again. . . . I found this particularly difficult because it forced me to work with the inevitable tension of whose voice was privileged. Walker88 argues that when theorists and participants in research jostle for space there are many voices to privilege and this creates

86 Ibid. By the same token, the prognosis a physician offers has little effect on the way an illness narrative ends, for the narrative belongs to the patient rather than the doctor. A prognosis is an educated guess; the physician can be an agent in the story, but is neither the protagonist nor the narrator. 87 Ibid. 88 K. Walker, On What it Might Mean to Be a Nurse: A Discursive Ethnography,” unpubl. diss. (Melbourne: La Trobe University, 1993), 235.

43 a tension for the researcher.89

Many of the conflicts in perspective and voice stem from the authors’ respective backgrounds. Denise Fassett is a registered nurse and lecturer in nursing at the University of Tasmania. M. R. Gallagher, on the other hand, has degrees in biomedical sciences from Deakin and Melbourne Universities, and she holds a Master of Science degree in Nutrition and Public Health. Her journey through illness was also Fassett’s:

I wanted to know more about her experiences of her embodied existence as an ill woman. . . . I discussed how I wanted to use narrative (or story telling) as a method to engage us both in critical conversations around her illness experiences.90

Gallagher writes, “My life, as I knew it, was over. . . . As Arthur Frank said, my body was ‘colonized.’ Nurses became my arms and legs.”91 And Fassett took as the starting point for their collaboration several of Arthur Frank’s works, as well as nearly the entire existing oeuvre of Oliver Sacks, whose work they both respected. “We had conversations around some of his ideas that helped to motivate us both to explore the notion of narrative and the experience of illness,” Denise relates. “MR clearly wanted to tell her story.”92 As these quotations demonstrate, many authors of illness narratives study each others’ writings and adopt specific phraseology in the process. As the reader attempts to sort through prevailing and competing voices, the central point is this: Narrators need to find a non-medical vocabulary. The search for such a vocabulary and gaining fluency with it are properly the subject matter in Chapter 3 of the present study.

89 Fassett and Gallagher, 50-51. The conflict also creates tension for the reader who attempts to draw parallels between narrative text and musical narrative without concrete language specifying who, in the music, is speaking. This discussion takes place in Chapter 3 below. 90 Ibid., 6. 91 Ibid. Quoting Frank, WB, passim.

92 Ibid.



I. Introduction and Overview

A survey of illness narratives in medicine and literature yields a recurring set of images, analogies and themes. Several of these receive considerable emphasis and appear more frequently, while others occur only occasionally. Moreover, as is the case with variations in plot points from one narrative to the next, individual works may concentrate on some analogies or themes and de-emphasize others. Authors build meaning through their selection and development of images and themes. For example, one account of pain might adopt the language of war, conflict, and anger, whereas another might associate pain with depression, sadness, and fatigue. Each author’s syntax of symbols is rich in implications. Upon the publication of A Dictionary of Symbols (1962), J. E. Circlot achieved recognition as the leading authority on the subject of symbols. He explains “Symbolic Syntax” in the introduction to this work:

Symbols, in whatever form they may appear, are not usually isolated; they appear in clusters, giving rise to symbolic compositions which may be evolved in time (as in the case of story-telling), in space (works of art, emblems, graphic designs), or in both space and time (dreams, drama). . . . In symbolism, each detail invariably has some particular meaning . . . Combinations of symbols evidence a cumulative meaning.93

Interpreting symbols can become a complex business, but Circlot states,

93 J. E. Circlot, A Dictionary of Symbols, 2nd ed., trans. Jack Sage, Philosophical Library Series (New York: Vail- Ballou, 1971), liii. Orig. publ. Diccionario de Simbolos Tradicionales and A Dictionary of Symbols, trans. Jack Sage (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1962).

45 The most straightforward of symbological analyses based upon simple enumeration of the qualitative meanings of the object . . . will reveal a sudden opening which illuminates its meaning through an association of ideas. This association should never be thought of as a mere external idea in the mind of the investigator, outside the symbol itself, but rather as a revelation of the inner link—the “common rhythm”—joining two realities to the mutual benefit of both.94

Circlot adds that “symbolic syntax, in respect of the relationship between its individual elements, may function in four different ways.”95 For the purposes of the present investigation, the most applicable function (“manner”) is “the composite manner, in which the proximity of the symbols brings about change and creates complex meanings: a synthesis, that is, and not merely a mixture of their meanings.”96 As psychologists and psychiatrists have long known, reaching an understanding of these individuated meaning-systems becomes a rewarding and fascinating aspect of studying illness narratives. Section II discusses the themes and metaphors that appear in illness narrative in literature. It also quotes passages from many representative works to show illuminate the ways in which writers express themselves on aspects of illness as they tell their stories. The goal of Section II is therefore to provide a wide sampling of illness narratives across many disciplines and from multiple perspectives so that the possibilities inherent in this special genre become apparent. Section III then expands upon this understanding to show how expressions of illness may inform musical compositions. Without a well-grounded basis in literature, however, the musical discussion suffers. Chapter 2 has discussed illness narrative in terms of its distinctive shape and structure. The present study now discusses the genre with respect to its literary content— its themes and metaphors.

II. Themes and Metaphors in Illness Narrative

The economist Donald N. McCloskey wrote, “Metaphors dominate physics and stories

94 Ibid., lii. 95 Ibid., liii.

96 Ibid., liii-liv. Italics Circlot’s. The other three manners are “successive,” “progressive,” and “dramatic.”

46 dominate biology.”97 Personal narratives of sickness abound nowadays because illness is, after all, a biological condition common to everyone. McCloskey adds that metaphors are good at prediction, whereas stories are better suited for explaining a condition or event that has occurred. He writes that each mode fails, however, when it tries too hard to be the other mode:

When a metaphor is used too boldly in narrating a history it becomes ensnared in logical contradictions. . . . The model wants to eat the cake and have all the ingredients, too. It contradicts the story. Likewise, when a story attempts to predict something, by extrapolating into the future, it contradicts some persuasive model.98

Returning to the writing of the psychoanalyst J. M. Bernstein, we are reminded that “Therapy just is, in part, the constructing of a narrative, the making of a generalized biography into a specific autobiographical tale.”99 According to Bernstein, an analyst

. . . makes interpretive suggestions for a story the patient cannot tell . . . they can be verified only if the patient adopts them and tells his story with their aid. The interpretation of the case is corroborated only by the successful continuation of an interrupted self-formative process.100

Most striking, however, is Bernstein’s assessment in which he turns the autobiographical narrative’s focus toward the realm of illness, which is a true disturbance of the self:

On Habermas’s reading, then, the id represents charged, split off symbols, symbols charged because they have been split off and semantically privatized. The consequences of privatization, the binding of a symbol to a particular event or cluster of events in a

97 Donald N. McCloskey, “Storytelling in Economics,” in Nash, 6. 98 Ibid.

99 Bernstein, ibid., 55.

100 Ibid. Here Bernstein is citing Jürgen Habermas, Knowledge and Human Interests, trans. Jeremy J. Shapiro (London: Heinemann, 1972), 260.

47 life-history, is the formation of a symptom.101

He further states that “It is not sufficient in psychotherapy for the patient to desire relief from his misery or be returned to full functionality. Such desires may promote a cure, but not an analytic cure,” which is an apparent conflict between the medical and psychological fields. The entire experience is a disturbance to mind and body. Narrative, as most literary critics correctly maintain, “is the form of intelligible discourse proper to human life.”102 Bernstein the psychoanalyst, however, takes the ordinary narrative into the realm of illness, which is a true disturbance of the self:

Disturbed self-formative processes are, in reality, disturbances of identity—individual or collective; but disturbances in identity are, for us, always disturbances of the temporal ordering of existence; disturbances that can only be re-formed through (re)-narration.103

The following discussion provides quotations from a select group of representative sources.104 It is an elaboration on the characteristics and themes of literary analysis listed in Table 3-1 below, which summarizes topics that illness narratives in literature typically explore. While these topics are collectively consistent, individual authors invoke several themes, analogies, and images in the same passage, and they commonly organize them into a personal syntax. For this reason, strict categorization is not always possible or desirable. In some narratives the degree of clustering and combining of symbols (or images) blurs boundaries, because the syntax is idiosyncratic to a particular narrator, as Circlot has explained.105 The reference list of themes and analogies in illness narratives is not to be considered exhaustive by

101 Ibid., 58-59. Italics mine.

102 Ibid., 76.

103 Ibid.

104 This source material comes from contemporary illness narratives. Those from other eras accompany the case studies as appropriate. 105 While this might seem to contradict expectations, another way to explain it is this: give five chefs an identical basket of ingredients, and you will get five different dishes. Surprisingly, whether the author is a professional writer (as opposed to those who are in other fields entirely) has no bearing on the degree of blurring. To continue the cooking analogy, a chef needn’t have gone to culinary school to produce his or own singular, satisfying pot of stew--or something entirely different.

48 any means but simply to provide a preliminary framework for a discussion of this subject.

Table 3-1. Typical Themes and Analogies with Associated Keywords

Theme/Analogy Key Images and Terms Pain as a threatening presence Animal, monster, teeth, attack, salivate, toss

Illness as war War, battle, enemy, fight, defeat

Fear as imprisonment, drowning, or Breathing, jail, capture, water, wave, swim, suffocation iron bars Despair and depression Sigh, sink, heaving, heavy, cry, hopelessness

Illness as a journey; the natural world, Climb, uphill, pilgrimage, island, field, wind, landscape clouds, birds, trees, rocks

God, religion, and the afterlife Sky, heaven, worship, deity, hell, underworld

Dreams, darkness, night, and sleep Nightmare, phantom, moon, unconsciousness, no sense of time Nostalgia, grief, memory, melancholy Loss, remembrance, the past, sadness, tears, missing, lack, absence

Themes and analogies as presented in Table 3-1 occur in literary illness narrative with great regularity. Not only are accounts of illness similar, but they are also remarkably consistent over the centuries and among Western societies. This strongly suggests that terminologies of images characteristic in illness narratives, like all other terminologies, are transmitted as cultural symbols; it also suggests that illness is such a universal experience that sufferers who “listen” to their bodies are able to generate a common language for what they are feeling, both physically and emotionally. One set of terms has achieved special status in illness narratives; these are like magnets in

49 that they attract many images and symbols from across the list, and they function as an overlay or matrix in themselves. In a sense, the core terms are the centers of an author’s symbolic constellations, so charged with meaning that they defy categorization altogether. Moreover, these core terms operate not only across the spectrum of themes and analogies but also across the form and structure of the narrative. They can concentrate their power over any number of elements within meaning-clusters, and they can appear at every plot point except the first and last. For these reasons, specific examples from illness narratives in prose (i.e., in isolation) are nearly impossible to present here, although some have already been introduced in previous quotations. The core terms are: 1. Sinking 2. The Abyss, the Void 3. Bells 4. Clouds 5. Windows The following discussion of primary themes and analogies in illness narratives corresponds to the eight ideas shown above in Table 3-1. In their exploration of these ideas authors demonstrate a great deal of fluidity, often blending categories and using elements in distinctive combinations.

A. Pain as a threatening presence

Without exception, all narrators of illness focus on pain. Patients discuss pain to such a degree that clinical practitioners have developed an entire vocabulary to describe its quality and intensity. Pain management has become a medical specialization in its own right, and entire medical facilities now devote themselves exclusively to treating it. In a parallel development, while the dominant theme in illness narratives has typically been pain, the subject arises even more frequently and in greater descriptive detail toward the end of the twentieth century. Michael Stein, M.D., examines pain in his second-person illness narrative, The Lonely Patient. As a physician and professor of medicine at Brown University, he is accustomed to discussing case histories in which pain figures prominently. As the brother-in-law of a terminally ill cancer sufferer, he has achieved a high level of understanding where pain and

50 patienthood connect. From the outset, he says,

Often the first sign of the body’s betrayal is the arrival of pain, and . . . the most crucial fact about pain is its immediacy. Patients in pain think about nothing but that. They wake up thinking about pain. They go to sleep thinking about pain.106

Stein also concentrates on the most obvious indicator of pain, the scream.

Pain is, literally, unspeakable. Pain’s expression is a matter of arrhythmic, non-uniform syllables of moans and screams. Its dimensions are radically private, prelingual, unattached. Each person’s pain is like nothing we have ever heard before. Pain destroys language; sounds of distress are its only form.107

He echoes many writers in saying,

Screams convey only a limited dimension of the experience. . . . Invisible, unexplainable pain is a matter of enduring wordlessness. In some ways, pain induces, perhaps demands, wordlessness. The patient believes that any attempted description is necessarily unhelpful.108

There are as many ways to describe pain as there are sufferers of it. Consider Gallagher’s account in Just a Head:

The pain that I experience permeates my every waking moment and even disturbs my sleep. It is strong and deep, penetrating, with an almost burning quality. . . . I am very unaware of my body except for the pain which does remind me of its existence in a very cruel way. I can hardly cope with my pain. Pain and tiredness dominate my life. Pain is very difficult to explain to other people, especially doctors. I understand that it cannot be measured like

106 Michael Stein, M.D., The Lonely Patient (New York: HarperCollins, 2007), 18.

107 Stein, 28.

108 Ibid., 29-30.

51 other clinical signs and symptoms, but that then becomes the problem.109

Gallagher’s description is emotional; her pain burns. This pain has a certain masculine, incubus- like presence (it is strong, deep, penetrating, and cruel, and it disturbs her sleep), and the word “pain” itself occurs as a drumbeat, insistent and jarring. The reader feels just how oppressive her pain is and how anguished she is about it. Audre Lorde, author of The Cancer Journals, writes in a journal entry dated 26 January 1979 that “pain fills me like a puspocket and every touch threatens to breech [sic] the taut membrane that keeps it from flowing through and poisoning my whole existence.”110 She is vulnerable to this toxic, liquid pain, yet she is the shell that keeps it intact, inside herself. Even though it fills her, it does not contaminate her life, because she has managed to prevent it from flowing out of her body. These grotesque images are those of the horror film or gothic novel. Ironically, she is protective of this toxic sac of pus, lest it escape. By 22 April her description of pain indicates that she has reached a level of passivity: “I must let this pain flow through me and pass on. If I resist or try to stop it, it will detonate inside me, shatter me, splatter my pieces against every wall and person that I touch.”111 Despite her passivity, however, Lorde still presents the opposition of liquid and solid, and she uses imagery of violence and carnage to imply that remaining passive to pain prevents destruction. In another journal entry Lorde presents a catalogue of her pain(s):

Even propped up on pillows I found I couldn’t sleep more than three or four hours at a time because my back and shoulder were paining me so. There were fixed pains, and moveable pains, deep pains and surface pains, strong pains and weak pains. There were stabs and throbs and burns, gripes and tickles and itches.112

Anyone, chronically ill or not, can appreciate this catalogue. Lorde’s description has an interesting musicality to it, as well as its own other qualities and the drumbeat in Gallagher’s

109 Fassett and Gallagher, 88. 110 Audre Lorde, The Cancer Journals, 2nd. ed. (San Francisco: Spinsters Ink, 1980), 11.

111 Ibid, 12. 112 Lorde., 51.

52 narrative. The Tender Bud by Madeleine Meldin, M.D., features a stunning parallel with Lorde’s account of breast cancer. Lorde’s pain that fills her “like a puspocket” (see above, n103) corresponds strikingly with Meldin’s nightmare version of herself:

That night I had a nightmare. I was getting undressed when I saw that I had a hole in the nipple of my good breast. A white, puslike material oozed out of it. I looked closer and found that I had an open wound under the nipple. More whitish material came out of it. Suddenly the breast burst open, and yellowish liquid came out of the wound with the gurgling sound of a bottle that is being emptied. I looked in horror.113

Aside from the similarity between the respective authors’ journal entries in this specific instance, their experience of breast cancer and its treatment are otherwise opposites in almost every respect. Lorde’s entry here is a conscious explication of pain; Meldin’s however, is a subconscious product of fear.114 Nevertheless, their language is remarkably alike. The other noteworthy similarity between their respective journals is also a matter of language, and is discussed below in section B. In her illness narrative, The Alchemy of Illness, Kat Duff writes about pain in powerful terms. She explains,

There comes that point when the symptoms—the headache, congestion, or nausea—is so uncomfortable, so painful, that we cannot think of anything else. Our usually free and wide-ranging consciousness is focused, fixed, indeed nailed to that point in our bodies calling attention. The whole world collapses into that point and ceases to exist, for pain is the sword that clears everything away, the sudden swish of annihilation.115

113 Madeleine Meldin, M.D., The Tender Bud: A Physician’s Journey Through Breast Cancer (Hillsdale, NJ and London: Analytic Press, 1993), 11. Meldin’s journal entry is dated 11 October 1988.

114 While Lorde’s journals discuss her refusal to undergo reconstructive surgery, or even to wear a prosthesis or wig, Meldin’s journal concentrates rather heavily on these aspects of breast cancer. Lorde did not receive chemotherapy, and her journals do not mention any fear of metastasis. Meldin, on the other hand, writes extensively about chemotherapy and metastasis, desperately fearing a recurrence in her other breast 115 Duff, 14.

53 This pain that Duff describes is no mere military force (“calling attention,” “the sword”). It is practically the Crucifixion and Armageddon combined (“nailed to” and “the sword . . . of annihilation”). Illness is also a landscape or terrain, albeit one that features only pain. For her, “There is no apparent rhyme or reason to the geography of illness, only the ultimate authority and agency of physical pain.”116 As Tony Moore, M.D., is driving to the hospital one day he is suddenly hit by something large, frightening, and life-changing: a thirty-ton semi. In Cry of the Damaged Man he is not inclined, as Stein, Gallagher, Lorde, Meldin, and Duff are, to speak about pain in terms of the four elements of nature (especially water) or as war. His conception of pain is every bit as threatening as theirs, but pain, for him, is a vicious animal. He writes, “Now the pain really started to bite for the first time. . . . [I] was caught by a pain which was becoming more savage with every word.”117 This physical pain immediately gives way to fear, and it is the fear, not the pain, that is both water and weapon. His next sentences reveal this:

For an hour I had been protected by the body’s private response to damage. Millions of years of mammalian adaptation to predators and injury had produced a flood of natural chemicals which helped to protect me from the pain and shock. But now I felt them dilute and ebb as nausea and fear came thrusting at me like the blades of winter waves.118

Moore’s extensive injuries caused a great deal of physical pain, but throughout his narrative he places much greater emphasis on the emotional pain that he felt. The predatory animal that is Moore’s pain savages his emotions even more than his body. His emotional suffering was so severe, he became that savage wild animal:

Acceptance [of a broken body and spirit] was . . . a quality which tempered . . . moods of marauding madness during which I could stalk even those dear to me and crouch ready to leap on any human frailty and tear at it with savage intolerance. When my indignation preyed uncontrollably, it was a justified pastime for me to regard

116 Duff, 13-14.

117 Moore, 8. 118 Ibid.

54 every human quality . . . as available for attack. There is little purpose in offering a collective apology to all those who were mauled unfairly.119

B. Illness as War

Using the language of war and the military in the context of illness is quite common today. Patients battle cancer, fight chronic illness, struggle against the tyranny of disease. Infections attack the sufferer’s immune system. Physicians order batteries of tests. Few illness narratives contain a more militaristic vocabulary than Audre Lorde’s The Cancer Journals. In the fifth sentence of the book she writes of some breast cancer victims’ denials of what they had endured, while “for some women it means the warrior’s painstaking examination of yet another weapon, unwanted but useful.”120 Images of steel on steel, bloodshed, fire, and detonations pervade her narrative. On New Year’s Day 1980 Lorde recorded in her journal,

Faith is the last day of Kwanza[a], and the name of the war against despair, the battle I fight daily. I become better at it. I want to write about that battle, the skirmishes, the losses, the small yet so important victories that make the sweetness of my life.121

Madeleine Meldin even exceeds Lorde’s constant, impassioned invocation of illness as war. In fact, The Tender Bud may be the most war-centered of any illness narrative in the literature. Meldin is every inch the warrior in a cataclysmic struggle:

My chemotherapy, I thought, was a war, intended, as all wars are said to be intended, to sacrifice the part . . . for the whole of the nation, for the whole of the body. That is what chemotherapy is: a war, a massive, atomic bomblike blast to the enemy, the inner traitorous cells.122

119 Moore, 45.

120 Lorde, 9. As a matter of cultural heritage, upbringing, and fierce desire for individuality, Lorde adopted the name Gambda Adisa, meaning Warrior: She Who Makes Her Meaning Known. . 121 Lorde 13. 122 Meldin, 81.

55 Meldin also echoes some of Lorde’s references to Amazonian warriors, although Lorde was referring to the elite warrior women of Dahomey, and Meldin to the men of the Amazon River:

I was now to go willingly to the slaughterhouse to get my first cocktail of lethal chemotherapy. I had to offer my hair to the killers. I could not help thinking, when I held the wig in my hand for the first time, that I was like the Indians of the Amazon River holding the hair of their murdered enemies in their victorious hands. The difference in this case was that I was both the victor warrior and the victim trophy.123

The analogy of the Amazon arises more frequently than one might think. Robert Murphy, an anthropologist at Columbia University until an insidious spinal tumor rendered him a quadriplegic, wrote the illness narrative The Body Silent to tell his story. He first explains, “This book was conceived in the realization that my long illness with a disease of the spinal cord has been a kind of extended anthropological trip, for through it I have sojourned in a social world no less strange to me at first than those of the Amazon forests.”124 During the narrative Murphy metaphorizes his changed self: “My narration bears an eerie resemblance to the mythtelling of the shamans of the . . . Peruvian Amazon, who . . . relate their myths while holding their bodies absolutely motionless.”125

C. Fear as imprisonment, drowning, or suffocation

Narrators often analogize the experience of fear as imprisonment. Stein confirms, “The patient expects illness to enforce a sense of restlessness and fluidity, but groggy and passive, he soon feels taken over, trapped, imprisoned.”126 Lorde examines why she writes so much about fear, which she says stalks her and robs her creative force. In this respect, fear is as threatening a

123 Ibid., 45. On 21 September 1978 (p. 34), the eve of her mastectomy, Lorde wonders how the Amazons of Dahomey (in French West Africa, now Benin) felt, willingly sacrificing a breast so that their arrows would fly straighter and truer to the target. 124 Robert Murphy, The Body Silent (New York: Henry Holt, 1987), ix. 125 Murphy, 222. Murphy had to be strapped into a wheelchair so that he could write on a word processor. Murphy’s story is described in Arthur Frank, “What kind of Phoenix? Illness and Self-Knowledge,” Second Opinion 18/2 (Oct. 1992), 30-41. In this article he also discusses Audre Lorde’s The Cancer Journals. 126 Stein, 7.

56 presence as pain. She acknowledges that if she were to stop writing and wait for the fear, or the criminal behavior that victimizes her, to pass, she would “be sending messages on a ouija board, cryptic complaints from the other side.”127 In writing the introduction to The Cancer Journals, she says, “I found fear laid across my hands like a steel bar.”128 Contrasting with Lorde’s syntax of war, fire, steel, and imprisonment, Gallagher’s metaphors invoke drowning and suffocation. She never speaks of a prison; her narrative often mentions her fear of suffocation, however, which is an understandable fear due to her asthma. As such, it is one of her first fears, and perhaps the strongest one:

I imagine dying with asthma—fighting for every last breath. I have a real phobia of being unable to breathe and dying. . . . In the initial stages of my illness breathing was the problem and I had been ventilated. I couldn’t even sleep for fear that I would stop breathing and die.129

When Gallagher mentions drowning she is usually discussing personal care, the practical concerns of her illness, rather than the emotional: “Once when the nurse made me hold the toothbrush to clean my teeth my head fell in the sink—I nearly drowned.”130 At one point in her treatment she does talk about drowning in suicidal terms. Hating her new nursing home she sits in her wheelchair down by the river, thinking, “if only my wheelchair would run down the hill and tip me into the river so that I could drown.”131 Years into recovery, Moore mentions “reminders” of his ordeal that “come unexpectedly.” One such reminder of “feelings of distress” he experienced is his recurrent “dream of drowning in fire.”132 Drowning is a common metaphor in illness narratives, but usually the narrator drowns in water, not fire. Yet Moore is not alone among the narrators in combining water and fire; in The Alchemy of Illness, Kat Duff speaks of all four elements of nature with

127 Lorde, 15.

128 Ibid. 129 Fassett and Gallagher, 87.

130 Ibid., 105.

131 Fassett and Gallagher, 120. 132 Moore, 126.

57 regard to healing, particularly hydrotherapy:

The elements that form our physical makeup are the same ones that constitute the earth as a living body—seawater and volcanic ash, circulating air and the spark of life that is fire—and they rank among the most powerful agents for healing.133

Moore sometimes uses the metaphor of drowning to describe his frustration with managing his energies trying to decide how much to devote to his own healing, and how much to divert to his relationships. In his “inability to maintain the support I felt was needed by others,” he writes, “I sensed . . . their feelings of bewilderment or even betrayal. But I was as helpless to change this situation as is a drowning man who is ordered to swim. It made me feel worthless and acted against the tide of my recovery.”134

D. Despair and depression

Michael Stein examines the relationship between pain and despair in The Lonely Patient. In discussing the case of a patient whose pain was no longer confined to the nighttime, he writes, “If her pain started in the morning, despair in wild proportions arrived by noon.”135 Lorde states that fear is not the worst part of her illness. Rather, she believes, fear and anger are the parents of her “greatest internal enemy,” despair.136 Integrating the “illness as war” analogy into her prose about despair, Lorde writes,

I have found that battling despair does not mean closing my eyes to the enormity of the tasks of effecting change, nor ignoring the strength and the barbarity of the forces aligned against us. . . . It means, for me, recognizing the enemy outside and the enemy within.137

133 Duff, 25. 134 Moore, 47.

135 Stein, 25.

136 Lorde, 15. 137 Ibid., 17.

58 This passage illustrates the synthesizing nature of Lorde’s experience of illness; just as she incorporates militaristic metaphors she moves on to the topic of despair within a larger discussion of fear. She writes often and colorfully about it: “Sometimes despair sweeps across my consciousness like lunar winds across a barren moonscape. Ironshod horses rage back and forth over every nerve.”138 This excerpt dated 26 January 1979 Lorde presents despair in feminine terms (lunar winds in a barren moonscape), in opposition to the masculine pain (raging ironshod horses from the cavalry). She compares her consciousness to the lifeless surface of the moon, and her despair to lunar winds that blow soundlessly in the vacuum of outer space. In her entry from 1 May 1979 Lorde still uses images that border on the phantasmagorical, yet they are symbols of more concrete, everyday objects associated with another analogy prevalent in illness narratives, illness as landscape, weather, and the seasons:

Spring comes, and still I feel despair like a pale cloud waiting to consume me, engulf me like another cancer, swallow me into immobility, metabolize me into cells of itself; my body, a barometer. . . . The other will always be waiting to eat me up into despair again. And that means destruction. I don’t know how, but it does.139

Interestingly, at no time in The Cancer Journals does Lorde mention suffering from depression. She is simply not depressed. For other narrators, however, depression is an issue extending to the suicidal, whereas despair is not even a factor in the illness experience. Lorde’s entry above constitutes an example of an interesting mixture of metaphors compared to Gallagher’s entries. When Lorde talks about despair, she uses language that points toward suffocation and drowning; Gallagher mentions these two conditions when the talks about fear. Whereas Lorde never discusses depression, Gallagher’s narrative focuses a great deal on it:

A couple of years into my illness the stress of everything really got to me and I became very depressed. I couldn’t concentrate and my feeling of overwhelming sadness took over. I was so sad that I

138 Ibid., 11.

139 Ibid., 12.

59 would feel it physically as tightness in my chest.140

E. Illness as a journey; the natural world and landscape

Writers have often used the metaphor of the journey, landscape, and nature as a way of externalizing an internal state. Illness narratives extend the metaphor to include the struggles that the sufferer experiences, “not only physical but also emotional and social.”141 The author who does not liken his or her illness experience to a journey through a foreign land is rare indeed. Michael Stein comments,

Sickness, it occurred to me, is a foreign kingdom, an unrecognizable neighborhood. . . . If illness is like going to a different, disturbed country, then the experience of illness—moving through that land—can be thought of as a kind of travel. It is an odd sort of journey because the sick person receives no invitation; he is suddenly, involuntarily, taken there.142

He adds, “In this new country, there is a different sense of time. Strict chronology is gone. . . . Illness does not proceed by design; each step is unexpected and can come on suddenly.”143 The theme of illness as journey pervades The Lonely Patient, although Stein focuses on this theme only once more late in the narrative when he writes,

The chilling message of illness is that the body has a life of its own. Our minds, we understand most clearly when we are sick, follow rather than lead. The body is despotic. During illness—when the body is mutinous, in revolt—it takes us to a country where the children are baldheaded (pediatric oncology) and the adults have tubes to their bladders (urology) or oxygen necklaces (pulmonary). We are led into a new psychic landscape that is barren, prisonlike, a hole. It is a lonely place we don’t

140 Fassett and Gallagher, 102. 141 Frank, WS, 118.

142 Stein, 10.

143 Ibid., 11.

60 recognize and have never seen, though somehow we always knew it existed. We can’t judge distances, scents, relationships, threats. Illness is a land of tests and trials.144

The analogy of illness as a strange landscape (and the process as a journey through this odd place) lends itself readily to Arthur Frank’s category of quest narrative. He divides the quest into three parts or stages: the call, the road of trials, and . The quest narrative “recall[s] the journey of the mythological hero. . . . The call in illness narratives consists of recognizing a symptom not just as the sign of a disease but as the beginning of the journey.”145 In this first stage, “The call is the symptom: the lump, dizziness, cough, or other sign that the body is not as it should be,”146 but because many people ignore these symptoms (i.e., they do not heed the call) their narratives cannot exist. Eventually, however, the storyteller must reach a point of recognizing that suffering is in store—but also that some “boon” exists after enduring the trials. Frank explains,

Quest stories tell of searching for alternative ways of being ill. As the ill person gradually realizes a sense of purpose, the idea that illness has been a journey emerges. The meaning of the journey emerges recursively; the journey is taken in order to find out what sort of journey one has been taking.147

Denton Welch confirms this sense of purpose:

I seemed to date everything now from last June; it was as if I had been born again when I woke up to the horror of the green screens round me in the hospital. Of course I often thought of things that had happened to me before then; but these scenes were always docketed “Old Life.” The New Life, because it was so different, because it had been forced on me, and because it was painful, had taken on the aspect of a pilgrimage or special journey. I looked for

144 Stein, 177. 145 Frank, OG, 7. The three parts are drawn from the work of anthropologist Joseph Campbell in The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Bollingen Series, vol. 17 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1949).

146 Frank, WS, 117.

147 Ibid.

61 significance in every tiny thing.148

In The Alchemy of Illness Katt Duff describes much the same scenario:

Defying the rules of ordinary reality, illness shares in the hidden logic of dreams, fairy tales, and the spirit realms mystics and shamans describe. There is often the feeling of exile, wandering, searching, facing dangers, finding treasures. . . . Dreams assume a momentous authority, while small ordinary things, like aspirin, sunshine, or a glass of water, become charged with potency, the magical ability to cure or poison.149

The recognition of impending suffering occurs in plot points 3 and 4, “on a bridge suspended over the void,”150 “poised on ‘a tiny platform . . . above the abyss,’”151 and then “falling over the edge of a chasm . . . plunging over the side,”152 or falling “through into the lost place.”153 The reflexivity of storytelling does not begin until the sufferer is far enough along in the journey to reconstruct events that have already transpired. Further, as Frank states, making coherent sense of illness and self through the trials leads to “enhanced subjectivity, extending toward others specifically and toward life generally. Most illness narratives culminate in some expression of how the self has been changed by the experience of suffering.”154

F. God, religion, and the afterlife

Death is an immense topic in the Romantic period, but it is not the focus of the present study. Still, death is necessarily an important theme in illness narrative, whether as an individual confronts thoughts of his or her mortality, or observes, as Lorde does, the death of a body part.

148 Welch, 208. 149 Duff, 13.

150 Stein, 217.

151 Sacks, Musicophilia, 197.

152 Frank, WB, 16.

153 Sacks, Musicophilia,209.

154 Frank, OG, 8.

62 For similar reasons, aspects of faith, religion, and beliefs have a function here. Ill people naturally examine their belief systems in view of their changed life circumstances. In fact, their changed circumstances force this examination of death and belief as manifestations of the future for which they must prepare. Moore concentrates on immortality rather than mortality. His view of immortality was much changed from his pre-accident vision. He had previously thought that immortality “could only exist in the minds of others through a direct influence, or indirectly through exposure to a lasting creation or record of actions. . . . I thought the greatest degree of immortality was created by those influence on others was widespread, intense, and enduring.” In Moore’s mind, then, “Christ was very much alive, but then so were Julius Caesar, Beethoven, Shakespeare, Buddha, Hitler, and [Elvis] Presley.”155 Moore came to realize that the “recording” of influence did not ensure immortality. Further, he decided, “important elements of immortality will exist even if left ‘unrecorded.’”156 He cites proofs of sorts, drawn from the arts and nature:

The beauty of the ballet dancer remains forever in the whole, even if it was never captured on film; the sounds of a singer remain in the wind even though they were never recorded; all gentle or cruel human actions leave their impact even if history books have missed them. Not a single grain of emotional/moral sand can shift without affecting the universe.157

Lorde’s breast cancer journals are exclusively secular or mythical in her approach to the subject, with occasional references to Buddhism but never to God, the Bible, or prayer. Even her devil is a secular one. She envisions “sending messages on a ouija board, cryptic complaints from the other side”158 as she contemplates her afterlife. This reinforces the message that although she believes in some kind of existence after death, afterlife has more to do with the occult. She never uses the words “God” or “prayer.” The language of liturgy is absent from her narrative. Where belief is mentioned as a guide for moral and spiritual life, it is in reference to Kwanzaa, the week-

155 Moore, 94.

156 Ibid. 157 Ibid., 94-95. 158 Lorde, 15.

63 long African-American festival of harvest that begins in late December. For Lorde, an earthly continuum starts before birth and extends beyond death. In the great scheme of things, she believes that the importance of “women’s work, reclaiming this earth and our power,” transcends one person’s life, but provides all the meaning of an individual’s existence.159 Death, on the other hand, is something to be answered to, but not overmuch: “The need to look death in the face and not shrink from it, yet not ever to embrace it too easily, was a developmental and healing task for me.” She summarizes succinctly, “The only answer to death is the heat and confusion of living.”160 In Just a Head Fassett tells the reader that “MR is not religious but she silently held on to her belief that eventually doctors would find out what was wrong with her and ‘make her better.’” She was not like Oliver Sacks who turned “to religion for the comfort and security that [he] was not able to find in the people around [him].” Yet Gallagher and Sacks were alike, Fassett believes, in that “this inward journey that ill people experience . . . brings them to the realization of how alone they actually are.”161 She reports that Gallagher had lost “faith” in the quality of care where she had been; in new surroundings, she uses the metaphor of “medical salvation, through which science and religion seem to fuse, implying she hopes to be saved,”162 but this salvation is not of a theological kind. Gallagher confronted dying on a daily basis. Finally, in desperation, she planned the date and manner of her death. Her dying wish was to take a plane ride over Candle Mountain. In the account, Gallagher, like Lorde, imagines herself after death (or tries to):

My friends arranged it, and propped [me] up with pillows[.] We went skyward, [and] the clouds cleared as if on cue. The view was fantastic. I was delighted to see patches of snow. I closed my eyes to see if I could imagine being dead. I was ready to die.163

There was no afterlife for her, but “my next life.” But she did not die.

159 Ibid., 17.

160 Ibid., 47. 161 Fassett and Gallagher, 86. 162 Ibid., 108. 163 Ibid., 127.

64 In retrospect, Gallagher verbalizes her consideration of other belief systems. She writes,

I like to think of the time/space continuum that I am passing through—sort of a Buddhist thing. I think I’ve been close to death quite often and it’s not a tangible thing—it’s just something you know. It’s like a flickering candle burning out.164

Meldin’s narrative is by far the most God-centered of any contemporary illness story discussed in this section. Her voice is also the most likely to use the imagery of nature, as she fuses nature with religion in her writing. For the most part, The Tender Bud evokes scenery from the earth, sky, and forests, particularly flowers and animals such as birds. She imagines her existence after death and hardly ever misses an opportunity to mention the Bible.

And now, there on the horizon, arching over the broken branches, a barely visible rainbow appeared. It was, like the first rainbow, a sign of accepting peace, of submission to my condition of not owning my own life. . . . Perhaps it was also the feeling Noah must have felt: in a sea of death his ark was still supported on the surface of life by the killer of all other living creatures. It was a good feeling of wonder and hope, of foreboding and horror. The hour of doves had not yet come. . . . On Sunday I went to High Mass, and while the choir was singing the alleluia I transported my imagined postdead self into the presence of my Maker and wished I would be granted the grace of finding all the creatures of this vast universe, big and small, singing the alleluia of life in their diverse, tiny or thunderous voices. I felt for a moment the atemporality, the weightlessness of my imagined eternity. . . . The alleluia was coming to an end, after having opened for me a broad Jacob’s ladder between heaven and earth.165

For Michael Stein the issue of religion is conjoined with pain. “Pain has always had religious overtones,” he states.166 “’Life is the place of pain,’ says the Bhagavad Gita. Suffering

164 Ibid., 132. 165 Meldin, 27-28.

166 Stein 43.

65 is the central metaphor in Judeo-Christian thought: the test of faith in the story of Job, the sacrificial redemption of the crucifixion.”167 With those examples Stein begins a sweeping synopsis of the history of pain and religion as literature summarized it.

C. S. Lewis, in his book The Problem of Pain, suggested that without pain we would not take note of God’s power, nor have any reason to glorify him. The earl religions imagined Hell as a place of unavoidable and incalculable physical pain. The modern Hell involves psychic punishment, disembodied torture without end. Both Dante and Milton, in emphasizing that in the “doleful shades” of Hell pain is permanent, differentiate punitive pain from the moral cleansing associated with transitory discomfort. Pain worsens only because one refuses to know God or bliss. Suffering brings refinement; pain is the punishing route to a transformed self. With the introduction of ether and the sedative gases, religious writers called such anesthetic practices a violation of God’s law; they believed that God inflicts pain to strengthen faith and teach self-sacrifice. But for us moderns . . . bodily pain trumps psychic pain. As Oscar Wilde wrote, “God spare me physical pain and I’ll take care of the moral pain myself.”168

G. Dreams, darkness, night, and sleep

Dreams, or more specifically nightmares, appear in illness narratives with great regularity. Some center upon the core terms, while others draw an element from Table 3-1. They also tend to combine real elements from their illness experience (such as the hydrotherapy pool that Tony Moore describes for its “bliss,” “bubbly joy,” “buoyancy,” and welcoming heat) with a terror symbol such as drowning. He claims,

I had only one truly terrifying dream during the whole ordeal. It occurred toward the end of my formal rehabilitation about seven months after the accident. I dreamt I was drowning at the bottom of the hydrotherapy pool and no-one would come to save me.169

167 Ibid., 43-44. 168 Ibid., 44. 169 Moore, 75.

66 Nighttime presented captivating as well as fearful moments for Arthur Frank. Unable to sleep, usually because of pain, he fought its “incoherence one night before it abated”:

Making my way upstairs, I was stopped on the landing by the sight—the vision really—of a window. Outside the window I saw a tree and the streetlight just beyond was casting the tree’s reflection on the frosted glass. Here suddenly was beauty, found in the middle of a night that seemed to be only darkness and pain. Where we see the face of beauty, we are in our proper place, and all becomes coherent.170

Whether day or night, Frank found himself outside “that natural cycle”:

During the day I was too tired to work, during the night the hammering in my back prevented me from sleeping. I was neither daily [diurnal] nor nocturnal, but suspended outside the limits of either existence. I was neither functionally present nor accountably absent. I lived my life out of place.171

This feeling of being out of place became one of Frank’s worst fears, a fear that produced nightmares, but at the root is still pain:

I used to have nightmares of finding myself in a place I knew to be forbidden, without any clothes and having to get back (in dreams you never know where) without being seen. Sometimes the nightmare would become an adventure. I would half fly and half flow, silent and naked, through dark, empty alleyways. Other times I would be caught out, fumbling and immobile, for all to see. Part of the fear in such dreams is of being out of place. I was no less out of place on those nights I half sat and half lay, trying to find a position outside of the pain.172

He explains, “My disease connected pain with night. . . . Darkness compounds the isolation and

170 Frank, WB, 33. 171 Ibid., 32. 172 Ibid., 32.

67 loneliness of pain . . . In darkness the world of those in pain becomes unglued, incoherent.”173

H. Nostalgia, grief, memory, melancholy

Sufferers of chronic illness always mourn, whether for a lost way of life, a body part or function, a vanished self, or a broken relationship. For some narrators the reflection is bittersweet or even pleasant; for others meditating on loss increases pain and debilitation. Oftentimes there is not much to distinguish between grief and depression or sadness, but ways do exist to separate these feelings to some extent. Audre Lorde’s mourning is both private and public. Her journal entry of 5 October 1978 states, “I mourn the women who limit their loss to the physical loss alone, who do not move into the whole terrible meaning of mortality as both weapon and power.”174 She later writes, “For many women including myself, there is a feeling of wanting to go back . . . and it is this feeling, this nostalgia . . . this regressive tie to the past [that] is emphasized by the concentration upon breast cancer as a cosmetic problem.”175 This entry is in marked contrast to her single sentence from 6 April 1980: “Somedays [sic], if bitterness were a whetstone, I could be sharp as grief.”176 As she did in addressing other themes and metaphors associated with illness narratives, Lorde invokes the four elements in her discussion of grief. Looking back on her surgery eighteen months afterward, there is fire and water in the “molten despair and waves of mourning—for my lost breast, for time, for the luxury of false power.”177

By contrast M. R. Gallagher is stoic and practical in her references to grief. Her voice is typically straightforward, monosyllabic, and largely without adjectives:

I have grieved so long and so hard for all of my losses and for the loss of not being able to care for myself. Becoming a head has

173 Ibid., 30. 174 Lorde, 53. 175 Ibid., 55.

176 Ibid., 13. 177 Lorde, 16.

68 made this easier. This doesn’t mean that I don’t care what happens to my body. If my body is not cared for then it threatens the health of my head. My head, or I guess my mind, is the only thing that I have left.178

In an uncharacteristic moment her narrative voice becomes poignant and almost unbearably sad in its nostalgia, although the language retains the same characteristics that the previous quotation shows. She writes, “I really miss my legs. I remember the sound of my feet on the bridge where I lived; the sound of my feet walking. The wind in my hair.”179 For the usually silent Gallagher, grief and nostalgia are, for once, sounded.

Other Common Themes and Analogies

The set of ideas that individual sufferers draw upon in telling their stories of illness experience contains several more that appear frequently enough to merit attention in the present study. They are legitimate themes in their own right, although they often appear as sub-themes within a complex or cluster. Then again, specific illness narratives may not address them at all. As before, the following list in Table 3-2 is by no means exclusive:

Table 3-2. Other Themes and Analogies with Associated Key Terms

Theme/Analogy Key Terms Silence vs. speaking up, private vs. public Expression in speech, activism, mute

Writing as power, writing the body, mind- Reading, scars, separation, expression in body split writing Isolation vs. intimacy, invisibility, loneliness Touch, personal care, secrecy, self- protection, guilt

178 Fassett and Gallagher, 80.

179 Ibid., 130.

69 The three themes in this category inevitably become bound with each other as well as into the themes and analogies presented earlier. They are nearly homogenous within the texture of the narrative, although they tend to appear more frequently in plot points 5 through 8. The illness narrative represents a sufferer’s effort to make sense of what has happened to him or her, and to construct a new or revised self in light of experience. Arthur Frank has conducted several studies of what he calls “contemporary illness narrative.” In one such study he sets forth three prerequisites for an illness narrative to exist, stating that “the contemporary illness narrative is both a product of, and a reaction to, these three conditions.” He continues,

First, for people to consider it worthwhile to write stories of their illnesses, and for others to read these, illness must be individual [i.e., not a “mass phenomenon”]. . . . Second, for narratives to get written, survivors have to survive for some length of time. . . . Third, the assimilation of personal experience to the “unifying general view” of clinical medicine has progressed so far that a reaction to it opens a space for the particular experience of individuals.180

He adds a fourth condition that relates directly to the theme of silence vs. speaking up. Frank states, “The emergence of the illness narrative requires that . . . people must consider it appropriate for private experiences to be represented as public events.”181 In another study of contemporary illness narratives, in which Frank specifically refers to the writings of Audre Lorde, Robert Murphy, and Oliver Sacks, among others, he claims,

Most of the authors of illness narratives are previously published, though for many the illness narrative was their first first-person book. For those who took up professional writing only after their illness, writing itself is an act of becoming a new self.182

180 Arthur W. Frank, “The Rhetoric of Self-Change: Illness Experience as Narrative,” The Sociological Quarterly 34/1 (1993), 39-40. The one exception to the first prerequisite is the illness narrative based on AIDS, because “as individual stories, each [is] distinct and remarkable.” 181 Frank, “Rhetoric,” 40.

182 Frank, “Phoenix,” 35. The same is true for Michael Stein, M.D., who published four best-selling novels before writing The Lonely Patient.

70 Elsewhere Frank states, “For reasons I cannot explore [here], the contemporary illness narrative seems heavily influenced by many of its texts having celebrity authors.”183 Yet celebrity status or writing experience did not factor into the creation of Just a Head (Fassett and Gallagher) or The Cancer Journals (Lorde). Without question, Lorde and Gallagher gave writing primacy of place in their lives, even though Gallagher was not a writer before illness struck her. For Lorde, writing is the anodyne for pain and grief, the answer to death, and the most potent weapon in her arsenal for fighting silence, isolation, and despair. On her fourth day in the hospital (26 September 1978) Lorde had been strategizing. She later wrote of that day’s affirmations,

My work is to inhabit the silences with which I have lived and fill them with myself until they have the sounds of brightest day and the loudest thunder. And then there will be no room left inside of me for what has been except as memory of sweetness enhancing what can and is to be.184

Newly in recovery, she started speaking in public again, resuming her activism, and giving readings. The entry above also reflects that her answer to death, like Gallagher’s to grief, is sounded. On 20 February 1979 Lorde wrote in her journal, “I think I find [a way to banish fear] in work, being its own answer. Not to turn away from the fear, but to use it as fuel to help me along the way I wish to go.”185 While writing The Cancer Journals Lorde published The Black Unicorn. On 20 January 1980 her journal entry reads, “The novel is finished at last. It has been a lifeline. . . . My work kept me alive this past year.”186 When Apple Computer helped Gallagher purchase a voice-activated Macintosh, she said that the quality of her life improved dramatically. Given her adamant wish to commit suicide not long before, her new sense of self is completely changed: “My computer has become the center of my life as it brings me the world and provides my mind with the freedom and stimulation that

183 Frank, OG, 18n. 184 Lorde, 46. 185 Lorde, 54. 186 Ibid., 13.

71 it needs.”187 Writing distracts her from pain and assuages her grief. She spends many waking hours working on the computer, her “lifeline.” “Boredom,” in her revised life order, “is not a problem as I have been kept busy with writing which gives me so much joy now.”188 She is able to keep in touch via e-mail with friends overseas and stay current with the latest medical research for her disease (finally diagnosed as inflammatory neuropathy). Writing Just a Head, she says, “has also kept me busy and has certainly been a cathartic experience,” adding,

I have relived and faced much of what has happened to me during my new life. It has also helped me to grieve my beloved old life. The book has also been the impetus to other writings and I continue to tell my story which will only end when I am faced with my next life.189

Lorde and Gallagher chose to climb out of their respective illnesses, to the extent that they were able, by devoting ever-increasing energies to their work. Most people in the grips of illness need to work; for many, this need involves writing. For others, the idea of work may not be something that they could see on the page but rather an idealized goal. The transition out of silence and illness usually begins with speaking. As Michael Stein relates,

What patients can do during illness, within its ever-shrinking perimeter, is speak . . . The voice is a way of extending outward, of occupying space beyond the body. Whether confessing, begging, commanding, blessing, consenting, or cursing, the patient can describe the secret aspects of illness that are specific to him. These are the modes of survival. As Charlie [one of my patients] pointed out to me, the spray paint on the underpass nearest my hospital reads: SILENCE = DEATH.190

The theme of secrets is of great importance to Stein as he listens to his patients; he craves knowing what these secrets are, because when secrets emerge, the patient does, too.

187 Fassett and Gallagher, xviii.

188 Ibid. 189 Ibid. 190 Stein, 216.

72 During serious illness, many patients hold no secrets. A great part of my medical work is listening to people in the intense privacy of unburdening. They are ill, but while they are still vital, filled with avid strength, they confess. . . . They expose themselves, sometimes fearing it’s their last chance to explain. They feel brave doing so, spending their courage. secrets is one of the great privileges of practicing medicine.191

Another aspect of silence figures prominently in illness narratives, particularly those that doctors write: sometimes what is unsaid is more significant than what is said. Doctors invariably learn that effective listening includes being open to a sufferer’s body language. “I spoke the language of medicine fluently,” Michael Stein says, “but hadn’t tried very hard to learn the idiom of the ill.”192 He also confesses,

Whether out of self-pity or self-negligence, or because I was caring for too many patients in too little time, or because of the daily difficulty of seeing pain and terror, already I was no longer attempting to understand what my patients were communicating in gesture and expression, what was unsaid: why they were unhappy, what was bothering them most, how their bodies and lives had changed since they became sick.193

As the title suggests, loneliness is at the center of Stein’s The Lonely Patient. He believes that loneliness has myriad ramifications and takes many forms. He explains, “Solitude may be a symptom of loneliness, but it does not produce the loneliness associated with illness. Loneliness arrives with the body’s betrayal and with terror and is augmented by loss. . . . Patients immediately become psychically unavailable.”194 Sometimes this solitude and silence is self- imposed. Whatever the reasons for it, sufferers “in these moments of giving up . . . experience loneliness most acutely.”195

191 Ibid., 110.

192 Ibid., 6. 193 Ibid., 4.

194 Ibid., 182.

195 Ibid., 184.

73 Related to the theme of silence is the fact of interruptions that close off lines of communication or forestall communication altogether. Arthur Frank notes, “In the beginning is an interruption. Disease interrupts a life, and illness then means living with perpetual interruption.”196 Anyone who has spent time in a hospital can attest to this reality.

III. Illness Narratives in Music

Having established the literary factors that operate in illness narrative, both in its structure and content, the present study now extends that understanding to show how illness narrative operates in musical structure and content. As previously demonstrated, the invention of personal vocabulary on the part of the sufferer accounts for the large number of variations on traits that illness narratives have in common, some of which are unusual in music by themselves and even more unusual in the aggregate. A model for illness narratives in music does not reveal itself readily; composers arrived independently at this apparent consensus and the translation from a linguistic basis (found in literature, used in conversation with physicians, and prevalent in their culture) to what would turn out to be a new musical grammar of illness narrative in music. Upon examination and comparison, it becomes evident that they achieved a remarkably consistent model by using their feelings and culturally-determined symbols rather than the logic of prevailing conventions of music theory. Analysis of their compositions permits the characteristics of the genre to emerge. Developing vocabulary is an important and meaningful precursor to narrative-building. It proceeds from a mind-body split. In Just a Head, Fassett and Gallagher focus on the dichotomy frequently and at length. From Fassett’s point of view,

Clearly MR is talking about her body as an object. . . . According to Leder, the process of objectifying the body is often begun by the illness itself. . . . Leder argues that “when suffering, the body can come to appear as Other.”197

196 Frank WS, 56. 197 Fassett and Gallagher, 7-8. (D. Leder, “Medicine and Paradigms of Embodiment,” Journal of Medical Philosophy 9 (1984), 33.)

74 Fassett adds that “MR made sense of her body as a scientific object to be understood, as was clearly evident in the way MR spoke of the duality of her mind and body. The language . . . constitutes the nature of her illness and the illness experience itself. . . . In her words, ‘being ill has forced me to split my mind from my body.’”198 By extension, if the body is Other and the language to describe it is also Other, then the musical language must sound Other, too. Composers in the nineteenth century devised myriad ways of achieving this effect (and affect). Correlating the typical analogies and themes with potential musical events or constructions is a process that cannot be reduced to formulas nor can their meanings be encoded. In other words, while illness narratives employ recurring metaphors, the presence of those does not determine whether something is an illness narrative; to imagine a “code” for illness symbols, either in prose or in music, is inappropriate. The analyst can, however, construct a preliminary framework based on characteristics of the experience of illness, especially of illness narratives, that various authors identify in common, and some idea of how these can be generalized to make them possible in music with some degree of significance beyond superficial word-painting.199 Table 3-3 elaborates on characteristics and themes of literary analysis as listed in Tables 3-1 and 3-2, extended into music. Possibilities for interpretation are abundant; some interpretations, as the case studies will show, are more compelling than others. For this reason, Table 3-3 is intended only as a point of departure for examining how a composer might express illness analogies on several musical levels; it is not meant to establish a systematic point-to-point correspondence between the left-hand column and the right. Among the most touching passages in illness narratives are those that evoke music specifically. Writers often provide a “soundtrack” for their experiences when they dwell on a certain facet of the illness. Even Michael Stein, who had never been a sufferer himself and whose descriptions tend toward the practical in The Lonely Patient, demonstrates the ability to provide musical analogies: Just as the betrayal of the body takes many shapes—insidious or

198 Ibid., 9.

199 We can expect a far more sophisticated implication than that horncalls signal the illness as hunter, for example. There have always been music idioms or topoi that help to make musical meaning more concrete; yet in the Romantic period such devices are used to enrich the fabric of potential meanings rather than to clarify or simplify it.

75 violent—and the ill body can be experienced as traitorous, disgraceful, struck down, treacherous, cracked open, wrong, broken, or in trouble, there is no single form of loneliness. . . . The sick are physiologically unlike each other and have different personal histories and circumstances, as well as different means of coping and supports that can temper suffering. But at some point in any illness, short or lengthy, terminal or transient, the patient who listens closely will hear loneliness echoing as a deep oboe lost somewhere in the vast chamber.200

Writers mention specific compositions and composers when, in the course of their narratives, they stop to make a point concrete. One such writer is Arthur Frank. While pondering further on his image-constellation of night, pain, and the incoherence of the ill body he describes what became a coping device:

I found other sources of coherence, particularly music. At night when I put my head into a Walkman and listened to Bach, I could forget the implications of being in a hospital. Orchestral music was too busy when heard through my cheap headphones, but Glenn Gould playing the Goldberg Variations brought me a peace and identity my environment could not provide. Only later did I learn that Bach wrote the variations for an insomniac prince.201

The first three chapters of the present investigation have established the general and conceptual basis for the study of illness narratives in literature and music. The case studies that follow will demonstrate the actual application of these ideas to particular instrumental works of nineteenth-century German composers.

200 Stein, 170. Other examples were cited above in Chapter 2’s discussion of plot point 7. 201 Frank, WB, 62.

76 Table 3-3. Potential Correspondences Between Illness Narratives and Musical Works About Illness Experience

Characteristics of Illness Narratives Criteria for Selection of Compositions in Literature as Illness Narratives

Large-level characteristics Large-level characteristics Inverted dramatic shape (deepening/ falling action as opposed to rising Inverted dramatic shape (deepening/ falling action as opposed to action); journey to the underworld, sinking, the abyss rising action)

Initial confusion, ignoring warning signs; crisis, convalescence, rehab, “Out of control” music that moves through crisis, “rehabilitation,” therapy; control is major issue struggle for control is major issue

Organized by chapters and/or topics, but frequently these are digressions Episodic and digressive structures, multiplicity of themes and motives, and missing transitions. frequently lacking transitions.

Narrator’s tone is consistently sad, down, conflicted, self-contradictory. Tonality: Minor key, major/minor conflict, semitone conflict is prominent among other dissonant intervals; strong pull to the minor mode.

Ignoring warning signs; the narrative begins after the “real” onset of the Ambiguous opening (harmonically, metrically, rhythmically); sounds illness. like something has already happened.

An exploration of God, religion, and the afterlife; a tendency to discuss Hymn-like inner movement and/or one very slow movement; sleep, dreams; time passes slowly. possible use of chant or church mode.

Socializing and “illness as war” are dominant themes; discussion of Inner scherzo, dance, or march-like movement, possibly “manic”; panic, fear, constant ups and downs. military devices/instrumentation. Inconclusive “conclusion” or establishment of a “new (but not better) Inconclusive “conclusion” or establishment of a “new (but not better) normal”—resignation to limitations. Recognition of the need to adjust normal”— resignation. Reversed or incomplete recapitulations in to a changed life; being “caught” between the past and the future. sonata-form movements.

Epilogues that are unusually reflective; realization of extent of physical and Codas that are tragic or exhausted, or are the only portion of the movement mental ordeal; future may be in doubt, more to go —OR— in which the theme is fully revealed; possibly a sense that the story isn’t over. —OR— Epilogues that present brand new material indicating a shift in the Codas that present brand new material indicating a shift in the narrator’s narrator’s revised sense of purpose in life, a new beginning. revised sense of purpose in life, a new beginning. Tone: prevalent/pervasive introspection, melancholy, depression, Tone: prevalent/pervasive introspection, melancholy, depression, nostalgia, isolation, grieving, loss. nostalgia, isolation, grieving, loss.

77 Table 3-3, Cont’d.

Multi-level or Local Considerations Multi-level or Local Considerations Marked tendency to read other illness narratives and to quote from them in Evidence of “emplotment”: use of allusions to other pieces, name-ciphers; the author’s own story; revisions of previous perceptions as illness mottos; restatements of material from previous sections/movements/ progresses. compositions. Pain is the dominant topic. Semitone relationship or other “dissonant” intervals important in motives/themes. Fear; expressions of having disappeared, invisibility. Rhythmic instability or disruption (e.g., “empty” first beats, hemiola).

Nostalgia, reminiscence; restatement of themes/ideas in different words; Nostalgic repetition and variation of themes and motives in later organicism of form and content. movements, particularly as fragments; organic growth. Constant review of symptoms and hypotheses. Changing positions of motives within phrases, sequencing; any sort of development. Rhythmic augmentation, metric modulation. Topic of silence or speaking up; public vs. private . Recitative-like passages, an isolated voice. Silence.

The importance of writing as power/recovery; isolation and intimacy Homophonic sections or movements in which one protagonist-voice a dominant theme. speaks/sings. Emotional language reflecting sadness, fatigue, anger, crying. “Screaming,” “wailing,” sighing,” or “crying” motives.

Persistent mood swings/moodiness. Constantly shifting “moods.”

Inability to concentrate; memory gaps; setbacks. Many pauses and interruptions.

Inability to reach logical, rational conclusions. Evaded, abridged, or deceptive harmonic progressions.

Frequent evocations of water imagery, floating, constant low-level Wave-like melodies, pedal tones (watery, undertow), repeated notes, presence of pain and anguish. pizzicato repetitions like ticking or dripping (monotony), damping Downward spirals in the ill person’s condition; “sinking,” “relapsing.” Retrograde harmonic motion, especially toward the end(s) of movement(s). Explorations of alternative treatments, philosophies; flashbacks, relapses, Modulations to remote keys; momentary or prolonged “darkening.” depression. The author takes up a new cause in life. New theme may be introduced toward the end of the work.

Extremely high incidence of nature imagery, landscape, Some use of pastoral elements, folk idioms, exoticism. symbols of pop culture, the exotic. [This is a major difference.]




Scholars have long considered the third movement of Beethoven’s String Quartet in A minor, op. 132, an expression of illness experience. They have based this view primarily on the composer’s annotations in the third movement, the Heiliger Dankgesang, combined with aspects of his biography. The biographical evidence that attaches to the quartet comes from a variety of sources, including Beethoven’s correspondence, Tagebuch, and conversation notebooks; anecdotal accounts from friends and associates; and clinical findings from Beethoven’s physicians.202 Interpreting the Heiliger Dankgesang as an expression of illness experience is certainly justified, based on source and biographical evidence. Typical readings do not extend far enough to embrace the entire five-movement composition within the scope of an illness narrative, however, even though Beethoven’s inscriptions in the Heiliger Dankgesang seem to require the

202 These diverse sources actually become a single pool of information that cannot always be split into its component parts. One letter, for example, may contain information about the composer’s physical condition, the status of the composition, and his emotional and mental state. For this reason, any discussion of the relationship between Beethoven’s biography and the Quartet in A minor, op. 132, cannot always be clear-cut. At times one must be content to say that certain assumptions are reasonable even though they are not provable. Lewis Lockwood writes, “A fair number of Beethoven’s works—more than most of us realize—have texts or programmatic associations indicating particular aesthetic qualities, and there is evidence that Beethoven aimed . . . to bring out specific traits of character in individual works. . . . Moreover, certain features of his life, such as his persistent illnesses and his depression, are apparently mirrored to some degree in . . . the famous slow movement of the Quartet Opus 132. But although generations of commentators have sought to find literary analogues and to portray in language what often seems beyond description in the gestural power and psychological subtlety of his music, for many of his most important instrumental works such meaning eludes translation into words. Furthermore, when it comes to attaching individual works to the biographical background, we are often unable to say, apart from occasional connections, what congeries of circumstances in his outer life may have generated a particular composition at a particular time.” Lewis Lockwood, Beethoven: The Music and the Life (New York: W. W. Norton, 2003), 16-17. This is nevertheless what the present study proposes to undertake.

79 listener to reconstruct the illness along with the protagonist, from the first sign of symptoms. The entire quartet conforms to the characteristics of the literary genre of the illness narrative, especially in the matter of its distinctive shape. This shape results from the inclusion of the nine plot points that shape illness narratives in literature; Beethoven’s quartet contains or implies all nine plot points. Moreover, in this quartet, as in the structural outlines of the literary illness narrative, is a collection of multilevel characteristics that, in their aggregate, typify the stylistic traits and content of the illness narrative as distinct from the conventional narrative, as shown above in Table 3-3. In fact, Beethoven’s String Quartet in A minor, op. 132, exhibits practically the entire set of these generic characteristics.

I. Musical Annotations, Biographical Considerations

Taking a broad view of the entire quartet, and indeed the works of Beethoven’s third period, Daniel Chua finds plausible reasons for their musical style in a number of arenas. He summarizes one historical-critical approach this way:

Critics, when confronted by the late works, have often sought to account for their inexplicable aspects by looking into the biographical or historical traumas that characterized the period. This is often expressed as a deflection away from the “heroism” of the middle years . . . towards something which has been perceived either as bordering on lunacy or as groping towards some spiritual transcendence. The quartets have been read against the pain of Beethoven’s life . . . or else they have been perceived in terms of the political upheavals and mutations of intellectual history— Romanticism, German idealism, the Hegelian dialectic, the “paralytic regime” of Metternich with its dampening of Napoleonic ideals into a Biedermeier domesticity.203

Returning to the individual quartet, and its first movement in particular, Chua discusses its appraisal. He says,

The expressive gestures in the work [as a whole] make little sense.

203 Daniel Chua, The “Galitzin” Quartets of Beethoven, Opp. 127, 132, 130 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995), 6-7.

80 Created by contrast and juxtaposition, this chaotic expressivity is primarily responsible for communicating the absurdity of the [first] movement, and the only way of making sense of it (or so it seems) is to impose some unifying concept—pain, passion, sickness, suffering.

Chua points out, “For A. B. Marx it is ‘illness and recovery.’ [Joseph] Kerman goes for an interpretation of contrast which cannot be rationalized but can only be accepted as a condition of suffering.”204 Marx is one of few analysts who sees a consistent narrative of illness from the start of the quartet to the finish. He emphasized that “the last quartets . . . distinguish themselves recognizably enough from all the earlier works through a nervous acuteness of emotion, often approaching the pathological, and through restlessness that finds release nowhere,” and that “the most remarkable of them all is the Quartet op. 132.”205 Marx cited the quartet’s many tensions, especially two qualities that he finds compelling:

It bears documentary evidence of specific content . . . for its outward occasion is well known. That is, it was written in Spring 1823 after a prolonged illness. In the quartet Beethoven set forth the recollections thereof; one can follow it step by step. The setting for the entire tone poem is the sickbed; the undertone is the most irritable, most morbid . . .206

Daniel Chua inevitably dwells on the Heiliger Dankgesang, as most critics do, in his discussion of the quartet’s meaning. The beginning of the third movement bears the inscription Heiliger Dankgesang eines Genesenen an die Gottheit, in der lydischen Tonart (“Holy Song of Thanksgiving from a Convalescent to the Godhead, in the Lydian Mode”). Beethoven insisted

204 Ibid., 87.

205 A. B. Marx, Ludwig van Beethoven: Leben und Schaffen, vol. 2 (: Adolph Schumann, 1902), 258. “Es sind das die letzten Quartette . . . teils nach ihr hervorgetreten und sich von allen frühern durch ein nervös oft bis zur Krankhaftigkeit geschärftes Gefühl und durch eine nirgends Befriedigung findende Unruhe kenntlich genug unterscheiden . . . Das merkwürdigste von ihnen allen ist das Quatuor Op. 132.”

206 Ibid. “. . . es urkundlich das Zeugnis bestimmten Inhalts an sich trägt . . . und weil sein äusserlicher Anlass bekannt ist. Est is nämlich im Frühling 1823 nach langer Krankheit geschreiben. Die Erinnerungen daran hat Beethoven im Quatuor niedergelegt; man kann sie Schritt für Schritt verfolgen. Der Schauplatz des ganzen Tongedichts ist das Siechbett, Nervosität, reizbarste, krankhafteste, ist der Grundton.”

81 on the Lydian mode in an inscription in the autograph:

Nb: dieses Stück hat im[m]er h | nie wie gewönlich b.207

In the earliest sketches of the movement208 its title is Dankgebeth (“Prayer of Thanksgiving”).209 The opening thematic statement in the published score (mm. 1-30), in the Lydian mode, is marked Molto adagio; in a score sketch Beethoven added the direction Mit Andacht (“with reverence”).210 In the published score the contrasting D-major section (m. 31ff) is labeled neue Kraft fühlend (“Feeling renewed strength”), and the third Lydian Molto adagio section (m. 168 ff) carries the instruction Mit innigster Empfindung (“With the most intimate feeling”). This last heading appears above each player’s entrance in the fugato section; Beethoven reiterates it for the first violin’s second entrance (Ex. 4-1). Thus Beethoven’s title and expressive indications leave little doubt that this movement, at least, is about an experience of illness and recuperation.211

207 “Note: This piece always has BΩ | never the customary B≤.”

208 Several sets of sketch material for this movement exist. The one referred to here is the large-format de Roda Sketchbook, NE 47 (SBH 680), located at the Beethovenhaus in Bonn. Sieghard Brandenburg, “The Historical Background to the ‘Heiliger Dankgesang’ in Beethoven’s A-minor Quartet op. 132,” in Beethoven Studies 3, ed. by Alan Tyson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982), 163-64.

209 This title is found in de Roda, fol. 6r. This folio is the earliest to reveal Beethoven’s interest in modality for the third movement. The de Roda Sketchbook as a whole contains the earliest material for the Heiliger Dankgesang (fols. 2v-3r, and 6r-5v-6v), which dates from no later than 3 May 1825. Brandenburg also states, “If there is any source that can give us unbiased information about Beethoven’s compositional plans and aims, it is surely the[se] sketches.” Ibid., 169-70, 163-64.

210 Bsb Artaria 213, Part 1, p. 37. Ibid., 173.

211 The French composer and Beethoven biographer Vincent d’Indy states that in another hand, beneath these indications, are the Italian translations Canzona di ringraziamento offerta alla divinità da un guarito, in modo lidico, Sentendo nuova forza, and Con intimissimi sentimento, respectively. He claims that the title appears as “a note written in French, in Beethoven’s hand, on the autograph manuscript, and translated later, into Italian, at the instigation of some publisher”; in Cobbett’s Cyclopedic Survey of Chamber Music, Walter Cobbett, comp. and ed., 2nd ed., Vol. 1 (London: Oxford University Press, 1963).

82 Ex. 4-1: Mvt. 3, mm. 168-73


Discerning Beethoven’s vision of the Heiliger Dankgesang is troublesome, even when one examines sketchbooks and reads analyses from the nineteenth century that purport to have discovered his aims for the third movement of op. 132. According to Sieghard Brandenburg, “ was the first writer to draw attention to a sketchleaf of the year 1818 on which Beethoven declared his intention of introducing an ‘Adagio Cantique’ or ‘Cantique Eclesiastique’ [sic] into a symphony ‘in the old modes’ that he was planning at that time.” The majority of writers since then have accepted Nottebohm’s claims as received wisdom linking this sketchleaf “with the third movement of op. 132, as if the ‘Dankgesang’ were nothing other than a subsequent realization of that idea of 1818.”212 Based on his research with the de Roda sketches, however, Brandenburg is confident that the structure of the Heiliger Dankgesang owes nothing to the sketches of 1818 other than “evidence of [Beethoven’s] continuing interest in church music (especially that of earlier times), independent of his own work on settings of the [Missa Solemnis].”213 Modern scholars have compounded the confusion and misapprehensions that originated

212 Brandenburg 1982, 169. He cites Gustav Nottebohm, “Skizzen zur neunten Symphonie,” Musikalische Wochenblatt, 7 (1876), 185; reprinted in N II, 163. This sketchleaf is catalogued as BSk 8 (SBH 652) in the Beethovenhaus, Bonn. N II is Gustav Nottebaum, Zweite Beethoveniana: Nachglassene Aufsätze (Leipzig, 1887).

213 Ibid, 170. Brandenburg, retracting a bit, states here, “Although I do not deny that there may be some link, closer examination will show that the plan conceived in 1818 does not match the movement brought to fruition in op. 132” (169). He adds, “The clear difference between the drafts on fols. 2-3 and . . . 5-6 in de Roda, as well as the further developments up to the final version, permit the conclusion that Beethoven made a new . . . attempt to come to terms with the subject of chorales, modes, and ancient and modern church music” (170).

83 with Nottebohm in their analyses of what Brandenburg calls “concept” sketches (i.e., 2v and 3r of de Roda) for the third movement of op. 132, where “the key . . . is clearly F major. There are no suggestions of modal harmony or melody. But at the same time it is clear that Beethoven already had the intention here of writing a kind of chorale,”214 which took shape over a period of a few weeks, following the model of the “‘modern’ church hymn that was in use in the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth in both Protestant and Catholic churches, predominantly in extra-liturgical contexts.”215 There are a number of problems with this interpretation beyond those footnoted below (n214). For example, he believes that Beethoven’s “plan can be made out: between the individual lines of the hymn there were to be extended interludes (each roughly twice as long as a line of the hymn), in a style that was partly one of lyrical narrative, partly one of innocent humor.” Beethoven’s preliminary plan also called for “an extended free postlude” ending in F minor, and after a bold chromatic progression to F≥ minor was to lead, via a ‘Recitativ’ marked ‘Eingang zum Al[leg]ro,’ to a fairly lightweight Finale in A major. . . . Any notions about a preconceived extra-musical program for the Quartet as a whole can accordingly be dismissed as irrelevant.”216 Brandenburg’s argument is not convincing, if only because what is true of the Dankgesang cannot possibly apply to other movements that express other phases of illness. Other scholars have struggled to describe this movement. Harold Truscott calls it a “chorale variation or chorale partita, coupled with a rondo shape.”217 Daniel Gregory Mason identifies the Heiliger Dankgesang as a “‘Canzona,’ as it is often called for brevity’s sake,” but he also maintains that, at least in the movement’s counterpoint, Beethoven “adventures in the

214 Ibid., 164.

215 Ibid. This model seems to have little in common with medieval and Renaissance paradigms that modern scholars believe Beethoven was drawing upon. Brandenburg believes that the plan for the interludes was “a style that was partly one of lyrical narrative, partly one of innocent humor.” From this point in the de Roda Sketchbook, “Beethoven returned to the concept of the chorale. These sketches here exhibit from the start, quite unambiguously, the adherence to modal melody and harmony that is characteristic of the finished movement.” This statement is confusing, however, because Brandenburg claims that on these same folios Beethoven sketched an “Andante scherzoso,” a “Romanze erzählend,” [i.e., narrative] and “a musical portrayal of ‘Lachen.’” These genres bear little resemblance to a final product that Brandenburg contends has taken shape on these very leaves.

216 Ibid.

217 Harold Truscott, “Opus 132, in A minor,” in Beethoven’s Late String Quartets (London: Dennis Dobson, 1968), 78.

84 taking over into the string quartet of the chorale-prelude of Bach.”218 Virtually all evaluations of the Heiliger Dankgesang note a parallel between the expressed content of the movement, though not the entire quartet, and Beethoven’s biography. They observe that while Beethoven began sketching in late 1824 and again took up work on the quartet as soon as he had completed the String Quartet in E≤ major, op. 127, in February 1825, he had been suffering from a serious intestinal inflammation and various other physical problems that prevented him from resuming work on the composition until late May. All that had been accomplished before that date was sketching. Beethoven himself attested to his lengthy illness in a letter to Dr. Anton Braunhofer in .219 Dated 13 May 1825, Baden, the letter takes the form of an imaginary dialogue between Beethoven and Braunhofer, a professor of natural history and technology at the University of Vienna, and a highly respected physician:

Dr.: How are you, my patient?—Patient: We are still in the same bad state—still very weak, vomiting, etc. I think a strengthening medicine will be required, one, however, which will not bring on constipation—white wine mixed with water I have been allowed to take, as the mephitic beer is repugnant to me—my cathartic state shows itself in the following way, namely, I spit a good deal of blood, very likely only from the windpipe, but oftener from the nose; and this was also often the case last winter. But that my stomach has become very weak, and also my whole constitution, there is no doubt whatever; and so as far as I know my own constitution, my strength will scarcely be restored to me by nature alone.—Dr.: I will quickly help you . . .— Patient: Please

218 Daniel Gregory Mason, “Quartet in A Minor, Opus 132,” in The Quartets of Beethoven (New York: Oxford University Press, 1947), 196. According to Brandenburg (161n) Mason also says that the Heiliger Dankgesang is “one of Beethoven’s noble failures.” In fact, this is not at all what Mason writes. The full quotation reads, “Finally, even for the Adagios it is in last analysis a question of secondary importance whether this particular piece is one of Beethoven’s outstanding triumphs or one of his noble failures” (Mason, 199). Basil Lam gives up comparisons altogether, claiming that the Heiliger Dankgesang’s music is “remote . . . from all historical styles.” Beethoven String Quartets 2, BBC Music Guides (London: BBC, 1975 and Seattle: University of Washington Press), 29.

219 Ludwig van Beethoven, in Beethoven’s Letters, with explanatory notes by Dr. A. C. Kalischer, trans. and preface by J. S. Shedlock (Toronto: Dover, 1992), 346-47. (Letters in this work are hereafter referred to as K-#.) A[lfred] C[hristlieb Salomo Ludwig] Kalischer (1842-1909) wrote and published several studies of Beethoven’s life and works, but he is best known for his critical notes in his five-volume edition of 1,220 of Beethoven’s letters (Berlin and Leipzig: Schuster & Loeffler, 1907-1910[?]; vols. 2 and 3 rev. by Theodor von Frimmel, 1910-1911).

85 consider that I should be glad to be able to sit again at my writing- desk, feeling somewhat stronger.—Finis.220

Kalischer’s explanatory note states that “Dr. Braunhofer was Beethoven’s physician during his long and severe illness of the winter 1824-25; the great quartet in A minor is connected with the composer’s recovery.”221 Kalischer certainly noticed the similarity between Beethoven’s expressed wish to resume composing when feeling somewhat stronger, and his indication soon thereafter in the Heiliger Dankgesang, “Feeling renewed strength.” J. W. N. Sullivan calls the connection between Beethoven’s illness and the Heiliger Dankgesang “a matter of historical fact.”222 A conversation notebook dating from May or June 1825 contains the phrases Dankhimne eines Kranken an Gott bei seiner Genesung Gefühl neuer Kraft und wiederwachtes Gefühl (“Hymn of Thanksgiving of an Invalid to God on his Convalescence. Feeling of new strength and reawakened feeling”).223 Investigating the historical background of the quartet’s third movement, Brandenburg

220 K-397. Beethoven had met Braunhofer in 1820. Braunhofer assumed responsibility for Beethoven’s care in the summer of 1824. For the illness of spring 1825 Beethoven first sent for Braunhofer on 18 April: “My esteemed friend, I am not feeling well and I hope that you will not refuse to come to my help, for I am in great pain. If you can possibly visit me today, I do most earnestly beg you to come.” In Emily Anderson, trans. and ed., The Letters of Beethoven, 3 vols. (New York: St. Martin’s, 1961), 1186 (letter no. 1359, hereafter designated as A-1359). Braunhofer continued to oversee Beethoven’s medical care till the end of 1826, when Beethoven was terminally ill.

221 Kalischer, 347.

222 J. W. N. Sullivan, Beethoven, His Spiritual Development (New York: Knopf, 1927), 243.

223 Alexander Wheelock Thayer, Thayer’s Life of Beethoven, rev. and ed. by Elliot Forbes (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1973), 947. (Hereafter referred to as TF.) “As will appear, these words, slightly modified, formed the title of a newly planned second movement to the quartet, the ‘Song of Thanksgiving in the Lydian mode.’” The connection to the second movement, rather than the third, would seem to be in error, unless the plan at that stage was for a four-movement piece, which, in fact, was the case, at least originally: “The sketches for the second [Galitzin quartet], in A minor (as established by Nottebohm), date back to 1824. The work was originally to have the customary four movements; labor on it was interrupted by the illness of April and then the plan for the middle movements was changed to include the ‘Song of Thanksgiving in the Lydian mode,’ the short march before the last movement, and the minuet” (ibid., 957). Clearly, then, the severity of Beethoven’s illness had a major effect on the form of the entire quartet. On 11 August, however, after Beethoven sent the work out to be copied, he wrote to his nephew Karl, “I am worried to death about the quartet, namely the 3, 4, 5 and 6th movement, Holz has taken them along” (ibid.). There would have been no possibility of Beethoven’s having mistaken the number of movements he had written for this quartet (six),as worried as he was about it at the time. He added, “The first measures of the 3rd movement have been left here, that is to say 13 in number . . .The main ideas have been written on nothing but small scraps of paper, and I shall never be able to write out the whole thing again in the same way” (ibid.). This portion of Beethoven’s letter belies the claims that Beethoven had done any extensive sketching for the quartet. Additionally it seems to support Brandenburg’s contention that Beethoven had done a great deal of composing in his head. Beethoven obviously made changes to the manuscript after 11 August, because the final form is a five-movement composition, not six.

86 states that the precise length of time between Beethoven’s initial ideas and his sketches is unknown. “Possibly it was two or three weeks, for his attack of jaundice, which lasted from the middle of April to the beginning of May 1825, left Beethoven very weak, and according to his own testimony it was only after the middle of May that he began normal working once more.”224 On 17 May Beethoven wrote to his nephew, “I am beginning to compose a fair amount again, but in this extremely gloomy, cold weather it is almost impossible to achieve anything.”225 Brandenburg concludes, “But even if he put down nothing in writing during these weeks, he must nevertheless have carried out intensive work on the chorale in his head; otherwise the progress seen on fols. 5, 6, and 7 is scarcely explicable.”226 The violinist Karl Holz, who in 1824 stepped in as Anton Schindler’s replacement to assist Beethoven in business and personal matters, supports Brandenburg’s conclusion.227 Holz wrote,

During the time when he was composing the three quartets commissioned by Prince Galitzin . . . such a wealth of new quartet ideas streamed forth from Beethoven’s inexhaustible imagination that he felt almost involuntarily compelled to write the C≥-minor and F-major quartets [opp. 131 and 135]. “My dear friend, I have just had another new idea,” he used to say, in a joking manner and with shining eyes, when we would go out for a walk; and he wrote down some notes in a little pocket sketchbook. “But that belongs to the quartet after the next one [i.e., the C≥-minor quartet], since the next one [Opus 130, with six movements] already has too many movements.”228

Lewis Lockwood comments, “[Holz’s] vignette of Beethoven jotting down an idea . . . well in advance of settling down to work on [the quartet] in earnest, fits well with what we find in the

224 Brandenburg 1982, 169.

225 A-1372.

226 Brandenburg 1982, 169.

227 Holz was also member of the Schuppanzigh Quartet, which premiered Beethoven’s String Quartet in A minor, op. 132, on 9 September 1825 at the tavern Zum wilden Mann. Holz took the second violin part.

228 From a letter to Wilhelm von Lenz, in Lenz’s Beethoven: Eine Kunst-Studie, 5 vols. (Kassel: 1855-60), 1:216f.

87 sketchbooks.”229 Beethoven’s Heiliger Dankgesang receives the most attention of any movement in the quartet because of its title, expressive markings, and tempo indications. From them the listener knows that this movement, at least, is about convalescence. The inclination, naturally, is to see a projection of the recuperating Beethoven in the Hymn of Thanksgiving. Kerman’s evaluation of the relationship between the composer’s biographical details and his music is representative of the prevailing view, when he writes,

As is well known, the impetus came out of Beethoven’s own experience of illness in April 1825. The Lydian mode gave him a rarefied atmosphere for his hymn of thanks, whispered by a convalescent who has just, and barely, passed a supreme crisis. He still seems to be under oxygen.230

Other writers largely dismiss the connection. Joseph deMarliave comments,

It is only a coincidence that the composition of the op. 132 [quartet] stretched over a period in which health for a time overcame disease. Apart from the effort that this fact inspired Beethoven to make in the Adagio of his quartet, it is apparent that the work as a whole reveals a more morbid trend of imaginative inspiration than the others.231

Another typical comment is one by Roger Fiske, who says,

The composition of this quartet was delayed by an abdominal illness from which Beethoven recovered in the spring of 1825. About this time he wrote the slow movement. . . . This is no reason for supposing as some writers have done, that the whole work is program music, though illness may account for its rather

229 Lockwood, 442.

230 , The Beethoven Quartets (New York: Knopf, 1967), 254.

231 Joseph deMarliave, “Quartet No. XV, Op. 132 (in A minor),” in Beethoven’s Quartets, trans. Hilda Andrews (New York: Dover, 1961), 329. Orig. publ. Paris: Librairie Félix Alcan, 1925.

88 melancholy tone.232

Michael Steinberg acknowledges the relationship between illness and the third movement of the quartet, but not the other four, except that illness impeded their progress.

In the early spring, work was interrupted by a serious illness, some sort of intestinal inflammation, Beethoven eventually celebrating his recovery in the Song of Thanksgiving that is the quartet’s third movement. By May, Beethoven was again well enough to compose, and he completed the score at the end of July.233

Finally, again on the general subject of the relationship between life and works, Lockwood cites “more authoritative”234 viewpoints, some of which, he says, “have been largely negative.” For example, Lockwood terms Sir Donald Francis Tovey’s stance “extreme.” Tovey believes, “To study the lives of great artists is often a positive hindrance to the understanding of their works, for it is usually the study of what they have not mastered, and thus it undermines their authority in the things which they have mastered.” Lockwood also refers to Carl Dahlhaus who seems to contradict Tovey despite falling into the same category with him; Dahlhaus, he writes, “could hardly be more skeptical about the relevance of ‘a biographical narrative that runs along beside the interpretation of the work without making any important intervention in it.’”235 Relating the musical details of the third movement of op. 132 to other works that Beethoven composed often becomes a step in the process of analysis. Kerman conveys the importance of connecting those musical ideas and stylistic traits present in the third movement to those in previous compositions. He offers this comparison:

232 Roger Fiske, Beethoven’s Last Quartets (London and New York: Oxford University Press, 1948), 59.

233 Michael Steinberg, The Beethoven Companion, ed. by Robert Winter and Robert Martin (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1994), 264.

234 Lockwood, 17. “More authoritative,” that is, than those contributed by “generations of commentators [who] sought to find literary analogues . . . [in] his music . . . [and] attaching individual works to . . . biographical background.”

235 Ibid. See Donald Francis Tovey, Beethoven (London: Oxford, 1965), 1. Also Carl Dahlhaus, Beethoven: Approaches to His Music, trans. Mary Whitall (London: Oxford, 1991), 1.

89 The determination to include this concrete [neue Kraft fühlend] reference within the convalescent prayer recalls another famous bald gesture of Beethoven’s last years: the Dona Nobis pacem of the Missa solemnis, which incorporates a concrete depiction of the warfare against which peace must be sought.236

Yet another piece of biographical evidence links phrases of the Lydian hymn to the composer’s real-life physician. Beethoven composed a little canon on the five phrases of the hymn, put farcical text beneath the phrases, and gave it to his physician as a personal gesture (Exx. 4-2a and 4.2b). The canon, which Beethoven composed “on May 11, 1825, at Baden, Helenthal, on the second Anthony bridge towards Siechenfeld,” is appended to Beethoven’s letter of 13 May 1825 to Dr. Braunhofer.237

Ex. 4-2a: “Heiliger Dankgesang” Ex. 4-2b: “Doctor’s Canon,” WoO 189 Mvt. 3, mm. 1-5

Just as scholars adopt a broader view of Beethoven’s oeuvre when taking the A-minor string quartet into account, thereby establishing its relationships to other works, so do they examine his illness of 1825 within the broader context of his health over time. Well before Beethoven’s deafness became an issue of paramount importance, the composer had developed a fixation with matters of illness and wellness, both physical and emotional. In fact, the oldest

236 Kerman, 254-55. (Note also the later discussion of a hymn of thanksgiving in another five-movement work, Beethoven’s Symphony no. 6 (“Pastorale”), on page 126 of the present study.) Kerman refers to “the monumental flatness of this opening hymn” in the A-minor quartet, saying, “There is a primordial quality here that recalls, in a way, the hushed unison folk tune for Schiller at the end of the Ninth Symphony” (256). 237 Kalischer, 347. Beethoven left another canon (WoO 190) on Braunhofer’s front door on 4 June 1825, a Saturday. It was worked out on the phrase “Ich war hier, Doktor.” The note on the autograph reads, “On June 4th in the evening when I found that my honored friend Braunhofer was not at home—Beethoven.”

90 surviving piece of correspondence that Beethoven wrote centers on this issue. When he was just sixteen years old Beethoven wrote a letter dated 15 September 1787 to Dr. Joseph Wilhelm Freiherr von Schaden to apologize for not having expressed gratitude to von Schaden, who had opened his home in Augsburg to the young Beethoven the previous April. Beethoven had left urgently upon hearing of his mother’s serious illness.

. . . I must tell you that from the time I left Augsburg, my joy and with it my health began to decline. For the nearer I came to my native town, the more frequent were the letters from my father telling me to travel faster than usual because my mother was not in very good health. So I hurried as much as I could, the more so as I myself began to feel ill. My longing to see my sick mother once more overcame all obstacles and helped me surmount the greatest difficulties. I found my mother still alive but in a dreadful state of health. She had consumption, and finally she died about seven weeks ago after a great deal of pain and suffering. . . . As long as I have been here . . . I have been plagued by asthma, and I am afraid that it may develop into consumption. To this is added melancholy, which for me is almost as great an evil as my illness itself. . . .238

Lockwood claims, “This letter, ostensibly about an unpaid debt, is an expression of pain and loss. . . . Two psychic injuries, one of them continual [his father’s chronic alcoholism], the other sudden and unexpected, inflicted suffering that reverberated throughout his lifetime.”239 Moreover, Lockwood continues,

But now in the immediate aftermath . . . [he] stresses, repeatedly,

238 A-1. Cited in Lockwood, 3-4. “Ich muß ihnen bekennen: daß, seitdem ich von Augspurg hinweg bin, meine Freude und mit ihr meine Gesundheit begann aufzu hören; je näher ich meiner Vaterstadt kam, je mehr Briefe erhielte ich von meinem Vater, geschwinder zu reisen als gewöhnlich, da meine Mutter nicht in günstigen Gesundheitsumständen wär; ich eilte also, so sehr ich vermochte, da ich doch selbst unpäßlich wurde: das Verlangen meine kranke Mutter noch einmal sehen zu können, sezte alle Hunderniße bey mir hinweg, und half mir die gröste Beschwerniße überwinden. Ich traf meine Mutter noch an, aber in den elendesten Gesun[d]heitsum- ständen; sie hatte die Schwindsucht und starb endlich ungefähr vor sieben Wochen, nach vielen understandenen Schmerzen und Leiden. . . . so lange ich hier bin . . . bin ich mit der Engbrüstigkeit behaftet gewesen, und ich muß fürchten, daß gar eine Schwindsucht daraus entstehet; dazu kömmt noch Melankolie, welche für mich ein fast eben so großes Übel, als meine Krankheit selbst ist. . . .” Lockwood’s translation.

239 Ibid., 4.

91 his own ill health and the morbid depression he associates with it. Going well beyond what we might expect in a letter of apology to a benefactor, he speaks intensely of sickness, anxiety, and depression. Fear of mortal illness and early death . . . [is] etched into the text of this highly personal letter. His persistent references to his poor health can be linked to a litany of similar complaints about illness that come up again and again in his letters throughout his life.240

Further addressing the subject of the relationship between Beethoven’s emotional and physical health and his music, Lockwood emphasizes,

With Beethoven . . . drawing immediate connections between “life” and “works” is difficult. The difficulty may be even greater for composers than for writers or painters, especially for a composer such as Beethoven, whose music was preponderantly instrumental, because the “subject matter” of many of his instrumental works is virtually synonymous with their formal structures and emotional content. Of course, we can study the formal dynamics of his compositions and analyze their generic and stylistic features, but framing exact meanings for individual instrumental works, however much we are driven by intellectual necessity to do so, remains a distant and elusive task.241

The present study removes as much distance and elusiveness as possible from the task of extending references of the Heiliger Dankgesang to the whole range of Beethoven’s biography. The fact remains that the subject matter is the narrative. It can be related to Beethoven’s biographical experience and accessed through the third movement. The structure of the Heiliger Dankgesang movement is more easily apprehended than the first movement’s, given Beethoven’s inscriptions and instructions. One can say fairly clearly

240 Ibid., 6. Lockwood elaborates, “We see, then, that his sense of personal health and wholeness, his feeling of the rightness of fit between himself and the outer world, were compromised by an onset of physical and emotional infirmity at the time of his mother’s death, long before his deafness. . . . These feelings would later be intensified as he covered his morbidity with the irascible outward manner of a proud, uncompromising artist forced to come to grips with a barely comprehending world. Looking once more at the crisis months of 1787, it is striking to find this sixteen-year-old describing his emotional burdens and physical afflictions so openly, and with such an interplay of allusions to body and mind” (6-7).

241 Ibid., 15.

92 what is happening musically, even if the reasons for particular musical choices remain mysterious, although Chua suggests, “What Beethoven did to variation and counterpoint, in order to undermine both the rationality of the Aufklärung and the organic aesthetic of the nineteenth century, was to distance the techniques from the 1820s and retreat back to something far more atavistic.”242 In this undermining, he explains,

Beethoven is manipulating form strophically by thematic variation. The connection still exists between ideas, but the logic is now a paratactic one and no longer a lucid exercise of reason. Thus the relationships become disjointed, as only one strand of identity is retained against a background of ever-changing parameters. The technique is as much one of disunity as it is of unity.243

As for the intent, then, “Surely to reduce a theme to anonymity and decorate it with something equally anonymous or to distort its very essentials must be to turn an organic process of unity into an obscure play of disunity.”244 What at first appears to be a simple form becomes a blurry scenario with opposing aims and directions. In technique the music has an untroubled surface; in the process of unfolding, however, the entire structure of the third movement reveals an emerging self-created world eerily like a convalescent’s in its ambiguity. Chua maintains,

The Heiliger Dankgesang . . . is probably the most lucid illustration of this redefinition of polyphony and variation. The contrasting blocks that build up the form produce a framework for variational processes, which animate the static repetitions of the hymn into counterpoint. . . . Motivic identity gradually evolves from a state of anonymity. The process of variation prizes loose the polyphony of the voices, sculpturing the motif to transform the homophonic texture of the Lydian hymn into a more rhythmically differentiated counterpoint. Variation and counterpoint work in tandem, for the process entails neither a harmonic nor a melodic variation but a contrapuntal one, where the pitches of each line are a focus for ornamentation. In fact, the first two statements of the

242 Chua 1995, 75.

243 Ibid., 79.

244 Ibid., 79-80.

93 hymn can be stacked one on top of the other, as if to form the structural hierarchies of a graphic reduction, and so analyze itself.245

Investigating the genesis of the outer movements of op. 132, as with the third movement, is difficult. One reason is that, as Douglas Johnson writes, “op. 132 is less well represented in the surviving score sketches than any other of the late quartets. Only 30 leaves are known, 22 of them in Bsb Artaria 213.”246 Nevertheless, Johnson and Sieghard Brandenburg have attempted to fathom Beethoven’s plans for the quartet’s design through score studies and the examination of compositional process. As they question or refute interpretations that other musicologists such as Kerman, Korsyn, and Sullivan have formulated with regard to an illness program, however, they rely on viewpoints that are diametrically opposed. Johnson, for example, insists that only the work itself matters, and not how it got that way. Brandenburg, on the other hand, fails to take into account the reality that sketches are not the work. These two platforms cause as many difficulties as they resolve, especially when the objective is to reach an understanding of what Beethoven was about in op. 132. Brandenburg draws attention to the substantial revisions of the Heiliger Dankgesang but does not draw conclusions about the implications of those revisions. And he explains that “the autograph was preceded chronologically by numerous deliberations,” but he does not elaborate on what Beethoven was deliberating, or why. Brandenburg has been consistent in rejecting a unified program for the five-movement quartet. The facts and assumptions he presents, however, can actually be used to support an argument that views the entire five-movement composition as an illness narrative. The process of recovery as expressed in Beethoven’s Heiliger Dankgesang implies the prior condition of illness, which the composer’s letters and other papers confirm as biographical fact, but adopting the premise that this biographical truth extends to musical representation, not

245 Ibid., 75. In an endnote to this quotation he adds, “The final Adagio is a variation on only the first segment of the movement; however, it is still based on the overall harmonic design of the Lydian hymn.” (257, n30).

246 Douglas Porter Johnson, Alan Tyson, and Robert Winter. The Beethoven Sketchbooks: History, Reconstruction, Inventory, California Studies in 19th-Century Music, 4 (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1985), 475.

94 just in the third movement, but rather in the quartet as a whole, is less straightforward.247 As a practical matter, an understanding of the entire composition must entail diachronous as well as linear readings. The illness process itself may be linear, but the sufferer’s understanding of it is not. Likewise, understanding the quartet does not accrue in a linear fashion alone, from beginning to end, even though Beethoven controlled the release of information from the first measure of the quartet. A diachronous reading allows the reader to recognize this information as musical clues—provided one apprehends the entire quartet as a narrative. This point may seem obvious, but the failure to take in the quartet by means of linear and diachronous readings explains why so many analysts focus solely on the explicit programmatic indications in Beethoven’s third movement. The Heiliger Dankgesang is the most appropriate place to begin, certainly, because it is the place in the composition where concrete identifications are most justifiable. Unless this movement is viewed as a musical explanation of what has gone before and what is to come, however, the larger meaning of these identifiable moments is lost. Taking the revisions, substitutions, deletions, and corrections that Brandenburg itemizes, one may reasonably conclude that Beethoven was altering the hymn while simultaneously bringing the other movements into conceptual agreement with it. Beethoven’s inscriptions and instructions clearly indicate that the speaker in the third movement of the quartet is an invalid who finds his health improving after a serious illness. The severity of the illness is not in question, because the convalescent prays to the Godhead in a

247 Scholars who have attempted, in varying degrees, to discern a program of illness and recovery for the entire quartet, notably A. B. Marx, J. W. N. Sullivan, and Joseph Kerman, have been criticized for their of the composition, and their defenders have been few. See Marx, 258-67; Sullivan, 243-47; and Kerman,242-68. Brandenburg rejects Kerman’s interpretation that the quartet’s program constitutes “a violent short-circuit to the world of pain that was opened up in the first movement and turned away from in the interim” (Kerman, 262). Brandenburg contends, “Any notions about a preconceived extramusical program for the Quartet as a whole can . . . be dismissed as irrelevant” based on the variety of expressive intents for the third movement found in the de Roda Sketchbook. He says, “. . . fols. 3r-2v, with a far less dramatic recitative and a Finale in A major, show clearly enough that there was no plan of this sort to portray pain” (Brandenburg 1982, 164). Again, however, this position does not take into account the reality that sketches are not the work; thus Brandenburg’s position is not convincing. Korsyn, on the other hand, appreciates Sullivan’s “persuasiveness . . . in his appropriation of literary models to explain musical meaning,” but he finds the approach “limited” because “those models are vulnerable to deconstruc- tion”; see Kevin Korsyn, “J. W. N. Sullivan and the Heiliger Dankgesang: Questions of Meaning in Late Beethoven,” in Beethoven Forum 2, ed. by Christopher Reynolds (Lincoln: University of Nebraska, 1993), 142, 171-72. This position is rather empty, because any text, musical or otherwise, is open to deconstruction. Else- where Korsyn observes that Sullivan “demands an almost perfect fusion between Beethoven’s life and art,” a fusion Korsyn finds idealistic and intuitive to the point of incoherence.

95 style that is highly spiritual; such a high level of religiosity would amount to empty piety for any condition less than a serious and protracted illness. The intensity of the third movement’s musical expression, especially its length, matches the depth of the recuperant’s spirituality. Above all, Beethoven’s explicit identification of the speaker of the Heiliger Dankgesang as an invalid on the road to recovery compels the listener to wonder what led up to this stage. Thus to perceive the entire quartet as a narrative means reconstructing the illness from the first movement onward, in all its detail. By telling the performers what to play, how to play it, and when to emphasize certain details in the third movement, Beethoven is also leading the listener through the narrative’s plot. Thus the lengthy Dankgesang serves as the pivot point, the fulcrum for the entire quartet’s conceptual orientation; and unless we accept it as such, the flanking movements would have to belong to a work based on some other aesthetic, which would not make much sense. The third movement is a mandate for the listener to reconstruct the illness along with the protagonist, who at this point is finally able to reconstruct the ordeal he has suffered.248 The most valid observation that a critic or analyst of op. 132 can make is that its speaker or narrator, though not Beethoven the actual person, speaks from a position of authority and authenticity about the illness experience. And that is all one needs to know. That Beethoven the actual person possessed similar understanding is interesting, of course, but not essential to an appreciation of the music’s narrative. After all, music cannot indicate the first person as words can, and here the words do not; no specific point of view attaches to the syntactic structure of Beethoven’s inscriptions and markings in the third movement. “Feeling renewed strength” could imply “[I am] feeling stronger,” “[The convalescent is] feeling increased vitality,” or even “This is how growing stronger feels, so you, listener, can now experience it.” Beethoven’s listener simply has an allusion to an experience (recuperation from serious illness) that the composer was known to have experienced in his biography. As Marie Boroff explains, “Though the speaker [in the narrative] has not entered it explicitly as the traditional ‘I,’ . . . he has been there all along as the personal consciousness to which the landscape [of illness,

248 For a fine illustration of the dynamic reading process see Edward T. Cone, "Three Ways of Reading a Story — or a Brahms Intermezzo," Georgia Review 31 (1977), 554-74. Repr. in Music: A View From Delft, ed. Robert P. Morgan (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989), 77-93.

96 or medical background] has presented itself and by which it has been interpreted.”249 Beethoven’s speaker functions as this same filter. Further conjecture and debate about the extent of the string quartet’s autobiographical background is ultimately moot. The following section clarifies the narrative position of the Heiliger Dankgesang, not only in itself, but also in the work as a whole, and it further delineates the position of its speaker.

II. Illness Narrative in the A-minor Quartet: Shape and Structure

Having established the general and conceptual basis for the study of illness narratives in the first three chapters of the present investigation, the discussion now effects the application of these ideas to music in this, the first of four case studies treating instrumental works of nineteenth-century German composers. Figure 4-1 indicates that Beethoven’s illness narrative has the nine plot points that determine the dramatic shape of the genre. Each plot point corresponds to the measure in Beethoven’s quartet where a new phase begins.250

Plot Point 1: The Actual Onset of Illness

The actual onset of the illness, plot point 1, occurs prior to the narration’s story space and time. For this reason there is no music to discuss. The soon-to-be-sick individual is as yet unaware of his or her impending descent into illness. As is typical of illness narratives, no plot points of op. 132 intersect hereafter with the x axis that represents the status quo ante. The entire shape of Beethoven’s narrative falls below this horizon; plot point 1 therefore represents the permanent point of departure, down and away from health and well-being. Almost without fail, authors later imply or state outright that they did not know what hit them.

249 Marie Borroff, “William Carlos Williams and the Diagnostic Eye,” in Medicine and Literature, ed. by Enid Rhodes Peschel (New York: Neale Watson Academic Publications, 1980), 59. While Borroff’s study of the poem “Spring and All” by William Carlos Williams has much to offer beyond the interpretation of voice in poetry, the single most salient point she makes, for the purposes of the present investigation, is in the passage quoted above.

250 There should be no confusion about the term “plot point,” even if the instance referred to is longer than what may be thought of as a “point” in time. All numbers refer to the point at which the listener is to understand that a new phase of the illness begins. Compositions vary in the temporal and compositional length they devote to each “point,” as the legend accompanying Figure 4-1 makes clear.


(I, 1) (V, 304) 1(Before 2 the com- 8 9 position (I, 8) begins) 3 (After the 4 (I, 9) composition ends) recovery of degree variable (IV) (III) (II) 5 7 (V, 3) (I, 13) 6 (IV, 40) variable degree of suffering

1. actual onset of illness 2. beginning of narrative time 3. protagonist’s realization of condition 4. downward spiral, rapid descent into illness 5. episodes, complications, gains, setbacks 6. rock bottom, low point, despair 7. beginning of actual recuperation 8. end of narrative time 9. the new normal

Fig. 4-1. Shape and plot points, Beethoven’s String Quartet in A minor, op. 132

Plot Point 2: Beginning of Narrative Time

Because the onset of the illness has already occurred, what would be called “the beginning” in a conventional narrative cannot occur in the illness narrative. Instead, plot point 2 is denoted “the beginning of narrative time,” or “first symptoms manifested but unnoticed.” Beethoven’s quartet employs a plot point 2 of the type in which the protagonist experiences initial confusion that leads to the crisis, sensing, although not completely consciously, that something is wrong. The following discussion is an account of the way the illness narrative begins in terms of the music, as well as an examination of the meaning in these initial musical details. Beethoven’s markings call for a murky, almost primordial setting at the start, with a dynamic level of pianissimo and a direction of Assai sostenuto. Thus he signals a subconscious disorientation stemming from before m. 1. The cello’s rising G≥-A (motive x) leads to a pair of

98 descending semitones, f-e in the cello (motive y) and a-g≥ (x reversed) in the viola. The sense that all is not well intensifies over the ensuing six measures, as the viola, second violin, and violin quietly take up the cello’s semitone idea in turn, as shown in Ex. 4-3.

Ex. 4-3: Mvt. 1, mm. 1-8

2 x 3

xr x xr

y xr

y x y x

The voices enter in a way that suggests fugal texture, although a fugue does not materialize. The intricacy and calculation of the fugal technique appears here, however, with the expansion of the half-step relations across a range of almost four octaves, and accretion of the voice parts from one to five, thereby amplifying the ambiguity. The pattern of entrances, starting as it does in the cello on G≥, taken up by the viola’s a an octave above the cello’s resolution, then the second violin’s b and the first violin’s d≥1, establishes an ascent that continues upward through m. 7; the pattern also contains another line in contrary motion, leading down to D≥, also in m. 7. As the distance between the outer voices widens, the two inner voices tangle with each other (as in mm. 2-3 where they cross). The sinuous chromaticism of the motives as they link together causes the tension to increase. Intermittently (mm. 4 and 7) there is a tentative leaning-in, followed by a withdrawal, in all sounding voices, as indicated by crescendo and decrescendo markings in each part. Thus the opening is not conducive to discerning much, except that an already unstable situation is growing even more unstable. Of the

99 first seven measures Marx writes,

Already the introduction is a representation of the faint, unearthly, insidious sickness with its painful prolongations; one observes only the course of the individual parts, e.g. the viola.251

That motive x turns out to be the motion of the leading tone to the tonic, and motive y an upper neighbor resolving to the dominant are the only reasonably safe assumptions one can make about mm. 1-7 of the quartet’s opening movement. The harmonies appear functional in A minor, but the other elements of musical style are vague and their foundation shifts— appropriately so. There is little sense of rhythmic identity or melodic shape. We have only a steady procession of white notes which, along with the opening’s suggestion of imitative texture, is another invocation of eras past; since the early Baroque, white notes in cut time had been a characteristic of stile antico or stylus ecclesiasticus, as had contrapuntal texture. To have opened the first movement with a strict fugue would have run contrary to the message of the introductory eight measures. A person who is succumbing to a debilitating illness would not be able to function on the organized, rational plane that a fugue would suggest. Imitative texture therefore conveys the nascent struggle a sufferer experiences in attempting to make sense of a changed environment; in the terminology of modern-day psychology, this struggle is called the “fight or flight syndrome.” This basis is essential to establishing plot point 2; employing a series of white notes in cut time is not. By adopting this procedure, however, Beethoven introduces two ideas that are highly relevant to establishing that the entire composition is an illness narrative. First, imitative texture and characteristics of stylus ecclesiasticus combine to express seriousness and solemnity that are intrinsic to illness narratives. Second, the combination of these elements introduces an idea that goes to the core imagery of the narrative: the deeply felt presence of God and devotion in daily life. These pairs of notes, sounding so uneasy and uncomfortable at the interval of the semitone, and rising seemingly out of the depths, are understandable as symptoms of an illness. Without further knowledge, one could accept them hypothetically as symptoms at this point, but because we know that Beethoven establishes quite explicitly in the third movement that the

251 Marx, 258. “Die Enleitung schon ist ein Bild der leis’, unheimlich schleichenden Krankheit mit ihren schmerzhaften Dehnungen; man beobachte nur den Gang der einzelnen Stimmen, z. B. der Bratsche.”

100 music is about illness, viewing the semitones as symptoms is more or less inevitable. They signal the overall disruption to come. The uneasy sound of the music embodies the same gnawing anxiety that a person has when experiencing isolated twinges. Extending the metaphor, as the listener is encouraged to do, slowly unveils a protagonist who is only partially aware, as though having just awakened to the discomfort that comes as a precursor to full-blown illness. Given the historical information that we have, we can understand unease here in the suggestion of the pairs of semitones. The strain of the staggered semitones that govern the pace and direction of the melodic lines is a straightforward indicator of pain, and the diminished 7th chords are further evocative of stress and strain. This consciousness does not have a clear sense of time (the tempo or meter), is probably experienced in darkness (the pianissimo obscures details), and feels unsettled. Marliave sees “a mysterious procession of minims . . . rising from the lowest register like creeping mists from a river.”252 These measures imply the initial registration of the protagonist’s reactions upon his or her consciousness, rather than statements about something (what, exactly, remains unclear) that has already happened. The reason for suggesting that the “awareness” has not quite risen to the level of consciousness is that there does not appear to be any surface to this music; the details are buried and dark. As Figure 4-1 shows, plot point 2, like all others within the story space and beyond, occurs below the horizon of normal health. Vertically, the accumulation of diminished 7ths that may resolve in any number of directions increases the ambiguity of the already mysterious setting. Beethoven makes the listener strain to hear what the quartet’s opening expresses. Moreover, the listener is forced to assess the surroundings along with the protagonist of the story.253 The instability of the opening is remarkable, based as it is on just two notes and their mutations. They are charged with a meaning that carries throughout the five movements of the quartet. As symptoms, and minimal ones at that, they suggest the most basic indication of physical trouble: pain. Kerman supports this interpretation: “No other piece by Beethoven carries a sense of suffering so close to the skin and treats the experience so deeply and so objectively. . . . Beethoven seems to be dealing

252 Marliave, 329.

253 Michael Steinberg’s description draws attention to a sense of discourse: “Beethoven begins with two pairs that move in opposite directions, the rising pair (G sharp/A) being followed by one that falls (F/E). When the cello has gotten no further than its third note, the viola joins in, followed one beat later by the second violin, and for eight measures, pianissimo, all the instruments discourse gravely on this idea” (265).

101 with pain itself, rather than with attitudes or responses to pain.”254 Ambiguity is a central condition of plot point 2. The semitone pairs function as symptoms in a musical representation of illness, but they are also responsible for generating ambiguity. Robin Wallace adopts op. 132 as a “test case” to “explore the idea that in a piece like op. 132, deliberate ambiguity, which is an expression of music’s potential for diversity rather than organic coherence, is an essential part of the work’s emotional content, and hence of its ‘message.’”255 In her analysis of op. 132, Sylvia Imeson adds another layer of interpretation to the quartet. Her purpose is to demonstrate paradox in Beethoven’s late music. In the process of playing out her lines of argument, however, she articulates her points in ways that could very well apply to an illness narrative. Building on the analyses of Kerman, Agawu, and Korsyn, for example, her comments on the opening measures resonate strongly with theirs, but they also introduce a mood and tone of loss that is typical of illness narratives:

The slow introduction . . . uses a pathotype theme that begins like a rather funereal and archaic fugue exposition, what with its imitative entries of a chromatic motive in hushed half notes and its prevailing harmonic sonority of the diminished seventh chord.256

In the context of her specific case study of op. 132, she examines the role of ambiguity as paradox. Relating this discussion specifically to the pairs of semitones opens up additional interpretive possibilities.

254 Kerman, 242-43.

255 Robin Wallace, “Background and Expression in the First Movement of Beethoven’s op. 132,” Journal of Musicology 7/1 (Winter 1989), 5. Although Wallace is not discussing diversity and ambiguity relative to illness in plot point 2, for our purposes here it is relevant to observe that everyone, regardless of time and place, has experienced illness to some degree. Wallace also states that the ambiguity “touches upon aspects of human experience [that] all sensitive individuals are capable of recognizing and recreating in personal terms.” While his agenda differs from that of the present investigation, particularly in its genderedness, his observations are not unprofitable here.

256 Sylvia Imeson, The Time Gives It Proofe: Paradox in the Late Music of Beethoven, v. 29 in American University Studies Fine Arts Series XX (New York: Peter Lang Publications, 1996), 127. With respect to Kerman et al., she states, “It is possible, I think, to combine and to expand upon these various viewpoints on the structure and quality of this movement by adapting their guiding premise of contrast by the addition of the notion of paradox to our analytical apparatus” (126).

102 Implicit in a paradox is the possibility of its resolution; both halves of an idea, seemingly at irreconcilable odds with each other, are held together in a tensional synthesis in order to say something that cannot be expressed in any other way. At some point, there is a moment of epiphany, when the meaning of an expression such as “X and not-X” is clearly communicated, and . . . we hope to find that all of these small epiphanies, or fragments of meaning arising from local paradoxes, will exhibit a converging pattern of structural and expressive significance, a pattern that does, in fact, become apparent in the A-minor quartet.257

The semitones are just snippets at the outset, but the ways in which they combine in the remaining four movements of the quartet implicate these bare x and y motives in a thoroughgoing manner, using them as the basis for nearly all the musical material to come. There is hardly a passage in which these symptoms cannot be found in various manifestations. In answering the question “So far, what is the piece about?”, one is fairly compelled to say that it is about semitones, ambiguity, local paradoxes, and their tensions that combine to form the first inkling of illness.

Plot Point 3: Transition Point

Measure 8 represents both a departure from the half-note pulse of the opening and preparation for mm. 9 and 10. The music swells from pianissimo to forte, and the harmonic rhythm accelerates as the half notes divide into quarter notes, thereby preparing a metrical change from cut time to common time. It also serves as the transition between the Assai sostenuto of the first seven measures and the Allegro of the next section. Both violin parts gather momentum as the illness prepares to make itself known. Kerman remarks that “the [first violin’s] F in bar 8 tears grossly, after the series of five diminished-7th chords heard previously.”258 Imeson writes, “Disjunction between the Assai sostenuto introductory gesture and the Allegro preface to the first theme is set up in terms of tempo, rhythm, texture, and

257 Ibid., 126-27.

258 Kerman, 244.

103 dynamics.259 In m. 8, the protagonist is poised before the precipice. The central character is about to hit an immovable object, a clear line of demarcation between “not ill” and “ill”: the double bar (Ex. 4-4). This short space of musical time equates to the moment just before a mental and emotional leap into the abyss of full-blown illness, the sufferer’s sudden lapse into a new phase of the illness, in plot point 4.

Ex. 4-4: Mvt. 1, mm. 1-8

2 x 3

xr x xr

y xr

x y y x

Plot Point 4: Downward Spiral, Rapid Descent Into Illness

Plot point 4 is most associated with the scream or shriek as the protagonist spirals rapidly down into the grips of illness. Here is the momentous upheaval, shock, terror, and pain that virtually every writer about illness describes. This plot point, like the overall shape of the illness narrative, is a hallmark of the genre. Moreover, as with each successive step, this one clarifies and validates the previous plot points. It is most striking for its voice; this is the first time in the quartet that a voice is discernible. The speaker in these two measures is anguished, appalled, and loud. This speaker’s highly agitated exclamation is actually a florid treatment of the F - E

259 Imeson, 127.

104 semitone, motive y. For the first time, the dynamic level is forte in all four parts on the first beat of m. 9; thereafter, all but the first violin are silent as a turn figure in sixteenth notes propitiates the downward spiral of nearly two octaves and rises back up again to articulate the F - E semitone in eighth notes. This two-measure scream also embeds the diminished 7th that spans G≥ - F. Measures 9-10 amplify the meaning of the first eight measures; if motive y is a symptom of illness or, more precisely, pain, this symptom has become drastically more pronounced— again, literally (Ex. 4-5). While these two measures are not singable, they should be understood as a vocal expression for several reasons. First, their active frenzy stands in extreme contrast to the murky passivity of the first eight measures. And as a solo for violin, this passage indicates that the sufferer is isolated, at least for the moment, and struggling to assess the predicament. Finally, this passage is the epiphanic moment in which the speaker, realizing that illness has taken hold, screams.

Ex. 4-5: Mvt. 1, mm. 1-10

2 3 4

Imeson observes that the introduction “is abruptly interrupted by an outburst in sixteenth notes in mm. 9-10 [Ex. 4-6]. This flourish of highly contrasting character” is but one dichotomy in a list of many that suddenly become evident here: “Dichotomies of register, texture, articulation, and dynamics contribute to the overall tone of insecurity and pain,” she notes.260

260 Ibid.

105 Ex. 4-6: Mvt. 1, mm. 9-10.

4 x xr y 9 xr y

The flighty panic of plot point 4 is such a marked contrast to what has gone before that it emerges from the background with intensity. Kerman insists that “The violin arpeggio in bar 9— prolonging that F—is like a scream; the premature tonic chord in bar 10 is like a hand clapped over the mouth.”261 The outburst dies away in resignation at the end of m. 10, plaintively enunciating this semitone pair, the E drawn out after an initial anticipation for nearly eight beats. There is no shortage of descriptions for the violin’s solo “scream,” although nearly all commentators assign avian qualities to it. Interpreting the passage as bird-like allows the listener to hear its sudden screech, but perhaps more important, to perceive sudden, rapid, and unpredictable movement in the music. Steinberg comments, “The violin swoops down through nearly two octaves, soars back to the note where it had begun its flight, then settles a semitone lower, on E. The whole flight is really an embellished upbeat.262 Truscott calls it a release of the main theme to come, “a cadenza-like swoop.”263 Marliave, who insists that there is no expression of illness in the quartet, nevertheless sees that “the first violin darts away with a rapid phrase, halts for a second, assumes a plaintive

261 Kerman, 244-45.

262 Steinberg, 265.

263 Truscott, 68.

106 air, then reasserts itself with renewed vigor, before fading away into space.”264 One can only surmise that he refers to the second scream in m. 22 as the moment of “renewed vigor”; two questions arise, however. There seems to be confusion between mm. 9 and 10 of the first movement and the “neue Kraft fühlend” in the Heiliger Dankgesang. Marliave sees no expression of illness in the quartet, yet he quotes the recuperating invalid’s exact words to describe a musical event that occurs prior to the third-movement context of those words. A. B. Marx’s vision of this passage, following what he sees as the “long-drawn agony” of the first eight measures, continues his illness scenario:

In feverish haste the first violin breaks into the first movement (Allegro), lingers anxiously tense, turns to a soft threnody, gathers itself up ([at the] main theme) in strength that still lingers unextinguished in the depths of being.265

Plot Point 5: Episodes, Complications, Gains, and Setbacks

Plot point 5 constitutes the longest phase of the narrative, by far. The music, like illness, follows an unpredictable course. It proceeds through episodes of change, reaches plateaus of stability from time to time, and undergoes treatments that can often be characterized as trials and errors, fragmentation, and variation. The content of this narrative phase is extremely varied; plot point 5 is therefore most appropriately discussed as a complex of ideas having a beginning, middle, and end. The complex of plot point 5 begins with the first statement of the principal theme in measure 13 and extends through movement 4, m. 24. Over the course of this complex that spans nearly four movements, the music consists of a series of sub-narratives involving scenes, memories, dreams, internal dialogues, present experiences, and even thoughts of the future. Thus a discussion of plot point 5—and indeed all of the illness narrative’s plot points in music— depends on thoroughgoing musical analysis to demonstrate how the composer signals the patient’s physical condition throughout this long phase.

264 Marliave, 329. Italics mine.

265 Marx, 258-59. “Fieberhaft hastig bricht der im ersten Satz (Allegro) die erste Violin hinein, weilt ängstlich gespannt, wendet sich in leisem Klaggesinge, rafft (Hauptsatz) sich in Kraft, die noch im Grunde des Daseins unausgetligt weilt, empor.”

107 A. Beginning: Mvt. 1, m. 13

In a discussion of sonata-allegro form, what precedes the entrance of the principal theme is usually considered “introduction,” but in the illness narrative, the first four plot points have actually occurred before or within this so-called introductory material. Plot point 5 begins in m. 13 with the first full statement of the principal theme. The rationale for selecting this precise location is that narrative interpretation works most convincingly when the protagonist is represented as an agent within the music (i.e., a theme); a theme has a certain character and behaves in certain ways with regard to the progress of tension and resolution over the course of the action. The principal theme tries to get going in m. 11, but the cello’s false start (in such a high register that it seems to impersonate the first violin) pronounces only the first part of the theme. The first violin soon takes up the cello’s suggestion, however, and the tune itself turns out to be “symptomatic” in that the notes in mm. 14-15 are none other than the x and y symptoms in different note values. Motive y appears beneath the beginning of the tune, in whole notes in the viola (mm. 13-14); the cello then gives motive x in whole notes (mm. 15-16). These symptoms are omnipresent (Ex. 4-7).

B. Establishing Patterns

The entrance of the principal theme coincides with a reiteration of the first ten measures of the composition in variation. The pattern of relationships between mm. 1-7, m. 8, and mm. 9- 10 (i.e., plot points 2, 3, and 4) recurs with some variation almost immediately; the half notes of the first eight measures become the half and whole notes of mm. 11-16; the rising sinuous motion and crescendo of m. 8 finds reflection in mm. 16-18. In the first violin, the theme (already established clearly as the protagonist) floats above the narrative pattern in the other three voices, and ends just before the second “scream” echoes in m. 22. The overlay of the principal theme on a reiteration of the action is actually quite consistent with the illness experience. This section constitutes a review—fragmented, sometimes condensed, sometimes elongated—of the events that led to the present state of affairs. It represents a protagonist’s effort to reconstruct the descent into illness, replaying the process mentally. At the same time, the patient is undergoing new experiences of illness and trying to assimilate them.

108 Ex. 4-7: Mvt. 1, mm. 10-29 y 10 xr xr y y


xr yr x

h j 17 y y




xr h 23 y


y y y xr

C. Critical additions to Mvt. 1 In another highly meaningful gesture, Beethoven inserts two apparently new motives. The first, which we may more or less arbitrarily designate idea h (previously marked in Ex. 4-7), is a dotted-rhythm descending outline of a B≤ major chord, a calamitous-sounding unison in all four voices (mm. 18-19). Idea j, a series of four decisive staccato chords in four to six voices (the second violin and viola having double stops on the fourth beat), follows as m. 20. The unit h+j is not altogether new, however. In fact, h and j are modeled on the contour of the first violin’s “scream” of mm. 9-10, falling from f2 to g# and rising back to c3. And once again an enfeebled transitional measure (21), marked Adagio (designated idea m), leads directly into an abridged, narrower, and soft echo of the first Allegro “scream” of mm. 9-10, still scored for first violin.

109 Some variation of this pattern of h, j, or h+j, with or without m, occurs ten times in the first movement (at mm. 18, 28, 67, 91, 102, 118, 128, 182, 188, and 251). Each time, the combination h+j idea ushers in some form of the movement’s opening material, as if to embed the awareness of ongoing agony firmly in the mind of the protagonist as well as the listener. This combination achieves structural importance in the first movement. It functions as an announcement (i.e., a narrator’s statement) that the pattern of falling ever deeper into illness is about to begin anew, or that a different phase of the illness soon commences. Not only does the h+j unit’s importance remain crucial all the way through plot point 5, but the unit also comprises the tiny building blocks for the entire quartet.266 Analyses of each component of the quartet’s first 47 measures (i.e., from the initial appearance of the semitones x and y through the closing of the second statement of the principal theme) rewards scrutiny. A. B. Marx addresses the appearance of the second subject commencing in m. 48. Still in keeping with his interpretation of an illness narrative, he says,

The secondary theme naturally cannot make its appearance, after the general tonal context, in the cheery C major; it selects the shadowed, tender F major for its consolatory and yet uneasy and intermittent words of comfort, to which the closing figure grants the livelier [key of] C. But immediately the consequent phrase, turned toward B in exaggeratedly high [register], betrays again the sickly nerve-fever. In the course thereof it allows itself to become aware of the infusion of renewed strength and — a reinvigoration that is not without pain.267

The development section of the quartet’s first movement is best understood as a series of

266 Chua develops this idea. He states, “There are processes at work which cause an entire piece to unfold with a logic that creates the peculiarities of the score. What appears to be happening . . . is a rather arcane method of manufacturing forms; Beethoven seems to play with a process of expanding a gesture, shape, or motivic complex into increasingly large structures that encapsulate one another, like a set of Russian dolls, until they fill out a form and even an entire quartet. The logic of this process results in some peculiar twists and turns that create a kind of structured disruption. However, this is not a simple process. The idea of a structured disruption is an analytical paradox; the very logic that analysis tries to uncover is also the cause of the illogicalities in the works.” Chua 1995, 5.

267 Marx, 259. “Der Seitensatz kann natürlich nicht nach dem allgemeinen Tongesetz im hellen C dur auftreten, er wählt das schattige weiche F dur zu seinem trost-vollen und doch beunruhigten und unterbrochenen Zusprach, dem sogar die Schlusswendung in das frischere C gewärt ist. Aber gleich verrät der Nachsatz, in überspannter Höhe nach B gewendet, wieder kränkelnde Nervosität. Im Gange darauf lässt sich frischerer Kräfte Zuströmen und — nicht schmerzloses Aufraffen spüren.”

110 five episodes, each separated by the now familiar h +/- j unit and double barlines. This structure, too, is in keeping with the nature of illness narrative; patients, doctors, and music analysts often use the term “episode” to describe periods of instability. Medically these could include complications, setbacks, new manifestations of symptoms, or new treatment options, to name but a few. All of these have equivalents in musical expression. A medical episode usually has a fairly well-defined onset and ending, when the patient may be considered to have come through that phase; the recurrence of h+/-j with double barlines defines these episodes in music.268 The quartet’s second, third, and fourth movements are still part of plot point 5. Each represents at least one important aspect of the illness experience within this large phase. Movement 2, a scherzo-minuet with musette-like trio, is discussed later, under Section III: Characteristic Analogies and Themes, where it serves as a particularly apt representation of the subject-constellation of nature and nostalgia, grief, memory, and melancholy. Movement 3, the Heiliger Dankgesang, is discussed there as well as within the subject-constellation of God, religion, and the afterlife. The first 44 measures of movement 4, the march, conclude plot point 5. Understanding the whole of point 5 therefore requires a reading that views these movements not as discrete entities but nuanced evocations of the gains, setbacks, episodes, and plateaus of recovering—and specifically regards movement 3 not as an expression posterior to full recovery. The music contains the same variations of motives x and y within the shifting terrain of overall illness. Themes are derived from these motives, and from previous musical ideas, which further indicates that the ill character is not yet experiencing a definitive upswing, although the mood is occasionally (but falsely) hopeful, as the inscription sentendo nuova forza tells us. True to the contour of the illness narrative, the lowest point is yet to come. Daniel Chua’s interpretation of this phase of the music (i.e., movements 2, 3, and 4) could apply perfectly to a view of the entire plot phase 5. He writes,

There is a peculiar narrative pattern of social estrangement. The individual and institutional are alienated in this impasse of emotions, as prayer and passion are mixed with the aristocratic, the bucolic, and the military; under the strain, the public and private

268 Generally, all development sections in sonata form possess these characteristics. In illness narrative, however, the “development” section lasts over several movements. The process of development lends itself well to expressing the many medical ramifications of illness, but it must be viewed in terms of length and breadth that extend beyond what is normally thought of as development.

111 spheres rebuff each other. Nowhere is this more poignantly expressed than in the penultimate movement, when presumably someone has stepped out of rank from the regimental motions of the march to speak, to implore, perhaps with a new cry of “nicht dieses Töne!” . . . the minuet, musette, and march deliberately mimic the social formalities of an external world . . .269

D. Ending: Mvt. 4, mm. 24-39 The fourth movement, the Alla marcia, is the most physical of the entire quartet. Overall the march depicts a convalescent who is clumsy and out of step; the rhythms are syncopated, the tempo quick. No one could possibly march to this music. It is an awkward affair that moves by strange fits and starts. Oliver Sacks’s own story in A Leg to Stand On, in which he describes the difficulties of relearning the use of his injured leg, is an unmistakeable parallel to Beethoven’s plot. At first, Sacks relates, “I must have presented a strange sight to the good therapists, who probably saw an obviously unstable, staggering, confounded man, with a look . . . of consternation on his face . . . perplexed and fearful.”270 Regarding the leg itself, he says “It wasn’t ‘my’ leg . . . but a huge, clumsy prosthesis, a bizarre appendage, a leg-shaped cylinder of chalk—a cylinder, moreover, which was still constantly altering, fluttering, in shape and size, as if I was operating a peculiarly clumsy, and unstable, robotic contraption, an absolutely ludicrous artificial leg.”271 Sacks explains,

If I didn’t look down, and let the leg move by itself, it was liable to move four inches or four feet, and also to move in the wrong direction—for example, sideways, or, most commonly, at randomly slanting angles. On several occasions, indeed, before I

269 Chua 1995, 108. 270 Sacks, A Leg to Stand On, 114. 271 Sacks, Leg, 116. Amusingly, Sacks writes the labyrinthine sentence above, followed by another one, “to convey how strange this pseudo-walking was—how entirely lacking in any sense, and, conversely, how overloaded with a painstaking mechanical exactitude and caution.” The words he uses move by strange fits and starts, just like his leg—and the Alla Marcia. The clever title of the chapter in which these descriptions occur is “Solvitur Ambulando.” He explains, “Solvitur ambulando: the solution to the problem of walking is—walking. The only way to do it is—to do it” (122).

112 realized I would have to program its movements in advance and monitor them constantly, it “got lost,” and almost tripped me up, by somehow getting stuck behind, or otherwise entangled with, my normal right leg.272

Although plot point 5 is long and varied, its ending is remarkably clear. A look back to the first movement’s opening material—specifically to mm. 13-22—provides the most important clue in determining where the end of plot point 5 occurs. There the principal theme struggled a bit and then took hold; along with it came the introduction of the h and j ideas, the Adagio transition of idea m, and violin 1’s second scream. In the Alla marcia, the maladroit marcher stumbles for 23 measures, whereupon three loud, sharp chords interrupt the proceedings (m. 24). After a repetition, stubborn j-idea chords (mm. 25-26, 30-31, 37-39) alternate with several measures of tremolo chords beneath a recitative for first violin (mm. 27-36). Soft j-type chords accelerate and swell to fortissimo at another obstacle, a double barline (Ex. 4-8).

Ex. 4-8: Mvt. 4, mm. 25-46

25 h var. ------

j ------j ------j ------

32 recitative y x

j var. ------

scream 40 m var. ------x xr y yr y xr

272 Ibid., 116.

113 The symmetry of pattern between the beginning and the end of plot point complex 5 is astonishing, given that the beginning occurs in a musical context that is far different than the ending. In each case, the h/j/m combination ushers in the scream. This time it is the longest and most chromatic of all.

Plot Point 6: Rock Bottom, Low Point, Despair

The extended, unaccompanied four-measure scream (mm. 40-43) intrudes into the action of the march, the attempts to regain balance and footing, and the struggle to get well. In Oliver Sacks’s words to describe his attempts at walking, he confesses, “I found it a matter of the most elaborate and exhausting and tedious computation. It was locomotion of a sort, but unanimal, unhuman. ‘This is walking’ I said to myself, and then with . . . terror: ‘Is this what I will have to put up with for the rest of my life?’”273 From a dramatic position the voice of the ill protagonist of movement 1 has definitely returned, but the intrusion is not of the same nature as narrative intrusion that occurs in the recitative of mm. 27-36. This voice has also intruded into the action, but it cannot belong to the ill character, whose voice in the scream falls quickly in even, regular eighth notes and then rises again chromatically. The one that intrudes to deliver the recitative in an accented mix of legato and staccato notes of varying duration belongs to the narrator. The last three measures of the quartet’s fourth movement, just after the scream, evoke a body in the last stages of deterioration. The music shuts down. The texture has completely dis- integrated. The voice grows faint and lingers only on the sighing g≥-a (motive x) and f-e (motive y). The directions are Poco adagio and smorzando, “dying.” The accompaniment, which is already sparse, holds on for a few pulses on weak beats (the second violin’s a-g≥, motive x reversed) and then stops altogether. In fact, the weak beats are now indistinguishable as such, because the rhythm has been so disrupted; and the penultimate measure’s dotted half-note e is tied across the barline to a dotted quarter note, thereby obscuring the meter. The fermatas at the end of m. 46 indicate that there is nothing left to say in any of the parts, because, in Arthur Frank’s words, “the self [has been] unmade. . . . my body deteriorated; my intactness, my

273 Sacks, Leg, 116.

114 integrity as a body-self, disintegrated.”274 For Sacks, there was no hope for walking again. He felt terror, and admits that he “cannot convey” his movements “except in this way,” as those of a self unmade, “unanimal, unhuman.”

Plot Point 7: Beginning of Actual Recuperation, Adjustment

The fifth movement of Beethoven’s quartet represents the protagonist’s struggle to climb out of the abyss of illness. The last “dying” pitch of the fourth movement, e, leads to the cello’s pitch of a on the first beat of the fifth movement, thereby forming a skeletal V-I/i cadence, while the second violin maintains the soft repetition of motive y for seven measures. These signs are tentative but encouraging, because the cello line’s emphasis is on the downbeat and a theme—a character (hence agent, such as the protagonist)—begins almost immediately in the first violin part (m. 3). It is marked Allegro appassionato, espressivo, and crescendo, further suggesting a resurgence of energy. Compared to the intrusions in movement 4’s ending, the regularities here enable us to say that the protagonist has now reclaimed a narrative function. Oliver Sacks’s rendition is still consistently apt. He reports,

And suddenly—into the silence, the silent twittering of motionless frozen images—came music, glorious music, Mendelssohn, fortissimo! Joy, life, intoxicating movement: And, as suddenly, without thinking, without intending whatever, I found myself walking, easily, joyfully, with the music.275

The principal theme is triadic and stable; its impression of relative strength increases with the viola’s doubling, beginning in the second statement at m. 11. Further, its periodicity is a regular eight measures, with equal antecedent and consequent phrases, a further indication of stability. The secondary theme, which begins with the pickup to m. 52, is a soft, trilling tune that is reminiscent of the “sentendo nuova forza” passage of the Heiliger Dankgesang. Curiously, the cello, which has often been the foil for the first-violin voice, has little to say (except for a few

274 Frank, WS, 173

275 Sacks, Leg, 116.

115 interjections in mm. 45-46 and mm. 63-67) until m. 68, when it instigates the first of three eighth-note runs up a gapped G-major scale in successive upper voices. Previously in the quartet a sequence of eighth notes was associated only with the downward motion of the scream; now, the motion goes up in each instance—never down and never turning back on itself. This is just one of the many motives and ideas that accrue to the texture as the movement qua convalescence progresses. These figures become more coordinated and interwoven with each repetition. The initial strangeness of some rhythms (such as the off-balance cadential figure in mm. 25 and 33), drones and long notes tied across the bar in the outer voices, and sonorities (the major ninths in the violins in mm. 44 and 46, for example) lose their awkwardness over time. A case in point is their return as minor ninths (mm. 270 ff), marked immer geschwinder and accelerando, on the strong beat of the measure (Ex. 4-9). No longer simultaneous, they pound out the minor ninth, the pitch classes of motive y (f-e), in consecutive quarter notes, forte and sforzando, for a punishing twelve measures. This repetition of the symptomatic semitone (an octave apart) comes as a deliberate exertion of control over the illness on the part of the protagonist. As Oliver Sacks puts it, “What came, what announced itself, so palpably, so gloriously, was a full-bodied vital feeling and action, originating from an aboriginal, commanding, willing, ‘I.’ . . . What appeared with the music was organization and center, and the organization and center of all action was an agency, an ‘I.’”276

Plot Point 8: End of Narrative Time

The end of narrative time occurs at the end of the fifth movement, m. 404, because this is when the music stops. Beethoven’s Quartet in A minor, op. 132 has a very long ending, however; the coda is one hundred measures long. One should therefore consider plot point 8 a period of time in which a change occurs with regard to the narrative, rather like “the beginning of

276 Sacks, Leg, 122.

116 Ex. 4-9: Mvt. 5, mm. 270-88

(7) 270


the end.” In the case of this quartet, plot point 8 begins with the coda in m. 304. As at the onset of the illness experience, the x and y semitones are ever-present. The semitones, combined with chords that lack the third, still create a great deal of ambiguity. But in m. 404, the final loud chord of the quartet clarifies the mode of the ending as A major. Omitted or ambiguous details imply that the illness experience is not yet over. Despite the indications of renewed strength and power, especially in the use of dynamics, the major- mode ending, and the treatment of the x/y symptoms, signs of uncertainty remain. Even in the last sixteen measures of the composition the f≥ contradicts the fΩ (mm. 389-92), the fΩ moving to e (i.e., the repeated symptomatic motive y); strong beats are “empty” or nearly so (mm. 401, 403). Example 4-10 illustrates these events.

117 Ex. 4-10: Mvt. 5, mm. 383-404

(8) 383 triple ------duple ------


silence* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Virtually all writers of illness narratives imply the future at the end of their stories. As cited earlier in Chapter 2, Hugh L. Dwyer, M.D., wrote of his Meniere’s disease: “Scarcely a day passes that I am not reminded of its existence. It could have been worse. And may yet be.”277 Hastings K. Wright, M.D., had thoughts of his “inevitable demise sometime in the next few years. I’m probably not as prepared as I like to think I am, but only time will tell.”278

Plot Point 9: “The New Normal”

Plot point 9 occurs outside the story space, so once again, there is no music to discuss here. The protagonist has not returned to the previous state of excellent health but has made some adjustments to the “new normal.” Examining the score to Beethoven’s quartet leads to a few observations relative to the protagonist’s outlook on the future. The final two beats of m. 404 consist of quarternote rests, the second of which has a fermata above all four parts. This

277 Dwyer, 62.

278 Wright, 43.

118 suggests that the future is of unforeseeable duration. The next implication is that the sound of the fortissimo A-major chord of the first beat in m. 404 echoes or reverberates into the future, but the sound decays in the air. A third interpretation may be a recollection of a protracted difficulty overcome, with a certain sense of victory tempered by acceptance.

III. Characteristic Analogies and Themes

A survey of illness narratives in medicine and literature yields a set of analogies and themes that commonly occur. While no set hierarchy of themes exists, per se, several analogies and themes receive greater emphasis and appear more frequently than others in illness narratives. Moreover, as is the case with variations in plot points from one composition to the next, individual works may be particularly illustrative of some analogies or themes while de- emphasizing others. Beethoven’s String Quartet no. 15 in A minor, op. 132 exhibits practically the entire set of these generic analogies and themes; it illustrates several of them particularly clearly. Further, textual comments in the score and writings in his diaries and letters bear resemblance to other illness narratives in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

1. Inverted dramatic shape

This string quartet provides an excellent model of the most important large-level characteristic of the illness narrative: its inverted dramatic shape. This shape as discussed in previous sections is plain, but the observation deserves emphasis here because Beethoven’s Quartet no. 15 displays the signature shape quite clearly and distinctively. The screams and recitatives, the vocality of the piece, serve to delineate the critical points of the plot as much as to convey the protagonist’s suffering. But Beethoven’s inscriptions in the Heiliger Dankgesang also go a long way toward establishing that the entire quartet is an illness narrative. In examining those textual entries one can infer the other plot points by reading backward to the beginning of the piece and forward to the end. The long phase of plot point 5 affords the sufferer to articulate symptoms, progress, memories, dreams, complications, and setbacks, as well as some degree of optimism toward the

119 end. The same is true of the utter collapse of the patient in plot point 6 and reportage of authentic recuperation in plot points 7 and 8.279 For these reasons, matters of distinctive shape emerge in the following discussion of authors’ and composers’ personal symbolic syntax. Separating the narrative’s structure from its characteristic themes and metaphors is therefore all but impossible. As before, these constellations blend in an idiosyncratic fashion that precludes strict delineation of a theme group.

2. God, religion, and the afterlife

This quartet illustrates the tendency of writers to explore the subjects of God, religion, and the afterlife in their illness narratives. These issues also embrace the related topics of spiritual beliefs and practices such as prayer, forms of worship, and the church. The quartet’s third movement, the Heiliger Dankgesang, is the obvious example of Beethoven’s dwelling on these topics. He does this textually with his headings and inscriptions, and also musically, by using a chorale-style tune in the Lydian mode for the three “hymn verses.” Beethoven frequently wrote about such subjects in his diaries and letters. He also copied quotations from his readings; his favorite book was Betrachtungen über die Werke Gottes in der Natur (Observations Concerning God’s Works in Nature) (1785) by Christoph Christian Sturm (1740-1786). According to Anton Schindler, Beethoven copied phrases from his 1811 edition of Betrachtungen as follows:

Now it hath pleased Thee to let me feel the heavy hand of Thy wrath, and to humiliate my proud heart by manifold chastisements. Sickness and misfortune has Thou sent to bring me to a contemplation of my digressions. But one thing only do I ask, O God, cease not to labor for my improvement.280

According to Charles Witcombe, Beethoven marked 56 passages from the book, 27 of which are

279 Plot points 2, 3, and 4 are too short to permit much seeding of thematic material. In fact, the scream of plot point 4 is the only way that sufferers can express themselves. As noted before, however, Beethoven seeds the opening 8 measures of the quartet with allusions to the church and religion.

280 TF, 392.

120 on the subject of God.281 Beethoven’s “creed,” which he framed and kept on his writing desk, came from The Paintings of Egypt by Jean François Champollion (1790-1832):

I am that which is. . . . I am all that was, that is, and that shall be. No mortal man has ever lifted the veil of me. . . . He is solely of himself, and to this Only One all things owe their existence.282

The composer considered himself a prodigious and sophisticated reader. In a letter to Breitkopf and Härtel, Leipzig, dated 22 November 1809, he wrote,

There is no conceptualization that is outright too erudite for me, for without making the least claim to actual erudition, ever since my childhood I have strived to capture the mind of the better and wiser people in every age. Shame on an artist who does not hold it to be a duty to get at least as far in this.283

Given Beethoven’s wide-ranging appetite for books and the deeply felt presence of God in his daily life, his attention might have been drawn to a prize-winning poem by Christopher Smart that was well known and highly regarded into the nineteenth century: “Hymn to the

281 Charles Witcombe, “Beethoven’s Markings in Christoph Christian Sturm’s ‘Reflections on the Works of God in the Realm of Nature and Providence for Every Day of the Year,’” Beethoven Journal 12/1 (Summer 2003), 12. 282 Quoted in Beethoven: The Man and the Artist, As Revealed in His Own Words, ed. by Friedrich Kerst and Henry Edward Krehbiel (New York: Dover, 1964; orig. publ. Huebsch, 1905), 103-4. Also in TF, 481-82. According to Schindler, the creed “is set down as an inscription on a temple to the goddess Neith. The sentences . . . Beethoven copied with his own hand and kept, framed and under glass, always before him on his writing-table. The relic was a great treasure in his eyes.” The inscription does have other translations and explications: "‘I am all that has been, and is, and shall be, and my peplum no mortal has withdrawn.’ Although a rent in the veil that conceals the arcane truths of the ancient Wisdom-Religion was made, mortal eyes are so blinded by false ideas, prejudice and selfishness, that they cannot see through it nor accept the ideas presented.” “Ancient Landmarks XVII (Part 17 in a 59-part Series): The Gods of Egypt.” Theosophy 15/8 (June 1927), 355. “Ich bin, was da ist . . . Ich bin alles, was ist, was war und was sein wird: kein sterblicher Mensch hat meinen Schleier aufgehoben. . . . Er is einzig und von ihm selbst, und diesem einzigen sind alle Dinge ihr Dasein schuldig.”

283 Ibid., no. 212, p. 80. Kerst and Krehbiel mistakenly date the letter 2 November 1809. BH-408 (H. C. Bodmer, HCB BBr 8). “Es gibt keine Abhandlung die sobald zu gelehrt für mich wäre, ohne auch im mindesten Anspruch auf eigentliche Gelehrsamkeit zu machen, habe ich much doch bestrebt von Kindheit an, den Sinn der bessern und weisen jedes Zeitalters zu fassen, schande für einen Künstler, der es nicht für schuldigkeit hält, es hierin wenigstens so weit zu bringen —” Trans. Beethoven-Haus.

121 Supreme Being on Recovery from a Dangerous Fit of Illness” (1756).284 No explicit evidence exists to support a direct connection between this work and Beethoven’s “Holy Song of Thanksgiving from a Convalescent to the Godhead, in the Lydian Mode,” but the similarities between the two pieces are striking. Like Beethoven, who dedicated canons and other little pieces to his Dr. Braunhofer, Christopher Smart dedicated this poem, which consists of eighteen stanzas of Miltonic verse, to “Doctor James . . . who, under God, restored me to health from as violent and dangerous a disorder, as perhaps ever man survived. And my thanks become more particularly your just tribute,” Smart adds, “since this was the third time, that your judgment and medicines rescued me from the grave, permit me to say, in a manner almost miraculous.”285 In Smart’s “Hymn,” Stanza IV, the speaker refers to his condition:

But, O immortals! What had I to plead When death stood o’er me with his threat’ning lance, When reason left me in the time of need, And sense was lost in terror or in trance, My sinking soul was with my blood inflam’d, And the celestial image sunk, defac’d and maim’d.

This work is hardly brilliant poetry; Brittain relates that one sarcastic review claims that the poem’s lines reveal “‘more gratitude than genius, and more piety than poetry.’ The reviewer concluded with something of a sneer, ‘we . . . are very glad to hear that he is recovered, and heartily wish that his muse were recovered also.’”286 Brittain agrees that the poem lacks high “poetic merit.” But he also believes,

Its greatest value . . . lies first in the evidence it gives us of the

284 According to Robert Brittain in Poems by Christopher Smart, edited with an introduction and notes by Robert Brittain (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1950), “This poem was probably published in June or July, 1756 (it was reviewed in the July magazines), and Smart had apparently fallen ill the previous April. We have no exact information as to how long his recovery lasted, but there is reason to believe that he was ill again almost immediately. The long seven-year period of intermittent insanity and chaos in all his affairs had begun” (274).

285 Christopher Smart, dedicatory letter to Dr. James for “Hymn to the Supreme Being on Recovery from a Dangerous Fit of Illness,” in Poems, 100.

286 Ibid., 273.

122 nature of Smart’s affliction, and second in the revelation of his emotional illness. He was stricken both physically and mentally; he says that he was unable to walk and that he could not bear strong light in his eyes; he also says quite explicitly three times in the poem that during the illness he lost his reason. The two attacks he had suffered previously had probably not been so severe, but it is evident from this poem that Smart’s family bore with a great deal before they finally sent him into an asylum. More interesting than these sordid details is the evidence of the poem concerning the religious nature of Smart’s experience.287

Three lines from Stanza VIII sound quite like the neue Kraft fühlend in Beethoven’s hymn:

But soul-rejoicing health again returns, The blood meanders gentle in each vein, The lamp of life renew’d with vigour burns.

Their position toward the center (i.e., in plot point 5) of Smart’s illness narrative rather than the end virtually ensures that physical conditions will worsen. In a parallel with the Beethoven quartet’s fourth movement whose uncoordinated marcher falls out of step completely and collapses, Christopher Smart writes in Stanza XII, “My feeble feet refus’d my body’s weight, / ... / My nerves convuls’d shook fearful of their fate.”288

3. Illness as darkness and night

The rhyme in Smart’s Stanza XII, lines 2 and 4, reads, “Nor wou’d my eyes admit the glorious light / My mind lay open to the powers of night.” Even commentators who find no illness narrative in Beethoven’s quartet recognize the work’s images of darkness, one of the most pervasive metaphors of illness narratives in literature. Basil Lam perceives in “the profound darkness of the sustained opening,” and he calls the basic four-note motive of the first movement

287 Brittain, 273. Smart was to spend seven years in the asylum. During his confinement his writing took a decisive stylistic turn away from Miltonic verse and to a style where “his lyric genius . . . flowered,” according to Brittain (272).

288 Ibid., 102-3.

123 a “dark saying.”289 Lockwood considers the crescendo and decrescendo markings in Mvt. I, mm. 4 and 7 “dark terrain.”290 Another poet whose work resonates with Beethoven’s Heiliger Dankgesang is Felicia Dorothea (Browne) Hemans (1793-1835). Hemans wrote a series of sonnets titled Thoughts During Sickness; three of them appeared in New Monthly Magazine in March, 1835.291 The second sonnet (II.) of the group is “Sickness Like Night.”

Thou art like night, O sickness! deeply stilling Within my heart the world’s disturbing sound, And the dim quiet of my chamber filling With low, sweet voices, by life’s tumult drown’d. Thou art like awful night! [...] — be welcome, then, thy rod, Before whose touch my soul unfolds itself to God!

The governing metaphor is clear from the outset. What is surprising, however, is the degree to which sickness, and therefore night, possess antithetical qualities. Night (therefore sickness) is calming, soothing, and sweetly musical, yet it is awful, dreadful, and ghost-filled. It is spiritual and revelatory, yet it ushers in the ultimately disturbing, common aspects of daytime. Ultimately the punishing night affords the sufferer in the sick room (chamber) to commune with God.292 In correspondence dated 19 December 1808 she wrote to her aunt of “severe indisposition”: “I have suffered much pain. . . . I can now appreciate the full value of health, and feel my heart glow with gratitude to the good Supreme, who bestows upon me so inestimable a

289 Basil Lam, Beethoven String Quartets, BBC Music Guides 2 (London: BBC, 1975 and Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1975), 22-23.

290 Lockwood, 454.

291 Felicia Hemans: Selected Poems, Prose, and Letters, ed. by Gary Kelly, in the series Broadview Literary Texts (Ontario, Canada: Broadview Press, 2002), 400-401. The poems were first published in New Monthly Magazine 43 (March 1835), 328-30. The magazine ran the byline “by Mrs. Hemeans.” The Hemans works treated in this section of the present investigation might just as well appear in the previous section, “God, religion, and the afterlife.” For the sake of narrative continuity they are included here. This placement also reflects the degree to which the lines between characteristic analogies and theme groups blur.

292 “Felicia Dorothea Browne Hemans,” in A Celebration of Women Writers, ed. by Mary Mark Ockerbloom.

124 blessing . . . I am now quite restored.293

4. Nature and nostalgia, grief, memory, and melancholy

For Beethoven, the concept of nature is inextricably bound to his experience of illness, as well as his conception of God, but also to nostalgia and memory. All of these are activated as subject-constellations in Beethoven’s compositions and writings. Two stanzas of poetry dated the end of September 1812, while he was on the Kahlenberg, serve as an example.294

Almighty One O God! In the woods What glory in the I am blessed. Woodland. Happy every one On the Heights In the woods. is Peace,— Every tree speaks Peace to serve Through Thee. Him.—

Beethoven had been ill since the 15th of that month. At the time, he was smitten with Amalie Sebald, writing to her faithfully between short visits to see her in Teplitz, and, his many letters to her confirm, the composer sought physical and spiritual healing in nature.295 Beethoven wrote to Amalie on 16 September 1812, “Since yesterday I have not been quite well, since this morning I am worse; the cause is something indigestible which I have taken.” In the next letter he tells her, “I have become worse, and since yesterday evening up to now I have not been able to leave my bed. . . . I hope to be better to-morrow and that there will still be a few hours for us to spend and to enjoy together amid the beauties of nature.” The third letter in the sequence reports, “I only announce to you that the tyrant is chained like a slave to his bed—so it is! I shall be very glad if I get through with only the loss of this one day. My walk yesterday at break of day in the woods, where it was very misty, has

293 Kelly, 411. For what is known of Hemans’s illness and life, see Poems by Felicia Hemans, With An Essay on Her Genius by H. T. Tuckerman, ed. by Rufus W. Griswold (New York: Leavitt & Allen, 1850), and commentary in Kelly. 294 Kerst and Krehbiel, no. 12, 16.

295 K-134-138.

125 increased my indisposition, and perhaps made my getting better more difficult.” In a separate letter he states, “I am already better.” But in the next letter, still from September 1812, he complains, “My illness does not seem to increase, but rather to crawl on.” From this series of letters to Amalie, one can deduce that even when Beethoven is “chained like a slave” to the bed, he still rises early in the morning for walks in the woods, and plans to do so the following day! While in Baden in July 1814, where he frequently went to take the baths and recuperate from an illness, Beethoven jotted down the following words:

My miserable hearing does not trouble me here. In the country it seems as if every tree said to me: ‘Holy! holy!’—Who can give complete expression to the ecstasy of the woods! O, the sweet stillness of the woods!296

The Symphony no. 6 in F major, op. 64 (“Pastorale”) is the most obvious manifestation of Beethoven’s love of nature. There he is quite clear about what he intends to evoke in his symphony about nature. The movements are subtitled “Cheerful impressions awakened by arrival in the country,” “Scene by the brook,” “Merry gathering of country folk,” “Thunder- storm: tempest,” and “Shepherd’s song, glad and grateful feelings after the storm.”297 The “Shepherd’s song” constitutes the entire finale. Beethoven obviously knew how to place a song of thanksgiving at the end of a large instrumental work, if that is where it belongs in the plot. By the same token, he placed the quartet’s song of thanksgiving in the central position because that is what this quartet’s plot requires. In the op. 132 quartet the nature constellation so common in illness narratives appears in several manifestations and in several movements. This is perhaps most obvious in the second movement. Its introduction is a spare, economical statement (a fragment, really) that is based on the ever-present x and y motive (Ex. 4-11). The triple-meter principal theme is a truly clumsy Ländler, and not a very merry one. Further, it has the narrow range of a folk tune. This scherzo is not a rollicking joke but an ingenious working out of a minimum of musical material. Roger

296 Kerst and Krehbiel, no. 15, 17.

297 In a letter to Breitkopf and Härtel, Leipzig, dated 28 March 1809, Beethoven instructs his publisher, “Highly Honoured Sir, Herewith you receive the pianoforte improvements in the [fifth and sixth] symphonies. Have the plates corrected at once. The title of the Symphony in F is: Pastoral Symphony, or Reminiscence of Country Life, expression of feeling rather than painting.” K- 89, p. 83.

126 Fiske observes, “Its mood can hardly be explained in words; much of it seems curiously impersonal, with an aloof melancholy tinge.”298

Ex. 4-11: Mvt. 2: mm. 1-12

(5) yr y1



x x1 x1 x1 x1

Christopher Smart’s poem “On the Immensity of the Supreme Being” begins in a similarly bucolic vein. It also displays the same kinds of thematic linkage to his “Hymn to the Supreme Being” as the second movement of Beethoven’s quartet bears to the third, as well as to the “Pastoral” symphony. Particularly striking is the way this poem, like Beethoven’s quartet, combines the imagery cluster of God, religion, and the afterlife with the constellation of nature and music:

Once more I dare to rouse the sounding string, The Poet of my God—Awake my glory, Awake my lute and harp—my self shall wake, Soon as the stately night-exploding bird In lively lay sings welcome to the dawn. List ye! how nature with ten thousand tongues Begins the grand thanksgiving, Hail, all hail, Ye tenants of the forest and the field! My fellow subjects of th’ eternal King, I gladly join your Mattins, and with you Confess his presence, and report his praise.

298 Roger Fiske, “Quartet No. 14, Op. 132 in A minor,” in Beethoven’s Last Quartets (London: Oxford University Press, 1948), 62.

127 Although “On the Immensity of the Supreme Being” is not about illness, unless spiritual malaise, the phrase “night-exploding bird” recalls the description that many writers give to the “scream” of mm. 9-10 in the Beethoven quartet’s first movement. Beethoven’s musette-like trio features a bagpipe drone with a tune that is simply a series of extended fragments. Michael Steinberg marvels,

Beethoven can turn the most ordinary things into miracles. Nowhere does he do it more touchingly than in the trio, where a country dance tune . . . is transfigured at a great height into something more distant, mysterious, free of the pull of gravity.299

Daniel Gregory Mason comments that “the trio . . . in which the violin drones away on its two upper strings in the manner of . . . the peasant fiddler at a country dance, refreshes us like a walk in the open air after a long bout of calculating sums over a desk.”300 It might equally refresh after a bout of sickness. One interesting feature is that it consists of four episodes separated by transitions. These episodes, so befitting plot point 5’s series of physical episodes, recur fairly regularly (at mm. 142, 158, 173, and 190). Joseph deMarliave comments that the first episode (which he calls a “new motif [that] is a gay and lively dance tune”) is reminiscent of some clumsy Haydn minuets, “or again, in Beethoven’s own work, the Zusammensein der Landleute in the Pastorale”301 [the third movement of the Symphony no. 6]. Of the return to the material of the scherzo, Steinberg says, “So disconcerting is this interruption of the mood that the meter goes to pieces and we have the jolt of four measures in duple meter before Beethoven resumes the dance with its intimations of heaven.”302 Felicia Hemans’s “Intellectual Powers,” the first sonnet in Thoughts During Sickness,

299 Steinberg, 269. Steinberg’s comments here, with their references to “something . . . [transcendant,] distant, mysterious” in Beethoven’s bucolic dance is rather like the composer’s words to Mme Streicher, who was in Baden for a cure: “When you reach the old ruins, think that Beethoven often paused there; if you wander through the mysterious fir forests, think that Beethoven often poetized, or, as is said, composed there.” The old ruins suggest distance and mystery, and the fir forests are called “mysterious.” The simple act of composing there is raised to the level of poetry. Kerst and Krehbiel, no. 19, 17-18.

300 Mason, 190.

301 Marliave, 341-42.

302 Steinberg, 269.

128 first addresses powers of the mind: “O Thought! O Memory! gems for ever heaping / High in the illumined chambers of the mind; / And thou, divine Imagination! . . .”303 Hemans situates the poem in the “illumined chambers of the mind” rather than “the dim quiet of my chamber,” her sick room at night, in the second sonnet. She expresses the belief that powers of the intellect are divine gifts, but when “fever’s fiery touch” interferes with God’s “glorious combinations,” they fall apart, “broken all. / As the sand-pillars by the desert’s wind / Scattered to whirling dust!” The mind, suddenly reduced to ruins during a fever, then experiences the “strange return” of its powers once the fever breaks. As in Beethoven’s letter to Mme Streicher, the site of ruins combines with the creative powers of the imagination; Beethoven “poetized, or, as is said, composed there,” and Felicia Hemans devised a sonnet about thought, memory, and the imagination. Hemans, like Beethoven and Smart, creates a rich constellation of themes and images drawn from several categories: God, religion, and the afterlife; illness as darkness and night; and nature and nostalgia, grief, memory, and melancholy. Returning once more to the three sonnets of Thoughts During Sickness that appeared in the New Monthly Magazine (1835), the sonnet numbered VII., “The Recovery,” rounds out the group. Its language and imagery are wholly consistent with the previous sonnets and letter quoted above. They also resonate with Beethoven’s language and imagery, as well as with Smart’s:

Back then, once more, to breast the waves of life, To battle on against th’ unceasing spray, To sink o’erwearied in the stormy strife And rise to strive again: yet on my way [...] Ye childlike thoughts, the holy and the true, Ye that came bearing, while subdued I lay, [...] Back on my soul, a clear, bright sense, new-born, Wafting sweet airs of heaven thro’ this low world obscure.304

Beethoven’s Heiliger Dankgesang is an invalid’s song of thanksgiving to the Deity upon feeling new strength; “The Recovery” follows the same pattern. The Rufus Griswold edition of 1850 states that “Recovery” was “written under the fal[s]e impression occasioned by a temporary

303 Brittain, 400.

304 Quoted in Kelly, 401.

129 improvement in strength.”305 We therefore infer this as a marker of plot point 5, with the nadir of plot point 6 still to come—in the case of Hemans, with her death on 16 May 1835.


Scholars generally agree that the third, central movement of Beethoven’s String Quartet no. 15 is an expression of part of an illness experience. Abundant evidence exists to tie together Beethoven’s music, his notations on the score, and his biography. That he intended this interpretation is convincing. Most scholars have so far neglected to pursue an interpretation of the entire quartet as an illness narrative, however. Yet by starting in the center and working outward, examining all five movements as a unified whole, one can justify a wider interpretation of the quartet. In fact, Beethoven’s inscriptions in the Heiliger Dankgesang seem to require the listener to reconstruct the illness along with the protagonist, from the very first sign of symptoms. Medical doctors and clinicians have been following this method for centuries, asking their patients, “How and when did all this start?” This inquiry is actually sensible and true to life, as one does not usually consult a physician until a fair amount of suffering has gone on. The process works for the quartet, as well, in theory and in plain common sense. By viewing the illness narrative in literature as a distinct genre, and defining its parameters in terms of form and content, a definite set of criteria results. Second, by investigating the medical narrative as an equivalent genre with the same parameters, another avenue of approach to the musical narrative unfolds. The third check of the soundness of the approach involves the medical community’s heavy investment in illness narrative in the past twenty-five years. This wealth of documentation complements the present investigation, and even validates the methodology that this dissertation has developed. Applying to instrumental music what has long been theorized about stories and histories in literature and medicine exposes the very same illness narrative with identical form and content. The structure of the illness narrative in literature is based on nine plot points that yield a distinctive shape, one that is the inverse of the conventional narrative’s dramatic contour. These plot points are readily and remarkably identifiable in Beethoven’s string quartet. Similarly, a matrix of themes and metaphors typically found in literary illness narratives also serves to

305 Griswold, 360.

130 illuminate the content of illness narratives in instrumental music. Comparing the content of Beethoven’s string quartet with the matrix of topics and analogies that the illness narrative embraces shows how this particular work organizes the expression of illness. Specifically, Beethoven fused the subject-constellation of God, religion, and the afterlife with the subject-constellation of nature, nostalgia, and melancholy. Materials from his letters, diaries, and conversation books display fluid connections among all of these concepts and emotions. The same holds true for the concepts of darkness, night, and illness, a characteristic of the quartet that even those scholars who reject a unified illness narrative cannot help but notice.




Franz Schubert completed his Piano Sonata in B≤ major (D. 960), op. posth., on 26 September 1828. The third in a group of three dating from that month, it was the last piano sonata he completed before his death on 19 November at the age of 31.

I. Biographical Considerations

On the advice of Dr. Ernst Rinna von Sarenbach, the Court Physician,306 Schubert had moved into his brother Ferdinand’s lodgings in the outskirts of Vienna307 on 1 September 1828. The composer had been experiencing headaches, dizziness, and “constant giddiness and rushes of blood to the head”308 [Blutwallungen]; medical opinion called for fresh country air for Schubert, who was in the grips of a fever in September 1828. Ferdinand wrote that his brother Franz “felt poorly and doctored himself with medicines.” 309 Yet music poured out of Schubert at such a pace that his biographer Maurice J. E. Brown, crediting the freedom of the new surroundings, states,

306 Dr. Ernst Rinna von Sarenbach (1791-1837). “Dr. Rinna became a doctor to the imperial court in 1824 and was the editor of a two-volume work, A Compendium of the Most Efficacious Cures, Remedies, and Operating Methods, published in 1833. Dr. Rinna was Schubert’s first doctor at the onset of his mortal illness, but became ill himself and had to ask his colleague, Dr. Josef von Vering, to take over for him. Anton Neumayr, Music and Medicine 1: Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, trans. Bruce Cooper Clarke (Bloomington, IL: Medi-Ed, 1996), 412. Hereafter designated Neumayr1.

307 In letters that Schubert wrote to friends and publishers in September and October, 1828, he relates, “My address is: Neue Wieden, Firmiansgasse [or “Town of Ronspert”] No. 694, 2nd floor, right-hand side.

308 H. Kreissle von Hellborn, Franz Schubert ii (Vienna, 1965), 136; cited in Elizabeth Norman McKay, Franz Schubert: A Biography (Oxford: Clarendon, 1996), 20.

309 Otto Eric Deutsch, coll. and ed., Schubert: Memoirs by his Friends, trans. Rosamund Ley and John Nowell (London: Adam & Charles Black, 1958), 37. Hereafter referred to as Mem.

132 The ability to lavish such unremitting energy on the composition of the three long, superb works, completed within little more than three weeks, is stupendous enough in itself, but it seems superhuman, beyond credence almost, when it is realized that side by side with these sonatas, sketches, often in great detail, of every movement were also composed. The simple statistics alone are staggering: the sketches fill 17 leaves (34 pages), the fair copies 47 leaves (94 pages).310

Schubert’s productivity during this time owed much to his liberation from Vienna’s pressures and constraints, at least financial and environmental. In amazement at Schubert’s astonishing output during what would turn out to be the final weeks of his life, scholars mention the state of the composer’s health. They frequently metaphorize the illness from which Schubert was suffering and his progress in composing the works of this period. Elizabeth McKay relates, “During September . . . already in indifferent health, Schubert composed with feverish industry some of his greatest music. But this prolific activity was taking its toll.” 311 Brown writes, “Schubert’s last three sonatas [were] written in a single, sustained spell of burning, creative energy.”312 These descriptions create a link between Schubert’s physical condition and his creative process (a “spell” that was “feverish” and “burning”). They do not press the analogy except to advance the claim that certain passages in the last piano sonata display “Schubert’s characteristic inward, brooding style.”313 Some scholars of the Sonata in B≤ major flinch at the suggestion that the work betrays Schubert’s physical or emotional condition, but they maintain that the sonata does reflect Schubert’s “state of mind.” At issue is the definition of the word “biographical.” For example, William G. Hill opens his essay, “The Genesis of Schubert’s [P]osthumous Sonata in B≤ major,” with the following disclaimer:

310 Maurice J. E. Brown, “Drafting the Masterpiece,” in Essays on Schubert (London: Macmillan and New York: St. Martin’s, 1966), 21.

311 McKay, 320.

312 Brown, 21.

313 McKay, 314.

133 I . . . admit that my title . . . may suggest that I am in possession of hitherto unknown facts relating to the composition of Schubert’s well-known Sonata and that I intend to adduce biographical matter that will clear up the fog that enshrouds the circumstances of its composition. I disavow completely any such biographical intention. I am in possession of no information that is not accessible to anyone. My purpose is merely to bring forward some internal evidence that, in my opinion, shows at least possibilities of interpretation of Schubert’s state of mind during the composition of the Sonata.314

Scholars have taken other positions with regard to Schubert’s biography. Austrian physician and musician Anton Neumayr, who has conducted extensive studies of medical- historical afflictions of many composers, examines the circumstances of Schubert’s illness and death. Of particular interest to him are details surrounding the final weeks of Schubert’s life, including the prolific period during which the last three sonatas flowed from Schubert’s pen. Neumayr is scrupulous in weighing evidence from a medical point of view, and he is adamant in one cautionary note:

Many biographies suggest that the restlessness which drove Schubert to work at such an inconceivable pace in the last months of his life was rooted in a premonition that he did not have long to live. Such an interpretation runs the risk of using our knowledge of historical events to infer thoughts and ideas in retrospect that have nothing to do with reality. Moreover, there are many reasons to believe that, in those last months of his life in a year filled with so many hopes and plans, Schubert did not anticipate his death and most certainly did not long for it.315

Hill prefaces his examination of the sonata by saying that he knows what any biographer can ascertain—and proceeds to undertake a comparison of the Sonata in B≤ major and other compositions by Schubert and Beethoven. Neumayr is on solid interpretive ground in stating that hindsight does not constitute evidence, especially when conclusions are based on inaccurate

314 William G. Hill, “The Genesis of Schubert’s [P]osthumous Sonata in B≤ major,” in The Music Review 12 (Nov. 1951), 269. In other words, Hill’s interpretation is positivistic rather than biographical.

315 Neumayr1, 391.

134 assumptions. This has been the case in most studies of Schubert’s last group of sonatas in particular, but also more widely in his compositional output. Interpreting Schubert’s Sonata D. 960 does indeed benefit from contemporaneous accounts of all kinds, “biographical” or not. The first set of problems that has arisen, however, especially in studies undertaken in the past few decades, is that investigators have arrived at fairly reasonable conclusions that are based on incorrect assumptions—or they have drawn incorrect conclusions based on assumptions that are basically true. The second set of challenges, specifically for the present investigation, concerns viewing the entire sonata as an illness narrative (as was shown in the previous chapter on Beethoven’s Quartet in A minor, op. 132 when researchers viewed only the third movement as a response to illness). The goal that we face first is to draw valid conclusions from solid biographical evidence. What is certainly true based on correspondence and contemporary accounts is that Schubert and his comrade contracted syphilis late in 1822 after a night of debauchery in “sleazy districts.” Neumayr asserts,

According to official statistics, there were some ten thousand women [of easy virtue]— professionals and nonprofessionals alike—in Vienna during the second decade of the 19th century. The danger of infection then was especially great, for it was only in 1827 that a form of public health supervision was decreed, at least for professional prostitutes. Even these measures were only sporadically carried out. Consequently, the number of persons suffering from venereal diseases was high.316

Further, we have no reason to doubt that Schubert was overwrought to discover that he was thus afflicted. For a long period he avoided social contact, even with good friends, wishing to conceal his condition. Neumayr confirms,

As if the physical consequences of Schubert’s syphilis were not bad enough at the start of 1823, the shock to his mental and emotional state led to a genuine crisis. Schubert revealed the full extent of his despair and desperation most openly in a poem he wrote on 8 May 1823. In it, he captured all the feelings and

316 Neumayr1, 368-69. He also says that this way of satisfying certain needs was “customary among young men in those days when they were not married and had no fixed tie to a particular woman.”

135 thoughts that assailed hum during this terrible period. Schubert’s death wish, already apparent in his prose poem My Dream, was made even clearer in this poem, Mein Gebet.317

A “literal prose translation” of Schubert’s poem is the following:

My Prayer With deep desiring born of righteous fear, reaching out for better worlds, Wanting to fill darkest space with love’s omnipotent dream. Holy Father, as recompense for terrible pain, grant your son at last Your love’s eternal gleaming as a feast of redemption. See, my life’s tortured way lies annihilated in the dust, Prey to unheard-of grief as it nears eternal doom. Destroy it and destroy me too, let all fall into oblivion. And then, O almighty One, let a pure, strong life be born again.

Well into 1823 Schubert continued to suffer the effects of his disease. Neumayr believes that he experienced a brief period of improvement around Easter (“in the very month in which he wrote My Prayer”), because he composed Die Schöne Müllerin (“[the texts] must have inspired Schubert because their melancholy nature fully matched his mood of the moment”).318 He then went on a trip to Upper Austria, hoping in its restorative potential; he wrote to Schober on 14 August, “I have been busily corresponding with Schaeffer and am feeling fairly well. Whether I’ll ever be completely healthy again, I’m inclined to doubt.” Neumayr concludes that “Schubert was fully aware of the gravity of his disease and . . . symptoms must also have continued in evidence during the trip.”319 He bases this conclusion on the account of a friend who had stopped off to see Schubert: “I found him really quite ill at the time, but you certainly know that already.”320 Finally returning to Vienna in the autumn of 1823, Schubert was ill enough to require prolonged hospitalization at Vienna General Hospital; he probably remained there through November. In any event he was bedridden through the new

317 Ibid., 369. My Dream is the subject of section III below.

318 Ibid., 369.

319 Ibid., 370.

320 Ibid. The visitor was Baron Karl von Doblhoff. He wrote to Schober (letter dated 12 November 1823).

136 year but finally felt well enough to celebrate his birthday (rather raucously, out on the town with friends) on the 31st of January, 1824. Without question, though, Schubert had experienced many flare-ups of the disease that caused despondency and serious depression in addition to physical difficulties. That much of the story is confirmed as true. Researchers have based their studies on these facts, attributing further bouts of sickness to the syphilis that advanced to the end stage in Schubert’s final weeks. That assumption is ill-founded, however, because, as Neumayr asserts, “Reflection on the later course of Schubert’s disease leads us to [believe] that . . . his cure may have been achieved in the spring of 1824 with an innovative treatment involving use of a mercuric salve.”321 In a letter from [his friend Moritz von] Schwind dated 6 March Schubert had learned of this treatment. In the final analysis, Neumayr says, “There is little doubt that Schubert—like his mother—died of typhoid fever, an infectious disease that was endemic in the unimaginably bad hygienic conditions of Vienna’s outlying communities.”322 To lend further support to his determinations Neumayr writes, “Comparing what we know of Schubert’s last weeks with the clinical picture of typhoid, we can diagnose an acute case of typhoid fever.”323 He cites additional information from correspondence and contemporary accounts dating between 31 October and 19 November 1828 that buttress this conclusion.

321 Ibid., 406. Basically the patient had to take baths, after which he applied mercuric salve. Neumayr doubts that this aspect of the treatment was particularly curative, but he believes that the next step of the process, namely drinking a warm tea infused with tree bark and roots, was effective. This the patient drank morning and evening; the tree material had mercuric properties. Neumayr reasons, “If Schubert’s syphilis had been cured by this method of treatment, his later headaches obviously cannot be attributed to a third stage of syphilis with its characteristic alterations in bone structure. Confirmation for this conclusion is provided by the results of the medical evaluations from the two exhumations, which showed no suspicious changes whatsoever either to the skull or to the skeleton.” He also states unequivocally, “The diagnosis of Schubert’s final illness, which led to his death [with]in a few weeks’ time [of its onset], is not in doubt. In his remembrances, said that, soon after moving into the apartment on 1 September 1828, his brother was ‘feeling poorly and doctoring himself with medicines.’ Because Schubert was nagged by headaches, spells of dizziness, and hot flashes in the summer of that year, many writers have concluded that a new flare-up of his syphilitic disease had occurred. If that had been the case, however, Dr. Rinna would hardly have promised him that a move to the outskirts of Vienna would bring results.” Neumayr cites other inconsistencies with a diagnosis of advanced syphilis. He adds, “A critical review of all available documentary sources appears to justify the supposition that the treatments that were begun immediately after infection and evidently repeated frequently may have suppressed any further recurrences of his syphilis after 1826. In all likelihood, he was as completely healed as was his friend and companion in being infected, Franz von Schober, who lived to be more than 80 years old” (407).

322 Ibid.

323 Ibid., 408.

137 “These symptoms of disease, taken from the words of Schubert himself and those of his friends as well as his brother Ferdinand, form a convincing chain of circumstantial evidence that enables doctors, even today after so many years have elapsed, to make the retrospective diagnosis” in Neumayr’s judgment.324 The treatment that Rinna, and later Dr. Vering and Professor Wisgrill, prescribed indicates that these authorities were certain of it, too. From a list of household expenses during the last weeks of Schubert’s life we can adduce rather a lot about this treatment. The account, dated 6 December 1828, itemizes charges for certain medicines, doctors, and other medical care.325 These line items were completely “by the book”—that book being Dr. Johann Valentin von Hildenbrand’s 1810 treatise, Concerning Infectious Typhoid. Hildebrand had described treatments in two outbreaks of the sickness (in Galicia in 1806, and then again in Vienna just before publication of his treatise), advocating these protocols and claiming a success rate of over ninety percent. He advises,

Expectations of the splendid effects of these remedies are but seldom disappointed . . . as long as the doctor knows the proper moment to employ them. And this moment comes actually on the seventh or eighth day of the typhoid fever, with first signs of effects on the nervous system. . . . Following the blistering agents, but especially even during their use, there is no better remedy at this stage of the fever than camphor . . . ten to twelve grains per day. . . . One or at the most two bloodlettings . . . are usually sufficient for the worst cases of this kind.326

Tragically, Schubert was not among those who experienced those “splendid effects” in 1828. Having achieved the first goal of establishing the biographical and medical facts of Schubert’s case, this investigation now turns to matters of illness narrative as manifest in the Sonata in B≤ major. Not until one recognizes the work itself as an illness narrative does a framework exist with sufficient integrity to describe “how the music goes.” The discussion that follows will demonstrate that Schubert’s Piano Sonata in B≤ major serves as a model of an illness narrative. The issue is not the extent to which the sonata reflects Schubert’s life but rather the

324 Ibid., 409-10.

325 These included mustard powder, salves to cause blistering, other salves, and a charge for a bleeding. Ibid., 410.

326 Cited in Neumayr1, 410.

138 ways in which it corresponds to the nine-plot-point model described in previous chapters; moreover, analysis of this particular composition focuses special attention on the composition’s first and final movements with additional observations regarding the two inner movements (Section II below). The sonata also serves as a model illness narrative in its emphasis on five analogies and themes that illness narratives in literature frequently dwell upon: illness as a journey; the dream-state of illness; the sufferer’s nostalgia, memory, and melancholy; the experience of “sinking”; and the imagery of bells (Section III below).

II. Illness Narrative as a Genre: Shape and Structure

Figure 5-1 charts the shape of the Piano Sonata in B≤ major and shows the corresponding measure where a new phase begins.


(I, 1) 1(Before 2 the com- (IV, 513) 8 9 position 3 (I, 44) begins) (After the

4 (I, 46) recovery of degree variable composition ends)

5 (IV, 186) 7 (I, 48) 6 (IV, 150) variable degree of suffering

1. actual onset of illness 2. beginning of narrative time 3. transition point 4. downward spiral, rapid descent into illness 5. episodes, complications, gains, setbacks 6. rock bottom, low point, despair 7. beginning of actual recuperation 8. end of narrative time 9. the new normal

Figure 5-1. Shape and plot points,

Schubert’s Piano Sonata in B≤ major, op. posth., D. 960

139 Plot Point 1: Actual Onset of Illness

In the literary illness narrative the storyteller has the option of revisiting this period before the events of the illness narrative begin in plot point 2. Bearing in mind that plot point 1 is the placekeeper for important information, the reader or listener will be able to recognize if and when the storyteller chooses the option of returning to the time before the protagonist begins to feel ill. At some later time the doctor or the patient may start to question what happened leading up to the illness, because unbeknownst to the protagonist, this is the place where sickness actually starts. An example of returning to this “prequel” to the illness takes place in Norman Cousins’s Anatomy of an Illness. He was “reluctant to write about [the serious illness] for many years”327 —fifteen years, in fact. Because Cousins was able to write at such a remove in time from the original illness experience, he places plot point 1 at the beginning of his story. Appropriately, however, he relates events leading up to his illness in such a way that their relationship to his eventual symptoms are unknown, as they were at the time. He and his doctor, William Hitzig, were never able to establish a connection between those events and his actual illness even fifteen years later, so these events are couched in speculation; he calls them “anecdotal.”328 Given a diagnosis of “ankylosing spondylitis, which would mean that the connective tissue in the spine was disintegrating,”329 Cousins asked Dr. Hitzig what could have caused that. The speculation was heavy-metal poisoning or a previous streptococcal infection. Cousins recounts a business trip to the Soviet Union in July 1964:

I thought as hard as I could about the sequence of events immediately preceding the illness. I had gone to the Soviet Union .

327 Norman Cousins, Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient: Reflections on Healing and Regeneration (New York: W. W. Norton, 1979), 27. This chapter makes rather extensive use of Cousins’s Anatomy for several reasons. First, it is a one-of-a-kind narrative that differs from all others known to me, so the perspective that it offers on the discussions herein are useful, if only for this reason. Second, Anatomy addresses the same kinds of issues that other writers raise, so that where his account agrees with those, as the above example shows, his voice is beneficial. Thus whether his is a maverick viewpoint, as it usually is, or whether he voices a basic truth with regard to an aspect of illness narrative, the present study has intended from the very beginning to include a multiplicity of approaches to analysis. Cousins is important in this mix. It should not go without mentioning that his is the only illness narrative represented in the present study that has appeared on the silver screen!

328 Ibid.

329 Ibid., 30-31.

140 . . to consider the problems of cultural exchange. . . . Our hotel was in a residential area. My room was on the second floor. Each night a procession of diesel trucks plied back and forth to a nearby housing project in the process of round-the-clock construction. It was summer, and our windows were wide open. I slept uneasily each night and felt somewhat nauseated on arising. On our last day in Moscow, at the airport, I caught the exhaust spew of a large jet at point-blank range as it swung around on the tarmac.330

He abandons this theory because, he says, “my wife, who had been with me on the trip, had no ill effects from the same exposure.”331 The next hypothesis that Cousins takes up, mostly to account for the difference between his reaction and his wife’s, concerns the portion of his trip in Leningrad. There, he speculates, “I could have been in a condition of adrenal exhaustion and less apt to tolerate a toxic experience than someone whose immune system was fully functional.”332 This, too, was an unprovable theory even though he relates conditions of the Leningrad leg of his trip that conceivably could have resulted in adrenal exhaustion. Unable to connect events in the Soviet Union with his illness, Cousins is therefore forced to leave a gap; he cannot properly include plot point 1 in the story space of the narrative itself because there is no causal relationship between events of plot points 1 and 2. Something must have happened, but no one knows what. The space or gap between the two plot points is the first example of blackout time in Anatomy of an Illness.

Plot Point 2: Beginning of Narrative Time

Cousins writes, “In August 1964 I flew home . . . with a slight fever. The malaise, which took the form of a general feeling of achiness, rapidly deepened.”333 He continues,

It was a long flight back to the States . . . The plane was overcrowded. By the time we arrived in New York, cleared

330 Ibid., 31-32. As expected, the author uses the pluperfect tense, “I had gone . . .”

331 Ibid., 32.

332 Ibid.

333 Ibid., 28.

141 through the packed customs counters, and got rolling back to Connecticut, I could feel an uneasiness deep in my bones. A week later I was hospitalized.334

Cousins is silent on the events between arriving home and being hospitalized, a period of a week. This, then, constitutes the second instance of the narrative’s blackout time, in which the sufferer has no recollection of (or does not comment on) a period of time between the actual onset of the medical predicament and the second (or even the third) plot point.335 From the outset of the Sonata in B≤, all seems well. From an anticipatory tonic chord, a perfectly nomal-sounding opening melody proceeds cantabile in a middle register with regular eight-bar periodicity of antecedent and consequent phrases. We may presume that the protagonist is out for a leisurely walk in the country; he takes up a comfortable pace (quarter- note pulses in 4/4 meter and a tempo of Molto moderato), and his mood is carefree. He might be whistling the opening tune, or even singing it. This tune also moves mainly in step-wise motion, further reinforcing the interpretation that the occasion is a walk. Later in the narrative, this walk will take on the meaning of “Wandering,” and it will lead into the strongly Romantic archetype, the Wanderer. For the time being, however, we can only assume walking. A similar situation presents itself in William Wordsworth’s “The Wanderer,” completed in 1802 but not published until 1814 as Book One of Excursions. In this 1,010-line poem the plot of the narrative unfolds in rather complicated fashion, but at the start of the tale the reader is told,

‘Twas summer, and the sun had mounted high: Southward the landscape indistinctly glared Through a pale steam; but all the northern downs, In clearest air ascending, showed far off

334 Ibid., 33. The use of passive voice here correlates to what was happening to him physically.

335 This passage also exemplifies the type of scenario for plot point 2 in which the sufferer notices initial signs of illness and consults a physician about the situation. The reader must infer that Dr. Hetzig had been checking the sedimentation rate, at some time 80 (more than twice that for a typical illness), but did not hospitalize Cousins until the sedimentation rate rose to 88. Cousins, as quoted above, spent one week at home before hospitalization; the conclusion is therefore that he was acting to address his symptoms, but he doesn’t mention any further details. The reader also knows that after a week in the hospital, the sedimentation rate was 115, “generally considered to be a sign of critical illness” (28). Thus the first week of hospitalization constitutes the third example of blackout; Cousins makes only general comments about hospital procedure and overall conditions, all of which he finds fault with.

142 A surface dappled o’er with shadows flung From brooding clouds; shadows that lay in spots Determined and unmoved, with steady beams Of bright and pleasant sunshine interposed; To him most pleasant who on soft cool moss Extends his careless limbs along . . .

The very idea of recreational walking was quite common in the Romantic era; it is just as popular today as it was back then. Then, as now, recognizing the health benefits of walking, physicians “prescribed” walking for their patients. Schubert received this advice rather often from his doctors, although he was fond of hikes anyway. Amazingly, after he had moved to Ferdinand’s quarters on the outskirts of town, fallen ill, and engaged in that inconceivable marathon of composing, he did not yet “sink completely into his deathbed,” as Ferdinand would write of coming days. Neumayr says,

Schubert was feeling anything but well in September. . . . Later his condition must have improved somewhat, however, for Ferdinand reports that at the beginning of October Schubert . . . in the company of his brother Ferdinand and two friends made a little excursion to Unter-Waltersdorf [about nine miles north of Eisenstadt], where he went to visit Joseph Haydn’s tomb and lingered there for some time. During these three days underway, he was very moderate in what he ate and drank, but at the same time he was in very good spirits and had a lot of amusing ideas. When he was back in Vienna once more, however, his feeling of being sick grew again.336

Even into the month of November, with his health almost fully compromised, Schubert was taking long walks. According to accounts,

On 3 November, Schubert went to the parish church in Hernals to hear a requiem his brother Ferdinand had composed. Afterward, he took a long three-hour walk, hoping to revive the weak, unsteady state of his health by exercise in the fresh air. On the way home, however, he complained of great weariness and fatigue,

336 Neumayr1, 390-91.

143 a feeling that would increase in the days to follow.337

Beethoven was an inveterate walker. As is well known, he was in the habit of sketching musical ideas while on his walks, deriving inspiration from nature. So it is far from unusual for a composer to represent a person setting out on a walk as the music begins; this activity was such a way of life that not to write about it would be unusual. As we know now, a simple walk will later assume importance as the dominant metaphor in the piano sonata; for now, however, we will leave further discussion for Section III below. Returning to the music, we notice that just before the principal theme can cadence from the dominant back to the tonic to complete the first statement, the dominant chord is held over bars 8 and 9, while underneath comes the low rumble of a trill on G≤ in m. 8. The trill interrupts the principal theme (the walk) like faraway thunder, or Wordsworth’s “brooding clouds,” or the gnawing anxiety that a person has when experiencing isolated twinges. This expressive element is incongruent with the principal thematic area; not only does it contrast with the melody in its texture and register but also in its character—unsingable and nonlyrical. Further, the regular pace comes to a standstill (the note values in m. 8 are indeterminate, at least for the listener, and several rests with a fermata complete m. 9). Moreover, the tonal center of G≤ (we know not whether major or minor) comes as an illogical harmonic contrast to the sonata’s tonic of B≤ major. This passage equates to blackout time. The principal theme resumes with the anticipation to m. 10. The restatement’s cadence does occur upon the second attempt, but in m. 19 another trill figure similar to the first one rumbles softly in the bass, with a turn-out to G≤ (Ex. 5-1). The walker pays no attention to the sign; he resumes his stroll without stopping to listen, as indicated when the resuming tune overlaps in mid-trill.

337 Ibid., 392. Norman Cousins tells the story of Charles Tierry. “Charles Thierry was born in 1850 and practiced his silversmith trade in Cambridge, Massachusetts, until the age of 93. Every day he took long, vigorous walks in the country, a habit that he kept up after his retirement. At the age of 103 he contracted influenza and had a stormy convalescence. He was then seen by Dr. Paul Dudley White, who urged him to resume his daily walks, regardless of the weather. Thierry recovered but later died of pneumonia at 108 years of age, largely due to his own negligence” (11).

144 Ex. 5-1: Plot Point 2, Mvt. 1, mm. 1-21.



6 8


trouble trill on G≤ 12

18 19 tune overlaps trill

some silence

trouble trill on B≤/C≤: G≤

According to Leonard Ratner, the modulation from B≤ to G≤ in mm. 18-20, is a prime example of harmonic color achieved through chromatic third relationships—the second trouble trill. He explains the technique this way:

When triads whose roots lie a third apart belong to different keys, their relationship is that of a chromatic third as distinct from a diatonic third relationship. As one triad in such a relationship moves to another, a chromatic alteration is made in at least one of the tones. This alteration, along with other inflections, sets the color of one triad in bold relief against the color of its neighbor. Each chord color then takes on a vividness, a personality that does

145 not emerge in diatonic progressions.338

After the second trill, fourteen measures grounded on G≤ major eventually develop into a German augmented sixth chord (m. 34) that leads unexpectedly to a resolution on B≤ major at m. 39. A resumption of the principal theme is truncated at m. 44. Clearly, the so-called “normal” course of an exposition is going awry. These two trills are understandable as symptoms of an illness—in this case, symptoms sensed but ignored. Most important, the trills have established G≤ as the realm of the illness since m. 8. This analysis therefore refers to these trills as “trouble trills.” To add weight to this interpretation, their antecedent occurs in what Neumayr calls “the crowning work in Schubert’s chamber music oeuvre, the masterful String Quintet in C major (D. 956), with an extra cello in place of the more usual extra viola.”339 Schubert composed this quintet during his move to Ferdinand’s home, just before turning to the three piano sonatas (Ex. 5-2a and b); like them, the quintet dates to September 1828. As in the Sonata in B≤ major, where the trouble trills occur mainly on the Neapolitan/V (G≤), the Quintet’s trills exploit the Neapolitan relationship as N/V and N of C major (A≤ and D≤, respectively).

338 Leonard G. Ratner, Romantic Music: Sound and Syntax (New York: Schirmer/Macmillan, 1992), 113. For further discussion of movement by chromatic third relationships see Section III, “Sinking,” below. Interestingly, Ratner cites the Quintet in C (discussion of this composition follows immediately below) as another instance of achieving harmonic color by chromatic third relationships, but not the passage that contains the trouble trill. Instead he focuses on mm. 20ff where Schubert effects a modulation from C major to G major by way of an intervening passage in E≤ major (i.e., an unconventional way to get there). This shows Schubert’s cleverness in using the same trill figure in two compositions for two entirely different purposes; said another way, he achieves harmonic motion by thirds in two compositions that both feature the trouble trill, but he implicates only the trouble trill of the sonata in this third-relation movement. Ratner does implicate the passage beginning in m. 20 in “trouble,” though! He writes, “The appearance of E≤ major itself is given highlights by a subtle play of sound and rhythm. The tune, frankly lyric and mellow as it seems, has trouble finding its true key, and along with this difficulty loses its rhythmic balance. The trouble begins immediately . . .” (276). 339 Neumayr1, 390.

146 Ex. 5-2. More “Trouble”: Quintet in C major (D. 956)

a) Mvt. 1, mm. 425-29


trouble trill on N/V: V

b) Mvt. 4, mm. 422-29


! trouble trill on N: I * The implications of the direct borrowing of these trills require careful consideration. Schubert left no clues behind to explain the significance of these trills in the quintet in the first place. Little scholarship has arisen on the subject apart from the aforementioned study that

147 William G. Hill undertook in 1951. His approach was admittedly positivistic; this turns out to be the wisest course of thought simply because no concrete evidence exists (other than the fact of the quotations in the respective works’ first and last movements, their exploitation of the Neapolitan relationship, and the dates of these compositions to September 1828 during Schubert’s final illness) to support further inquiry. The best assumption is simply that he liked the device and found another place to use it—or, as Hill says of these quotations, the quintet “plainly still haunted the composer’s imagination” while he was writing the sonata.340 In the context of the sonata, “haunting” seems a particularly apt word choice although Hill certainly did not intend to mean “haunting” in the sense we do here. This investigation will discuss further implications of the quotations from the Quintet in C in plot point 5 below. Example 5-1 above showed the preliminary events of plot point 2. To illustrate how rapidly this plot point unfolds into the next two phases of the illness, Example 5-3 marks narrative events.

Ex. 5-3: Mvt. 1, mm. 38-53.

(PP2) PP3 42

PP4 46 enharmony PP5 bell tones

LONG FALL ! enharmony turnout

f≥: 50

340 Hill, 270.

148 Plot Point 3: Transition Point

Cousins’s narrative contains only one sentence to mark the transition point: “I had been more or less disposed to let the doctors worry about my condition.”341 In Schubert’s sonata, just two measures, mm. 45-45, constitute the whole of plot point 3 (Ex. 5-4). Whereas the harmony had been changing on the quarter note, now the harmonic rhythm is nearly immobile; the outer voices decay in conjunction with dynamic reduction to p as the lone inner voice trembles.

Ex. 5-4: Mvt. 1, mm. 42-45.

42 (PP2) PP3

Plot Point 4: Downward Spiral, Rapid Descent Into Illness

The extent of his illness was not apparent to Norman Cousins until the moment when he discovered that a consulting specialist gave him a one in five hundred chance for full recovery. “The specialist had also stated that he had not personally witnessed a recovery from this comprehensive condition.”342 Cousins immediately adopted a combative stance and “a compulsion to get into the act. It seemed clear to me that if I was to be that one in five hundred I had better be something more than a passive observer.”343 This sudden shift in attitude from passive to active does not appear to be as dramatic physically as most accounts of the rapid downward spiral typically sound; this moment nevertheless represents the view from the bottom of the pit, when he voices a battle cry of sorts. After all, he writes, “The bones in my spine and practically every joint in my body felt as

341 Cousins, 31.

342 Ibid. 343 Ibid.

149 though I had been run over by a truck.”344 He later adds, “I was told by the specialists that my disease was progressive and incurable,”345 but he rejected that assessment, thereby avoiding being “trapped in the cycle of fear, depression, and panic that frequently accompanies a supposedly incurable illness.”346 From this point forward, Cousins implemented his plan with a vengeance.347 The sound usually associated with plot point 4 is the scream or the shriek. In the case of mm. 46-47 (Ex. 5-5), the listener has the suggestion of a loud growl or sinking groan.

Ex. 5-5. Mvt. 1, mm. 46-53

PP4 PP5 46 enharmony bell tones

LONG FALL ! enharmony turnout

f≥: 50

In mm. 46-47 the descent into illness takes place, and quickly. The music conveys shock by means of an enharmonic shift, a respelling of a diminished 7th of C major becoming a diminished 7th of F≥ minor in m. 46, and a crescendo to ∂. On the piano, these are the same keys; once a chord has been respelled, however, the landscape changes completely. The behavior of the chords that follow is entirely different.

344 Ibid., 39.

345 Ibid., 45.

346 Ibid.

347 Anyone who has seen Ed Asner’s portrayal of Norman Cousins in the film An Anatomy of an Illness understands what a pugnacious patient Cousins was in combatting his illness. Peter J. Thompson, prod., An Anatomy of an Illness, motion picture, 1984; Miracle Pictures/PMC Corp., 2002, DVD movie. Eli Wallach played the role of Dr. Hitzig.

150 The last beat of m. 47 is a variation of the “trouble trill” with the turnout in the left hand. There follows a rapid descent (the left hand’s upper voice drops two octaves in two measures, and the bass has entirely disappeared). Furthermore, the bottom drops out from under the ostinato f that the left hand has been repeating for four consecutive measures, and the line lands with a thud on FF≥.

Plot Point Complex 5: Episodes, Complications, Gains, and Setbacks Plot point 5 begins with the anticipation to m. 49, pianissimo. After the double bar the music situates itself in the very remote key of F≥ minor, quite far away from B≤ major. We might have expected a turn to the relative minor (G minor), but certainly not G≤ minor or its enharmonic equivalent, F≥ minor. A new theme proceeds very softly in the left hand, while in the top register bell-like tones engage the theme. The remoteness of the key combines with the tinkling bell tones to suggest the dream state of the sufferer, or that peculiar altered state somewhere between sleeping and alertness. Bells are a common image in illness narratives generally, and composers use them to produce a variety of effects. In this context these bell tones convey the magical, charmed state that patients say they entered, particularly after caretakers have administered narcotics and sedatives. Their perceptions are tinged with this sense of the otherwordly, as if having walked through the looking glass. Peter Pesic says this passage “has a lonely, frightened sound; the high melody and its bass countermelody follow each other over a chasm.”348 Later he calls this passage “a lonely duet over the abyss.”349 If there is an even lonelier voice, it comes in the recitative passage shown above, in the four measures just before the first ending. In a certain sense, the patient seeks to establish an independent perspective, even if it is illogical at first. One of the most remarkable aspects of Schubert’s sonata occurs at m. 117. The double bar and repeat sign are common features of the sonata form in the Romantic period. As Ernest G. Porter relates, however, “This is one of the few [Schubert] sonatas with first and second time double bars, and in this case the first is important as there is a section of nine bars

348 Peter Pesic, “Schubert’s Dream,” in 19th-Century Music 23/2 (Fall, 1999), 139.

349 Ibid., 140.

151 concluding on a bass trill ffz to lead to the return.”350 Also of interest is the little power struggle between the soft cadential phrase that tries to close the exposition “reasonably” and the ostinato figure that stubbornly reintroduces G≤, as Ex. 5-6 shows.

Ex. 5-6. Mvt. 1, First and Second Endings.

(PP5) (K) shriek recitativo 109 closing phrase (K) (K)

116 reintroduces G≤ (K) (K)



trouble trill on G≤ back to PP1

This return to the silent beats before the music starts mirrors what happens in illness narratives, when patients attempt to reconstruct the events that led to their predicament; we relive the procession of events along with the protagonist. Accordingly, the first ending’s rests resituate the listener back in plot point 1, the three silent beats before the chord anticipatory to m. 1. Schubert chooses to represent the source of trouble on G≤ in the trill that breaks the walker’s concentration as he sets out. Through enharmonic respelling the music moves into F≥ minor at the crisis of plot point 4 and settles there for the secondary theme group where plot

350 Ernest F. Porter, Schubert’s Piano Works (London: Dennis Dobson, 1980), 101.

152 point 5 begins. From there the harmony shifts through a variety of keys, including D≤ major (m. 94), before working back to B≤ for the conclusion of the movement’s exposition. Schubert’s listeners would have heard these tonalities as disturbing. Hugh MacDonald has studied these “extreme keys” in nineteenth-century music, stating that “G≤ (or F≥) is the tonal pole from C.”351 He explains,

G≤ is truly the ultimate point in the tonal scheme, and its special polarity is undisputed. Moreover, it is technically and generically distinct from F≥ . . . but F≥ major never carried the same sense of remoteness as G≤ for the reason that it was widely seen as akin to F≥ minor, a common enough key in Classical parlance. . . . Certain pieces in G≤ minor have a persistent haunting quality which is at least in part attributed to their key . . . an otherworldliness . . .352

MacDonald comments further about keys remote from C, adding:

Minor keys with many flats are, reasonably enough, seen as sinister and dark. . . . When tuning practices of the day are taken into account . . . it seems most unlikely that equal temperament was adopted with any consistency until the second half of the nineteenth century so that . . . music for keyboard in six sharps or six flats would strike a contemporary at once as something distinctively odd, unpleasant even.353

The characterization of “extreme keys” as haunting, otherworldly, sinister, dark, distinctively odd, and unpleasant seems perfectly appropriate to describe the territory of illness. Addressing the circumstances of Schubert’s sonata directly, MacDonald determines that “Many Schubert works touch on G≤ in passing, greatest among them the B≤ Piano Sonata, D. 960 which plunges into G≤ within twenty measures.”354

351 Hugh MacDonald, “[9/8 and G≤ Major Key Signature],” 19th-Century Music XI/3 (Spring 1988), 221.

352 Ibid., 222.

353 Ibid., 223-24.

354 Ibid., 225.

153 The development section, as plot point 5 unfolds, carries the protagonist farther on his journey through the land of sickness. If the listener had any doubt as to the identity of the sufferer, the concentration on developing one musical idea new to the first movement is enough to dispel it; the accompaniment from Schubert’s “Der Wanderer” lied (D. 489, October 1816)355 appears almost throughout this phase of the first movement, assuring that the protagonist is to be understood as a wanderer in a strange land. To illuminate the expressive content of the development section we have only to turn to the text by Georg Philipp Schmidt von Lübeck with its translation:

Ich komme vom Gebirge her, I come from the mountains; Es dampft das Tal, es braust das Meer. the valley is damp, the sea roars. Ich wandle still, hin wenig froh, I wander silently, am rarely happy; Und immer fragt der Seufzer: wo? and ever my sigh asks: Where? Immer wo? ever Where? Die Sonne dünkt much hier so kalt, The sun here seems to me so cold, Die Blüte welk, das Leben alt, the blossoms withered, life old, Und was sie reden, leerer Schall, and what people say, empty sound. Ich bin ein Fremdling überall. I am a stranger everywhere. Wo bist du, mein geliebtes Land? Where are you, my beloved land? Gesucht, geahnt und nie gekannt. Sought after, foreseen, and never known! Das Land so hoffnungsgrün, The land so verdant with hope, Das Land, wo meine Rosen blühn, the land where my roses bloom, Wo meine Freunde wandelnd gehn, where my friends go walking, Wo meine Toten auferstehn, where my dead ones are resurrected, Das Land, das meine Sprache spricht, the land that speaks my tongue ... O Land, wo bist du? oh land, where are you? Ich wandle still, bin wenig froh, I wander silently, am rarely happy; Und immer fragt der Seufzer: wo? and ever my sigh asks: Where? Immer wo? ever Where? Im Geisterhauch tönt’s mir zurück: A ghostly whisper answers me: “Dort, wo du nicht bist, dort is das Glück.” “There, where you are not—there is happiness!”

The wanderer’s repetition of the question “Where?” six times conveys the urgency of the search and the bewilderment that the wanderer feels. Another four times, “where” comes as an answer, as if pointed out with a physical gesture: “there, where you are not.” Examples 5-7a and 5-7b show the relationship between Schubert’s two wanderers.

355 Notes to one edition state, “The original title for the poem was ‘Des Fremdlings Abendlied’ [The Stranger’s Evening Song]. Schubert came across the poem with the title, ‘Der Unglükliche’ [The Unhappy One], and changed it to ‘Der Wanderer’ . . . . ‘Der Wanderer’ is the source for thematic material in Schubert’s Phantasie in C major, D. 760, for solo piano.” Hal Leonard Corporation, 2000.

154 Ex. 5-7a: “The Wanderer,” D. 489

Ex. 5-7b: Mvt. 1, mm. 130-39



From a narrative standpoint one noteworthy aspect of plot point 5 is voice. In this phase the protagonist or sufferer begins to own his or her story, albeit very late in the narrative after a long and difficult battle. Examples of voice in the form of shrieks, recitative passages, songlike melodies, and dialogue occur in the rest of movement 1, all of movements 2 and 3, and the first 183 measures of movement 4. One example incorporates all of these expressive features, the end of movement 1; a shriek contour interrupts two recitative passages, two instances of dialogue occur, the song-like principal theme as well as the secondary theme return fragmented, and the “trouble trill” rumbles once more in the bass (Ex. 5-8). Because this is a

155 sonata form, the musical events in this example parallel those of the previous example, which showed the end of the exposition.

Ex. 5-8. Mvt. 1, mm. 325-57.

325 K recitativo K shriek


332 recitativo K


340 Coda


ostinato F 350

* * * * *

*silence trouble trill on G≤

With the first movement thus concluded, a review of events is necessary. As expected, this movement is in sonata form. But as we have already seen, Schubert has superimposed the structure (plot points and analogies) of the illness narrative upon the musical form. The elements of musical style combine to produce a stand-alone sonata allegro movement, but the unusual features in the music exist for a purpose beyond the expected requirements; the divisions

156 of musical form do not have to coincide with divisions of narrative structure, although sometimes they do. If Schubert had wanted to write a conventional movement in sonata form, he certainly could have done so. Instead he incorporates elements such as bells, shrieks, growls, recitatives, extended silences, and modulations to remote keys. These features articulate the structure of the illness narrative, and they exist largely independent of the harmonic structure that is responsible for establishing sonata form. Table 5-1 shows the framework for each structure.

Table 5-1. Mvt. 1, Narrative Structure Superimposed on Sonata Form

The second and third movements are still part of plot point 5. As the following discussion will show, their musical events correspond to potential features of this plot point, such as dream sequences, reminiscences, periods of improvement, setbacks, episodes, complications, and new forms of treatment.

157 The fact that a motive or phrase often returns as a permutation or variation of material already presented in the first movement makes this aspect of the sonata’s narrative especially evident.356 To cite just one of many examples, the principal theme of the Scherzo is an elaboration on the pitches of the first movement’s opening theme. It has the same key, shape, accompaniment, and even the same pitches an octave higher, moving much faster (B≤ - A - B≤ - ... C - D - C - B≤). The three repeated quarter-note Fs in m. 4 represent an idea that first appeared in movement 1’s third measure. The grace-note turn figure in mm. 7 and 8 originally appeared in the exposition of the first movement. Examples 5-9 a-c show the relationship.

Ex. 5-9a: Mvt. 1, mm. 1-4

rptd notes

Ex. 5-9b: Mvt. 1, mm. 67-69

grace note turn fig. 67

356 There are so many examples that the more one listens, the more one tends to hear the similarities in the motivic makeup of themes. The basic building blocks of the first movement’s ideas reappear in constantly changing combinations.

158 Ex. 5-9c: Mvt. 3, Opening

grace note turn fig. rptd notes

In the context of plot point 5, the reworking and variation of elements introduced in the exposition implies that the material is being treated differently—in the same way a patient’s symptoms may be treated with different medications during this long phase. A change in the course or method of treatment will produce different results in the ill patient, for example. Recognizing that these elements were all present in different order, voice, or key from one place to another could imply, for instance, that a sign of the disease has emerged in a different part of the body. Depending on the nature of the musical treatment, the motive-as-symptom could also represent a medical complication. The interpretations are many, and they can apply on many levels of meaning depending on their situations or contexts. Another aspect of plot point 5 is the dreaming of the patient. This could also involve reminiscence or memory, nostalgia, or any variant thereof. One way to achieve the development of these ideas is through the kinds of variation just discussed. One of the questions that patients ask themselves at this stage of their illness is, as Michael Stein, M.D. relates, “How am I compared to before?” This could mean “How do I look now?” or “Do I behave differently than I used to?” Stein says, “Recovery includes a constant sense of watching and comparing. . . . Time and goals have become confusing.”357 In the same way, analysts can look at a phrase, a motive, a combination of motives, a change in instrumentation, or just about any new treatment and ask, “How is this compared to before?” Does it look different? Act different? As Stein says, this requires watching (or listening) and comparing. Within the context of the same piece, quotation has to be addressed in this way, because it’s not an accident that the composer has done this—it’s for a reason.

357 Stein, 98.

159 Quotation from one piece to another work is usually no accident, either. The direct quotation of the “trouble trills” from the Quintet in C, already addressed above, at least with regard to the basics, resulted in the following conservative interpretation: the trills look the same; they act the same (always a form of the Neapolitan), and they even appear in the same places (the ends of the outer movements). The only apparent change is the obvious one: instead of two cellos, the left hand now has charge of these trills on the piano. At this point in the treatment of illness physicians invariably ask, “Have I overlooked something?” “Can I run another test?” That is precisely what complicates the questions surrounding the sonata’s quotations from the quintet (or the patient’s “Why me?”). There is further data to consider in this “case.” Comparing the two works in more detail yields the discovery that the principal theme group of the sonata’s second movement comes directly from the quintet’s second movement, as Ex. 10a and b show:

Ex. 10a: Mvt. 2, mm. 1-13



160 Ex. 10b: Quintet in C, Mvt. 2, mm. 1-6



Once again, the obvious difference between the two versions of the principal theme lies in the instrumentation. One might conclude that this difference led to the change in meter and tempo as well, because the piano is unable to sustain the long notes without degradation of the sound. Hill confirms this: “Chamber music for strings . . . that sing their melodies and . . . [appeal to] Schubert’s vocal genius” would be a fitting model. Hill claims, “All movements of the B≤ Sonata exhibit frequently a string-like quality or what is more often called a vocal quality—a suggestion of transcription from chamber music,”358 specifically the Quintet in C. What is more, the “first and last divisions of the [sonata’s second] movement, with the left hand plucking the lightly sounded bass and passing across to a position above the streaming melody of the inner parts—what are these but the long-sustained melody of the three middle strings, the

358 Ibid.

161 plucked bass of the second cello and the quiet but expressive interjections of the first violin in the Quintet’s Adagio[?]” Hill further judges that these effects are “impossible to realize on the piano.”359 That might be true but would not explain why Schubert felt compelled to compose any piano sonata, let alone his last one, merely as a transcription of a quintet for the piano, as if it were a school exercise.360 From the perspective of a the dreamer in an illness narrative, however, the purpose looks far better intentioned than that. Schubert could have been quoting from the quintet in the piano sonata the way a patient’s dreams reflect real events askew. Stein may be instructive in this regard. Continuing his discussion of “How am I different now?” he writes,

Patients think of the days, weeks, years before they were ill as “real life.” Real life, then, is past life, and patients want to get back to it. But one’s past life, the regular life of endless good health, its buffered permanence and protected space, is illusory, the recovering patient now recognizes.361

The purpose of quoting the quintet cannot be to import meaning from it. In quoting from “The Wanderer,” however, Schubert was deliberately importing the meaning that the song’s lyrics had embedded in the music; the interpretive possibilities increase dramatically. So we can conclude that the inclusion of the material from the quintet in the piano sonata was to expand upon the idea of memory and dreams, in the land of illness, as imperfectly remembered events—or as a perfect depiction of the way memories and dreams operate in the illness narrative. In the fourth movement, still in plot point 5, the rondo form conveys the chronicity and episodic nature of illness. We also discover that bell strikes and the like serve to define the narrative form of the fourth movement, including plot points 5 to 9, more than the musical form. Table 5-2 provides an overview of this structure (silences are assumed between articulations). This table serves as the basis for the remaining discussion of musical events in Schubert’s piano

359 Ibid., 270.

360 That, in fact, is Hill’s “conclusion” (more of a question, really). He asks, “The fact that this piano Sonata leans so heavily on chamber music—may it not suggest that the whole is, in some sort, a transcription of an imaginary work for strings?” (278)

361 Stein 98.

162 sonata. Ex. 5-11 shows events of the first 34 measures of the finale.

Table 5-2. Narrative Framework, Movement 4

PP (5) 6 7 8 meas. 1 154 185 513 R/Ep. R1 Ep1 R2 Ep2 R3 Ep3 R4 Coda meas. 1 86 226 260 314 360 492 513 Bell 1 10 32 64 224 233 312 344 490 496 502 meas. Pitch G G G G G G G G G G¯ F Dyna- ƒπ ƒπ ƒπ ƒπ ƒπ ƒπ ƒπ ƒπ >π >π >ππ mic

Ex. 5-11: Finale, mm. 1-34

(5) tonal ambiguity


7 B≤ BELL (=V7/Cminor) ifl◊ — V — ifl◊ (G≤) Ifl◊ (B≤) Ifl◊/C major 9

B≤: V7 - I BELL (=V7/Cminor) etc. 18

26 R2

(=V7/Cminor) etc. BELL

163 The penultimate crisis appears in movement 4 (Ex. 5-12). A “solo” voice plummets more than four octaves in four measures (mm. 81-85), ending with a variant of the outburst in 1, 47, and tumbling into Episode 1. The pitches are almost the same, C≥ to f≥1 becoming C to f1.

Ex. 5-12. Finale, mm. 59-88 R3




BIG FALL ------

bell tones: E1 83

F: I BIG FALL ------

This passage also resembles the turnout of some of the trouble trills (Exx. 5-13a – 5-13d).

164 Ex. 5-13a: Mvt. 1, mm. 18-20 Ex. 5-13b: Mvt. 1, mm. 47-48

18 47 5

f≥: i G≤: I

Ex. 5-13c: Mvt. 4, mm. 82-85 Ex. 5-13d: Mvt. 4, mm. 163-64

82 E1 163

F: I (G≤)

Plot Point 6: Rock Bottom, Low Point, Despair Cousins describes his rock bottom:

I was becoming unstuck. I had considerable difficulty in moving my limbs and even in turning over in bed. Nodules appeared in my body, gravel-like substances under the skin, indicating the systemic nature of the disease. In the low point of my illness, my jaws were almost locked.362

His words are remarkably like Gregor Samsa’s in Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis”:

As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect. . . . His numerous legs, which were pitifully thin compared to the rest of his bulk, waved helplessly before his eyes.

362 Cousins, 30. The reference to the nearly locked jaw indicates that the narrative has just about descended into chaos. As in plot point 4’s chaos, the only sound associated with it is the scream. Without the ability to speak, chaos reigns. It is beyond words.

165 ...

He felt a slight itching up on his belly; slowly pushed himself on his back nearer to the top of the bed so that he could lift his head more easily; identified the itching place which was surrounded by many small white spots the nature of which he could not understand and made to touch it with a leg, but drew the leg back immediately, for the contact made a cold shiver run through him. ... And he set himself to rocking his whole body at once in a regular rhythm, with the idea of swinging it out of the bed. ... Gregor swung himself out of bed with all his strength. There was a loud thump, but it was not really a crash. His fall was broken to some extent by the carpet, his back, too, was less stiff than he thought, and so there was a dull thud. ... The words he uttered were no longer understandable, apparently, although they seemed clear enough to him, even clearer than before, perhaps because his ear had grown accustomed to the sound of them.363

In the sonata’s narrative, rock bottom does not appear until mvt. 4, mm. 155ff. A full two-measure pause prepares for a double-dotted chordal passage, ff, another troublesome G≤ octave (the Finale’s first bell-strike G octaves now a semitone lower). These are almost the same pitches as the first movement’s outburst in mm. 46-47, the first movement’s C≥ to f≥’ becoming the fourth movement’s C≤ to g≤. A seventeen-measure passage of double-dotted and dotted octaves in the right hand leads through the final agitation to a pp cadence in F major at m. 186, just after two “shriek” contours. Example 5-14 shows these events.

363 Franz Kafka, “The Metamorphosis,” 1915. Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis” is an illness narrative itself, but not the kind that could be represented musically. This is because it’s primarily what Frank would call a chaos narrative. Nothing can ever get better, so the chaos narrative can never achieve the dramatic shape that is the hallmark of illness narratives. Further, the only way to tell the story is to have a narrator because the central character cannot regain his voice.

166 Ex. 5-14: Mvt. 4, mm. 150-87


solo voice, down 4+ octaves ------156 6 doubled

double-dotted, dotted 163 ------shriek contour shriek contour

double-dotted dotted


double-dotted dotted double-dotted, dotted 176

skipping 182 7

F: V ------I

Plot Point 7: Beginning of Actual Recuperation, Adjustment

This phase represents the protagonist’s struggle to climb out of the abyss of illness. Progress now is slow but true. Cousins informs the reader,

167 I must not make it appear that all my infirmities disappeared overnight. For many months I couldn’t get my arms up far enough to reach for a book on a high shelf. My fingers weren’t agile enough to do what I wanted them to do on the organ keyboard. My neck had a limited turning radius. My knees were somewhat wobbly, and off and on, I have had to wear a metal brace.364

In Schubert’s sonata, this phase begins with the cadence in F major, m. 186. We never do get a convincing recuperant, as the “trouble” signs continue all the way to the end. Octave “bell strikes” interrupt (mm. 490-91, 496-97, 502-03), and silences (mm. 512, 521-22, 523-24, 537, 538, and 539-540) obtain periodically. Cross-rhythms (2 against 3) and tonal ambiguity recur, and the first subject undergoes fragmentation. In an extended pause before the coda, the dynamic level grows soft. Gone are the dotted rhythms, however (Ex. 5-15).

Ex. 5-15: Mvt. 4, mm. 493-513



504 8

Plot Point 8: End of Narrative Time

“I was sufficiently recovered to go back to my job at the Saturday Review full time again, and this was miracle enough for me,” Cousins reports. He continues,

Is the recovery a total one? Year by year the mobility has

364 Ibid., 43.

168 improved. I have become pain-free, except for one shoulder and my knees, although I have been able to discard the metal braces. I no longer feel a sharp twinge in my wrists when I hit a tennis ball or golf ball, as I did for such a long time. I can ride a horse flat out and hold a camera with a steady hand. And I have recaptured my ambition to play the Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, though I find the going slower and tougher than I had hoped. My neck has a full turning radius again, despite the statement of specialists . . . that the condition was degenerative and that I would have to adjust to a quarter turn.365

Studies of Schubert’s compositional process establish that he composed this part of the sonata first. Maurice J. E. Brown has studied the sketches for Schubert’s last three sonatas, and he is of the opinion that “If the pages for the A major Sonata are ‘foul,’ those for the last sonata, in B flat major, are yet more confused, and reveal pretty closely the climax of mental exhilaration and feverish energy in which the composer worked.” Indicative of this hectic state is that “the batch of five leaves is an assortment of different-sized papers, an unusual thing to find in the last years of Schubert’s working life.”366 Moreover, Brown remarks,

. . . examination of the music written on these pages reveals an unusual fact, that Schubert must have completed the Finale of the sonata before the first movement was finished. From all his other sketches it is easy to deduce the fact that the finale of an instrumental work was not only last, but least in his scheme of work; in many instances there are no sketches for the finale at all, and if they exist they constitute a mere memorandum. But in the case of the B flat Sonata the end of the development section of the first movement is written into the staves left blank at the close of the Finale sketch, and . . . the coda of this movement was written in staves left blank in the sketches for the previous sonata.367

The coda, where plot point 8 begins, is a feverish “Presto,” but accents are finally on the downbeat. The ending is manic and feverish. Cross-rhythms persist until m. 537, and the abyss

365 Ibid., 43-44.

366 Brown, 25.

367 Ibid., 25-26.

169 of illness still yawns before the sufferer. Prolonged silences continue to interrupt, as they have all along, and the final IV-V-I cadence on B≤ occurs well before the final measure (Ex. 5-16). The stable future we want to expect is decaying into silence. By implication, the signs of trouble continue; the protagonist’s future remains uncertain—and probably as bleak as the terrain in Schmidt’s text for “Der Wanderer.”

Ex. 5-16: Mvt. 4, mm. 504-40

504 8

silence 514 accents now on the downbeat

silence IV V silence 525

2 against 3 long tumble in r.h. ------

532 I pedal point to the end

“Mannheim Rocket”

* silence still 2 against 3 (too feverish, too little, too late) *

These chords, interrupted as they are by silence, appear “spiked.” A long triplet pedal point in B flat in the bass supports the duplet, long tumble of several octaves, so we can observe that recovery is far from over. We then have a version of a “Mannheim Rocket” crescendo that goes “up in the air,” in effect, and simply hangs there decaying.

170 This piano sonata ends in silence. For most listeners, this may seem an obvious point. What they cannot see is the way the composer has notated the final measures in the score. Schubert does not conclude the sonata with notes; on the contrary, he writes two measures, and three out of four beats, that consist of full rests. This is the pattern we have observed throughout the sonata, as though the threat of returning to plot point 1 is ever-present.

Plot Point 9: “The New Normal”

As with plot point 1, which occurred before the narrative time began, plot point 9 occurs outside the story space and remains implicit. The protagonist has not returned to excellent health but has adjusted somewhat to “the new normal.” In the case of Schubert’s sonata, the “new normal” is not normal. The illness narrative has not afforded us a view of a reasonably stable future, or at least not a lasting one.

III. Characteristic Analogies and Themes

The set of analogies and themes that Schubert adopts for his musical narrative are clear enough: illness as a journey; the sufferer’s nostalgia, memory, and melancholy; the dream-state of illness; the experience of “sinking”; and the imagery of bells. In the case of the Sonata in B¯ major Schubert clearly establishes illness-as-journey as the dominant metaphor.

A. Illness as a journey One significant feature of plot point 5 in illness narratives, whether literary or musical, is the idea of illness as a journey. Schubert took up the wanderer archetype so many times that a body of scholarship has arisen on this subject.368 Schubert’s B≤ sonata uses several techniques to convey this idea. Schubert establishes that the protagonist is a wanderer in the territory of illness by quoting his own song “The Wanderer” pervasively in the first movement (e.g., mm. 175-88), as illustrated previously above.

368 For example, see the following: William Kinderman, “Wandering Archetypes in Schubert’s Instrumental Music,” 19th-Century Music XXI/2 (Fall 1997), 208-22; Charles Fisk, Returning Cycles: Contexts for the interpretation of Schubert’s Impromptus and Last Sonatas (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2001); and Jeffrey Perry, “The Wanderer’s Many Returns: Schubert’s Variations Reconsidered,” The Journal of Musicology XIX/2 (Spring 2002), 374-415.

171 The idea of illness as a journey, and the sufferer as a wanderer, sounds throughout Schubert’s sonata; it is arguably the central, governing metaphor of the piece. The key center of the second movement, C minor, is the “Wanderer” key. C≥ major is the key of the “Wanderer Fantasie,” D. 760. Many interrelations exist between the sonata and Die Winterreise (A Winter’s Journey), D. 911, composed at the same time. “The Wanderer” is perhaps Schubert’s favorite plot archetype, as evident in the many studies that have appeared. In the case of his final sonata for piano, Schubert extends the dimensions of wandering, this time into the strange land of illness. One could interpret the sonata at face value as just another variation on the theme of a person on a walk, encountering sights and sounds along the way that reflect his psychic state. Most scholars do. The nature of Schubert’s rather extreme musical choices, however, requires further consideration than a face- value interpretation justifies.

B. Nostalgia, memory, and melancholy. Among the devices that indicate nostalgia, memory, and melancholy are self-quotation and allusion. The first movement’s trouble trill is a quotation from the Quintet in C, composed in the same month as the sonata. A clear line extends from “Der Wanderer” lied, D. 489 (October 1816) to the Wanderer Fantasie in C major, D. 760 (1822), and into the Piano Sonata in B≤, D. 960. Once again the course of the investigation returns to the central concept of illness as a journey and the sufferer as a wanderer. As well, these examples activate the listener’s memory in completing the extension of the original wanderer archetype. Contemporary audiences might have been familiar enough to recognize a quotation from the Fantasie, for example. The song text of “Der Wanderer” might also come to mind. Certainly Schubert’s circle of admirers would have been quite familiar with his music. Obviously these quotations are not nostalgic references (i.e., reminiscences of happier times), however; the text of “Der Wanderer” casts a pall on the plot of the sonata. This wanderer figure has inherited suffering, sorrow, and full-blown depression through the references, thus he has gone beyond mere melancholy.

C. Dreams A person who is suffering a serious illness experiences and actively recounts dreams.

172 Descriptions of these dreams—sometimes nightmares, sometimes simply strange scenes— invariably enter the illness narrative. In his book Words as Eggs: Psyche in Language and Clinic, psychotherapist Russell Lockhart asserts, “Every day I experience an active principle in the psyche that mocks [the rational intellect] and that will not be countered by a rational attempt to keep the metaphoric mind fenced in and hidden away.” Moreover, he writes,

Every night I’m faced with experiences I cannot deny—experiences of dreams and visions that are full to the brim with what is “not real”—paradoxical images, impossible situations, things that are not known, will not ever be known, cannot be known. And, [especially] when I am sick, the same thing happens.369

Lockhart insists, “It is absolutely essential that the metaphoric images generated by illness (and by health) must not be shunned but rather ever more fully experienced.”370 One might even argue that illness narratives depend on precisely this activity. What seems apparent, although, as Lockhart has said, unknowable and unprovable, is that Schubert’s psyche was fertile ground for dream visions. Many analysts have labored to construct a plausible link between Schubert’s prose piece “Mein Traum” (dated 3 July 1822) and his compositions— and even his life—as though that were achievable. Nevertheless, that is their starting point for prying loose the meaning of the sonata’s narrative. Neumayr calls it “Schubert’s confession of the soul where, in the form of an allegory, . . . he reveals to the world all the emotional pain and suffering he had experienced.”371 The text of the prose poem is as follows:

369 Russell Lockhart, Words as Eggs: Psyche in Language and Clinic (Dallas, TX: Spring Publications, 1987), 211. This line of argument is the basis for the chapter titled “Metaphor as Illness,” which is a stinging rebuke of Susan Sontag’s Illness as Metaphor (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux,1978). Lockhart argues that Sontag has everything backwards when she declares that “illness is not a metaphor” and that “the most truthful way of regarding illness—and the healthiest way of being ill—is one most purified of, most resistant to, metaphoric thinking” (Sontag 3, Lockhart 209). Lockhart rejects her vehement position that metaphorizing illness is “untrue, impure, unhealthy, punitive, preposterous, dangerous, and something that must be resisted, purified, demythicized, stamped-out, and otherwise rendered obsolete. . . . Mystery is to be dissolved, paradox dismissed, ambiguity shunned. All of this in the service of knowing. Only what can be known is real, and only what is real is of value” (Lockhart 210-11).

370 Lockhart, 211.

371 Neumayr1, 361.

173 I was a brother of many brothers and sisters. Our father and our mother were good to us. I felt a deep love for all of them. Once upon a time my father took us to a merry feast. My brothers were very happy to be there. But I was sad. Then my father came to me and commanded me to eat the delicious food and enjoy it. But I could not, which made my father angry and he banished me from his sight. I turned away and, with a heart full of endless love for those who rejected it, journeyed to faraway places. For years and years I was divided by feelings of great pain and great love. Then I learned of my mother’s death. I hurried to see her, and my father, moved by sorrow, did not keep me from entering. I saw her body there. Tears flowed from my eyes. I saw her lying as she was before in the dear days of old when we did as she would have us do.

And we followed her in grief and the coffin sank from sight. From this time on, I remained at home as before. Then one day my father led me to his favorite garden. He asked me if I liked it. But I found the garden repellent and I was afraid to say anything. Then, in a rage, he asked me a second time if I liked the garden? Trembling, I answered no. Then my father struck me and I fled. And a second time, I turned away, and with a heart full of endless love for those who rejected it, journeyed yet again to faraway places. For years and years, I sang my songs. When I would sing of love, it would be like pain to me. And yet when I would sing only of pain, it was like love to me. Thus was I divided by love and pain.

And one day I learned of a blessed maiden who had just died. And around her tomb a circle turned in which many youths and ancients slowly walked forever as though in bliss. They spoke softly not to awaken the maiden.

Sublime thoughts seemed to flash everlastingly out of the maiden’s sepulcher onto the young men, like sparks of light sounding softly. Then I felt a great yearning to walk there too. Only a miracle, the people said, leads into the circle. But with my lowered gaze fixed on the tomb, I slowly approached in deep devotion and perfect faith and before I knew it I was in the circle from which the most pleasant sound arose; and I experienced bliss eternal as though crushed into a single moment. And I saw my father too, reconciled

174 and loving. He closed me in his arms and wept. And I wept even more.

Charles Fisk summarizes efforts to establish the two themes of “Mein Traum” (estrangement/homecoming and death/ transfiguration), specifically addressing “the question of ascribing autobiographical significance to ‘Mein Traum.’” Fisk contends,

However we ultimately construe the story’s protagonist, Schubert identifies this protagonist as “I” and takes him from the home of the story’s beginning through two cycles of exile and homecoming, both homecomings made possible only by deaths. Of course, on the basis of biographical information alone, the so-called “external events” of Schubert’s life, one cannot read this story unambiguously as an autobiographical statement.372

Fisk concludes that the only thing “we know with certainty [is] the identity of its author. Whatever its circumstances of origin, it was Franz Schubert, not those circumstances, who determined just what episodes to include [in his music] and just how they might unfold.”373 As tempting as drawing parallels between Schubert’s actual life and the details of his dream may be, the present study adopts the stance that such an exercise is not only fruitless but also destructive. We need not engage in depth psychology or psychoanalysis to determine certain basic facts, namely that some parallels could seem to exist, but we cannot know specifically what motivated Schubert to write the story, let alone carry its symbolism into his music. Speculative parallels are, as Lockhart says, “not real.” Maynard Solomon’s apparent agreement is but a feint, when he asserts,

There is no evidence that “My Dream” was conceived as a literary exercise: the private, even obscure, nature of some of the

372 Fisk, Returning Cycles, 270. Schubert’s brother Ferdinand notated at the head of the story that “Mein Traum” was an “allegorical story.” The original document has survived along with another copy that a close friend [probably Franz Schober] transcribed. Ferdinand eventually gave the original manuscript to Robert Schumann, who put it in the 5 February 1839 issue of the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik. According to Maynard Solomon’s article “Franz Schubert’s ‘My Dream,’” ((American Imago 38/2 (Summer 1981), 137-54)) the citation is Vol. 10 (1839), p. 44 (“Reliquien von Franz Schubert,” part 2). Solomon’s article includes the English translation of “Mein Traum” as well as the original German text as taken from , Schubert, Die Dokumente seines Lebens (Kassel, 1964), 158-59.

373 Ibid., 271.

175 symbolism argues against this as does the dreamlike narrative structure. The title itself speaks for the highly personal meaning of the piece; but it was written on the manuscript by Schubert’s brother and we cannot tell whether it had Schubert’s authority.374

The body of illness narratives in literature abounds with sufferers’ accounts of numinous dreams. Sufferers feel compelled to record the details of these stories as faithfully as they can, but they feel no compulsion to make rational sense of such dreams. Almost without exception the dreamers regard these products of their subconscious mind as curiosities (or nightmares). Besides, those who are in the grips of illness have no energy for analysis of any kind. Denton Welch narrates,

My game of finding meanings grew and grew, overtoppled itself and collapsed in absurdity. An allegory suddenly seemed an old conceit, cumbrous and puffed up. I was left with all the scattered faces, the presents, the kind acts and the cruel. The accident, and all that had happened to me since, was so much trash in the dust- bin, and I, turned scavenger, was picking over the pitiful rags, the filth, the broken pots, trying desperately to find a use for them, to relate them to each other. My mood had changed so completely that I found it best to stop picking and to look over the past with an animal indifference. Surely that was the way to look at things—to eat them up with your eyes for what they were, then to pass on, but never to chain them together in a silly pattern. The idea of a pattern was only satisfying if it was to be utterly unknowable and mysterious to human beings.375

D. Sinking Writers of illness narrative frequently describe sinking—into sickness, some watery underworld, dream vision, or pharmacological haze—and they don’t have many substitutes for the word “sinking.” It appears so often that it functions as a core symbol or code word; all who

374 Solomon, 142-43. Ironically, Solomon proceeds to dissect “My Dream” along the lines that he has just deemed nonauthoritative, basing his reading on “its symbolism in archetypal terms,” and then pairing these archetypes with Schubert’s family situation! Unfortunately, Solomon cannot resist extending his analysis into psychosexual territory with disastrous results; he comes to interpret “My Dream” “as a fantasy of homosexual entanglement” (147). Such a reading obviously has no explicative value with regard to Schubert’s compositions or his biography. 375 Welch, 209.

176 have experienced serious illness instantly recognize the implications and ramifications of sinking, and may experience it physically at the mere mention of the word. Welch relates,

With such emptiness inside me I turned fiercely to Dr. Farley, until he grew to have all the significance of some model person. . . . Everyone was contemptible, except perhaps Dr. Farley. I say perhaps, because there were those naked moments when even he seemed to lose some of his meaning; then I was sinking into a black bog of nothingness.376

Kat Duff recounts,

I cannot remember much of the days and months I was sliding down into the illness I now have, but I do remember very clearly the exact time and place I landed. . . . I sat back in my chair with a great sigh and noticed, for the first time, the intricate, mazelike patterns on the Persian rug at my feet. As I stared at these dizzying patterns, I felt myself sinking, like an anchor at sea, with exhaustion and decided to lie down for a few minutes. I woke up an hour later with my face pressing into the scratchy surface of the rug.377

In this passage Duff uses “sliding,” “down,” and “sigh[ing]” in conjunction with “sinking.” In a rhythmic, disjunct, almost chaotic description that conveys a strong sense of downward motion combined with darkness (or the opposition between darkness and light), Deena Metzger describes the way sinking felt to her:

Looking for the moon, light falling, falling, light breaking time falling. Moon sway, moon break, ice heart breaking, night cry breaking down, down. Moon fall singing, light falling, break break, moon falling, hold hold, heart holding, break breaking, ice drifting, dark dark, light singing, hold hold, light singing, break break, night singing, hold hold, break break, light light.378

376 Welch, 175.

377 Duff, 25. 378 Deena Metzger, Tree: Essays and Pieces (Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books, 1997), 7.

177 Similarly, Laura Chester writes, “Though I knew I was over-extending myself, I was still exuberant on returning home, just fine fine fine, but soon I ran out of fuel, and went down down down.”379 Later she describes another experience. “I wanted to shake off that rheumatic devil dance that was starting up. It weakened me . . . I could feel myself slowly squeaking down, slipping down that same helpless slide.”380 As the quotations above establish, sinking—while the one simple word suffices to invoke the entire spectrum of the event—is actually a phenomenon that the sufferer can see, hear, touch, and feel, both physically and emotionally. It’s not so simple after all, even though anyone who has experienced it would instantly understand, and might even say, “Sinking is, well, sinking!” The same holds true for the way in which Schubert represents sinking in the Sonata in B≤: It sounds simple on the surface, but upon further investigation the devices he uses become more complex when applied to a specific piece of music. Clichéed “sighing” motives and sequential stepwise drops that always convey some aspect of sinking are mere text painting; serious illness requires deeper treatment. One of Schubert’s favorite harmonic procedures is to govern the flow of the music by third- and sixth-relations. Basically this means that in one place what sounds is the root and mediant of a chord; in the next, a new note a third below what was the tonic now constitutes the root, thereby relegating the two upper members of the chord to the mediant and dominant, respectively. That is to say, the tonic and mediant of a B≤ minor chord, B≤ and D≤ (with an implied F) become the upper two members of a G≤ major chord. As one option, this would establish a new key. As another option, in the key of B≤, G≤ is the flat submediant (≤VI) -- or potentially a Neapolitan of the dominant (N/V) thus resolving to F (V) : B≤ (I). A third option would be to respell the G≤ chord to establish F≥ as the new tonal center, and the process starts again with a whole new set of third, sixth, Neapolitan, and semitone-relations. Yet a fourth option would be to recast the chord as an augmented sixth resolving outward to F (V) : B≤ (I). Through respellings and supplanting the tonic, the possibility exists to create a series of diminished or dominant seventh chords that could resolve anywhere—or not at all! The effects of this procedure are many, particularly with regard to the Sonata in B≤.

379 Laura Chester, Lupus Novice: Toward Self-Healing (Barrytown, NY: Station Hill Press, 1987), 40.

380 Ibid., 152.

178 First, it forces a shift to the “dark” keys and thereby to their affective qualities (mysterious, disquiet, otherworldly, remote, and sinister, to name but a few), and to reinforce G≤ as the locus of illness (as in the trouble trill). Second, the procedure produces an enhanced sense of fluidity; in any given moment the listener’s expectation of cadential movement may be foiled when the resolution is evaded. The harmonic foundation is like quicksand because it can pivot quite rapidly. And third, harmonic process such as this creates a strong sense of downward motion: sinking. Moreover, because “new” key centers may only be momentary, the listener has the sense that the music actually wanders, looking for a place to land. Schubert carries out precisely these procedures in the opening of the sonata, beginning at the second trouble trill in m. 19, as shown above in Exx. 5-1, 5-3, 5-4, and 5-5. Richard Taruskin illuminates Schubert’s harmonic processes in The Oxford History of Western Music. In an overview of sorts, he summarizes,

The harmonic vocabulary of romantic introspection is one in which, as a matter of course, any augmented sixth chord can be resolved as a dominant seventh and vice versa, any triad in first inversion can be resolved as a Neapolitan and vice versa, and any constituent tone in a diminished seventh chord can resolve as a leading tone. The whole panoply of major and minor degree functions is freely available for use, and any one of them can function at pleasure as a pivot for modulation. In all of these techniques and more, Schubert was the chief pioneer.381

Taruskin delves further into his discussion in stating, “Pride of place is still given to mediant relations as a source of inward expressivity, especially the dusky flat submediant . . . In fact, the submediant often functions . . . as a constant shadow to the tonic, so that the music seems perpetually to hover on that ‘edge’ of inwardness.” The idea that illness (already identified as G≤) shadows the protagonist, especially as a matter of inward expression, is greatly meaningful in the piano sonata discussed here. He adds, “Perhaps the most famous example is the opening of the first movement of Schubert’s last piano sonata.”382 From this point onward,

381 Richard Taruskin, The Oxford History of Western Music vol. 2 (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 96.

382 Ibid.

179 he focuses in exquisite detail on this composition:

The first insinuation of the flat submediant comes . . . in a ghostly trilled G≤ (the lowest G≤ on the keyboard of Schubert’s time) that immediately falls back a semitone to the dominant. After the second phrase, the trill is repeated—only this time it is measured, and applied as a “Phrygian” half step above the tonic. The B≤ and C≤ thus sounded act as a pivot, becoming the third and fourth degrees of the scale of G≤ major. The third phrase of the melody begins on the same pitch as the previous two, but that pitch has now been reidentified as the third scale degree rather than the first, and the melody continues in the key of the flat submediant for fourteen measures in a single unbroken phrase, culminating on the fifteenth downbeat on an unexpected, but enormously strategic EΩ.383

These inner workings can be intricate instances of high craftsmanship, as the foregoing discussion demonstrates. The irony is that the experience of the craft (i.e., listening to the music) elicits a visceral response in the listener who says once again, “That’s, well, sinking.”

E. Bells In the finale, still in plot point 5, a tolling bell (octave Gs) begins the fourth movement. As previously noted, octave “bell strikes” interrupt (as noted in Table 5-1 above), eleven times in all, the eleventh strike occurring in mm. 502-3. Here the bell’s connotations—evoking a church bell, the pressure of time, and awareness of death and the afterlife—are far different from the first movement’s tinkling music-box chimes. These new associations are nevertheless common in illness narrative. In the tonal ambiguity of the first several measures, the key signature indicates B≤ major, but the loud tolling bell on G sounds like the dominant of C minor, and in fact, that is where the music goes at first. Bell strikes continue to interrupt, sometimes held three or four beats over the barline. The impression that the tolling bells may emanate from a church comes from the lowering of the pitch from G to G¯ to F, and from a reduction in dynamic level from ƒπ to ππ. These two factors also indicate that the wanderer is hurrying ever farther away from the source of the bells;

383 Ibid., 97,

180 they grow fainter in the distance before the twelfth stroke of midnight, which he is ultimately too far away to hear. The acceleration in tempo from Allegro, ma non troppo to the coda’s Presto (m. 513) conveys the wanderer’s frantic haste. Moreover, the listener can determine, both by listening to the coda and looking at the score, that the terrain is steep. The top line, a repeated motive based directly on the first five notes of the finale,384 drops from d3 in m. 512 to g1 in m. 517, and rises from there to b≤3 (m. 525). After reaching this peak, the line rushes downward again, as if down the other side of the mountain, to f1 (m. 532). Once more scampering high up, this time to d4 (the highest pitch of the entire composition, m. 538), the music takes a defiant stance with a full B≤ major chord in the right and left hands, marked ƒ¥. Bells have a virtuosic repertoire of effects in music. The two examples of bells in the piano sonata are quite different, one from the other, but Schubert uses them (or evocations of actual bells, were they called for in the score) to powerful effect. As discussed above, the musical implications of bell-like passages are clear with respect to literary themes and analogies. In the first movement their tinkling high notes convey lend a hint of the magical. In the fourth movement they are loud, insistent reminders of time passing. These bell strikes also envelop the themes of religion and the afterlife, the spatial relation between the wanderer and the strikes, and the progress of the wanderer’s journey. In illness narrative bells usually convey meanings that are rather different from their musical relatives. The first connotation most often occurs soon after the beginning of plot point 5, especially in twentieth-century narratives. When patients are confined to a hospital bed, drifting in and out of consciousness, they somehow carry the sounds of medical machinery in their mind. Bedside equipment emits steady tones, and the overhead speakers transmit other tones whose pitch and volume differ from the sounds that patients absorb from equipment. If any constant exists for a patient in this phase of illness, it is the range of bell tones that sound around the clock. Writers who are aurally-oriented frequently mention hospital sounds. They are also more likely to discuss the role that music plays in their lives (in sickness and in health). The second most frequent function of bells in illness narrative is to signal that the patient has begun to recover; for this reason, bells literally come into play in plot point 7. For several reasons they are highly significant in this phase of illness. One of the most frequently- mentioned symbols in illness narrative, bells come to affect the patient on an emotional level

384 This motive is in turn based on the opening measure of the Sonata.

181 because they are core symbols that attach the themes of recovery, the outside world, nature, religion, and reconnection with society. The singular event that writers describe is their first gaze out the window after months of confinement (“imprisonment”). With their increasing mobility and under their own power they are able to reach the window that they could only see from bed for so long; finally they can see out onto the world. The moment is epiphanic. Welch’s description is colorful and fragrant:

After the terrible night the sunrise came as a wonder. I looked out of the window and saw wild streaks of rose, lemon, emerald and violet. Below were countless mauve-grey roofs and crooked chimney-pots.385

With a view of surrounding rooftops comes the experience of hearing bells from nearby steeples and the ringing of a streetcar’s bell. At such moments the hospital’s sounds cease to exist and the patient is attuned to the sounds of the world beyond the window. Sometimes just being wheeled to the window while one is still confined to the bed is enough to inspire the writer. Looking out the window is mentioned often in Just a Head. Both Fassett and Gallagher talk about the importance of having the bed by the window. Fassett chronicles Gallagher’s new surroundings as she is transferred from place to place. “She had a view from her bed into a courtyard with trees and a water fountain. As we talked she would often stare outside.”386 At home, “She had a bed in a sunroom from where she could see her garden and her dog.”387 Nothing can compare to the experience of a patient’s first release from the captivity of the institution. Welch discusses his trip down the elevator and out the door:

As I was wheeled into the lift, something sprang to life inside me. The smell of the shaft, the momentary glimpses of faces, fire- extinguishers, frosted windows, as we sank through each floor, seemed to intoxicate me. Then there was the open door of the hospital.

385 Welch, 30.

386 Fassett and Gallagher, 130.

387 Ibid., 121.

182 After more than a month under a roof, I had the air and the sun on my face again. The direct air and sun were the strangest things of all. In the ambulance I reached up to look out of the window and take notice of the transformed world. Everything was different. The sound of the car’s engine was muted; it was no more than a soft purring. When a tram passed, it did not clang and lurch as I had expected, it glided noiselessly like a skater on ice, or a swan on silky water.388

Obviously the world had not changed in a month’s time; but Welch’s perception of that world had changed in significant ways. In his appreciation purring had replaced machine noise, and he no longer heard the tram’s bell as a jarring clang. Compared to hospital sounds, which normally consist precisely of machine noise and clangs, the same sounds outside are visions of loveliness. The beautiful aspect of looking out, or going out, is the revised perspective that the patient gains. The change in visual perspective catalyzes the sufferer’s renewed interaction with the world and brings with it the realization that a whole new perspective on life itself has taken hold within.


Studying this piano sonata as an illness narrative led to areas of special focus. The first subject is that of “sinking.” Schubert’s favorite harmonic devices, such as third- and sixth- relations, found a new application in the illness narrative. In this context the device acquired new power to express what is a very common topic in literary illness narratives. Moreover, what was for Schubert a preferred method of accessing a broader set of keys had a remarkable benefit for the illness narrative: root movement by chromatic thirds enabled Schubert to locate the territory of illness in a remote key. This unforeseen application acted like a force multiplier of sorts, enabling the composer to tap into a wealth of implications, interpretations, and expression. Schubert also demonstrated the efficacy of self-quotation to import meaning from other pieces—some of which had the added benefit of bundling their text into the package. The practice of self-quotation was quite well suited in the instance of “The Wanderer.” In this manner Schubert demonstrated a number of purposes behind quotation, allusion, and reference.

388 Welch, 50-51.

183 The simple process of self-quotation yielded a greatly expanded universe of interpretive possibilities for the researcher. The ways in which Schubert established a governing metaphor—illness as a journey and the sufferer as a wanderer—was particularly instructive in its simplicity. He was able to extend the dimensions of wandering; no longer satisfied with representing a troubled man on a journey, Schubert took the metaphor an order of magnitude farther, into the conceptual world of illness where rocks and trees are not simply rocks and trees. As matters turned out, practically every metaphor and analogy that Schubert used eventually fell under the over-arching umbrella of the governing metaphor. The core concept of bells in the illness narrative achieved special focus in the B≤ sonata. As in the preceding paragraph, bells are not just bells. They have an entire repertoire of functions and meaning, a wealth of potential sounds, and enormous symbolic power wherever they appear. Many of these ideas resonate with previous and subsequent chapters in the present study. Some, such as bells, are noteworthy only in this composition. Still, the more one can expand the pool of musical illness narratives, the more interrelated they seem to be.




Robert Schumann (1810-1856) drafted the entire Symphony in C major in just over two weeks. He began on 12 December 1845 and completed the draft on the 28th. After a delay of several months Schumann finished scoring the first movement on 8 May 1846. He did not complete the full score until 19 October, leaving a scant three weeks before conducted the first performance of the work at a Gewandhaus concert in Leipzig on 5 November 1846. Although designated as Symphony no. 2, the symphony was chronologically Schumann’s third in order of completion;389 the composer undertook many revisions for subsequent performances before Friedrich Whistling of Leipzig published the score in November 1847.

I. Biographical Considerations

Due to a long list of chronic complaints that resulted in bouts of severe depression and nervous disorders Schumann’s compositional output dwindled almost to nothing in 1845. Finally, after month upon month of unmitigated suffering, he turned to counterpoint exercises to focus his mind, as he had done many times in the past. The result was the composition Six Fugues on the Name BACH for organ, op. 60. He began to feel his creative urges returning. On the 8th of September he sent a letter to Mendelssohn that mentioned, “For some time now, the drums have been beating in me and the trumpets sounding. I don’t know what’s going to come of all this.” Three months later, somewhat restored, Schumann entered the first jottings of “symphonic ideas” in his composition notebook. The Symphony no. 2 in C major, op. 61 had

389 The actual order of completion is 1) Symphony in B≤ major (“Spring”), 1841. 2) Symphony in D minor, 1841, revised 1851. 3) Symphony in C major (1845-6). 4) Symphony in E≤ major (“Rhenish”), 1850.

185 begun to take shape. To gain an understanding of Schumann’s health crisis—the background from which this symphony emerged—requires examining Schumann’s family history. It reveals a complex dynamic. His father August frequently drove himself to sickness and exhaustion through “feverish literary activities.” Anton Neumayr explains,

This disease shows a penchant for affecting sensitive individuals whose psychological situations are marked by states of considerable stress, either because of their perfectionist tendencies and inner drive to succeed or because of disturbed relations with one of their parents.390

Robert inherited a predisposition to this psychic state with its physical ramifications; he also inherited a strong affinity for literature. From his mother, Johanna Christiana, the composer inherited musical ability, especially a love of singing. With that came “high-strung sentimentality, with a quick and violent temper and a taste for the bizarre, . . . a moody changeability . . . and morbid inclination to melancholy.”391 From both sides of the family he probably inherited “a strong bent to suicide.”392 One can readily observe in Schumann’s personal makeup (i.e., nature) how these genetic tendencies predetermined his characteristics. On top of the genetic inheritance comes his upbringing and environment (nurture). Neumayr observes, “Because his father was largely prevented by his sickliness and reserve from taking an active role, Robert was raised essentially under the idealizing influence of his mother,” with the following consequences: “a schizoid personality disorder,” “repressed social conduct,” and “premature withdrawal” into the self. He created “a richly imaginative inner world. This made itself doubly manifest: in his enthusiasm

390 Anton Neumayr, Music & Medicine 2: Hummel, Weber, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Brahms, Bruckner: Notes on Their Lives, Works, and Medical Histories, trans. Bruce Cooper Clarke (Bloomington, IL: Medi-Ed, 1995), 225. Hereafter designated Neumayr2. All medical details come from Neumayr’s volume 2 unless otherwise noted. Quotations from correspondence are readily available in any number of sources, including Neumayr2. His discussion of Schumann’s upbringing, health history, and compositional history relative to those factors is thorough. The details raised in the present investigation pertain mainly to those factors directly related to the Symphony.

391 Ibid., 226-27.

392 Ibid., 227.

186 for books and reading . . . and in his great fondness for improvising at the piano, an exceptional gift that showed up in the seven-year-old boy.393 Just as Schumann was turning eighteen, he experienced an episode of schizophrenia that he described in his diary on 29 May 1828. He wrote, “It was as though I were out of my mind: yet I had my wits about me and I thought: I must have lost my mind. I was really crazy.” Along with this bout of “craziness” came an anxiety attack; he was “terribly agitated . . . my heart beat terribly indeed and I turn[ed] pale. . . . I couldn’t tell if I was still alive: often I have the feeling I am dead.” (27 May 1828) Added to the panic attack and schizophrenia was the fascination Schumann had with drinking (both alcohol and caffeine) and heavy smoking (nicotine). He thought of these “self- induced states of altered sensory awareness” as “a feeling of genius or originality.” He claimed that alcohol made him feel euphoric, and he termed that feeling “Knillität,” which Neumayr translates as “a high—in which his imagination could run riot, free and uninhibited”; at this time Schumann also wrote an essay titled “Genius, Originality, and Being ‘High.’” In a diary entry he states, “Strong cigars put me in a high poetic mood; the more relaxed my body is, the more exalted my mind. . . . Black coffee also makes me tipsy, if not exactly blacked out.”394 Between spending time in the company of prostitutes, experimenting with substances, and focusing on his altered states, Schumann was obviously cultivating overstimulation as a way of daily life. He most complained of insomnia; in conjunction with that condition came descriptions of vivid dreams that extended to nightmares and even hallucinations (including auditory ones). With these consequences also came serious depression and profound dissatisfaction that endured throughout his life. “Conspicuous too, was the emergence of a marked tendency to worry excessively about his health and to busy himself with psychiatric problems generally.”395 These were violent, reckless times for Schumann by his own admission:

393 Ibid., 228-29.

394 Neumayr2, 244.

395 Ibid., 246-47. It is interesting that Schumann was worrying obsessively about his physical and mental health, all the while abusing his body and mind. Neumayr states, “He evidently hoped that alcohol would give him some relief from his anxieties and his depression, with the inevitable result that after such binges, his symptoms were worse than before” (248).

187 Drank lots of beer—sleepwalking and fear of myself—champagne—tremendous uproar—passed out— everlasting hangover and crap, especially moralistic. . . . crazy in the head.”396

Time after time Schumann refers to complete upheaval of mind, body and spirit: “lassitude, bad nights with bad spooky nightmares and dreams of my dear good mother—constant dreams of home and Julius [his oldest brother] with stupid music.”397 By 10 March the “constant ringing, buzzing, and stories in my ears” led Schumann to the brink of committing suicide, as his sister had done. “Longing to throw myself into the Rhine,” he wrote a week later. He was also experiencing an identity crisis and determined that he would no longer make a pretense of studying law at the university; instead he wanted to immerse himself in music, a decision that put him painfully at odds with his mother. Not until the end of November did Schumann’s depression lift. On 8 June 1831, his twenty-first birthday, he began a series of significant entries in his diary. He awoke as though from a “deep sleep before being born. . . . as though my objective person wanted to separate itself entirely from my subjective being, or as though I were standing somewhere between my seeming and my being, between shadow and substance. My Genius, are you leaving me?” This signaled a renewal of schizophrenia. Also with this awakening came a plan that was to affect his creative output, literary and musical, for the rest of his life. On 1 July Schumann wrote, “Beginning today, entirely new persons are coming in my journal—two are my best friends, although I’ve never seen them—they are Florestan and Eusebius.” Florestan came first; he was “the deadly foe of the Philistines, a brilliant, impetuous madcap, often missing his target but ever happy to battle on behalf of his ideals.” Eusebius, the other half of the duo, was “a poet of music who infused his art with an impassioned love of mankind.” This sensitive, contemplative character joined Florestan to form Schumann’s “twin-selves,” as he called them. From this point onward Schumann’s inward and creative life continued according to the long-established pattern—periods of instability followed by times of relative equilibrium; delirium and hallucinations followed by periods in which he felt “dead as a statue”; waves of

396 Ibid. Journal entry dated 8 February 1830.

397 Ibid., 250. Journal entry dated 1 March 1830. Julius had pulmonary tuberculosis and was wasting.

188 depression followed by periods of intense creativity—by periods of just about anything. In 1833 came a very serious attack of sorts that came on in the summer after three months of depression. Neumayr calls this “a sudden turn in his state of health. . . . [Robert] fell sick with what he called an ‘excruciating illness,’ which, according to his biographer Wasielewski, came about after an all-night drinking binge.”398 Schumann informed his mother, “Virtually every breeze that blows (I’ve not been able to go out for the last 14 days) brings on another attack. I’m not even allowed to wash. It could easily happen that I would have to descend directly from the mail coach into bed, perhaps never to rise again.”399 On 13 July he wrote to his friend Clara Wieck, “I could hardly hope you would still remember me for I’m becoming more haggard by the day and am shooting up like a parched-out bean stalk. The doctor has even forbidden me to yearn deeply, for you, that is, because it affects me too much.”400 Some seventy years after the onset of this attack medical experts came to believe that Schumann had contracted malaria at this time. The disease was not even known until 1880. Neumayr refutes this diagnosis, as he does the speculation that Schumann had tuberculosis. Instead he makes a case for septicemia (blood poisoning) based on modern medical understanding of septicemia and the symptoms Schumann reported to his mother and to Clara.401 Schumann’s journal entries reveal new plans (founding the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik), so he moved to new quarters and started socializing again in September. We also read of “slow recovery” and a “loose life” of drinking excursions. But this “gradual return to emotional balance took a sudden, serious, and unforeseen blow when his beloved sister-in-law Rosalie . . . died in the night of 17/18 October from pulmonary tuberculosis.”402 Not for another five years was Schumann able to describe his pain; he finally wrote to Clara in February 1838:

398 Ibid., 265.

399 Letter dated [ ] July 1833. His mother had written repeatedly, requesting that he come home to be with his brother Julius, who was near death from tuberculosis. He died on 2 August.

400 At this point the two actually were “just friends,” although they had been corresponding regularly since February 1832 while Clara was on tour with her father. Schumann had been living in the Wieck household, studying piano with her father, since the fall of 1831. He moved to new quarters when the two went on tour.

401 Ibid., 269. On account of illness Schumann had declined to attend a soirée at the Wieck household. He declined Clara’s invitation of 1 August in this reply dated 2 August.

402 Ibid.

189 . . . At the time I had no one else like my Rosalie. . . . Even then in 1833 a feeling of melancholy had begin to show up that I tried not to take into account; it was the disappointments each artist experiences when nothing goes as quickly as he dreams it should; . . . then, on top of that, there came the loss of my right hand for playing the piano. . . . This was the summer of 1833. And still it was only seldom that I felt happy; something was missing; and the unhappiness pervading me even more as the result of my brother’s death steadily grew. And that was the state of my heart when I learned of Rosalie’s death. Only a few words about that: in the night from the 17th to the 18th of October 1833, I suddenly had the most terrible thought a man can have, the most terrible heaven can punish us with, the thought of “losing my mind.” It seized me with such force that all effort to ward it off with solace and prayer faded into scorn and derision. Fear drove me helter-skelter and my breath failed at the thought “what if it happened that you could no longer think.” Clara, once a person has been thus destroyed, he no longer knows suffering, or sickness, or despair. . . in such a state of utter helplessness I no longer could guarantee I wouldn’t take my own life.

For another six months after Rosalie’s death Schumann’s deep depression endured until, as Neumayr notes, “A letter of March 1834 is free of complaints for the first time.”403 So began a return to happy productivity. From this point forward, the outward circumstances of his life had their ups and downs, too. The details are well known (his romance and long-delayed marriage to Clara Wieck, his careers in journalism and composition, extended concert tours for Schumann and Clara), and they serve to reinforce the point that Schumann was in a deadly cycle all of the time. One day he would write of suicide and drunkenness, and the next of the joy and contentment he felt as a husband and father. While he undertook creative and mental activities as a way of surmounting illness, the composer’s intensity in composing led invariably to another long cycle of suffering, exhaustion, and depression. With the year-long series of crises of 1833 into 1834, however, Schumann’s eventual fate appears to have been set. Schumann’s life did not fully reach a “severe crisis” again until 1844.404 He decided to

403 Ibid., 272. 404 While Neumayr’s lengthy assessment of Schumann’s health by no means glosses over any details between 1833 and 1844, he does not use the phrase “severe crisis” again until Schumann’s situation worsened 1844.

190 move from Leipzig to Dresden based on many factors, not the least of which was his health. An October entry from Clara’s journal, just after the move, says,

Eight dreadful days have gone by now. Robert didn’t sleep a single night, in his imagination he saw the most dreadful things. I usually found him dissolved in tears in the morning, he had given up completely.

By the end of December Schumann was in a terrible state. From the household journal we learn,

After a “solitary stroll to [Carl Maria von] Weber’s grave,” he was so overcome by grief and commiseration that he suffered a “violent nervous attack and felt driven to seek prompt medical help.405

The medical “help” turned out to be limited and of short duration. From the referring physician, Dr. Carl Gustav Carus, whom Schumann consulted on 3 January 1845, however, we learn the following important information:

He had been so absorbed in composing the epilogue to Goethe’s Faust that, once he had written the conclusion to this work, he fell into a state of ill health that manifested itself as follows: As soon as his mind began to work, his legs and feet would shiver and feel cold and fatigued and he was filled with anxiety, with peculiar death phobias that showed themselves in fears of high mountains and buildings, but especially of metallic objects (even keys), of medications and poisons. At the same time, he suffered badly from insomnia and felt worst in the early morning hours. . . . I had previously observed similar symptoms in others who, like Schumann, were excessively preoccupied with a single activity. . . . he would pursue his musical ideas, wherever he happened to be—the auditory hallucinations and the man’s strange emotional life paired with a most highly developed sense of music and hearing were instructive for the outside observer. The ear is the sense that is busiest at night and in the dark, the last of the senses to go to sleep and the first to awaken, that even while sleeping reacts when being whispered to, that is chiefly associated with the quality of

405 Ibid., 295.

191 feelings and in whose proximity the attributes of caution, determination, and musicality are located.406

After another series of ineffectual treatments with yet another doctor Clara noted, “Robert’s nervous sickness still doesn’t want to go away.” With the spring flooding of the Elbe river Schumann wrote, “The Elbe terrible—the crucifix falling down,” and on 26 March, the anniversary of Beethoven’s death, he entered “Sick in the evening, sleepless night.” As 1845 wore on, so did Schumann’s “shaken condition,” “general feelings of being ill,” “pervasive fears,” and “queer disturbance of the acoustic canal” [auditory hallucinations]. Also erupting were terrors of being “ruled by dark demons.” Eventually, however, he busied himself with counterpoint exercises and the like, and studying the works of J. S. Bach. The result, as previously mentioned, was his composition Six Fugues on the Name BACH for organ, op. 60. Such was Schumann’s status well into 1845 when his creative juices started to flow once again, as he reported to Mendelssohn in September. In a short time in December the sketches for the Symphony no. 2 were complete, start to finish. Clara reported to Mendelssohn, “Now he is so full of music one really doesn’t know what to do with him.” The energy with which Schumann worked on the sketches during those sixteen days in December 1845 and the orchestration in March 1846 apparently took their toll, however; he found himself afflicted once more with alarming ailments. Schumann later attested to the effects of illness on his symphony. When the work was set to be performed in Hamburg for the first time, Schumann sent a letter (dated 2 April 1849) to the conductor, Georg Dietrich Otten, in which he stated,

. . . I wrote the Symphony in December 1845, while I was still unwell; it seems to me that one must sense this when hearing it. It was not until the final movement that I began to feel better, and only when I had finished the whole work did I feel completely recovered. . . . It reminds me of a gloomy time. That such melancholy sounds can, in spite of this, arouse your interest shows your sympathetic nature. Everything you say about it shows me how well you know the music; it gave me particular pleasure to see

406 Ibid., 296-97. Carus was a relative of the physician whom Schumann had consulted many a time in Leipzig, Dr. Ernst August Carus. Carl was one of Germany’s most prominent and respected philosophers of science, and he became very close friends with Schumann almost immediately.

192 that my melancholy bassoon in the Adagio, (indeed I wrote down that passage with especial predilection), has not escaped you.407

The time when Schumann felt “completely recovered” is probably between 21 September and 19 October 1846, if not longer, based on medical reports (or lack of) and dates that Schumann marked in the score. In total, the compositional process took about a year. (Further revisions extended into the fall of 1847; these were for subsequent performances and then for the engraver.) In view of Schumann’s medical history, however, and especially in view of what we know of it today, we must doubt that he felt—nor would he ever again feel—“truly recovered.” Creative activity and “zeal” alternated with “black moods,” the cycle of psychosis worsening with each downward spiral. To be sure, though, in his “good” times his compositions continued to pour out of him with brilliance. Neumayr observes that Schumann’s compositions dating to “the final, critical years of his life [display] complete mastery of compositional theory, along with their musical inspiration.” He continues, “Many of his compositions—and this applies especially to his later ones—were influenced in their inception less by the state of his emotions than by his unceasing intellectual quest for new forms of expression.”408 To facilitate this comparison Table 6-1 notes the compositional history of the Symphony no. 2, correlated with statements regarding Schumann’s health. Fortunately, especially for history’s benefit, documents have come to light only recently that serve not only to disprove many speculative “diagnoses” of Schumann’s health problems but also to define without a doubt the causes of his condition. For example, researchers long believed that the medical reports regarding the composer’s confinement at Endenich asylum existed only in the form that Dr. Richardz, a physician at Endenich, had given Wasielewski for the latter’s Schumann biography. Wasielewski in turn interpreted this report as medical fact, whereas it was actually a version of events sanitized to spare the family further pain. The real report, the factual one, became public in 1994. Everything that Wasielewski had presented as fact these researchers received as fact, in turn perpetuating misinformation for nearly 140 years.

407 Sotheby’s, Robert Schumann, The Autograph Manuscript of the Symphony No. 2 in C Major, Op. 61 (London: Sotheby’s, 1 December 1994), 5. [Auction Catalogue.] Hereafter referred to as Sotheby.

408 Neumayr2, 356.

193 Table 6-1. Phases of Composition and Corresponding Health Status

PHASE DATE NOTES HEALTH STATUS Mental note-taking 8 Sept. 1845 Letter to Felix Recovering from severe health crisis Mendelssohn Sketching 12 Dec. 1845 “symphonic ideas” Recovering (“still half sick”) Complete sketch of complete 28 Dec. Clara writes to Reports of “great energy and symphony 1845 Mendelssohn enthusiasm” Orchestral Score, First begun 12 Feb. “Dresden d.8ten Mai 6 March, alarming new symptoms, Draft/revisions on score 1846; complete 8 1846 im Garten” “queer disturbance in the ear”; May, (this becomes the full May 1846 very weak, “deep hypochondria”; Autograph Score) I recuperates on North Sea, 15 July-21 August II complete 14 Sept. “d.14ten September Back in Dresden, “condition appreciably 1846 1846” better” III complete 21 Sept. “d.21sten September No anomalies reported 1846 1846” IV complete 19 Oct. for first performance on 7 No anomalies reported; “feel completely 1846 November, Leipzig recovered”

In Neumayr’s evaluation, this medical record “provides irrefutable proof that, in Schumann’s case, we are confronted pathologically with two clearly differentiated events, the first with its beginning in his youth while the second only appeared in 1850 and ended with his death.”409 Also surfacing was Richardz’s autopsy report. This document was presumed lost until it came to light in 1973 and published in 1986. According to Neumayr, the report was confusing in its language, and the doctors who wrote it did not specialize in pathology; they were mainly interested in Schumann’s brain, and the details they provided were both “vague” and “contradictory.” Further, the report “contains no information that would be diagnostically useful in establishing what primary disease was at the source of Schumann’s suffering, [but] it does permit us to refute with some confidence some of the hypotheses advanced in the Schumann medical literature.410 Neumayr concludes that Schumann’s illness “involved a cyclic psychosis with recurring manic and depressive episodes. . . . As for the organic process

409 Ibid., 346.

410 Ibid., 351.

194 affecting Schumann’s brain that became evident from 1850 on, there are now incontestable indications for the presence of progressive paralysis resulting from syphilis.411 Schumann claimed in writing (12 September 1855) that he had “in fact contracted syphilis in 1831.” Neumayr finds the claim credible “because his first neurasthenic symptoms of progressive paralysis emerged no later than 1850—after the latent period of around twenty years characteristic for this disease—and its full clinical picture began to be present in 1852 at the latest.412 This is significant because the long-held belief is that syphilis was the “long illness” Schumann was recovering from while he wrote the Symphony no. 2. In fact, Schumann sought a then-innovative treatment for the condition soon enough that for most intents and purposes he was effectively free of the disease until around 1850— but not soon enough to prevent progressive paralysis from setting in after the twenty-year latency. Neumayr finds further that Schumann’s episodes “took two directions, with periods of depression alternating with periods of hyperactivity. In short,” he writes, “it surely concerned a kind of periodic manic-depressive psychosis whose first manifestation came with the attack in 1833.”413

II. Score Studies

Primary sources for the Symphony no. 2 are all but impossible to find. Jon Finson says that the sources “have not enjoyed a particularly fortunate history.”414 Writing in 1986, he summarized the situation:

The autograph score, originally housed in the Breitkopf archive, disappeared after World War II and is available to us now only in the form of negative photographs preserved in the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek.415 Furthermore, the sketches of the symphony

411 Ibid., 359.

412 Ibid., 359.

413 Ibid., 361-62.

414 Jon Finson, “The Sketches for the Fourth Movement of Schumann’s Second Symphony, Op. 61, JAMS 39 (1986), 143. 415 This is ONB PhA 1281.

195 have been almost completely inaccessible since they were completed around Christmas, 1845. Previously published information about them comes mostly from Wolfgang Boetticher’s laconic description, which appeared in 1941 as part of his inventory of the Wiede Collection.416

According to Finson, “Almost two decades ago, however, the heir to the Wiede Collection, Alfred Ancot, sold photographs of these sketches to American musicologist Asher Zlotnik, who has kindly made them available for this study. . . . At present they constitute our only source of information about these sketches.”417 This being the case, researchers interested in Schumann’s compositional process for the Second Symphony have had to extrapolate from knowledge they have gained through studying the sketches for other works of this period; without access to the Ancot/Zlotnik photographs, they have no hard evidence on which to base their conclusions. Moreover, the Second Symphony was the only major work that Schumann composed between 1841 and 1850. They know for certain that Schumann’s compositional process changed in 1845 because, he informs us,

I write most, almost all, of my smallest pieces while inspired, many in unbelievable haste, my First Symphony in B≤ major in four days, likewise my twenty-piece Liederkreis and my Peri in a relatively similar short period. Not until the year 1845 and following, when I began to invent and work out everything in my head, did an entirely different 416 Ibid. This description reads, “Heading in Schumann’s hand: ‘Sketches for a symphony: first through third movements’ (red pencil). First draft; second movement in a heavily altered version; many corrections and variants. 15 leaves; 28 pages with writing. 22.5 x 30 cm WW (Weissenborn) 20.” Wolfgang Boetticher, Robert Schumann: Einfübrung in Persönlichkeit und Werk (Berlin, 1941), 632: “Uberschrift von Schumanns Hand: ‘Skizze zu einer Symphonie 1ster Satz bis 3ter Satz’ (Rötelstift). Erste Niederschrift, zweiter Satz in stark abgeänderter Fassung, viele Verbesserungen und Abweichungen. 15 Blatt, 28 beschr. Seiten. 22,5 x 30 cm. WW (Weissenborn) 20.” Finson’s assessment continues, “Boetticher’s account gives the initial impression that only three movements of the symphony are represented in the sketches, but all the movements are present according to Georg Eismann’s inventory of Schumann’s autographs, published in 1961.” Finson’s citation is “Georg Eismann, ‘Nachweis der internationalen Standorte von Notenautographen Robert Schumanns,’ Sammelbände der Robert-Schumann- Gesellschaft, II (1966), 16.” To this Finson adds, “These sketches remain in private possession, and, until now, no scholar has been able to verify any of the accounts about the manuscript that contains them” (143-44).

417 Ibid., 144. He elaborates, “The Ancot photographs include continuity drafts for all four movements of the Second Symphony as well as a number of shorter drafts used to develop details in the first and fourth movements. The photographs correspond closely to Boetticher’s early description of the manuscript; they apparently show nearly all of the extant sketches for the symphony.”

196 manner of composition begin to develop.418

Finson maintains,

Because the sketches for the Second Symphony were completed at the end of 1845, they are crucial to our understanding of the development of Schumann’s compositional process. The drafts for Op. 61 portray the composer’s technique at a pivotal stage, and they show both changes in Schumann’s melodic thinking and evidence of his new working habits.419

The autograph score disappeared after World War II and was presumed lost or destroyed. As sometimes happens, though, a document has simply been having a long undisturbed sleep somewhere. Astonishingly, the original showed up at Sotheby’s in London, for auction on 1 December 1994. At last, scholars would finally be able to put an end to their speculations, form new understandings of the symphony, and advance the discourse. Or so they hoped. But that was not to be. The autograph and its journey were just as shrouded as before, and probably even more so after the sale. Auctioned at a record price to an unknown buyer, it has has been sleeping undisturbed somewhere once again.420 Sotheby’s provenance of the manuscript sheds no light on where the score has been since 1950. Finson discovered with the Ancot/Zlotnik photographs that “deducing the actual form of the sketches for Op. 61 could prove a tenuous business.”421 He shows what can be learned (or deduced, as he says) from working through whatever material is available, and then drawing educated conclusions based on professional experience. If a researcher is diligent enough to

418 Finson’s source for this quotation is Linda Correll Roesner, “Studies in Schumann Manuscripts,” 2 vols. (Ph.D. diss., New York Univ., 1973), I, 14-15.

419 Finson, 149. Finson provides one table showing dates and compositional activity based on Schumann’s Haushaltbücher. This table is similar to the present study’s Table 6-1, but it does not include a column that correlates the dates and compositional activity with Schumann’s health. Finson’s second table shows the manuscript sequence in the Ancot/Zlotnik Photographs correlated with Schumann’s page and measure numbers (150-51).

420 Sotheby’s provenance sheds no light on where the manuscript had been since 1950 except to state: “The present manuscript was at one time in the archives of Breitkopf and Härtel, until being sold with other manuscripts in 1950 via a dealer, and thereby entering private hands” (13).

421 Finson, 149.

197 locate a copy of the Sotheby’s auction catalogue, some of the mysteries will clarify.422 The Sotheby catalogue contains seven high-quality reproductions of pages in the autograph, two of which are in color. Comparing them with the black and white negative in the ONB yielded far more information than would have been possible otherwise. The catalogue also contains seven pages of commentary and description.423 The reproductions proved invaluable to the present investigation because they reveal the great effort that Schumann made in shaping his narrative, as the next section shows.

III. Illness Narrative in the Symphony no. 2: Shape and Structure

Two factors lead us to interpret the Symphony no. 2 as an illness narrative. The first has to do with scholarship and perception, in the nineteenth century and now. Anthony Newcomb’s study, “Once More ‘Between Absolute and Program Music’: Schumann’s Second Symphony” advances the view that this symphony is a procession of evolving ideas, an “evolving pattern of mental states,” centered upon the “end-oriented” plot archetype, which can in some cases be expressed as a narrative of suffering leading to healing. Like the plot archetype of Beethoven’s Symphony no. 5, struggle leading to victory, we may read the substrate of Schumann’s symphony as an adaptation focused specifically on the adversity of illness leading to wellbeing. Newcomb explains,

The conception of music as composed novel, as a psychologically true course of ideas [Ideengang], was and is an important avenue to the understanding of much nineteenth-century music. . . . In music such as this, not only and conventional musical- formal types are the background to interpretation and to proper

422 I would like to claim extraordinary diligence in obtaining a copy of the Sotheby auction catalogue. I cannot. I could not have foreseen how important it would become to my research when I bought it. The whole thing was a dazzling stroke of blind, dumb luck.

423 No author is named. The only information that the catalogue mentions comes in this notice: “All enquiries about this sale should be made to Dr. Stephen Roe or Dr. Simon Maguire, Dept. of Printed Books and Manuscripts, Sotheby’s, 34-35 New Bond Street, London W1A 2AA.”

198 understanding. So also is a recognition of the plot archetype.424

Newcomb’s goal is “to argue a new view of the shape of [the fourth] movement” which, he maintains, “a formal diagram alone of recurrent key areas and thematic materials cannot [accomplish].” By tracing the transformation of the two main ideas (from the first two measures of the symphony) through the first three movements, he arrives at the finale, whose structure has been troublesome in our own time. He shows the interaction of these two musical ideas with each other, with their former “characters,” with their changing musical contexts (form and genre), and with allusions to other compositions (“any allusion that thematic or formal procedure may make to other pieces”).425 Another important consideration in Newcomb’s approach is the potential interaction of these two thematic units with actual words—in this case, Schumann’s own words. As previously noted, Schumann wrote compulsively on matters of health. He also made clear that the effects of illness influenced the compositional process and extended to the music itself. Thus the composer lived the archetype of suffering leading to healing, while composing music that carried this archetype throughout. Newcomb offers this note:

Although the plot archetype of a particular work may have no connection with the life of the composer, that of op. 61 had an autobiographical dimension. The struggle in the symphony from suffering to healing and redemption seems also to have been Schumann’s own.426

A person who is ill—the sufferer—goes through a procession of ever-changing mental, emotional, and physical states that lead to some degree of wellness—healing. The plot archetype is the same. Examining a theme-unit’s behavior in successive contexts, with its past appearance, and with music from other compositions is analogous to what the patient goes through—continually asking, “How am I now, compared to before?” “What about my situation

424 Anthony Newcomb, “Once More ‘Between Absolute and Program Music’: Schumann’s Second Symphony,” 19th-Century Music VII/3 (April 1984), 234.

425 Ibid., 237.

426 Ibid.

199 has changed?” As Newcomb maintains, “The conception of music as composed novel, as a psychologically true course of ideas, was and is an important avenue to the understanding of much nineteenth-century music.”427 By extension, it is also true to the conception of music as a composed illness narrative, in which “characters in [the] narrative . . . interact with each other, with the plot archetypes, with their own past guises, and with conventions of . . . grammar and formal schemes.”428 The second set of factors leading to the interpretation of this symphony as an illness narrative has to do with score studies and its compositional process. Newcomb’s essay discusses the trouble many analysts had in understanding the composition as a coherent procession of ideas; this led to their dissatisfaction with the fourth movement in particular. Because, in his view, the Ideengang combines with the plot archetype of suffering to healing to produce a weighty finale, a culmination, some reviewers found it too full of ideas and too strange in construction. It did not behave in accordance with the form they had come to expect. As demonstrated in the previous chapters of the present study, musical form served the higher requirements of narrative form. Such is the case with Schumann’s symphony. Traditional analytical tools do not suffice to represent the action, because the form is not necessarily governed by the conventional patterns of harmonic areas and theme groups. Further, we saw that formal divisions in the traditional analysis do not necessarily correspond to the divisions that the illness narrative follows, although they can. One might argue that the illness narrative is not an end-loaded archetype except in the sense that the sufferer survives (and if not, there can be no illness narrative). After all, plot point 5 occupies considerably more story time than the first several phases combined. In the case of the Symphony no. 2, however, the weight is concentrated in the finale. Schumann designed the symphony in such a way that it accumulates meaning as it goes along. He also devoted considerable effort to revising and reworking the first and last movements, as score studies show. Changes, excisions, and additions were so extensive that new pages had to be tipped in or affixed to the score. Revisions literally gave the score new dimension and color over time. The Sotheby’s catalogue bears this out in its description of the manuscript:

427 Ibid., 234.

428 Ibid., 239.

200 . . . a composing manuscript, the orchestral draft, extensively reworked, containing many layers of composition and revision, with fundamental alterations to the structure of the movements, especially the first, with revisions and alterations to the orchestration, remarks and comments to the printer and to performers, including instructions on the bowing of the upward scale figure which dominates the last movement, notated in brown ink, on up to sixteen staves per page, heavily revised by the composer throughout, with alterations, revisions, deletions, erasures, scratchings-out and corrections in ink pencil and brown crayon, the last movement, part of the first movement and some repeated sections of orchestration in the Scherzo, and a few other shorter sections in another hand, mostly that of Schumann’s copyist Karl Gottshalk, some on additional sheets affixed over the original passages (the originals now revealed), the scribal passages corrected by the composer throughout, at times heavily, in pencil and ink, the Stichvorlage, marked by and for the printer, with notes for the engraver . . .429

We know from Schumann’s letters and diaries, from various catalogue entries, and from Sotheby’s that “fundamental alterations” took place. Further, the catalogue states,

It is highly significant that the places in the manuscript with which Schumann had great difficulty in establishing the final form of the work are also the most radical in construction. One such passage is Schumann’s remarkable and dramatic transition from the slow introduction into the first allegro. The result is an organic transition, an achievement which had great significance in later symphonic music. . . . The slow introduction . . . that, unlike many classical works, contains a gradual increase in tempo until reaching the main allegro. Schumann’s transition is much more dramatic and complex, . . . containing many discrete varied elements, and the manuscript provides eloquent testimony of his work on this

429 Sotheby, 3. This information is critically important because it enables the researcher to establish which markings came from which phase of composing. It also combines with the color plates to allow the researcher to distinguish in the black and white negative which corrections are red, which are blue, which ones are pencil, and which ones are made from overlays. The brown crayon, for example, looks like chalk in the negative, where as the brown ink looks like the product of a white pen (the lines are finer, and they are not fuzzy like chalk).

201 section.430

Figure 6-1 shows the narrative structure of the symphony.


1(Before I, 1 the com- 2 9 position begins) 3 I, 22 IV, 508 recovery of degree variable (After the 4 I, 25 8 composition ends)

5 IV, 179 I, 50 6 7 IV, 118 variable degree of suffering

1. actual onset of illness 2. beginning of narrative time 3. transition point 4. downward spiral, rapid descent into illness 5. episodes, complications, gains, setbacks 6. rock bottom, low point, despair 7. beginning of actual recuperation 8. end of narrative time 9. the new normal

Figure 6-1. Shape and Plot Points, Schumann’s Symphony no. 2

Plot Point 1: Actual Onset of Illness Unlike the way Schubert fashioned his piano sonata to suggest the space and time of the “back story” or “prequel,” Schumann had no such plan. Instead he makes use of a slow introduction that leads to the opening Allegro proper, such that the first ending marks a return to the beginning of the Allegro in m. 50 rather than to the symphony’s introduction. This, of course, is normal; but the point to be made here is that with such a long introduction, there is no conceivable way for Schumann to have referred to something that happened before m. 1. Further, the opening material accumulates meaning as the symphony progresses; returning to m.

430 Sotheby, 7.

202 1 (or the silence before m. 1) would destroy the momentum as Schumann constructs it. Besides, the first ending marks a return to m. 51, in which the plot has already advanced to plot point 5.

Plot Point 2: Beginning of Narrative Time From the outset of the symphony Schumann introduces two musical ideas that embody certain contrasting characteristics. The horns, trumpets, and alto trombones carry the symphony’s motto, a fanfare of sorts, and it is aggressive in character. The strings accompany the motto with their contrasting line, a sinuous, chromatically-inflected wave that proceeds largely in stepwise quarter notes. This idea is reflexive and introverted, turning inward on itself at times, and it has a kind of nagging stubbornness that will not go away. Newcomb calls the combination of these two ideas the “embryo” that will develop as the plot progresses. The function that these ideas perform is to introduce the symphony—to establish the scene and set the baseline for the plot in terms of musical form and content (this is a slow introduction marked Sostenuto assai). As the opening of plot point 2, this music is responsible for conveying a protagonist’s state of mind before realization of illness sets in. We may infer a certain degree of stability (C major, but chromatic) that is subdued (sostenuto assai, ππ) and not quite “right”—the fanfare has the correct shape and instrumentation, but it is hardly the brassy herald that one expects from a fanfare. With a dynamic level of ππ, the fanfare does not proclaim much of anything. The conjunct countersubject, too, lacks essential energy. It basically trudges along incrementally as if on the brink of exhaustion. It wanders up and down within the range of a perfect fifth, usually, and seems to plod along simply for the sake of moving. These two ideas are quite unlike one another. On the one hand, the motto is wide-open, diatonic, and transparent. On the other hand, the contrasting idea takes short little steps (and half-steps) within narrow confines. Neither idea could remotely be called a melody. They combine to produce a relatively undifferentiated background despite the clear contrast between them; as such, Schumann has provided a pair of ideas that are superbly gestational; the opening thus has an air of the primordial about it, such that any musical idea that follows must surely have developed from this place. In this way the symphony accumulates meaning and its plot advances. Beginning in m. 6, the flutes and bassoons attach to the strings’ undulating line, while the violas have had skeletal involvement with the brass fanfare since m. 2. This device, one that

203 Schumann favors, adds dimension to the color and character of the original statements. Example 6-1 shows the symphony’s opening material.

Ex. 6-1: Mvt. 1, mm. 1-7

2 “fanfare”


Separately and together, the two seminal ideas in the first eight measures will generate a wealth of material through variation of many kinds, from these opening measures through the finale. Their contrasting characters and shapes attract comparison to other themes that Schumann holds up as exemplars in Western music, by suggestion, outright quotation, or some degree in between. These opening measures allude to Haydn’s final symphony, no. 104 (“London”). Newcomb explains what Schumann had in mind:

204 The thematic allusion—made by interval contour, scale degree, structural position, instrumentation, and rhythm—. . . proclaims as effectively as a poetic preamble one quite specific program: Schumann’s courageous and ambitious decision to measure for the first time his particular methods and abilities against the overwhelmingly, even terrifyingly prestigious tradition of the Viennese Classical symphony. . . . Part of the struggle that most early commentators noted in op. 61 is Schumann’s struggle to make this tradition his own, and the intent to emulate the tradition colors even his thematic material in many places.431

With these thoughts in mind, an interpreter can make the connection between the illness narrative’s plot (Schumann’s protagonist experiencing the struggle from illness/suffering to healing) and the symphony’s structure. The remainder of plot point 2 continues through m. 14; thematic transformation is already beginning in these measures.

Plot Point 3: Transition Point

In mm. 15ff the woodwinds voice an eight-part chorale of sorts in the dominant (G major). With chromatic and passing tones, the basic harmonic progression (not accounting for inversion) is G: I-ivfl-I - d: V-i - G: V‡-Ifl - C: V‡-I. This section adapts elements of both introductory ideas although its character is more like the countersubject than the fanfare. Beginning in m. 19 the brass instruments, which had been silent for the better part of five measures, join the texture, contributing a restatement of the motto theme; the strings, which had been minimally present or silent since m. 15, resume their variation on the undulating idea from m. 1. In m. 20 the texture begins to thin as voice parts fall into a holding pattern (e.g., 2nd violins) before dropping out altogether (flutes, oboes, clarinets, horns, trumpets, and alto trombones). By m. 23, all remaining voices take a downward direction and grow softer through the pick-up to m. 25, creating the sense that something is about to happen. Example 6-2 shows some of these events.

431 Ibid., 240.

205 Ex. 6-2: Mvt. 1, mm. 15-23

15 3 thinning


The black and white negative, PhA 1281, shows that Schumann had trouble with the material that falls within plot point 3. Beginning in m. 15 he removed the flute and clarinet lines and he annotated the bassoon line heavily. The clarinet part was so heavily edited that Schumann moved the entire part to the bottom stave of the manuscript from m. 1 onward, where Gottschalk copied it (his note reads: “Clarinetten in B stehen unter, müßten aber auf einfach viertens System”). As for the flute excisions, the composer marked “Flauti e. Oboi unis,” so the flute line was then superfluous. From the first markings in this plot point we know that he clearly intended the alto trombone solo (mm. 19-22) to remain. These changes in the score clarify what is happening in the illness narrative, namely creating a sense of expectation of the next event. The thinning of the texture and clarification of the instrumental parts demonstrate Schumann’s higher concern for narrative form irrespective of the requirements of musical form. When the fall into the abyss of illness occurs, it comes “out of

206 the blue,” as many authors claim, even though the thinning texture causes the listener to wonder where the music could possibly be going from here. Musical form requires none of this, especially in the middle of a symphony’s slow introduction, yet it does not seem contradictory to the intentions of an introduction.

Plot point 4: Downward Spiral, Rapid Descent Into Illness Plot point 4 begins at m. 25 in the key of A minor; the tempo is marked Un poco più vivace, and the character of the music changes completely. The second violins and violas begin a tremolo pattern with an accent on the first beat. The flutes, oboes, and clarinets voice a jumpy, jagged little motive off the beat; it is heavily dotted, and Schumann has given specific dynamic indications along with the direction “espress.” above the oboe part. Given the quivering strings and the volatility of the motive, the atmosphere seems designed to jolt the sufferer out of whatever complacency existed prior to this. Here is the alert that signals the flight of panic that illness narratives convey in plot point 4. But more than that, the first violins give off a shriek of fright on the weak beat of m. 26, with the cellos and basses augmenting the force of this frantic yelp. Example 6-3 shows the beginning of plot point 4. This motive sounds out eleven times more in the measures that follow, each time with more intensity than before (as indicated by its ever widening range, increased frequency, and lengthened outbursts). The accented “bumps” in the drops go from two in the first yelp, to four in the ninth and twelfth yelps, for example. These “bumps” are like a human heart pounding erratically in a person’s chest, and the impression is one of abject terror (Ex. 6-4a).

207 Ex. 6-3: Mvt. 1, mm. 24-28

24 4

yelp 1 yelp 2



208 Ex. 6-4a: Mvt. 1, mm. 29-32, violins

29 Y3 Y4 Y5 Y6

The last shriek of terror occurs in m. 36, falling on the dominant of D major. Thereafter, accents fall on the beat, but their dynamic markings are just as extreme (Ex. 6-4b).

Ex. 6-4b: Mvt. 1, mm. 33-36, violins

Y7 Y8 Y9 Y10 Y11 Y12 33


The resolution to the tonic of D major does not happen; the music instead moves through a series of triads (F, G, F, G) while the horns and trumpets establish a G pedal using the rhythm of the opening fanfare. The emphasis of G leads to an eventual return of C major in the Allegro proper at m. 50 (plot point 5). Once the shrieking ends in m. 36, the music begins a kind of cooling off period as if the fierce terror has left the sufferer drained—or perhaps his condition has rendered him unconscious. The texture thins until only one voice remains, that of the previously screaming first violins that drift sequentially downward in a line based on the introductory string companion to the motto. It is almost as though the music has collapsed with shock and exhaustion and fallen asleep. Example 6-5 shows the end of plot point 4.

209 Ex. 6-5: Mvt. 1, mm. 45-49

45 Cor

Vln I

Vln II




C: V

Plot Point 5: Episodes, Complications, Gains, Setbacks

As usual, the events of plot point 5 are varied. Understanding this music as an evocation of plot point 5 in an illness narrative is helpful. Recognizing that the patient has now sunk to the depths of illness, the interpreter can now appreciate the sufferer’s predicament more fully. Like Schumann, Charles Lamb (1775-1834) himself experienced incapacitating bouts of mental illness that once confined him to an asylum in 1795. He was already an esteemed poet when he started contributing essays to London Magazine in 1820, under the name of “Elia.” The Last Essays of Elia were published three years later, including one called “The Convalescent.” This piece fairly vibrates with affinity for the ideas that Schumann would raise twenty-five years later in the second symphony:

A pretty severe fit of indisposition which, under the name of a nervous fever, has made a prisoner of me for some weeks past . . . has reduced me to an incapacity of reflecting upon any topic foreign to itself. Expect no healthy conclusions from me this

210 month, reader; I can offer you only sick men’s dreams. And truly the whole state of sickness is such; for what else is it but a magnificent dream for a man to lie a-bed, and draw daylight curtains about him; and, shutting out the sun, to induce a total oblivion of all the works which are going on under it? To become insensible to all the operations of life, except the beatings of one feeble pulse? [...] what caprices he acts without control! how king-like he sways his pillow—tumbling, and tossing, and shifting, and lowering, and thumping, and flatting, and moulding it, to the ever- varying requisitions of his throbbing temples. He changes sides oftener than a politician. How he lies full- length, then half-length, obliquely, transversely, head and feet quite across the bed . . .432

Lamb’s description of the patient’s treatment of his bedding is very like Schumann’s treatment of the opening motto and wave-form ideas from mm. 1-8. Moreover, the newest transformation of these original ideas (mm. 50ff) seems indeed to act capriciously, tumbling, tossing, shifting, lowering, thumping, and flattening. One of Lamb’s passages is especially Schumann-like: “He makes the most of himself; dividing himself, by an allowable fiction, into as many distinct individuals, as he hath sore and sorrowing members.”433 What is important to keep in mind is that the illness causes the behavior of Lamb’s convalescent, and illness causes Schumann’s musical ideas to behave the way that they do. With the fading away of the symphony’s introduction the opening Allegro begins. Back to the original key of C major, the orchestra proceeds with the principal idea at m. 50. This idea, which the opening material has of course engendered, is not really a theme, either. Instead it is a double-dotted line that has a strange jumpiness, irregular periodicity, and natural accents that fall on weak beats (usually the second beat) as though a right-handed person had to write left- handed, or he had to walk when one leg had gone to sleep. The result is a complete mismatch, creating the impression that something is badly out of sync. The tempo is new (marked Allegro ma non troppo), and the meter is now 3/4 as opposed to the previous 6/4, but neither of these factors contributes to the jerky awkwardness of the music. In fact, one would be at a loss to find

432 Charles Lamb, Last Essays of Elia ed. by N. K. Hallward (London: Macmillan, 1965), 45-46.

433 Ibid., 47.

211 any meter that suited this material’s construction. It is definitely not a comfortable rhythm or melody, as the string section’s presentation shows (Ex. 6-6).

Ex. 6-6: Mvt. 1, mm. 50-58, Strings

5 50

The remainder of the first movement, all of movements 2 and 3, and the first 117 measures of movement 4 still belong to plot point 5. The variety of moods and states of mind that this music presents is as multifold as its thematic transformations. A thorough discussion of this is beyond the scope of the present study, but a few scenes will convey some of the symphony’s scenes as they relate to illness narrative.

Movement 2: Scherzo, Trio I, and Trio II

The Scherzo’s opening idea derives from the original trudging line in the symphony’s first measures. In this movement it, too, comes out of the first violin part in waves; but this time it scampers up and down over a wider territory. Example 6-7 shows this hyperactive part that moves almost unceasingly in sixteenth notes.

212 Ex. 6-7: Mvt. 2, mm. 1-6

The sense that the setting for this movement is outdoors is confirmed with the cuckoo’s calls. The cuckoo first sounds out in mm. 22-26 and returns six more times (mm. 55-59, 77-81, 181- 185, 203-207, 318-322, and 340-344). Example 6-8 shows the first appearance of the cuckoo. Interpreting the Scherzo in terms of an illness narrative with some degree of autobiographical content lends validity to a view of the sufferer retreating to nature as a source of potential healing.

Ex. 6-8: Mvt. 2, mm. 22-29 cuck-oo cuck-oo cuck-oo 22

213 Trio II, which begins in m. 223, is remarkable for its contrast in style. The texture is contrapuntal, and this music is given exclusively to the strings. This passage is a clear allusion to the Baroque period. In mm. 230-31, the figure B-A-C-H (b≤-a-c-bΩ on the keyboard) appears in the first violin and cello parts (Ex. 6-9a).434 Starting in m. 238, the voice shifts to the oboes and clarinets, with the viola providing the running bass (Ex. 6-9b).

Ex. 6-9a: Mvt. 2, mm. 223-29, Strings

22 3

Ex. 6-9b: Mvt. 2, mm. 230-45

230 B A C H running bass

434 See Douglass Seaton, “Back from B-A-C-H: Schumann’s Symphony No. 2 in C Major,” in About Bach, ed. Gregory G. Butler, George B. Stauffer, ad Mary Dalton Greer (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2008), 191-206.

214 These events cannot be interpreted as dreams. Rather they are clear statements about the value Schumann placed on Baroque practices to overcome his illness. In the weeks prior to starting work on the Symphony no. 2, we recall that he had been studying counterpoint and Bach’s music in particular, and even published the op. 60 Fugues on the Name of BACH, compositions for organ. Schumann frequently turned to such exercises in Baroque writing when he was trying to rise out of depression. In a letter to Mendelssohn in September 1845 Schumann wrote,

Things are going a bit better indeed: Hofrat Carus advised me to take early morning jaunts and that suits me fine, of course it doesn’t yet take care of everything and there are a hundred different places where I itch and twitch every day.435

For the rest, “he went back to composing, with the study of fugues and counterpoint still the best help he had to force his wildly roving, undisciplined thoughts into orderly paths.”436

Movement 3: Adagio espressivo The third movement is a passionate lament that has something to do with dreams and sleep. The main theme (which is actually a theme this time) is characterized by wide leaps and drops (um6, u8, uM6dM7, uM6dm7) separated by largely conjunct, chromatic motion. At m. 8 the melody passes to the oboes; they join in a duet with the bassoons in m. 9. (This is the “melancholy bassoon” line to which Schumann referred in his letter to Otten.) The melody is handed off to various instruments such that no one instrument can claim “ownership” of this theme. This procedure has the advantage not only of shading the melody with many different timbres but also playing it off against the changing timbres of whichever instruments fill the accompaniment role at the time. The Sotheby catalogue states,

The great “Adagio espressivo,” . . . one of the composer’s finest

435 Cited in Neumayr2, 298.

436 Ibid.

215 orchestral achievements, represents one of Schumann’s major contributions to the development of Romantic chromatic harmony. It is a deeply poetic movement and is in essence the emotional heart of the entire symphony. Schumann wrote no other more deeply personal or heartfelt orchestral movement.437

In the main theme Newcomb sees

. . . the two separate character strands of the thematic protagonist . . . brought back together in a new thematic formulation—now in a mood of melancholy pathos and suffering made clear both by the musical characteristics of the immediate ancestors of the theme, and by the falling diminished fourth, a figure from the Figurenlehre of the Baroque music in which Schumann had immersed himself for months before writing the C-Major Symphony.438

Figure 6-10 shows the first seven measures of the third movement.

Figure 6-10: Mvt. 3, mm. 1-7

No known account of Schumann’s second symphony discusses an important event that first occurs beginning in m. 19. This interlude, which the woodwinds and horns share, is a quotation from Mendelssohn’s Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream. As such, it plays an essential role in the literary fabric of the symphony for its allusions to dreams, sleep, charms,

437 Sotheby, 11.

438 Newcomb, 243.

216 and illusion. In II, ii of Shakespeare’s play, “in a wood near Athens,” the fairies put their Queen to sleep with a lullaby (Titania has ordered, “Sing me now asleep; / Then to your offices, and let me rest.”). They comply:

Philomele, with melody, Sing in our sweet lullaby, Lulla, lulla, lullaby, lulla, lulla, lullaby. Never harm, Nor spell, nor charm, Come our lovely lady nigh. So , with lullaby. (II.ii.13-19)

The plagal figures in Mendelssohn’s overture express the fairies’ “good night.”439 In Schumann’s third movement, the “good nights” appear three times (mm. 19, 44, and 100). Examples 6-11a and 6-11b compare Mendelssohn’s “good nights” with Schumann’s.

Ex. 6-11a: Mendelssohn’s Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream


good night good night good night good

rising triplet fig.

439 For this reason I have always referred to these figures as “the ‘good nights’”

217 Ex. 6-11b: Mvt. 3, mm. 16-24

good-night good-night 16 good-night

rising triplet fig.

Schumann accomplished several things by quoting from Mendelssohn’s concert overture. First, he was holding up the composition as a masterwork. Second, he was elevating his own symphony to the ranks of these masterworks (a sort of “glory by association”). Third, he was demonstrating how utterly necessary literary pursuits were to him, especially in overcoming illness. As the son of an antiquarian book dealer he had access to books of all kinds in translation, and he had read Shakespeare’s play and identified with its themes of dreams and sleep, art and life, and illusion and reality. In times of greatest crises of health, he reaffirms that these themes, too, are intrinsic to the illness. We have only to look at the number of times in his correspondence that he refers to sleep disturbances, bad dreams, and night terrors to know that he recognized these themes in literature—and in himself when he was in the depths of illness. Finally, in a round-about way, by establishing firm linkage with Shakespeare’s play, Schumann is confirming the hunch that the imagery in the second movement’s Scherzo was intended to convey an episode in nature, a source of potential healing. We may take a passage from Act III, scene I as proof. Titania’s sleep has already been charmed; likewise the young Athenian lovers have been given sleep charms, and the mechanicals, having wandered into the wood to rehearse their play “Pyramus and Thisbe,” have had to be “neutralized” with a sleeping potion. As farce would have it, the sleeping draughts were administered improperly, such that when the sleeper awoke, he or she was instantly infatuated with the wrong person. Titania

218 found herself smitten with the carpenter Bottom, who had been “transformed into an ass.” In answer to her question, “What angel wakes me from my flow’ry bed?” he sings to her:

The finch, the sparrow, and the lark, The plain-song cuckoo grey, Whose note full many a man doth mark, And dares not answer nay— for indeed, who would set his wit to so foolish a bird? Who would give a bird the lie, though he cry “cuckoo” never so? (III, i, 130-36)

So that explains the cuckoo calls throughout the Scherzo. We should therefore feel no surprise when a musical reference to Bottom’s “hee-haw” (a drop of a major 9th in Mendelssohn’s overture) appears in the symphony’s fourth movement. The final quotation of the “good nights” occurs beginning in m. 100. This time the rising triplets (a triadic figure in the horn) accompany them. In their structural placement they have bounded the passages that share the main theme among various instruments. The purpose for the “good nights” is to take off some of the intensity of emotion that long stretches of theme statements build up. The theme becomes almost intolerably sad and simply cannot maintain this level of intensity without an escape valve of sorts. Also present is “the shimmer,” a chain of trills that sends the air shimmering, further suggesting sleep charms and visions. Beginning in m. 92, the first statement of the theme after the double bar at m. 82, the voice order is:

oboe Æ clar Æ fl/ob Æ (good nights) Æ violins Æ (shimmer) Æ fl/ob/cl Æ (1vl)/vcl/cb meas. 92 94 97 (100-103) 104 (110-117) 112 118

Example 6-12 shows seventeen measures of this structure.

219 Ex. 6-12: Mvt. 3, mm. 97-113

good-night, good-night 97

rising triplet fig.






220 The function of these two devices, the “good nights” and the “shimmer,” brings to mind yet another Shakespeare play, The Tempest, in which Prospero says,

Our revels now are ended. These our actors (As I foretold you) were all spirits, and Are melted into air, into thin air, And like the baseless fabric of this vision, The cloud-capp’d tow’rs, the gorgeous palaces, The solemn temples, the great globe itself, Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, And like this insubstantial pageant faded Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff As dreams are made on; and our little life Is rounded with a sleep. (IV, i, 148-58)

Prospero is also the one who says, “me (poor man) my library / was Dukedom large enough” (I, ii, 109-110). The themes of this very musical romance are many, but among them is the idea that the artist can use the power of nature to make white (good) magic. This idea surely resonated with Schumann, who listed The Tempest first in the catalogue of Shakespeare’s plays he had read. According to Jon Finson,

In one of the brief autobiographical sketches written around 1840, the composer lists at least as many playwrights, poets, and novelists as musicians among the influences on his formative years. The direct evidence shows that Schumann attended performances of Shakespeare’s plays during his stint at the University of Leipzig, but he knew many more plays than he had seen by 1831. On July 17, 1831, the composer recorded in his diary the names of almost thirty plays by Shakespeare, with a list of their female characters suggesting that he had access to copies of all of them in translation. Chief among the list are The Tempest, Twelfth Night, Macbeth, Cymbeline, Julius Caesar, and Romeo and Juliet.440

440 Jon W. Finson, “Schumann and Shakespeare,” in Mendelssohn and Schumann, Essays on Their Music and Its Context, ed. by Jon W. Finson and R. Larry Todd (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1984), 129.

221 Movement 4: Allegro molto vivace

The illness narrative is still in plot point 5 as the fourth movement begins. Most interpreters, in Schumann’s day and our own, recognize that the finale is one grand culmination of all of the thematic variations and characterizations that have evolved since movement 1, measure 1. No wonder, then, that so many commentators found it too crowded and busy (too full of material). As Newcomb sees it, the first problem for critics lay in the very nature of the fourth movement’s character, which contrasted too sharply with the end of the third movement. It is too “rough [a] juxtaposition of mood.” This is important because, as Newcomb says in reference to plot archetypes, “We know where we are in a typical course of events—in this case at the point where suffering forces its way through to triumph—and we are disappointed with Schumann’s rather bluff way of handling it.”441 Newcomb continues,

The beginning of this finale seems out of place in a piece that has led from one thing so carefully to another; it seems not so much to assimilate and transform past experience as to turn away from it.442

As disturbing as this may have been for critics, it is completely understandable in view of the fact that the protagonist in the illness narrative has not yet begun to convalesce. He is still experiencing the episodes, complications, gains, and setbacks of plot point 5. Many fascinating details show up in the first 119 measures. The scalar runs have returned along with the wild scampering from the Scherzo; the first four notes of movement 3’s main theme appear in m. 63 (in, of all voices, the only one in the orchestra that did not have it before: the violas); and the finale’s main theme returns starting in m. 105, and it reaches a decisive cadence in G major at m. 118. So far, the finale has been a procession of musical ideas heard before, but now successfully transformed.

Plot Point 6: Rock Bottom, Low Point, Despair Just when we thought that the situation was stable (medically and musically) and a convincing cadence in G major gave the impression that the patient was finally on the road to

441 Newcomb, 243.

442 Ibid., 243-44.

222 recovery, the strings race up a standard G-major scale only to veer off in marcato chords to strange territory. At first they seem to have D minor as the goal, but when the time comes for another rip up the scale in that key, the strings raise the 6th and 7th degrees. Another series of marcato chords that appear to have no goal leads to thirteen measures of scales, with the violins competing with the rest of the strings to “get somewhere.” The series goes like this:

Table 6-2. Dueling Scales vln1 B≤ ≥4 A≤6≤7 G≥4≤7 f≥4≥5 E≤≥4 ------D≤6≤7 *d/D? vln2 B≤ ≥4 A≤6≤7 G≥4≤7 f≥4≤7 E≤≥4 *E≤≥4 ------vla a≥6≥7 g≥6≥7 F≥4≥5 e≤2≥6 d/D c≥6 B≤! vcl a≥6≥7 g≥6≥7 F≥4≥5 e≤2≥6 d/D c≥6 B≤! cb a≥6≥7 g≥6≥7 F≥4≥5 e≤2≥6 d/D c≥6 B≤! meas 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139

NOTE: All scales go up one octave from the indicated pitch in the indicated mode except for those marked*, which go down.

Example 6-13a shows some of this series of scales in the strings.

Ex. 6-13a: Mvt. 4, mm. 127-33


a b≤ g a a b≤ g a a f g g f e

223 Meanwhile, the woodwinds and horns are working at cross-purposes above. They articulate a chain of suspensions in tied whole notes (Ex. 6-13b).

Ex. 6-13b: Mvt. 4, mm. 127-33


b≤ b≤ a a g g f e e d d c≥

After a long period during which the performing forces are splintered into small groups that work independently of one another—in diverse textures and without any apparent goal— a cadence in D major in m. 179 coincides with an oddly accented D pedal in the contrabasses. This signals the arrival of plot point 7, as shown in Ex. 6-14.

Ex. 6-14: Mvt. 4, mm. 175-81

175 7 Fl




Cor D: IV V I

224 Ex. 6-14: Mvt. 4, mm. 175-81, Cont’d.

175 7 Vln1




Cb D: IV V I d pedal

Plot Point 7: Beginning of Actual Recuperation

Now the music (hence the patient) is on solid footing, firmly in D major, but this does not constitute a resolution. Instrumental groups still work on their own in textures and rhythmic patterns that are differentiated from one group to the next, but the overall impression is that solid progress is occurring. The second theme arrives in m. 191, an inversion of the main theme from the Adagio, and the clarinets start it off in the key of G minor. The oboes soon join the clarinets, and the strings support the activities above them with a steady ostinato-like pattern. Example 6-15 shows the first eight measures of the second theme. The performing forces are finally working together, which bodes well for the patient’s recuperation. At least now, what Newcomb called the “rough shout of affirmation” in m. 1 of the finale, would not constitute a premature proclamation of triumph. The steady procession of thoughts that have evolved since the beginning of the symphony continues unchecked. Of particular significance for the plot of the illness narrative, the music resolves an important cadence in C minor (m. 273), and a series of grand pauses (mm. 275, 277, and 279) functions as a brake on the action. This brake forces the listener to pay attention to what is about to transpire; in effect, the event is a kind of trial run for a variant of the melody of the final song in Beethoven’s An die ferne Geliebte, no. 6. When this theme finally does arrive in m. 394, the previous trial run and a dramatic passage leading up to m. 394 have

225 thoroughly prepared its entrance. This lied offers a foil for the symphony’s Adagio, which, as we have seen, has attached itself to sleep, dreams, and charms. The melody, on the other hand, turns a prism on the initial stepwise melody from the opening of the first movement’s slow introduction, with its undulating line of quarter notes. Transforming the original idea by refracting it in the mirror of Beethoven’s melody is further support of Schumann’s admiration of Beethoven. Other similarly reflexive, reflective moments take place in short order. First, the references to Bottom’s “hee-haw” occur in mm. 343-44 and 350-51. At the same time those racing flights up the scale that had been dueling before now return in much closer conformity to a “normal” scale. They culminate in sweeping scale patterns in seven instrumental lines that reach their ultimate objectives at m. 391. This represents a goal achieved in the musical form. Following two pauses, the theme adapted from An die ferne Geliebte begins anew, as Example 6- 15a shows.

Ex. 6-15a: Mvt. 4, mm. 387-97

387 steadily louder ------

cf Beethoven

four-octave climb ------* pauses *

226 Ex. 6-15b: An die ferne Geliebte, no. 6



In Newcomb’s view, m. 394 marks the beginning of the recapitulation, at least “in harmonic and motivic style. Even the full introductory flourish returns in its conventional articulating function to announce a major formal division.”443 The recuperant, however, has not exhibited signs of a convincing return to health. As grounds for this concern, the brass fanfare from the opening measures of the symphony makes but a sketchy return in mm. 423-25. The trumpets and alto trombones are only able to whisper the first four syllables of the motto (at a dynamic level of ππ) before giving out; that is hardly a sign of full recovery. They try again in mm. 431-37, this time with the horns and bass trombones lending their voices to the effort. They get a bit more of the fanfare out, but the dynamic level is still a sickly ππ. On the third attempt (mm. 445-52) the brass choir is able to enunciate the entire phrase, but the sound is only incrementally louder. They abandon the effort. Example 6-16 shows the second statement.

443 Newcomb, 245.

227 Ex. 6-16: Mvt. 4, mm. 428-37

428 Cor


Tbn Alt & Ten

Tbn Bass

Finally, dotted and double-dotted note values begin to infuse the music with energy. Accents fall on the strong beats, the lower strings move in steady quarter notes, and the dynamic level reaches ∂. At last the patient has achieved the milestone of plot point 8 in m. 508. Example 6-17 shows this transition point.

Ex. 6-17: Mvt. 4, mm. 503-16

8 503

228 Plot Point 8: End of Narrative Time

Plot point 8 gets off to a very loud start with a ∂ statement of the An die ferne Geliebte melody, abridged. A profusion of motives, rhythmic patterns, fragments, and textures ensues; they fairly bubble over the confines of their container. The mix is a joyous one, especially beginning in mm. 565 when the alto trombones proclaim the brass fanfare in majestic fashion. The countersubject, now combined with the shape of the An die ferne Geliebte tune, appears in the woodwinds starting in m. 572, overlapping the fanfare. This is an excellent sign that the former invalid has successfully reintegrated the two halves of his psyche. With two more sprints up the C major scale for the violins and violas (just for old times’ sake) the symphony comes to a triumphant conclusion.

Plot Point 9: The New Normal Given the unbounded energy and vigor of the symphony’s conclusion, we may infer that the previously ill sufferer’s future is promising. Optimism certainly prevails. What we know now of Schumann’s life tells us that the composer did indeed recover for a time after this work was finished, and any further details are irrelevant.

IV. Characteristic Analogies and Themes Schumann was arguably the most literary-oriented composer of his age. As details of his childhood indicated in the first section of the present study, he inherited an insatiable appetite for reading and writing from his father, to the degree that if this side of his character could not acquire what it needed, he would suffer—at times unbearably. The same holds true of the passion for music that he inherited from his mother. When he wasn’t writing about music, he was composing on literary themes. When he was too ill to do either, he came to believe that objective work in either sphere was important in his recuperation (therefore his turn to counterpoint exercises and study, even as a young man, until he was well enough to begin work again). For present purposes, we know this to have been the case for Schumann leading up to his composing the second symphony. Schumann met the needs of these two halves of his psychic makeup in equal measure. This effectively means that one cannot discuss his music

229 without automatically delving into matters of analogy and theme; neither can an analyst separate musical choices from their literary content. The process of investigating the op. 61 symphony as an illness narrative bore out the impossibility of separating literary concerns from musical ones. The symbiotic nature of the subject required discussing both aspects concurrently. The literary themes and analogies that informed Schumann’s musical choices were immediately apparent; the musical realization of literary considerations was equally obvious. This would not be the case with any other composer, or any other illness narrative in instrumental music.




Brahms composed the Clarinet Quintet in June 1891 while spending the summer in Bad Ischl. At the same time he wrote the Trio in A minor for Clarinet, Violin, and Piano, op. 114. He had heard clarinetist Richard von Mühlfeld’s performances in Meiningen the previous March; Mühlfeld’s playing so inspired Brahms that the Quintet and the trio were a direct result. First performances took place privately in Meiningen on 24 November 1891. On 12 December the works premiered in public in Berlin, with Brahms and Mühlfeld performing, accompanied by Brahms’s close friend the renowned violinist Joseph Joachim and his quartet. Simrock published the op. 115 Quintet in March 1892.

I. Biographical Considerations In 1889 Brahms had an experience that shook him completely. He got sick. It was only the flu, but for the composer, who had never had a sick day since he was a child, this unprecedented event was enough to scare him into revising his last will and testament. He also reviewed his successful life and decided to retire while he could still enjoy it. The following summer he told his friend ,

I’ve been tormenting myself for a long time with all kinds of things, a symphony, chamber music and other stuff, and nothing will come of it. Above all I was always used to everything being clear to me. It seems to me that it’s not going the way it used to. I’m just not going to do any more. My whole life I’ve been a hard worker, now

231 for once I’m going to be good and lazy!444

His close friend Theodor Billroth, an eminent surgeon and talented amateur musician, reported that Brahms denied “that he is composing or ever will compose anything.” The truth of the matter was, however, that Brahms was indeed composing. Brahms biographer Jan Swafford writes, “Brahms was working on the G major String Quintet [op. 111] . . . [and] for the moment he was ready to let the lighthearted and laconic Quintet stand as his farewell.”445 Billroth sat in on the first rehearsal several months later and promptly wrote to Brahms,

As I think back over the hours of my life, the richness of which few mortals can have had, you always and still stand in the first place. . . . Today I heard enthusiastic shouts, “The most beautiful music he has ever composed!” . . . I have often reflected on the subject of what happiness is for humanity. Well, today in listening to your music, that was happiness.446

The String Quintet, which premiered in Vienna on 11 November 1890, was an instant success. Brahms was still of the mind to leave off composing, however. In January 1891 Brahms again came down with the flu. According to Swafford,

[Max] Kalbeck came to Brahms’s apartment and found him in the library stripped to the waist, leaning over the washstand and pouring a jug of water over his head. With face flushed and beard dripping, Brahms growled to Kalbeck in an odd efflorescence of Hamburg dialect: “I feel kind a’ out of it. I’m so frightful hot!” He seemed to have no idea what a fever was. To Kalbeck’s demand that he summon a doctor or at least go to bed, Brahms insisted that for a cure he would go over to the Igel and dose himself with Pilsner beer and roast beef.447

444 Richard Heuberger, Erinnerungen an Johannes Brahms (Tutzing: Hans Schneider, 1976), 100.

445 Jan Swafford, Johannes Brahms: A Biography (New York: Random House/Vintage, 1997), 566.

446 Hans Barkin, ed. and trans., Johannes Brahms and Theodor Billroth: Letters from a Musical Friendship (Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1957), 219. 447 Ibid., 571. Kalbeck was a member of the inner circle of Brahms’s closest friends, and a devoted admirer. He was vitally important as Brahms’s first biographer: Max Kalbeck, Johannes Brahms (1904-1914), Reprint, 4 vols. (Tutzing: Hans Schneider, 1976). “Igel” is “Zum Rote Igel,” his favorite restaurant called “The Red Hedgehog.”

232 These two bouts of influenza constitute the entirety of Brahms’s medical history until his final illness. Fate intervened once more in Brahms’s plan to retire. He traveled to Meiningen for the week-long arts festival in March 1891. There he heard the court orchestra and principal clarinetist Richard von Mühlfeld perform Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto and Weber’s Clarinet Quintet, with at the podium. By Swafford’s account, Brahms was stunned:

Brahms befriended Mühlfeld and sat listening to him play for hour after hour. Maybe for the first time in his life he felt something more than pleasure in a fine musician. Now he experienced an epiphany of an instrument in itself. With the clarinet it was the superimposed layers of its three octaves: the rich reediness of the low register, then the gentle paleness of the “throat” tones; above that the velvety center of the instrument, in Mühlfeld’s hands and breath capable of endless nuances of color and volume; and finally the high register, flutelike when soft, swelling to a piercing angry cry. Here was a musician who could make his instrument sing like a violist or a mezzo-soprano, and so Brahms recognized another incarnation of the kind of dark, soulful voice that had always seduced him.448

Brahms began to call Mühlfeld “Fräulein Klarinette,” “my dear nightingale,” “my Primadonna,” and “Fräulein von Mühlfeld.” Back in Ischl for the summer, Brahms composed the first of several chamber pieces for his new love interest, the clarinet. Swafford writes, “Now in his imagination Brahms embraced Fräulein Klarinette like a woman, and as with so many Fräuleins before, this celibate passion inspired him. The fruits of his Ischl summer of 1891 were first the Clarinet Trio in A minor and then what he called ‘a far greater folly,’ the Quintet in B minor for Clarinet and Strings.”449 Swafford suggests that the two compositions “are the only true love songs to an instrument Brahms ever wrote.”450 While Brahms was composing in Ischl he received word from Clara Schumann. She

448 Swafford, 572. 449 Swafford, 573.

450 Ibid., 574.

233 complained of being “continually racked with pain now in one place and now in another,” and she had been unable to walk. The situation was ironic in that “They had loved each other nearly forty years, and spent the same years periodically torturing each other. Brahms had known other muses than her, and now was happy to find a new one in a contraption of ebony and reed.”451 But more important, thoughts of Clara might very likely have been running through his mind as he composed, thereby attaching the piece to another instance of illness. The Clarinet Quintet struck audiences and critics alike as a “monumental work.” It enjoyed constant acclaim through the remainder of the composer’s lifetime and beyond, but Brahms really did want to retire this time. In particular he wanted to compose accompaniments for the folk melodies that he had been collecting for years. What had begun as a hobby of sorts continued throughout his life as a devotion to the German spirit.452 One result was 49 Deutsche Volkslieder (in seven volumes). “They are a testimonial to his lifelong inspiration from these nominal products of the German Volk . . . a return to the Romantic inspiration of his teens.”453 On 17 September 1894 he wrote to his publisher Simrock,

Did you notice, by the way, that I have clearly said adieu as a composer? The last of the folksongs and the one in my Opus 1 are the same and they make up the snake that bites its tail, that neatly say, in other words—the story is over. . . .454

“But it wasn’t,” writes Neumayr. In late 1894 he wrote to Clara,

. . . I do know what good resolutions are, and “think about them, don’t talk about them,” as the saying goes. . . . I’m now waiting for clarinetist Mühlfeld to show up and then I’m going to rehearse two

451 Ibid., 575.

452 Brahms was a fierce loyalist. Michael Musgrave states, “The appearance in 1851 of the first volume of the Bach Gesellschaft edition of the works of J. S. Bach . . . was the major musicological event of Brahms’s youth and clearly ranked with Bismarck’s creation of the German Empire in 1871 as a major national event of his life. He was too young to have been involved in its preparation, though he became a subscriber in 1857 and obtained the preceding volumes as a gift from Princess Frederike of Lippe-Detmold. The edition was to be of vast importance to Brahms.” Michael Musgrave, A Brahms Reader (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2000), 161.

453 Swafford, 596,

454 Cited in Neumayr2, 429.

234 sonatas with him.455

These were the sonatas for clarinet and piano in op. 120, in F minor and E≤ major. Clearly the siren call of Fräulein Klarinette had stirred Brahms yet again. Aside from collecting folk tunes, another aspect of Brahms’s life remained strong within him from youth through his last years: He didn’t like going to doctors—although many of his closest friends were prominent medical professionals—and he refused to visit sick people because the experience upset him. When his dear friend Billroth was seriously ill, Brahms told Clara, “Since his illness the sight of Billroth disturbs me, upon my soul I don’t like the look of him, and when he makes an effort to appear bright and in good spirits it makes one’s heart sink!” Swafford relates, “Somehow, with the exception of Clara, he instinctively felt the sick to be a distraction, a bother, a threat to his own robust health.”456 Yet when his beloved Clara was deteriorating he could not even write to her. Clara Schumann passed away on 20 May 1896. Having realized in March that he was about to lose her forever, but unable to communicate with her directly, Brahms channeled his deep feelings into the Vier Ernste Gesänge, with texts he took from the Bible. In a letter he wrote to Marie Schumann dated 7 July, he stated, “You won’t be able to play through the songs just yet, for the words would be too moving for you. But I ask you to look on them as a sincerely intended memorial to the death of your beloved mother and put them away.”457 With Clara’s death Brahms experienced the greatest loss of his life, but he would discover one more grievous. “For Johannes Brahms, the medical history of his illnesses effectively begins, strangely enough, in the days Clara Schumann died.”458 Still he avoided death and the dying, and he later hid his own terminal illness from his friends as well as he could. “Only when his physical strength began increasingly to ebb, resulting finally in difficulty walking did the seriousness of the situation fully sink in on him.”459 Brahms succumbed to pancreatic cancer on 3 April, 1897. His final work, Eleven Choral

455 Ibid., 430.

456 Swafford, 560.

457 Cited in Neumayr2, 431.

458 Ibid., 432. 459 Neumayr2, 457.

235 Preludes for Organ, op. 122, concludes with the prelude based on the tune “O Welt, ich muss dich lassen.”

II. Illness Narrative in the Clarinet Quintet: Shape and Structure

The Clarinet Quintet consists of four movements, organized as follows:

I. Allegro II. Adagio III. Andantino; Presto non assai, ma con sentimento IV. Con moto

Commentators have developed various imaginative interpretations of the Quintet’s general mood and tone. Eduard Hanslick describes the Adagio in a visual impression:

The entire movement is bathed, as it were, in a dim sunset. Whoever possesses Heine’s talent for “sonorous imagery” will call up an image of a young shepherd dolefully blowing on his reed pipes in the loneliness of a Hungarian plain.460

Daniel Gregory Mason discusses the first movement in these terms:

The apotheosis of the first theme . . . is reserved for the coda, one of the most deeply tragic and impressive ever conceived by Brahms. The final note, in keeping with the underlying mood of the whole work, is to be one of stoic acceptance of tragedy, of noble resignation. But this is to come only after the abatement of a crisis of impassioned grief.461

Ivor Keys refers to “yearning undulation,” “intermittent shudders,” and “vertiginous extremes of compass. . . . It is as though Brahms was intent on remaining in a chiaroscuro world,

460 Eduard Hanslick, “Hanslick on Brahms’s Chamber Music with Clarinet,” trans. by John Daverio, American Brahms Society Newsletter, 13/1 (spring 1995), 5-7; orig. publ. Neue Freie Presse, 1891 and 1895; repr. in Fünf Jahre Musik [1891-1895] (Der “Modernen Oper,” VII. Teil), 3rd. ed. (Berlin: Allgemeine Verein für Deutsche Litterature, 1896), 168-73, 312-14. 461 Daniel Gregory Mason, The Chamber Music of Brahms (New York: Macmillan, 1933), 236.

236 as a painter might be who was obsessed with autumn tints.”462 The last of his narration reads, “The nostalgia has an ache to it, the second note of the B minor scale being sometimes flattened to C natural as though it had lost the energy to raise itself further.”463 Melvin Berger refers to the Quintet’s “autumnal melancholy” as well as its “long stretches of great joy and rapture. Perhaps these buoyant passages reflect the aging composer’s delight in finding his inspiration and skill undiminished.”464 The history of the piece’s reception shows that the Clarinet Quintet has always affected listeners’ emotions and sometimes elicited physical responses. Some contemporary listeners thought of the “old man” Brahms, which sounds curious today because Brahms was only 58 years old when he composed the Quintet. By today’s measure, that is not “old.” A passage from Henry S. Drinker, Jr.’s book, The Chamber Music of Johannes Brahms, takes a sensible approach:

Somewhat less incomprehensible, but misleading nevertheless, is the tendency on the part of the appreciative to call it a sort of swansong, “flooded with the last red glow of an artist’s evening.” While it may possibly signify “quiet and painfully agitated resignation” or “gentle regret” to those looking for regret and resignation, for others it may have a wholly different message. What Brahms was thinking when he made it we will never know, nor does it matter. The music speaks to each in his own language.465

These views show how many and varied interpretations can be. Drinker’s assertion that we will never know “what Brahms was thinking when he made [the Quintet]” is one that the present study will overturn, although based on biographical

462 Ivor Keys, Brahms Chamber Music, BBC Music Guides (London: BBC, 1974), 64-65.

463 Ibid., 66.

464 Melvin Berger, Guide to Chamber Music (New York: Anchor, 1989), 110. 465 Henry S. Drinker, Jr., The Chamber Music of Johannes Brahms (Philadelphia: Elkan-Vogel, Dec. 1932), 128. Having smoothed over the contrast between various views, basically with the “To each his own” stance, he provides his own reaction to the Adagio: “The clarinet sings a beautiful quiet tune in simple 3/4 time, while below it each of the other four instruments weaves its separate path in a wholly distinct rhythm from all the others,—a great bird soaring above a busy city with the people going their separate ways below” (129). “Incomprehensible” was the word he used for George Bernard Shaw’s assertion “that Brahms’s music is all ‘harsh’ and ‘unmelodious.’ From all four movements the loveliest melodies are continuously bursting” (128).

237 evidence alone, we cannot treat the subject of the plot strictly as illness. That is to say, Brahms had never been sick in his adult life except for two bouts with the flu, the most recent having attacked his system the previous January. That does not constitute illness or disease in the medical sense. By his own account he was content, and he was trying to enjoy his activities on his own terms—to absorb himself in whatever caught his fancy, compose for himself only, and devote his efforts to editorial projects that were meaningful to him. Yet the Clarinet Quintet aroused the emotions of everyone who had heard it, and they believed that the music was speaking directly to their hearts. The Quintet’s structure clearly falls into the pattern of the illness narrative (as Fig. 7-1 shows); we must determine what the nature of the suffering might be.

Plot Point 1: Actual onset of illness No information can be brought to bear on when the suffering began or what its nature might have been. Schubert’s Piano Sonata is unusual in that the music begins in the anticipatory upbeat to m. 1, so the listener has the sense of being carried into the narrative from the space before the the actual story begins. At the first repeat, the music resituates the listener to the same “before” space. Like most illness narratives in music, however, the Quintet’s music begins on the downbeat of the first measure; when the exposition repeats, it resumes in m. 5. (The first four measures of the Quintet appear in elided form just prior to the repeat, so there is no need to restate them.)466 In other words, we do not get the sense at the beginning of the piece that we enter a narrative from “before.”

466 “In the last two bars the initial ‘circling’ motif is adroitly introduced and for the repeat of the exposition this replaces the opening four bars. The repeat of the exposition is thus neatly disguised, with bars 3 and 4 completely absent yet with the flow of the music intact.” Colin Lawson, Brahms: Clarinet Quintet, Cambridge Music Handbooks, gen. ed. Julian Rushton (Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press, 1998), 52.


1 I, 1 (Before 2 the com- IV, 193 8 9 position begins) 3 I, 22 recovery of degree variable (After the 4 I, 25 composition ends)

5 7 I, 36 6 IV, 65 IV, 129 variable degree of suffering

1. actual onset of illness 2. beginning of narrative time 3. transition point 4. downward spiral, rapid descent into illness 5. episodes, complications, gains, setbacks 6. rock bottom, low point, despair 7. beginning of actual recuperation 8. end of narrative time 9. the new normal

Figure 7-1: Shape and Plot Points, Clarinet Quintet in B minor, op. 115

Plot point 2: Beginning of narrative time As the narrative starts, confusion exists about the key center. At first, it sounds like D major. We notice a pull toward the minor, however, as the lines sequence downward and the harmonies clash in m. 3 (the viola’s f≥ with the second violin’s e1, and on the second beat of the measure, the cello’s B with the a≥1 and c≥1 of the violins). The principal thematic idea is composed of three motives that contrast with one another in rhythm, shape, and character. They will form the building blocks for much of the Quintet’s material. Motive x begins as a dotted quarter note on the first half of measure 1; a turn figure in sixteenth notes in parallel thirds and sixths comprises the second half of the measure. Its pattern might be heard as more or less dactylic. That motive is then repeated, trending downward. Motive y (mm. 3-4) is a contrasting four-note idea characterized by its “sighing” shape, chromaticism, and trochaic pattern. This, too, is repeated, and it is often called the “falling”

239 motive, although in the context of the present investigation (as well as in the context of the entire plot point 2, for that matter) it contributes to the overall impression of “sinking,” especially when the viola and cello enter in m. 3. This “falling” motive is the basis for each successive movement’s falling motive; all four movements have one. Finally, the clarinet enters in m. 5 with an arpeggio (z) that rises to a dotted half note tied across the bar to a dotted quarter note, thereby extending motive x’s initial dotted quarter by an entire measure. When the clarinet enters, the remaining voices do not move. In general, when a voice articulates a motive in sixteenth notes, it is given respectful attention (as in mm. 6-13) or it is paralleled at the third or sixth. The cello, for example, takes up motive z in m. 6, although it features a long drop (anywhere between an octave and an eleventh—from d1 to A in m. 7) before rising again. The implications of these details cannot be known yet. At this point one can make a few observations and that is all. First, three motives appear; they contrast with one another, such that they emerge as characters. They interact, imitate, and converse, but tonal ambiguity interferes with understanding what kind of footing the characters are on. At least the situation, whatever it is, appears “normal”; so far no sign of actual trouble has materialized, but the overall sinking (falling, dropping) trend is apparent. Example 7-1 shows the first eleven measures of the Allegro.

240 Ex. 7-1: Mvt. 1, mm. 1-11

2 sinking/falling z x x y y

z D/b 7 x x z

sinking/falling z


z z z sinking/falling

At m. 18 a full cadence to B minor now reveals the harmonic structure. The clarinet and viola are now engaged in counterpoint on motives z+x, and the violins proceed in unison based on motives y+x. The cello supports the harmonic structure in steady dotted quarter notes that underpins movement into another cadence, all voices now trending downward. Just before the return to the tonic, a grace note in the violin lines grabs attention because it acts like a sudden catch in the voice. The steady crescendo in mm. 20-21 and the preparation for the cadence signal that another phase is imminent. Example 7-2 shows this process.

241 Ex. 7-2: Mvt. 1, mm. 18-27

18 (2)

22 3 sinking/falling 4 V -

V - i i

Plot point 3: Transition point

From m. 22 until m. 25, all lines except the cello’s continue to drop. These measures are an extension of mm. 21-22, and they act as another brake on the motion. One can observe in the clarinet line, for example, that the beat is subdivided into sixteenth notes, then eighth notes, followed by a trochee, a dotted quarter note, and a full rest. Grace notes appear in the violin lines on the first beat of m. 22 and the second quarter note in m. 24, the latter because Brahms has employed one of his favorite techniques, hemiola. This means that in m. 24, three voices are proceeding at two beats per measure, whereas the first violin is competing with them at three pulses. This is the first time in the quartet that rhythmic tension has arisen. The grace notes have appeared only in the violin parts so far. This could indicate that the violins are exhibiting a

242 bit of an independent streak, but it is still too early to know that for certain. Overall, plot point 3 has been brief. This brevity is completely in keeping with illness narratives in literature and in music. The sole function of plot point 3 is to effect a brief transition between plot points 2 and 4, but the passage extends the information gained in plot point 2. This is more than this phase of the narrative usually gives. Due to modifying subdivisions of the beats in succession, the pace appears to have slowed. Downward motion (sinking) has characterized the passage, suggesting depression. And because plot point 4 is imminent, we know that the situation is about to worsen considerably. These processes are shown above in Ex. 7-2.

Plot point 4: Downward spiral, rapid descent into illness Plot point 4 is the place in the narrative where everything changes drastically and suddenly. Writing in 1830, just weeks before his death from stomach cancer, William Hazlitt describes the course of his terminal illness in “The Sick Chamber.” His narrative begins with the suddenness of his decline:

What a difference between this subject and my last—a “Free Admission!” Yet from the crowded theatre to the sick chamber, from the noise, the glare, the keen delight, to the loneliness, the darkness, the dul[l]ness, and the pain, there is but one step. A breath of air, an overhanging cloud effects it; and though the transition is made in an instant, it seems as if it would last for ever. A sudden illness not only puts a stop to the career of our triumphs and agreeable sensations, but blots out and cancels all recollection of and desire for them.467

Sometimes the protagonist’s voice is speaking, and sometimes it is the agony that speaks. In all cases, screams or shrieks are present; in the Quintet, the shouting starts first. With the arrival of plot point 4 in m. 25, the texture changes dramatically. A densely scored B-minor chord, ƒ, on the downbeat is something very new, especially in view of the fact that no such chords at all have appeared thus far in the composition. The expected hallmark, the

467 William Hazlitt, “Essay XXXVII: The Sick Chamber,” in The Complete Works of William Hazlitt, vol. 17: Uncollected Essays,ed. by P. P. Howe, after the edition of A. R. Walker and Arnold Glover (New York: AMS Press, 1967), 371. Orig. Publ. London: J. M. Dent, 1930.

243 scream or shriek, will occur momentarily; this loud chord has the effect of a sudden shout. The next two measures offer another contrast in texture as all participating instruments strike their way through a series of emphatic chords (the clarinet does not take part). This constitutes a new rhythmic element as well, as the strings proceed homorhythmically. Their statement is a transformation of motive x, and it comes to a climax on a weak beat in m. 28 with another shout. The first three measures of plot point 4 consist of a shout and a stern argument punctuated with an exclamation point. The argument just raised gets an answer that constitutes another contrast in texture and character, as Example 7-3 shows. Wide sweeping runs and arpeggios (a variant on z) pass from the cello to the clarinet, rising in triplets (m. 28), after which point the activity passes to the viola for a triplet run up an octave in conjunct, chromatically-inflected sixteenth-note triplets; this has the effect of a shriek. Then the motion comes down the same way, with a handoff from the first violin to the second. Another upward sweep, and the emphatic statement punctuates the action once again. As before, the other parts accord the moving voice its leeway. If the preceding passage exhibited control over its text, these dramatic swoops are beyond words—and that, too, is a marker of plot point 4. The two systems in Example 7-3 indicate two processes at work. The first demonstrates Brahms’s mastery of Baroque practices. When the first argument begins in m. 26, the functional bass line that the cello performs gives the passage a Baroque sound; when the stern chords return in m. 32, the viola and cello enter first, and the rest of the instruments follow half a measure later in imitation. The exclamation point arrives on a weak beat in m. 34, cadencing not in A major as expected, but F major instead. The alternation between the two very different textures indicates the other process ongoing here. The stern, emphatic statement of mm. 26-27 and into m. 28, with its rational, straightforward presentation in Baroque style, suggests a masculine, aggressive approach to an argument. The extreme rises and drops in sixteenth-note triplets in arpeggio-like variants on the same fragment of x that the masculine-sounding passage used, suggest an emotional, feminine response that fairly shrieks. This series of exchanges suggests a man and a woman arguing about the same subject in two different, gender-stereotypical ways. Moreover, these two are not

244 Ex. 7-3: Mvt. 1, mm. 28-35

28 (4) long rise

long drop ------

long rise ------31

long rise ------

long rise ------long rise ------fighting fair. Whenever one of them seems about to establish a new key center, the other responds in an unexpected key. The F≥-major scale in m. 31, for instance, gets a response that seems like D major, leading to the dominant of A major in m. 33; and that gets snatched up in the key of F major instead, and so on. While Brahms was composing the Clarinet Quintet he received a letter from Clara Schumann in which she said she was “continually racked with pain now in one place and now in another,” and was temporarily unable to walk. She had also sent word to Brahms in the same letter that his dear friend Elizabet von Herzogenberg was seriously ill. With the upsetting news about Elizabet’s and Clara’s ill health, Brahms clearly would have been thinking about these things while composing the Quintet. Thus the the Quintet can be heard as a serious conflict, an

245 alternation between suffering and bold resistance to illness.468 This context shows that Brahms had some sense of what illness was like, having recently experienced the trauma of his second bout with the flu. He was also sensitive to the idea of illness, recognized it when he saw it, and steered away. While he could empathize with the sick, as shown in the hallmarks of this plot point, he was unwilling to deal with illness in his own life, and this posed a conflict. His response, one that had been characteristic of him all of his adult life, was to avoid the issue or disengage from it. Failing that, he would flee. Neumayr says, “The instinct of the master opted for the way of personal self-denial and the cheerless existence of a ‘loner.’”469 Colin Lawson’s analysis designates the material from m. 25 to m. 36 as a transition between the first and second subjects. Lawson writes,

The transition acts as far more than a bridge passage, since it provides an important contrast of character with both main themes, whilst at the same time modulating to the relative major. Bar 25 introduces a new rhythmically dramatic element and remarkably the following bars relate closely to both subjects, circling in bars 26 and 27 around the notes from bar 1, while introducing quaver movement with anacrusis (albeit staccato) which will feature within the second subject. The effect here is to shift forward the strings a quaver in advance of the beat until the clarinet intervenes to restore the conventional accent.470

Even though Lawson is discussing the same measures as this study’s plot point 4, although his description of events is much different than the one narrated above, his point about the rhythm is worth noting. Within the illness narrative’s structure, the transition, plot point 3, has already taken place (mm. 22-24) before the modulatory transition in the musical form. Plot point 4 (mm. 25- 36) is the rapid descent into illness. As such, this music elucidates the nature of the suffering

468 The next summer at Bad Ischl (1892) brought news that Brahms’s sister, Elise, had died. This was deeply painful to him. Elizabet von Herzogenberg had passed away that January. These deaths would mark the beginning of a long series of losses: Billroth on 6 February 1894, and Hans von Bülow six days after that. 469 Neumayr2, 402. Neumayr calls “compulsion to flee” “the true mystery” of Johannes Brahms (401).

470 Lawson, 51.

246 and reflects the sufferer’s experience of this sudden crisis. The analysis is therefore different, and it yields different results. In Lawson’s overview mm. 25-36 function as a harmonic transition, and the effect is one of rhythmic shift; but here, these measures reveal that an all-out battle of wills, or an internal conflict of instincts that are diametrically opposed, is at the root of the suffering. A sudden shout announces the onset of the argument, in which expressive styles are also at issue, and rhythm is but one element of the two competing styles. The range of the rapidly ascending and decending scales and arpeggios represents the highly emotional side of the conflict; in m. 28 the cello begins on E≥, and the clarinet takes the ascending line to g2 before settling on f≥2. In m. 34 the cello begins on F and the clarinet takes the line up to c≤3 before settling on g2. With the clarinet in its clarino range, these dramatic ascents sound like shrieks of rage. At the end of plot point 4 the sufferer has descended fully into the illness. Plot point 5 then follows.

Plot point 5: Episodes, complications, gains, setbacks

As before, the events of this plot point can evoke many types of illness experience in this long phase. Of interest in the Clarinet Quintet are several episodes that are described here. The tension and conflict stop temporarily, the last word for now, with a thud on the downbeat of m. 36, in the key of D major (although hardly a cadence can be heard). The beginning of plot point 5 coincides with the start of the secondary theme group, in which motive y is the building block. Silences follow the dense chord in m. 36 and are filled by the voices returning one by one in an imitative texture. Example 7-4 shows these staggered reentries and contrapuntal writing. Because plot point 5 is quite a long and varied phase, many passages attract interest for what they contribute in the way of illness-related content. After the first system of plot point 5 (Ex. 7-4), another passage commands attention for its texture, coloration, and “sinking” shapes. As has already been heard, contrasting texture has been one of the operating principles of the Allegro so far. In mm. 47-50 the clarinet is silent; underneath, the strings articulate material in a pointillistic style that suggests hesitation, pauses on strong beats, and sounds a bit like water dripping (Ex. 7-5).

247 Ex. 7-4: Mvt. 1, mm. 36-41

5 36 staggered reentries



Ex. 7-5: Mvt. 1, mm. 47-54

47 pointillistic


= mvt. II motive pedal point on G

The three-note motive that the violin and cello voice in measure 47 will become the main subject of the second movement. It is based on motive y and will constitute the Adagio’s “falling motive.” Starting in m. 48 the cello establishes a pedal point on G, while the first violin sets up a two-note slur; the cello’s pedal point is the only voice to stress the strong beats of each measure. The downward direction of the three-note motive combines with the slurs to produce a sinking effect while the second violin and viola move in contrary motion. When the clarinet returns at the end of m. 51, its elongated wave shape tends to mediate between the pairs of instruments.

248 Then, at m. 58, ∫ accents off the beat combine with each voice’s distinct rhythmic pattern to produce tension (Ex. 7-6).

Ex. 7-6: Mvt. 1, mm. 55-59

y 55 wave form

D: V accented weak beats, tension

Through m. 61 the instruments compete in the same manner. From there on until the double bar at the end of m. 70 the dynamic level softens to π and ø while each part settles into its own repetitive pattern, lending a busy, percussive sound. The lone lyrical voice belongs to the clarinet, beginning with the pickup to m. 67. Motive x in the last two bars of the exposition lead back to the same figure in m. 5 (Ex. 7-7). This starts the sufferer’s first review of the events from the beginning, through the transition, and into the eruption of the stressful, heated conflict of plot point 4 and beyond. In the next section of plot point 5 (which conventional analysis would call the development section) each motive from the first six measures of the composition (x, y, and z) is treated in its own turn and in combination with other ideas. Changes in instrumentation, rhythm, and register also allow for more varied treatments of these motives. Beginning in measure 87 a particularly revealing episode takes place. Each voice takes up a fragment of one of the three motives in units of three or more notes, adopting some aspect of it (shape, pattern, direction, and so forth) in a texture that weaves, tumbles, rises, and falls. The texture isolates or combines these fragments in pairs, chains, sequences, inversions, and stretto. The effect is a multi- dimensional expression of confusion and complexity, naturally identified in the present context

249 Ex. 7-7: Mvt. 1, mm. 60-70 falling

falling wave form



long drop x


static x x

static x


with those experiences that a sufferer feels in the course of an illness experience. Time seems meaningless, as the fragments appear at any point in the measure, on weak beats or strong, straddling the barlines, obscuring the meter, and resisting any musical means to impose order. Example 7-8 shows part of this passage.

250 Ex. 7-8: Mvt. 1, mm. 88-95


waves tumbling


long fall

A four-voice arpeggio (z) in m. 96 reprises the feminine side of the conflict from plot point 4. Enharmonic respelling (C≥ to D≤) leads to the next episode of plot point 5. Each scene presented so far has evoked the illness experience in all of its variety and contrast. These episodes behave almost like little studies of what can transpire as perceived by the sufferer. Marked Quasi sostenuto, the next episode features a two-part texture in which the clarinet and first violin voice a long lyrical idea that incorporates a characteristic skip of a perfect fourth to round out each phrase. It is based on the masculine voice of the argument. The episode begins with the clarinet at the bottom-most point of its range, deep in the smoky chalumeau range of its voice, and the first violin remains in its mid-range. In the remainder of the phrase the clarinet returns to its upper range. During this statement the rest of the strings establish a light chordal accompaniment in five or six parts; it sounds rather like a heartbeat. The representation is thus of a stable patient in a relatively calm, quiet moment. He is capable of lucid thinking, although

251 his thoughts are dark (as indicated by the D≤ tonality, one of the keys that MacDonald called “extreme” and “very dark,” as noted in the earlier discussion of the Schubert Sonata). Perhaps this is a night scene, or the patient is dreaming fairly peacefully for a time. Example 7-9 shows the beginning of this episode.

Ex. 7-9: Mvt. 1, mm. 96-107

cf. fem. argument homophonic

low cf. masc. argument

enharmonic: D≤ P4th P4th


enharmonic: A

Three measures of imitative dialogue between the clarinet and first violins take place as the episode continues. The harmony becomes modulatory in m. 114, going from F major to D/d through C/c. The feminine arguer interjects three downward arpeggios in mm. 114 and 117, the first of which is the only loud articulation in the entire episode (Ex. 7-10).

252 Ex. 7-10: Mvt. 1, mm. 108-18


P4th P4th

fem. argument fem. argument

F maj C maj D/d

The rising arpeggios that ushered in this episode have now turned downward, framing the scene. These reminders from the argument of plot point 4 continue to disturb the music’s texture, rhythm, dynamics, and tonality. They permitted the masculine side to recast its case in lyrical terms, but they intrude just as that voice seems ready to let the matter drop. Whenever these feminine rejoinders have spoken out they have hijacked the harmony to a new key through respelling or supplanting the tonic with a new one (as seen in the above examples). In the two measures that follow, the downward-driving arpeggios do the same, relegating the cello’s tonic of D to the mediant position in the key of B≤ major (m. 119), and right away again to F≥ major (by respelling B≤ as A≥ and establishing a new tonic of F≥ a major third below). We have seen the same procedure in Schubert’s Sonata. The F≥ then becomes the dominant of another new tonic, B minor. All of this comes to usher in what Lawson calls the “retransition,” which is “a chromatic working of the cirling motif in clarinet and cello within and under a

253 dominant pedal.”471 In the present study, however, the passage functions as an indicator that the source of the trouble is never out of the sufferer’s mind; it persists even in quieter phases. Example 7-11 shows five measures of this process.

Ex. 7-11: Mvt. 1, mm. 119-23


fem. argument fem. argument ( x )

( x ) ( x ) ( x ) ( x )

B≤ F≥ = V/b

In conventional analysis the recapitulation unfolds from m. 136 forward. Its purpose is to restate all of the sonata-form movement’s expository material in the tonic. Because the Clarinet Quintet is an illness narrative and thus follows narrative form, the function of mm. 136ff is more significant than simple restatement in the tonic. This section represents an important part of plot point 5 in which the sufferer will start to replay in his mind the events that would have occurred so far, leading to the present situation. Sufferers often omit important details, either because they cannot remember events or they were never aware of them in the first place. As sufferers seek to understand what has happened to them, they magnify some details and minimize others; they also have difficulty in ordering events, misjudging their duration, for example. Thus the story is not, and cannot be, the same. It is an altered view of reality, colored by the illness itself as well as the effects of illness on the sufferer. Colin Lawson’s summary of the Allegro’s recapitulation mentions discrepancies but does not examine their significance:

471 Lawson, 53.

254 The arrival of the recapitulation is instantly recognisable from bars 136-7, which however lead immediately to a rescoring of bars 14ff. Neither the harmonic ambiguity nor the wide-ranging clarinet utterance of bars 5ff needs to be recalled at this stage in the movement. The transition is also contracted and now modulates (with less prominence for the clarinet) to G major for the second subject at bar 157. Bars 36 to 66 undergo felicitous rescoring as bars 157 to 187. . . The downward shift from D to C major at bar 48 finds a parallel in the move from G to F at bar 169, the melody now scored at once for the clarinet. . .472

This description does not account for the reasons behind such alterations except to say, in effect, “that is not necessary now,” or that the rescoring of a passage is “felicitous.” This runs the risk of implying that Brahms was choosing these musical details at random rather than by design. By understanding these to represent the imperfect recollections of the sufferer, however, the analyst is able to account for the changes. Further, the process of trying to piece together the events that led to the serious situation at hand can be painful and frustrating in its own right. To illustrate the difference in perspective, one may take a case that occurs in mm. 192-99. Lawson states,

The final four bars (67-70) of the exposition are not recalled but are replaced at bars 188ff by a thematically related but agitated passage of orchestral intensity, characterised by measured string tremolos. At the climax of this (bars 195-6) the circling motif of bars 1 and 2 is fully harmonised with seventh chords . . .473

Example 7-12 shows the first half of this passage.

472 Ibid., 53-54.

473 Ibid., 54.

255 Ex. 7-12: Mvt. 1, mm. 192-95

x cf argument, PP4 long rise

long rise

wave form long rise

wave form long rise

long rise

A narrative analysis would account for these measures differently. For example, the process of linking motives (wave form + long rise +x) should observe that the downward direction of the first half of the wave form is a recollection of the conflict from plot point 4. The upward rise that forms the second half of the wave combines with a variant of z (that would come to represent the feminine side of the contest in plot point 4); the result is a recollection that combines the “symptoms” of the trouble in such a way that the stress of remembering escalates along with the pitch and dynamic levels. The tremolos in the strings further magnify the stress. Continuing his summary, Lawson writes,

. . . [the circling motif of bars 1 and 2 is fully harmonised with seventh chords,] followed by two bars of downward clarinet roulades (inverting bar 28) and the subject from bar 3 in the first violin over a tonic pedal of b.474

Example 7-13 is the corresponding passage in the Quintet. Analysis of this passage in the context of illness narrative would make special note that all three building-block motives are present (x, y, and an inverted z), and further, that z has become symbolic of the female arguer of the crisis in plot point 4. Here, that idea drives downward four times in a row, indicating its persistence in the sufferer’s psyche.

474 Ibid.

256 Ex. 7-13: Mvt. 1, mm. 196-99

x z inverted fem. argument, PP4


The tremolos still reinforce the stress of the experience. Finally, one can observe that in all five instrumental parts the passage is a descending sequence. In this downward trend one can perceive “sinking,” further indication that the sufferer is still in a decline, physically and emotionally. The tension is literally bringing him down. Of the remaining measures in the Allegro Lawson mentions affect, but that aspect of the ending is subordinate to its form within a sonata-allegro movement:

A B minor melodic arpeggio through the strings leads in bars 207- 10 to a final reminiscence of bars 1-4 (minus syncopation in viola and cello), leaving the clarinet to lead a final eight bars of subdued resignation. The transference of the half-bar dissonance in bars 3 and 4 to the main beat of bars 212 and 214 adds an extra poignancy, as does the scoring of the very end, where a solo clarinet cadence is followed by two quietly sober tonic chords, where the clarinet takes the fifth, sounding f≥.475

A narrative analysis can proceed from Lawson’s assessment, which does point toward some content typical of plot point 5 (reminiscence, subdued resignation, extra poignancy), to support an illness-specific reading of this section. Example 7-14 shows the last two systems of the movement.

475 Ibid.

257 Ex. 7-14: Mvt. 1, mm. 204-18

------cf plot point 4 ------

z x x



y y

y y

y y

silence silence silence

In the Quintet each instrument shares the responsibility for articulating content, and voices sometimes act collaboratively, as they do in mm. 205-6 to carry the upward sweep of the line from bottom to top. The clarinet does not take part in the equivalent of six or more measures above. In fact, there is quite a bit of silence in all five instrument parts in the last ten measures, but the clarinet’s participation as “primus inter pares”476 is about to change. For now, bearing in mind that the sufferer has just been reliving past events and trying to reconstruct them, the listener can understand that psychic and emotional pain has been an important consequence. Remembering is painful; the clarinet’s natural tone colors are perfectly suited to express this pain, and silence is necessary to the process. As Brahms’s close contemporary Emily Dickinson wrote,

476 Lawson’s phrase, 47.

258 Pain — has an Element of Blank — It cannot recollect When it begun — or if there were A time when it was not —

It has no Future — but itself — It’s Infinite contain It’s Past — enlightened to perceive New Periods — of Pain.477

Regarded from a conventional point of view, m. 218 concludes the first unit in a four- movement work. In narrative analysis, however, all of the musical material from m. 36 in movement 1 to m. 164 in movement 4 belongs to plot point 5, the function of which is to focus on a variety of experiences a sufferer describes in this phase. For this reason external divisions in the work do not articulate when or how this variety is achieved; that is to say, differences of opinion about where the coda actually begins, for instance, are relatively trivial for the illness narrative.478 Likewise, there is no real value in believing, for example, that a recapitulation is “false” if one part of it does not repeat in the tonic. As we have seen before, musical form is subservient to the requirements of narrative form. For this reason, the present investigation will continue to analyze movements 2 and 3 as a collection of episodes, complications, gains, and setbacks within plot point 5.

Movement 2: Adagio The opening idea of the Adagio resembles motive y of the opening Allegro. Its initial context in D major/b minor in 6/8 meter has changed to B major in 3/4 meter (Ex. 7-15a & b).

477 Emily Dickinson, Poem 650, ms. H 52b, packet 11, 1862. Publ. in Poems (1890), 33, titled “The Mystery of Pain.” In Emily Dickinson, The Poems of Emily Dickinson, Including variant readings critically compared with all known manuscripts, ed. by Thomas J. Johnson, 2. vols. (London: Belknap Press/Harvard University, 1979), 501-2. Change: (l. 4) “Day — ” for “time”; alterations: (l. 3) “began” for “begun” and (l. 6) “infinite realms contain” for “Infinite contain”. 478 Lawson commented, “The continuity of Brahms’s music here has divided analytical opinion as to the start of the coda. The final four bars (67-70) of the exposition are not recalled but are replaced at bars 188ff by a thematically related but agitated passage of orchestral intensity . . .” (54).

259 Ex. 7-15a: Mvt. 1, mm. 3-4 Ex. 15-b: Mvt. 2, mm. 1-2

3 y y

1. Violine Klarinette in A

2. Violine 1. Violine

In its new role as the principal theme of the Quartet’s second movement the thematic idea still retains its former identity as “the falling motive.” It has imported meaning going forward, including its role in the closing ten measures of the first movement, where it was the only motive present, as shown above in Example 7-14. Its treatment there led Daniel Gregory Mason to write,

The hollow tones of the clarinet, all alone, sound a pronouncement of doom. Almost unbelievable is the tragedy concentrated in those two unaccompanied notes. As they die away, two grave minor chords write finis.479

In his next sentence Mason states, “It may seem strange to call a movement as sad as the Adagio a relief . . . after the stoicism, sometimes passionate and despairing, of the Allegro.”480 Eduard Hanslick observed in 1891 that the Allegro “sink[s] into the depths for a pianissimo close.” The natural inclination is to compare the ending of the first movement and the beginning of the second. In the illness narrative, however, the content of plot point 5 turns to a different episode in the experience of illness. Melvin Berger comments, “The slow movement theme, in the clarinet, is a love song, serene and dreamlike in character. The viola countermelody, though, has tendrils reaching back to the previous movement. It comes from . . . the quartet’s opening rapid- note figure,”481 or motive x. The strings are muted throughout. A fascinating situation obtains in the rhythmic structure of the first five measures and beyond. The clarinet proceeds with a regular pulse of three quarter notes per measure. Below it,

479 Mason, 239.

480 Ibid.

481 Berger, 111.

260 the first violin imitates the clarinet one and a half beats behind it, such that the violin’s part could as well have been notated in 6/8 meter. A syncopated staggering between the lines results because of ties across the barline. In the second violin, the three beats are divided into a quarter note, a triplet, and two eighth notes, with the third note of the triplet tied to the first eighth note of the third beat. The viola proceeds along those same lines but varies the order of components; the triplet precedes two duplets, but the third note of the triplet is tied to the first eighth note of the first duplet, and the second note of the first duplet is tied to the first eighth note of the second duplet. The cello has its own mix of pulses. When the three instruments combine, the result is that each voice has a triplet on a different beat in the measure. According to Lawson, the result is that “the lower three voices diminish the feeling of regular pulse and contribute to a homogenous rhythmic flow.”482 This syncopated arrangement is easier to see than to hear, especially given the mostly stepwise (hence essentially level) motion back and forth between neighbor tones (Ex. 7-16). The example below shows what Lawson calls “immediate harmonic interest, the first violin coloring the very first bar of B major with the flattened sixth, which forms the basis of the chord of the seventh at the climax in bar 5.”483 Examining the first ten measures of the Adagio yields a view of the musical structure that is anything but homogenous, however; instead it reveals a construction that is intricate and precise. This background, the “underneath part,” is in constant flux. In illness narrative, what seems simple on the surface turns out to be quite complicated like looking at the condition of a patient who appears to be well but whose vital signs indicate distress. Toward the close of the first episode the lower strings change in their shape. The second violin now proceeds in octave duplets; the viola moves in triplets by fourths and fifths; and the cello moves in triplets mostly in contrary motion to the viola. At m. 36 the first violin has a sparsely-accompanied solo that leads into a key change to B minor by lowering the viola’s d≥ to d (m. 41) just before a double bar. The clarinet has an improvisatory-sounding solo based on x + z from the first movement. The strings continue the the clarinet’s held notes to complete the

482 Lawson, 55.

483 Ibid.

261 three-note motive from m. 1, and they eventually state it once just before the double bar at the end of m. 51.

Ex. 7-16: Mvt. 2, mm. 1-11

From a purely visual perspective, the placement of the clarinet’s soloistic writing between a set of double bars is significant (Ex. 7-17 shows this passage). It is as though the display of emotion must be isolated from the rest of the music around it, kept walled off. This relates to Brahms’s attitude toward passion and illness. He believed,

Passions are not something innate in mankind. They are always exceptions or exaggerations. The ideal and the genuine man is calm both in his joy and in his sorrow. Where they go too far with someone, that person must consider himself sick and care for his

262 life and his health with medications.484

This quotation also illustrates the composer’s attitude toward illness, in that the sufferer must retreat and heal himself—alone. Perhaps it also explains something of Brahms’s “compulsion to flee.” In any case, here we have an example from the composer’s own correspondence that links passion and illness.

Ex. 7-17: Mvt. 2, mm. 37-51 x z x

(B): b x z long fall ------z


y2 y2 y2

Lawson calls the passage (mm. 42-51) in the above example “a ten-bar link passage which serves to introduce the drama of the middle section.”485 Proceeding from there, the analysis can consider how the music can be heard to represent the experience of an ill patient. Recalling Berger’s comment that the Adagio has a “dreamlike” character assists the interpreter here, considering the soft dynamic level and soloistic texture.

484 Cited in Swafford, xiv-xv; also Neumayr2, 401. The quotation above is a combination of both men’s version. 485 Lawson, 55.

263 A person in the depths of illness has much difficulty distinguishing between dreaming and waking. Sufferers often believe that they have merely dreamed something that has actually happened, or the reverse, they have believed that a dream event was real. Also common is the experience of having two different dreams in the same sleep period. Given the extreme contrast between the first section of the Adagio and the middle section, however, the approach via illness narrative would be to consider mm. 1-51 the dream event that winds down in its last ten measures, and mm. 52-86 as a period of waking while still in a dreamy state.486 This middle section of the Adagio has what Lawson calls “a high emotional voltage” and “reflects Brahms’s experience of Hungarian gypsy bands.”487 This is a little misleading, however, because the episode is the sufferer’s experience, and not an autobiographical depiction of Brahms’s own waking experience of Gypsy fiddling. Example 7-18a shows the agitation in the first two measures of the Più lento section, and Example 7-18b shows its escalation in m. 58. Figures x and z are prominent in both examples, as is the movement’s opening idea, now called y2.

Ex. 7-18a: Mvt. 2, mm. 52-3

486 Anyone who has spent time in the hospital setting knows how irritating sleep disturbances can be—that is to say, caretakers are constantly waking the patient for one reason or another, and this wreaks havoc with the sufferer’s perception of reality. For that matter, even healthy people can find sleep interruptions highly annoying.

487 Ibid., 56.

264 Ex. 7-18b: Mvt. 2, m. 58

Brahms employs a number of stylistic devices in the measures leading up to what Lawson calls the “climax at bar 70.”488 This climax is understood to be the point at which the sufferer is most alert, agitated, or anxious. Among the devices are intensification through reiteration, sequence, and imitation; syncopation, tremolo, and dotted rhythms; trills, grace notes, and other ornamentation, including florid elaboration; extremes of dynamics and range; and sinking harmonic foundation (B-A-G-F≥-E from mm. 64-67) before cadencing in B minor on the downbeat in m. 68. Upon arriving there, the harmony sinks once again in retrograde motion (Ex. 7-19). The downward cycle of fifths indicates a kind of pressure valve by which the ill person releases pent-up anxiety after the overload (“frenzy”) that the stylistic devices have produced. A passage from Virginia Woolf’s “On Being Ill” is representative of just such a situation. She describes a string of colorful visitors to her sickroom:

C. L. for example, who, sitting by the stale sickroom fire, builds up, with touches at once sober and imaginative, the nursery fender, the loaf, the lamp, barrel organs in the street, and all the simple old wives’ tales of pinafores and escapades; A. R., the rash, the magnanimous, who, if you fancied a giant tortoise to solace you or a theorbo to cheer you, would ransack the markets of London and procure them somehow, wrapped in paper, before the end of the day; the frivolous K. T., who, dressed in silks and feathers, powdered and painted (which takes time too) as if for a banquet of

488 Lawson, 57.

265 Kings and Queens, spends her whole brightness in the gloom of the sickroom, and makes the medicine bottles ring and the flames shoot up with her gossip and her mimicry. But such follies have had their day; civilisation points to a different goal; and then what place will there be for the tortoise and the theorbo?489

Ex. 7-19: Mvt. 2, mm. 66-68

Retrograde motion continues in m. 69, but the intensity of the pace in the cello line has been growing since the first beat of m. 66, a half note. Each increment of the measure in the cello part from there on is subdivided into progressively shorter note values („ - Ó - ŒŒ - rr tttt yyyy gggg ) until the entirety of m. 69 consists of 8 groups of 8 sixty-fourth notes. The

489 Virginia Woolf, “On Being Ill,” in The Moment and Other Essays (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1948), 13. Orig. publ. 1930. The content is evocative of the overload, and so is the labyrinthine sentence structure. The sentence itself actually begins 45 words before the quotation above starts

266 viola and second violin now move at the regular harmonic rhythm of eighth notes, except that their metrical division is notated as sixty-fourth-note tremolos. Lawson describes “the lower parts, notably the cello” as “frenzied.”490 Too much is going on for the patient, who has increasing difficulty in processing the stimuli of the situation. The clarinet and first violin have an imitative duet that proceeds mainly in eighth notes (Ex. 7-20).

Ex. 7-20: Mvt. 2, m. 69

imitation imitation

G: I C: I F: I C: V - retrograde motion F: V -

In m. 70 the dynamic level increases to ∂ and the clarinet takes the melodic line into the top range of the instrument. The strings begin to relax their hyperactivity (as is evident just by looking at the amount of space it takes up on the printed page, compared to m. 69); note values lengthen steadily as the lines drop in pitch, and the clarinet phrase ends on the downbeat of m. 72. At that point the first violin embellishes quietly on that final note with arabesques. A last flourish in the cello (basically x + descending z) leads to the double bar and a change of meter to ~. (Ex. 7-21). This episode of the illness experience is winding down.

490 Lawson, 57.

267 Ex. 7-21: Mvt. 2, mm. 70-73

This Più lento section of the Adagio is the most vivid episode in all of plot point 5, if not the entire narrative. Certain of its characteristics work against interpreting this episode as a dream, however. In its range of stylistic devices it is extravagant, and its range of emotional expression is broad. In these measures the clarinet comes into its full, authentic voice in all of its registers, and its virtuosity is no longer suppressed in service to the ensemble. With its folk-like accent and expression, it is too extroverted to be a product of a sleeper’s subconscious. Rather its fantastical nature is a work of a conscious imagination. Virginia Woolf’s essay is just such a fantastical work about the invalid’s imaginings:

268 The public would say that a novel devoted to influenza lacked plot; they would complain that there was no love in it—wrongly however, for illness often takes on the disguise of love, and plays the same odd tricks. It invests certain faces with divinity, sets us to wait, hour after hour, with pricked ears for the creaking of a stair, and wreathes the faces of the absent (plain enough in health, Heaven knows) with a new significance, while the mind concocts a thousand legends and romances about them for which it has neither time nor taste in health.491

As matters of interpretation go, the writers cited herein are not far off the mark. The Più lento is what Berger calls “a wild, Hungarian-style improvisation for the clarinet, in which the muted strings are relegated to supplying a cimbalomlike accompaniment and sadly echoing the clarinet’s impassioned flights of fancy.”492 Ivor Keys remarks that “the clarinet plays a disciplined Hungarian rhapsody using, for Brahms, a wide range of compass.”493 Daniel Gregory Mason comments,

Its florid clarinet phrases . . . stripped of their ornamentation read B, G, F-sharp, and D, B, A. In treatment this section is as rhapsodic as the first is concise and spare. Its modulations become more and more colorful; its figurations grow ever faster, fuller, and more furious; towards its end, leaps from one extreme to the other of the register of the clarinet suggest an almost mad frenzy of improvisation.”494

Mason’s observations support an interpretation of the Più lento as work of the waking sufferer jolted out of a dream; this sufferer’s imaginings still contain the skeleton of the dream from the opening measures of the movement, but now the conscious patient is free, in Woolf’s words, to “concoct a thousand legends and romances” on the dream’s idea. Hanslick, the one reviewer quoted here who attended a performance in 1891, calls this music “new and unusual. . . . As if improvising, it traverses the entire span of its range in freely

491 Woolf, 10-11.

492 Berger, 111.

493 Keys, 227.

494 Mason, 239, 241.

269 roving passage-work. The emancipation of the instrument from regular rhythmic patterns, like its sobbing and lamentation, derive from the gypsy style.” He also calls this section a “stream of free fantasizing.”495 Another characteristic of the Più lento is its direct communication of and to the physical senses. This quality lends itself especially well to illness narrative, in which the way a sufferer feels physically is all-important, of course. Example 7-22 shows such a passage.

Ex. 7-22: Mvt. 2, mm. 79-86

79 cf m. 52ff

wide leap


b≤: i 7 (p.t.) VI V e≤: V7 inv. 85

e≤: i e≤ = d≥ (d≥ = 3/B)

495 Hanslick, 6.

270 With modulations from b minor to b≤ minor (m. 78), then e≤ minor (m. 84), followed by an enharmonic shift from e≤ minor via d≥ (the e≤ respelled as d≥, and the g≤ respelled as f≥ in m. 87), and then to B major (by adding the b below d≥ and f≥), this passage has turned very dark in terms of its remote keys in five flats or sharps. The tremolos that begin in m. 82 also contribute to an overall impression of shivering coldness. The physical aspects that belong to this passage convey the dark coldness that a patient feels, and also communicate these physical responses in the listener. Hazlitt’s “The Sick Chamber” comments on this very idea:

. . . we are shut up and spell-bound in that, the curtains of the mind are drawn close, we cannot escape from “the body of this death,” our souls are conquered, dismayed, “cooped and Cabined in,” and thrown with the lumber of our corporeal frames in one corner of a neglected and solitary room. . . . the nerve of pleasure is killed by the pains that shoot through the head or rack the limbs: an indigestion seizes you with its leaden grasp and giant force . . . —you shiver and tremble like a leaf in a fit of the ague.496

The clarinet makes a huge dive into this deep cold in m. 83, and immediately reverses the leap back up to its high register. The remainder of the Adagio is a recapitulation of the first section of the opening 51 measures of the movement with a coda at the end. The coda begins in m. 128 and brings this series of episodes to a pianissimo close. This section from m. 87 through m. 138 indicates that the sufferer has entered another sleep cycle, and that his condition is basically the same as it was before the conscious, imaginative scene of the Più lento.

Movement 3: Andantino; Presto non assai, ma con sentimento

Writing in 1891, William Hazlitt called the opening theme of the Andantino “somewhat placid in character.” The Presto’s theme he termed “brief” and “garrulous.” He explained that while listeners might wish for “an all-the-more joyful Scherzo” in the third position, as in the

496 Hazlitt, 371-2.

271 works of Haydn and Mozart, “the later Brahms . . . prefers not to exceed a certain emotional level, and would sooner avoid than seek out harsh contrasts [between movements].” Hazlitt reasoned that this “later Brahms” wanted “to bring the four movements into closer proximity with one another through subtle transitions in mood.” Further, Hazlitt points out, “An actual Scherzo, even less a Minuet, is hardly to be encountered in Brahms’s works.”497 This approach is entirely in keeping within the context of an illness narrative. After a period that might last months or even years, the sufferer reaches a certain plateau in plot point 5 after the initial ups and downs of illness’s chronicity, and he has achieved an acceptance of the illness. Emotions tend to flatten out as time wears on. The sick person comes to perceive a sameness in events, thus “harsh contrasts” are not characteristic of plot point 5. The opening “sinking motive” of the Andantino therefore comes as no surprise in its resemblance to those of the first two movements, as Example 7-23 shows. Berger observes that first two measures of the Andantino’s clarinet line are “an augmentation made up of fragments found within the now- familiar opening phrase, the group of notes 3, 4, 5, and the group of 10, 11, 12.”498 Further, the initial ambiguity between D major and B minor in the Allegro is present in the Andantino.

Ex. 7-23: Opening “Sinking Motives” Compared

3 Allegro y y y2 y2 Klarinette 1. Violine in A y2 2. Violine 1. Violine

Daniel Gregory Mason asserts,

The Andantino is the last example in the chamber music of that

497 Hazlitt, 6.

498 Berger, 111.

272 type of light movement in which a lyric section is contrasted with a deft presto or vivace, usually with some interrelation of pace between the two, sometimes with actual thematic resemblance. In this case we find both . . . The staccato motive of the Presto non assai, with its amusing harping on D, is merely a fleet and whimsical variant of the four notes that open the Andantino in a graceful legato.499

The musical details are interesting, but the real relevance of this movement to the Quintet’s illness narrative lies in the word “light.” Not everything in illness is a serious matter, and a sufferer can have good days along with the setbacks. Especially this late in plot point 5, one might expect to encounter a humorous moment or two. Likewise, the protagonist realizes that his or her symptoms persist amid brief moments of levity. Levity in illness falls primarily into two categories, the situational (which is a narrative im itself) and the witty (which is short). Sufferers learn that they must laugh about things, otherwise they would never stop crying. Of the witty type, an example is Gilda Radner’s response to a question about where she had been. She said, “I had cancer. It’s always something . . .” Hence the title of her illness narrative, It’s Always Something. Or it’s the homey cross- stitch sampler hanging over the door to the “drip room” (where patients get their chemotherapy) that reads “I’m vain about my veins.” Of the situational type, few are funnier than one passage in Beth Finke’s illness narrative, Long Time, No See. This is one of her stories:

Routine and consistency are the keys. It's when outside influences intrude that havoc ensues. Take my first morning home with Pandora [her new guide dog]. Because I had failed to level off the dry oatmeal, it overflowed in the microwave. I shifted around while wiping it up, with Pandora's leash wrapped around my ankle, per Seeing Eye instructions for our first weeks together. I succeeded with the oatmeal preparations on my second try. Pandora guided me to Gus [her disabled son]. I carried him to his highchair and wrapped Pandora's leash around my ankle again. I needed both hands to feed Gus. (Actually I needed about four hands.) Pandora kept slinking under Gus's highchair to clean up what he'd dropped, and she had to be corrected. And so on. When it was finally my turn to eat, I punched the

499 Mason, 242.

273 button on my talking clock. It was already ten thirty. I hadn't even had my coffee yet. I found coffee filters, ground the beans, and proceeded to make the worst pot of coffee I'd ever tasted. When Mike [her husband] came home at noon, I was still in my pajamas. He didn't comment on that. He did, however, ask me why pinto beans were in the coffee grinder.500

Moments in compositions—even those that narrate the illness experience—can be funny, too. An example of this is shown in Ex.7-24.

Ex. 7-24: Mvt. 3, mm. 21-27

Until m. 23 the texture has sounded contrapuntal, each voice moving within its own fairly narrow range in eighth and quarter notes without committing to any one direction, except for the

500 Beth Finke, Long Time, No See (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2003), 174. Finke was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes when she was seven years old. She lost her eyesight as a result. Her son was born with multiple disabilities as a result of a rare chromosomal disorder.

274 occasional arpeggio rising in sixteenth notes. Then in m. 23 the upward arpeggios start in a lower voice and carry up another octave in a higher voice, while the lower strings establish ostinato patterns and pedal tones—on D. This clear differentiation of texture establishes that even a rather plain moment can be punctuated by a patient’s desire to climb out of the static situation, or make a joke at his own expense. These arpeggios sound like ripples in the water,501 and this contrasts with the seeming rigidity of the accompanying instruments. In their range and direction the ripples recall events of plot point 4, hence they imply that symptoms of the illness persist. Combined with the accompanying ostinato patterns and pedal point (on D), the rising arpeggios represent a stubborn condition. A five-measure transformation of the opening phrase closes the Andantino. Each instrument resumes its presentation in mostly conjunct motion. The narrow confines of each line, combined with a syncopation produced from ties across the barline, results in a strange twitching, ø (Ex. 7-25). The soft dynamic level with which the Andantino concludes is characteristic of all endings in the Quintet, and it is a characteristic that contributes to an overall sense of sinking, depression, and, at times, resignation. At the double bar the meter changes to 2/4, and the tempo will accelerate to presto.

Ex. 7-25: Mvt. 3 mm. 28-33




pedal tone

The material in the Presto section of the third movement is organized into a miniature

501 Water imagery is ubiquitous in illess narratives.

275 sonata form, according to Lawson. As we have already seen in previous movements and compositions in the present study, the understanding of individual movement forms in contrast to the form of the cyclic work as a whole calls for a shift in perception as part of a phase in illness narrative, because in essence everything from the beginning of plot point 2 through the end of plot point 8 is “development” of initial symptoms into full-blown chronic illness. This is especially evident in the Clarinet Quintet, as each movement or major division begins with a variation or transformation of the x, y, and z motives as presented in the Allegro’s first six measures. This is part of Brahms’s plan for achieving the “unified character” of the four movements, as Hazlitt pointed out. The Presto begins as shown in Example 7-26.

Ex. 7-26: Mvt. 3, mm. 34-40

The Presto non assai represents the initial hopeful signs of recovery. The music exhibits more energy than we have seen in plot point 5 so far, but the expression is still “very soft,” and the voice parts continue to operate within narrow confines. Signs of progress are therefore tentative steps. With the clarinet’s entry in m. 43, the texture begins to change as it articulates arpeggios, down and then up, several times in succession. These also come as larger, longer ripples; they recall the feminine side of the conflict from plot point 4. The texture changes again in m. 54 as the clarinet takes up a second theme accompanied by pizzicato strings. Their plucking, which sounds like the dripping heard before at the very beginning of plot point 5 (Ex. 7-5), reinforces the watery effect of the ripples. In fact, the plucking outlines the same downward arpeggio shapes, in quarter notes instead of sixteenth notes. Example 7-27 shows this section of the Presto.

276 Ex. 7-27: Mvt. 3, mm. 41-59


This little sonata form proceeds through its “development” and “recapitulation” sections, and adds a coda to the end that is almost exactly like the one at the end of the Andantino— except that it goes by twice as quickly. Once again, the dynamic level at the end is ø. The same analogies that applied to illness-related content in the first 75 measures of the Presto still apply in the “recapitulation” (mm. 122-161). To summarize, the sufferer has recalled moments of the initial trauma (arpeggios and ripples, motive z), but he has also exhibited signs of increased

277 energy, however tentative these first steps toward recovery are. Overall, the music lends a sense of “busy-ness” that was not present before. The sufferer is aware of the outdoors for the first time, as the “dripping” and ripples indicate, and that is always the first truly positive sign in an illness narrative that a patient is on the road to recovery.

Movement 4, Con moto The finale takes the form of a theme and five double variations with a coda. As expected, the principal theme is a variant of the opening material in the Allegro, and it has a stepwise descending tendency like all of the other “sinking” motives that lead off each movement. Brahms was, of course, a master of variation technique, as he demonstrated in the finale of the Symphony no. 4. These variations, according to Lawson, “are of a more traditional, decorative type,” and “the movement’s substance derives from the individuality of the variations within a unified whole and from the gradually pervading influence of the first movement.”502 He provides a “formal plan of the theme” as follows:

A A1 C B A2 B where both A and B each consist of eight bars.503

1 9 17 25 32

The regular periodicity of the theme is an encouraging sign that the sufferer is on a fairly even keel. Although the ambiguity between D major and B minor is still present in the finale, the Con moto begins in B minor and mostly stays there.504 This is further indication of stability, but the downward trend, minor mode, and ≤VI continue to show sinking and depression. Daniel Gregory Mason identifies “adaptation of cyclism,” or “the return at the end of the work to the theme with which it opened,” as an important factor contributing to the finale’s impression of sadness. He writes,

502 Lawson, 62. The clarinet does not enter as a fully participating member of the ensemble until m. 25, except to echo the first four notes of the theme at mid- and end-phrase.

503 Ibid. I have supplied the measure numbers below the diagram.

504 Wallace Berry’s close thematic and harmonic analysis of the first 32 measures of the Quintet shows a brief modulation to D major and a longer one to G major before a return to B minor. Form in Music, 2nd ed. (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1966).

278 In the quartet the effect has much charm, if no great profundity. . . . Here, owing perhaps quite as much to the innocent naïveté of the finale theme proper and of its variations as to the profound sadness of the chief subject, it is overwhelmingly tragic in effect.505

Variation 1 (mm. 33-64) is a cello solo whose style seems to derive from a Bach partita. Its pulse is a steady and sure, at four eighth notes per measure, and the line that the cello articulates “outlines traces of the theme bass and melody and represents the harmony.”506 The clarinet and violins provide a measure of commentary at mid- and end-phrase; their participation is lovely and appropriately timed, so the listener can infer nothing untoward about the patient’s condition, Mason’s interpretation notwithstanding. The dynamic level is a strong ƒ, for a change, although the second section of the variation is a more subdued π for a time before the crescendo back to ƒ. The pointillistic texture of the accompaniment that occurred early in plot point 5 (Ex. 7- 5) returns in this variation, again suggesting dripping water. This further indicates that the patient is recovered enough to notice rain, perhaps, and to reconnect with the world outside the sick chamber. Hazlitt remarks on this idea.

It is curious, on coming out of a sick room, where one has been pent some time, and grown weak and nervous, and looking at Nature for the first time . . . It is not till we have established ourselves in form in the sitting-room, wheeled round the arm-chair to the fire (for this makes part of our re-introduction to the ordinary modes of being in all seasons,) felt our appetite return, and taken up a book, that we can be considered as at all restored, to ourselves. And even then our first sensations are rather empirical than positive; as after sleep we stretch out our hands to know whether we are awake.507

Even the “two-note anacrusis motive” in the viola part “has a vital animating function,” in

505 Mason, 243.

506 Berry, 313.

507 Hazlitt, 374-75.

279 Berry’s analysis.508 Beginning in the Presto of Movement III, energy was returning for the sufferer. Most signs indicated that the formerly miserable individual was taking a turn for the better, and now, in the finale and through the first variation, we have no reason to believe that recuperation will not continue. It is therefore with shock that the recuperant experiences a major setback, plunging into plot point 6: rock bottom.

Plot point 6: Rock bottom, low point, despair With the arrival of Variation 2 in m. 65, trouble and stress of all kinds descend upon the sufferer. The first violin carries the thematic content, which is characterized by an accented grace note (∫), until m. 73, when the viola takes it up. The syncopated accompaniment in the first half of the statement consists of a syncopated, insistent rhythm in the second violin and viola, while the clarinet and cello take turns voicing the upward- and downward-driving arpeggiated figures that have indicated so much strife in previous movements.509 Too many stylistic elements compete in this variation. It becomes a hectic scene that Berry describes as follows:

There is important rhythmic change in variation 2, with syncopation in the accompanying inner parts, part of it created by dynamic accents [the grace notes]. . . . The music is more dramatic than the preceding as a result of these rhythmic qualities and the potently directed falling or surging motive in clarinet and cello. Melodically, the variation presents essentially new lines built on the theme’s form and harmony. Momentum is developed and intensified . . . by syncopations, the rising and falling motives, and the unbroken 16th-note articulations. Variation 2 is harmonically fixed, despite minor changes—largely in intensified dissonance.510

508 Berry, 313.

509 Lawson details the references as follows: “This intense variation contains some important reminiscences of earlier movements. For example, continuous syncopation in the accompaniment recalls bar 3 of the opening movement, while the dotted figure introduced in bar 69 is related to the second beat of the Presto non assai. In this variation harmonies are more dissonant, the second and fourth bars (66 and 68) becoming diminished sevenths and bar 76 containing an especially expressive ninth. Ascending and descending arpeggios throughout the ensemble recall the passage from bar 43 in the Presto” (63). 510 Berry, 314.

280 This Quintet has not featured much dissonance except in plot point 4, so the concentration of discord here is a big change—especially given what commentators have called the simplicity and gentleness of the finale’s main theme (Mason, as previously noted, called it innocently naïve). Diminished seventh harmonies characterize every other measure from the beginning of the variation. The finale’s theme and its harmonization are barely present here. A fermata over the double bar at the end of Variation 2 provides an opportunity to let the damage sink in, so to speak. Variation 3 (mm. 97-128) represents some degree of improvement following the intense trouble and odd accents of the previous variation. Berry says that “the urgency . . . is subdued,” but that “impellent anacrusis rhythms both in the 16th-note motives and in the figuration of the accompaniment” remain.511 On the positive side, which would indicate improvement in the sufferer’s condition, Berry observes,

The fidelity of the bass line should again be noted. The device of melodic ornamentation is apparent . . . in the first violin part. It is not unusual that the middle variation should thus recall the theme melody, as does the final one. Moreover, the harmony of variation 3 is especially close to that of the theme.512

One new sign of trouble, however, is the appearance of the wide leaps in the first violin’s line in mm. 102 and 104. There the violin drops from d2 to g and jumps back up to b2; in m. 104 the line drops from g2 to c≥1. Wide skips of an octave or more appear later in the violin (m. 110) and cello lines (mm. 118-120). Another still unwelcome characteristic of the second half of the variation is the presence of sixteenth-note wave-form arpeggios and a chromatic variant of motive x.513 One pleasant sign also occurs in the pizzicato accompaniment in the lower strings, again with their reference to dripping, although the strong beats are empty. Sufferers frequently cite a single “cause” of their relapse. They believe, with not a little

511 Ibid., 314.

512 Ibid., 315.

513 This is the same wave form previously shown in Example 7-8 where it combined with tumbling and weaving to evoke confusion and complexity early in plot point 5; this passage corresponded with the beginning of the development section of the sonata form, and its appearance contributed to obscuring the meter, hence time. It is therefore an unwelcome reminder of that phase of illness.

281 guilt, that positive signs encouraged them to do too much, too soon. This premature return to activity sends them reeling again. This might have been the actual cause, or maybe something else led to the backslide. They do learn, however, to take improvements slowly. The double bar at the end of Variation 3 signals another change, and here, too, a fermata gives pause to review the situation. Just after the double bar the key signature changes to B major, a brighter mode, and with it come hopes for a genuine recuperation.

Plot point 7: Beginning of actual recuperation Variation 4 beginning in m. 129 feature a texture in which all five voices carry a variant of what could be called “motive xy.” It contains five notes that basically come from notes 3, 4, 5, and 6 of motive x with a fifth note, a skip, added on. This motive is also a variant of the main theme of the finale, but then it comes to resemble the shape of motive y from Movement 1 more often than not, as it appears literally upside down, inside out, stretched into eighth notes, or, in the cello, augmented over three full measures. The voices interweave their respective variants softly in B major, in sequence and dialogue. The clarinet and first violin are paired, as are the second violin and viola, while the cello takes its own route. Lawson confirms that “quaver and semiquaver motion is a feature of the entire variation, with dialogue between clarinet and first violin again of primary importance.”514 Berry evaluates the variation this way:

The opening motive of the theme melody . . . is used imitatively, together with another form of the same motive, creating the first significant change in texture, complemented by the contrapuntal association of second violin and viola. In a metronomic sense, the tempo is still constant. The 16th-note motion continues but there are steadying factors: the dismissal of anacrusis rhythms and syncopations, and the increased prominence of 8th-note and dotted-quarter-note motives.515

And he elaborates, “While the harmony and bass are again in general correspondence with the theme, two significant changes might be noted.” They are:

514 Lawson, 64.

515 Berry, 315.

282 (1) the dominant pedal introduced at mm. 133-36 (affecting theme harmony only at m. 135); and

(2) the middle cadence on d≥ : V, a consequence of use of the major mode and the increased distance of D, the original relative major.516

The texture exhibits true inventiveness and growth; it achieves much variety from simple resources. This creativity combines with a pleasing expression, dolce, in a major mode to create an environment that evokes reinvigoration—of the original motives from the Allegro, and of the convalescent. With Variation 5 come more significant changes. The key signature returns to B minor, and the meter shifts to 3/8. Throughout the variation the regular eighth-note pulse that the viola and cello usually carry by themselves or with the second violin contrasts with the now-familiar figure of xz (the stepwise turn followed by a plunging arpeggio, or the reverse, motive x leading into an upward sweep), usually in the clarinet and first violin. In m. 189 the two groups exchange material for three or four measures.517 Nevertheless the pulse remains strong and stable, ƒ. Only three dotted eighth notes can be found in the entire variation, coming in the viola just prior to the repeat sign in m. 192. After the repeat the fifth variation leads directly into the coda, which begins in m. 193. Daniel Gregory Mason finds no stability here. He cites the metric shift at the beginning of Variation 5 as the basis for this pessimistic view:

With this subtle change (simultaneous with a return to minor) and with the infusion of a wistful pathos, we begin to feel something ominous in the atmosphere, a sense of change casting its shadow before it. As the bass begins its pulsing at the Poco meno mosso [m. 161], therefore, we are prepared to return to the mood of the first movement—we feel, so to speak, that the sun is set, and that we wait only for the night.518

This is not the first time that Mason’s interpretation has differed significantly from most

516 Ibid.

517 The first ending differs from the second ending in this regard.

518 Mason, 243.

283 writers’ assessment of the Quintet. Unfortunately, this is the kind of baseless program that reviewers imagine when they do not take illness as the governing agent. If every metric change from duple to triple, accompanied by a modulation to the minor mode, resulted in such a gloomy interpretation, then Mason’s analysis would apply to a good number of compositions. One explanation for the discrepancy between his view and those of others is that “a shift in critical methods led to the shift in critical evaluation,” as Newcomb stated with regard to Schumann’s second symphony.519 Another explanation is that Mason became wedded to a subjective position from the start, and he stuck with it. For example, he refers to the “pleading, crying thirds and sixths of the two opening measures” (motive x or what he calls the “circling motive”) and their “poignancy,” which he also attributes to “its uncertain hovering between D major and B minor as a lost soul might hover between earth and heaven.”520 Motive y (what he calls the “dipping motive”), he writes, is “a highly sensitive, a hauntingly beautiful” motive.521 Once Mason has invested two of the three basic motives of the Quintet with such qualities and associations, adjectives such as “tender,” “shy,” “hesitant,” “quietly impassioned,” “earnest,” “dark/darkening,” “dying,” and “ominous,” to name but a few, are sure to follow. This is just a sample of adjectives he applies to the first 55 measures of the composition; so it is no wonder that his interpretation has become so outlandish toward the end of the finale.

Plot point 8: The beginning of the end This coda also marks the beginning of plot point 8, the beginning of the end—but not the end as Mason sees it, nor does “the end” signal that the convalescent has no future. It simply means that the end phase of the narrative is ongoing. After a satisfactory return to wellness, the pretext for the illness narrative ceases to exist, and that is all it means.

Hanslick states,

This ending includes one of the most unusual features of the Quintet: gradually decelerating from a quick tempo, the Finale

519 Newcomb, 236.

520 Mason 231. This is clearly far-fetched.

521 Ibid. This is a bit more plausible.

284 concludes with precisely those elegiac, closing measures of the first movement.522

Lawson’s assessment is as follows:

The masterly coda at m. 193 is introduced by a rare ƒπ. Hereafter there is no new material, but simply an interaction between motifs from first movement and finale. References to the first movement have been prepared throughout the variations, so that the coda appears as a natural consequence of what has gone before, rather than in any sense an interpolation. . . . As this work of towering intellectual and emotional strength reaches its final conclusion, the effect is almost unbearably poignant.523

For purposes of the illness narrative, however, one would have to say “physical strength,” as that is what musical strength (or compositional strength) reflects. Recuperants who have recovered from serious illness frequently look back on their lives and their struggles in wonderment that they have survived the journey through. Writers of illness narratives must, of course, have done so (otherwise they would not be writing their narratives). Self-examination is built in to the process. That Brahms should reprise the material from the Quintet’s beginning is therefore not the least bit unusual if one views this as a normal aspect of narrating the experience of illness. He has been reminding himself (and the listener) all along the way. If the beginning of the narrative betrayed an already weary figure, that is easily explained; the protagonist had already experienced the onset of the illness, but he had not yet realized the extent of his trouble. Plot point 8 of the Quintet is important for what it says and what it does not say. For the most part its speaker finds no need to raise his voice. If whispering is fine, silence is even better. Some instruments are silent for as many as eight measures at a time; four or more are silent at the same time in mm. 197, 205-7, 209, 211-13, and 217-20. A fermata appears over the final chord. With this amount of silence in the coda, the conclusion must indicate further self- examination, in retrospect. This is a thoughtful ending, and despite its sadness over what has transpired, the message has to be construed as hope for the future.

522 Hanslick, 6.

523 Lawson, 65.

285 III. Characteristic Analogies and Themes As Chapter 3 of the present study showed, the illness narrative in literature emphasized a fairly large group of analogies and themes that characterized the genre; further, it suggested ways in which musical means could reflect them. The case studies of individual compositions revealed how each composer’s work constellated certain of these literary themes in a way that was idiomatic to that composer and that composition. In discussing the Clarinet Quintet in B minor, op. 115 by Johannes Brahms, as well as his writings and those of others, one can see that the Quintet has concentrated many themes into three basic groups, and that some themes attach themselves to more than one group. The three basic theme-groups are 1) sinking and depression; 2) speaking up or remaining silent; and 3) illness, time, and language.

Sinking and Depression The ideas of sinking and depression pervade the text of the Clarinet Quintet, from the first measure to the last. Illness narratives in literature develop these ideas constantly. One writer whose narrative reflects these symptoms is Sara Coleridge, daughter of the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. In the last months of her life Sara Coleridge (1802-1852) was still writing to a colleague in Philadelphia, Dr. Henry Reed. The two struck up a lively correspondence, and her last letter to him is dated 22 December 1851, which, ironically, would be her last birthday. In it she reports,

I am now an invalid, confined to my own room and the adjoining apartment, with little prospect of restoration, though I am not entirely hopeless. My malady, which had been threatening me ever since the summer before last, did not come into activity till a few months ago. . . . I do not suffer pain. My principal suffering is the sense of sinking and depression.524

Speaking Up or Remaining Silent According to literary scholar Katherine Meiners, Sara Coleridge “spent much of her life

524 Sara Coleridge, Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge, Edited by her daughter Edith (New York: Harper & Bros., 1874), 528. Also in Sara Coleridge and Henry Reed, ed. by Leslie Nathan Broughton (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, and London: Oxford University Press, 1937), 76. Sara Coleridge died from breast cancer on 22 May 1851.

286 thinking [and writing] about illness, her own illnesses in particular. She had been ill with eye infections, whooping cough, digestive complaints, depression, and nervous ailments long before she was discovered, at age 48, to have breast cancer. Throughout all her suffering, however, she thought about how illness affected one’s circle of friends and family.”525 In a letter dated 3 September 1851 to her sister-in-law Mary, Coleridge confides, “I fear my case is too far gone—I will not speak more of this now, dearest Sister. I do not at present express all I apprehend to Edy.”526 Brahms was like this only in the extent to which he worried about the effects of his illness on loved ones. He therefore decided to keep silent on the subject. Besides, he detested doctors and medicines. His friend Richard Heuberger advised him in July 1896 to seek medical advice.

Brahms had rarely visited a doctor in his life, though he had submitted to a dentist to have his upper teeth pulled and a plate made. He put up a brief resistance, then held his head in his hands and said to Heuberger, “I’m no hypochondriac. . . . Nobody has told me that I seem to be altered. I thank you from my heart. You know I don’t like to have anything to do with doctors, but if it’s something serious, it ought to be looked at. But it’s annoying . . . the few years one has left to live . . . and to go to the doctor!”527

Days later, after receiving a diagnosis of jaundice, he joked with friends, “I’m fit as a fiddle . . . if I’m a little yellow, it’s all the same to me!”528 Swafford remarks, “With his healthy man’s habit of seeing illness as a sort of moral failure, Brahms dubbed his condition ‘my petit-bourgeois jaundice.’”529 One who definitely did not keep silent was William Hazlitt. In his essay “The Sick Chamber,” which William Hazlitt wrote one month before he died of stomach cancer, he

525 Katherine T. Meiners, “Imagining Cancer: Sara Coleridge and the Environment of Illness,” Literature and Medicine 15/1 (1996), 48.

526 Cited in Meiners, 53. Edy is Sara’s daughter, Edith.

527 Swafford, 614.

528 Ibid., 615.

529 Ibid., 614. This quotation could just as well be part of the topics below, for its coinage.

287 discusses the related subject of his distrust of doctors and other medical care-takers. In fact, he chews them out:

. . . we summon all our patience, or give vent to passion and petty rage: nothing avails; we seem wedded to our disease . . . we think our last hour is come, or peevishly wish it were, to put an end to the scene; we ask questions as to the origin of evil and the necessity of pain; we . . . deny the use of medicine in toto, we have a full persuasion that all doctors are mad or knaves, that our object is to gain relief, and theirs (out of the perversity of human nature, or to seem wiser than we) to prevent it; we catechise the apothecary, rail at the nurse, and cannot so much as conceive the possibility that this state of things should not last for ever; we are even angry at those who would give us encouragement . . .

Illness, Time, and Language One of Hazlitt’s most insightful points concerned time, and how he, the patient, perceived it. He wrote,

I see (as I wake from a short, uneasy doze) a golden light shines through my white window-curtains on the opposite wall: is it the dawn of a new day, or the departing light of evening? I do not well know, for the opium “they have drugged my posset with” has made strange havoc with my brain, and I am uncertain whether time has stood still, or advanced, or gone backward.530

Time also has a way of distorting the way we think about things, especially when we are sick. Virginia Woolf observed,

In illness words seem to possess a mystic quality. We grasp what is beyond their surface meaning, gather instinctively this, that, and the other—a sound, a colour, here a stress, there a pause—which the poet, knowing words to be so meagre in comparison with ideas, has strewn about his page to evoke, when collected, a state of mind which neither words can express nor the reason explain.

530 Hazlitt, 373.

288 Incomprehensibility has an enormous power over us in illness, more legitimately perhaps than the upright will allow. In health meaning has encroached upon sound. Our intelligence domineers over our senses. But in illness, with the police off duty, we creep beneath some obscure poem by Mallarmé or Donne, some phrase in Latin or Greek, and the words give out their scent and distil their flavour, and then, if at last we grasp the meaning, it is all the richer for having come to us sensually first.531

In a sense, Brahms seems to have understood this after suffering his second bout with influenza. As we have seen in the Clarinet Quintet, the subtle gestures can have a large impact on the music—and on the way people interpret the music. (We can take Mason’s statements regarding the metrical shift to triple meter at the beginning of Variation 5 as an example.) In a light-hearted moment (just to show that such is possible for those who are suffering from or writing about illness), Woolf writes that the sick man is “forced to coin words himself, and, taking his pain in one hand, and a lump of pure sound in another . . . so as to crush them together that a brand new word in the end drops out.” She continues,

Probably it will be something laughable. For who of English birth can take liberties with the language? To us it is a sacred thing and therefore doomed to die, unless the Americans, whose genius is so much happier in the making of new words than in the disposition of the old, will come to our help and set the springs aflow. Yet it is not only a new language that we need . . . but a new hierarchy of the passions; love must be deposed in favour of a temperature of 104; jealousy give place to the pangs of sciatica; sleeplessness play the part of villain . . .532

Sara Coleridge’s mood was not light-hearted by any means. Meiners writes,

For friends and family she is resolute and stoic, but ultimately there is no palace and no paradise where the routines and rubrics of illness ebb. It is as though, in the difficult processes of illness and dying, Sara were not only testing the limits of Romantic

531 Woolf, 19.

532 Ibid., 11.

289 confidence but also searching out a language in which to communicate the radical incommensurability of suffering and of all versions of all discourses that would make of pain an allegory of transcendence.533

Oddly enough, one of the most charming scenes of recuperation comes from Emily Dickinson:

My first well Day—since many ill— I asked to go abroad, And take the Sunshine in my hands, And see the things in Pod—

A’blossom just when I went in To take my Chance with pain— Uncertain if myself, or He, Should prove the strongest One.

The Summer deepened, while we strove— She put some flowers away— [...] She dealt a fashion to the Nut She tied the Hoods to Seeds— She dropped bright scraps of Tint, about— And left Brazilian Threads

On every shoulder that she met— Then both her Hands of Haze Put up—to hide her parting Grace From our unfitted eyes.

My loss, by sickness—was it Loss? Or that Etherial Gain One earns by measuring the Grave— Then—measuring the Sun—534

533 Meiners, 62.

534 Dickinson, Poem 574, ca 1862, in packet 25 (H 139a). In Johnson, 437-8. All suggested changes were rejected, but two words were altered for the later edition (“illusive” became “elusive,” and “parting” became “panting”).


Romantic composers adopted the principle of plot, as found in novels and dramas, as a favorite expressive model. It reflected their interest in the struggles and triumphs of personal experience; it also engaged their interest in nature and natural processes. Some compositions came to reflect both fascinations, among them the illness narrative, which they recognized as a human drama fraught with emotion. The discipline of musicology has explored plot archetypes or narrative models that underlie musical structures, applying literary theory to the study of music. At the same time, researchers in medicine, psychology, sociology, and anthropology have focused on the phenomenology of illness and the use of narrative models to enable patients to understand and deal with illness. The present investigation brings these previously separate lines of inquiry together for the first time, with the objective of demonstrating that several important musical works employ particular narrative types and content associated with the illness narrative. Musical narratology is a relatively recent area of the discipline, although plot has long been taken for granted. The Romantic period favored instrumental works that were programmatic, partly because of the affinities between writers and composers, with the result that musical narratology has often sought to illuminate the plot of instrumental works that had obvious programmatic content. For the most part this is a straightforward process, because the composer either indicated the basis of the work with a descriptive title or provided notes (in the form of references, epigraphs, portions of text) to accompany the composition. Their intent was to help listeners “understand” the work, so they assisted in ways that they deemed appropriate. Music scholars could rely on relatively familiar approaches to illuminate the programmatic content; they compared the composition with the literary work on which it was based, for example. This approach is not necessarily available in the present cases, however, when evidence indicates that illness was the focus of a composition’s meaning, or the structure of the piece was based not on the standard narrative but rather on a special genre of narrative: the illness narrative.

291 The major difference between the illness narratives and other plot archetypes lies in their dramatic shape. Standard musical forms could accommodate the five plot phases of narrative shape, but illness narrative has nine plot phases.

Plot point 1: Actual Onset of Illness. The actual onset of illness must have occurred outside the narrative’s story space and time. The soon-to-be-sick individual is as yet unaware of her or his impending descent into illness. Physical deterioration goes unremarked until later, within the narrative. Significantly, no plot points hereafter intersect with the x-axis that represents the status quo ante; plot point 1 therefore represents the permanent point of departure, down and away from health and well-being.

Plot point 2: Beginning of Narrative Time. Because the onset of the illness has already occurred, what would be called “the beginning” in a conventional narrative does not occur in the illness narrative. Instead, plot point 2 is demoted “the beginning of narrative time,” or “first symptoms unnoticed.” Unlike the other eight plot points, which follow one path, plot point 2 has two possible scenarios. In the first, the protagonist experiences initial confusion that leads to the crisis of the illness and senses that something is wrong but does not act upon it. In the second, the protagonist appears to be going about business as before; warning signs are present and acted upon rather than ignored.

Plot point 3: The Transition Point. This stage of the narrative is usually quite short and rather static, the calm before a storm, even though time has obviously passed. The narrator is poised before the precipice of “the abyss,” and a subtle shift in tone and rhythm signals that a transition is in progress. This is a phase of few words; it is most often characterized by silence or a long pause.

Plot Point 4: Recognition, Downward Spiral, Rapid Descent Into Illness. Narrators typically dwell on shock, fear, confusion, and denial as the protagonist makes the mental and emotional leap into plot point 4. Virtually every writer conveys a sense of momentous upheaval, and this phase mentions violence, screaming, and terror. Few words exist for the

292 downward spiral of plot point 4; recognition of the immensity of the repercussions are significant markers, but the only sound associated with plot point 4 is the scream (or shriek).

Plot Point 5: Episodes, Complications, Gains, and Setbacks. Plot point 5 marks the beginning of the longest phase of the narrative, by far. From a medical standpoint, the ill person experiences episodes of improvement and setbacks, reaches plateaus of stability, and undergoes treatments that can often be characterized as trials and errors. Most often this phase consists of a series of sub-narratives organized as episodes or scenes; they involve memories, dreams, present experiences, and even thoughts of the future. Time, however, has lost meaning. The sufferer gives in to illness, mind, body, and spirit. They seek to absorb facts and details about what has brought them to this state so that they can begin to tell their own story, however imperfectly remembered.

Plot Point 6: Rock Bottom, Low Point, Despair. The nadir of the illness experience is particularly cruel, usually coming after a period of optimism and attempts on the part of the patient to get back on his feet. This is when the worst strikes, setting the sufferer many steps back. It reveals that previous signs of recuperation were false starts on the road to recovery.

Plot Point 7: Beginning of Actual Recuperation, Adjustment. This phase represents the protagonist’s struggle to climb out of the abyss of illness. The signs are tentative but encouraging, suggesting a renewal of energy. Some breakthrough takes place, and the sufferer proves to be more in control of himself, his body, and his awareness of environment. Time starts to “behave” normally again.

Plot Point 8: End of Narrative Time. Omitted or ambiguous details imply that the story is not yet over. Despite indications of renewed strength and power, signs of uncertainty remain. Virtually all writers of illness narratives imply the future at the ends of their stories; this vision is usually conservative and hesitant, taking nothing for granted. Sufferers take the chance to look back on what they have experienced, and they assess the adjustments that they have to make going forward.

293 Plot Point 9: “The New Normal.” As with plot point 1, which occurred before the narrative began, plot point 9 takes place outside the story space and time. This phase of the illness is always implied in the narrative proper. The protagonist has not returned to his or her previous state of excellent health but will have made adjustments to the “new normal.”

Without a clear delineation of this unfamiliar genre, scholars have not been well equipped to understand or explain its musical content. Further, because they lacked a model that established parameters for thematic and analogic content of this special narrative’s content, a composer’s musical choices went largely unobserved. The present investigation therefore developed a model to reflect the nine plot points of illness narrative, qualifying what happens in each phase (as above). It also developed a matrix that reflected ways in which these narrative events could be manifest in music. By presenting examples from illness narratives in literature and medicine, then applying them to music, Chapters 1-3 of the present study established a method for analysis and interpretation. Chapters 4-7 applied this method to four case-study compositions to illuminate their form and content. This process demonstrated that composers were indeed clear in their intent to convey illness as process that has a dramatic effect on the protagonist. They also clearly presented their view of illness as they experienced it as individuals. Analysis of each composer’s individual syntax of symbols, both musical and literary, showed that, like authors, composers could create a view of illness that was both personal and universal.

Beethoven, String Quartet in A minor, op. 132 (July 1825). Beethoven left no doubt that the third movement of this quartet, at least, was about the experience of illness. Interpreting the Heiliger Dankgesang as an expression of illness experience is certainly justified, based on source and biographical evidence. Typical readings do not extend far enough to embrace the entire five-movement composition within the scope of an illness narrative, however, even though Beethoven’s inscriptions in the Heiliger Dankgesang seem to require the listener to reconstruct the illness along with the protagonist, from the first sign of symptoms. Chapter 4 of the present study demonstrated that by starting in the center and working

294 outward, examining all five movements as a unified whole, one can justify a wider interpretation of the quartet. Comparing its content of Beethoven’s with the matrix of topics and analogies that the illness narrative embraces shows how this particular work organizes the expression of illness. Specifically, Beethoven fused the subject-constellation of God, religion, and the afterlife with the subject-constellation of nature, nostalgia, and melancholy. Materials from Beethoven’s letters, diaries, and conversation books display fluid connections among all of these concepts and emotions. The same holds true for the concepts of darkness, night, and illness, a characteristic of the quartet that even those scholars who reject a unified illness narrative cannot help but notice.

Schubert, Piano Sonata in B≤ major, op. posth., D. 960 (September 1828). Chapter 5 established the biographical and medical facts of Schubert’s case, and the investigation turned to matters of illness narrative as manifest in the Sonata in B≤ major. Not until one recognizes the work itself as an illness narrative does a framework exist with sufficient integrity to describe “how the music goes.” The issue was not the extent to which the sonata reflected Schubert’s life but rather the ways in which it corresponded to the nine-plot-point model. The investigation showed that this composition focused special attention on the first and last movements; further, this is the only one of the four case study compositions that found a way to engage plot point 1. This piano sonata emphasized five analogies and themes that literary illness narrative frequently dwell upon: illness as a journey; the dream-state of illness; the sufferer’s nostalgia, memory, and melancholy; the experience of “sinking”; and the imagery of bells. Chapter 5 of the present study focused especially on Schubert’s use of self-quotation to develop meaning in the piano sonata. Further, Schubert’s evocation of sinking was found to be of primary importance to the narrative; and the core concept of bells achieved special prominence. Finally, the ways in which Schubert established a governing metaphor—illness as a journey and the sufferer as a wanderer—was particularly instructive in its simplicity. He was able to extend the dimensions of wandering; no longer satisfied with representing a troubled man on a journey, Schubert took the metaphor an order of magnitude farther, into the conceptual world of illness.

Schumann, Symphony no. 2 in C major, op. 61 (1846). Schumann’s second symphony initially posed two challenges for the interpreter. As Chapter 6 showed, the first

295 was the difficulty inherent in the composer’s psychic makeup. Schumann was extraordinary in that his musical gifts matched his talent in the literary sphere. The two parts of his personality were so thoroughly fused that separating the symphony’s musical content from its literary content proved practically impossible. The second challenge concerned Schumann’s medical history. The composer established that he had written the symphony while recuperating from what he called “a gloomy time.” He admitted that he “was still unwell” at the time, and did not “feel completely recovered” until he had finished the whole work. Until recently researchers were still speculating as to the nature of Schumann’s illness and the degree to which it affected this symphony. A not-unrelated third obstacle proved to be the lack of source materials for this work that could have shed light on the compositional process. In the second symphony Schumann referred to a number of other composers and their works, often explicitly. This practice added another layer of meaning to factor into the interpretation. In addition to illuminating some of these references Chapter 6 singled out several references to Mendelssohn’s Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, thereby offering another dimension to interpretations of this Schumann symphony. After a certain point, any analysis has to acknowledge the interrelations between all of these aspects that surround the work. With so many factors to consider, researchers have had a difficult time understanding the symphony, particularly its fourth movement. But Chapter 6 showed that when the illness model was applied to the work, a great deal of confusion disappeared. An incidental discovery, but nevertheless an important one, is that sometimes in a great while a researcher can experience a completely unforeseen bit of fantastic good luck.

Brahms, Clarinet Quintet in B minor, op. 115 (Summer 1891). Chapter 7 took up the challenge of establishing that the Clarinet Quintet was an illness narrative, despite the obvious fact that Brahms was known to have been in robust health all of his adult life except for experiencing two bouts of the flu. The Quintet nevertheless exhibits all of the hallmarks of illness narrative in music. The analysis in Chapter 7 also presented illness narratives of five poets and authors who were active within Brahms’s lifetime, or within thirty years. The second challenge that this case study undertook was to demonstrate how badly an interpretation can go awry when a reviewer relies on his own subjective impressions, even when

296 writing only some thirty-five years after the premiere of the work, and even when the review praises the composition; as those errors in judgment multiply, they fall completely outside the realm of plausibility for any composition’s interpretation, let alone one that is an illness narrative. One aspect of illness narrative that Chapter 7 was alone in addressing was the topic of humor. Despite the seriousness and depth of suffering that illness narratives express, light moments do occur. The humor is of a different nature, a kind of “sick humor” that reflects physical conditions rather than mental perversion, and it is of two types: the short, witty statement, and the longer situational narrative-within-a-narrative that comes to a funny ending. Brahms developed three constellations of themes and analogies in his Clarinet Quintet. The first merged “sinking” and depression. The second was the idea of speaking up versus remaining silent. And the third was an amalgam of these two areas as they intersected with the theme-complex of illness, time, and language.

These four composers and their works formed a cohesive and fruitful group for the present study, for several reasons. First, they were in the mainstream of German Romanticism, and for three of the four their activities centered around Vienna, while Schumann had close artistic connections to Beethoven’s and Schubert’s music and was a personal friend of Brahms All were also active readers who were not only familiar with the work of Romantic poets and authors but also counted these writers among their friends. These composers established close working relationships with major figures in the arts; in many cases they established personal relationships that proved enduring. And finally, all four composers took an active interest in medical practice and technology. The medical system in Vienna was state-of-the-art, and medical practitioners who lived and worked in Vienna were prominent figures in their fields. These doctors were also especially gifted musicians. In many cases these four composers formed long- term friendships with their doctors, often leaving a wealth of correspondence after their death to attest to the deep ties that they formed. The future of medical narrative, medical humanities, and narrative medicine is extremely bright. Literature has not devoted much attention, if any, to the illness narrative as a special genre, however, and musicology has never mentioned it before. Meanwhile the field of narrative medicine has actively embraced new areas of inquiry and practice, and has already moved in

297 these new directions in terms of theory, scholarship, and practice. Recent developments in this field have been astonishing. In contrast, the arts have not yet taken full advantage of these new ideas. In the course of the present investigation, however, several compositions have emerged as illness narratives. The rest of the repertoire may be ripe with potential. In other geographic areas such as France and Russia, Romantic compositions also exhibit characteristics of illness narrative; they raise issues that are specific to their national characters, and they remain to be explored. In Vienna itself, the work of Gustav Mahler is the natural next step, but moving into the twentieth century also raises a new set of parameters for consideration. In any case, this neglected subject in musicology needs to be addressed. There is still much to learn about compositions that we think we understand, but about which there is still much for us to learn.


A. Romanticism in the Arts

Abrams, Meyer Howard. The Mirror and the Lamp: Romantic Theory and the Critical Tradition. New York: Oxford University Press, 1953.

______. The Correspondent Breeze: Essays on English Romanticism. New York: Norton, 1984.

Behler, Ernst. German Romantic Literary Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993.

Blackall, Eric A. The Novels of the German Romantics. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1983.

Botstein, Leon and Linda Weintraub, eds. Pre-modern Art of Vienna, 1848-1898. Annandale- on-Hudson, NY: The Edith C. Blum Art Institute of Bard College in cooperation with the DePree Art Gallery, Hope College, 1987.

Brion, Marcel. La Vie Quotidienne à Vienne à L’époque de Mozart et de Schubert. Paris: Hachette, 1959.

______. Romantic Art. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1960.

______. Art of the Romantic Era: Romanticism, Classicism, Realism. New York: Praeger, 1966.

Brookner, Anita. Romanticism and Its Discontents. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000.

Brown, Marshall. The Shape of German Romanticism. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1979.

Cooke, Deryck. Vindications: Essays on Romantic Music. London: Faber and Faber, 1982.

Daverio, John. Nineteenth-Century Music and the German Romantic Ideology. New York: Schirmer Books, 1993. Hillman, Roger. Zeitroman: The Novel and Society in Germany 1830-1900. Australian and New Zealand Studies in German Langauge and Literature 12, gen. editors Gerhard Schulz

299 and John A. Asher. New York: Peter Lang, 1983.

Hitchins, Christopher. "Don't Listen to Reason." The New York Times, 19 November 2000.

Jay, Mike and Michael Neve, eds. 1900: A Fin-de-siècle Reader. New York: Penguin, 1999.

Logan, James Venable., John E. Jordan and Northrop Frye, eds. Some British Romantics: A Collection of Essays. [Columbus, OH]: Ohio State University Press, 1966.

Morton, Marsha L. and Peter L. Schmunk, eds. The Arts Entwined: Music and Painting in the Nineteenth Century. New York and London: Garland, 2000.

Riasanovsky, Nicholas V. The Emergence of Romanticism. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.

Rosen, Charles. The Romantic Generation. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995.

Rosen, Charles and Henri Zerner. Romanticism and Realism: The Mythology of Nineteenth- Century Art. New York: Viking, 1984.

Ruoff, Gene W., ed. The Romantics and Us: Essays on Literature and Culture. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1990.

Schenk, H. G. The Mind of the European Romantics: An Essay in Cultural History. New York: Frederick Ungar, 1967.

Siegel, Linda, ed. and trans. Music in German Romantic Literature: A Collection of Essays, Reviews, and Stories. Novato, CA: Elra, 1983.

Silz, Walter. Early German Romanticism. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1929.

______. German Romantic Lyrics. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1934.

Sitterson, Joseph C., jr. Romantic Poems, Poets, and Narrators. Kent, OH: The Kent State University Press, 2000.

Wernaer, Robert M. Romanticism and the Romantic School in Germany. London: Appleton, 1910; reprinted New York: Haskell House, 1966. B. Narratives, Story-Tellers, Speakers, and Plots

Bremond, Claude. Logique du Récit. Paris: Seuil, 1973.

300 Bruner, Jerome. Making Stories: Law, Literature, Life. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002.

Dipple, Elizabeth. Plot. London: Methuen, 1970.

Elliot, Robert C. The Literary Persona. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982.

Lacey, Nick. Narrative and Genre: Key Concepts in Media Studies. New York: St. Martin's, 2000.

Perrine, Laurence. Story and Structure. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1959.

Prince, Gerald. A Grammar of Stories: An Introduction. The Hague: Mouton, 1973.

______. Narratology: The Form and Functioning of Narrative. Janua Linguarum, Series Maior 108. Studia Memoriae Nicolai van Wijk. Berlin, New York, and Amsterdam: Mouton, 1982.

______. A Dictionary of Narratology. Lincoln, NE and London: University of Nebraska Press, 1987.

Riessman, Catherine Kohler. Narrative Analysis. Qualitative Research Methods 30. London: Sage Publications, 1993.

Rimmon-Kenan, Shlomith. Narrative Fiction: Contemporary Poetics. London: Methuen, 1983.

Scholes, Robert and Robert Kellogg. The Nature of Narrative. New York: Oxford University Press, 1966.

Todorov, Tzvetan. Genres in Discourse. Translated by Catherine Porter. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990.

C. Narratives of Illness, Personal and Clinical

Illness Narratives, Nineteenth Century and Before

Collins, Wilkie. Hide and Seek. The Works of Wilkie Collins, vol. 11. New York: AMS Press, 1900. Orig. publ. London, Sept. 1861.

301 Coleridge, Sara. Memoir and Letters of Sara Coleridge. Edited by her daughter Edith. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1874.

Dickinson, Emily. The Poems of Emily Dickinson, vol. 2. Edited by Thomas H. Johnson. Cambridge, MA: Belknap, 1979. Selected poems from the 1862 ms. packet.

Edgeworth, Maria. Belinda. New York: Eoutledge & Kegan Paul, 1986. Orig. publ. 1801.

Hazlitt, William. “Essay XXXVII: The Sick Chamber.” The Complete Works of William Hazlitt, vol. 17: Uncollected Essays. Edited by P. P. Howe, after the edition of A. R. Walker and Arnold Glover, 371-76. New York: AMS Press, 1967. Orig. Publ. London: J. M. Dent, 1930.

Hemans, Felicia Dorothea. Selected Poems, Prose, and Letters. Ed. by Gary Kelly, in the series Broadview Literary Texts. Ontario, Canada: Broadview Press, 2002.

James, Alice. The Diary of Alice James Edited by Leon Edel. Introd. by Linda Simon. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1999. Orig. publ. New York: Dodd, Mead, ca. 1934.

Keats, John. Selected Poems and Letters. Edited with introduction and notes by Douglas Bush. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1959.

______. Selected Letters [1816-20]. Edited by Robert Gittings, with introduction and notes by Jon Mee. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.

Lamb, Charles. “The Convalescent.” Last Essays of Elia. Edited with notes by N. L. Hallward, 45-50. London: Macmillan, 1965. Orig. publ. July 1825.

Phelps, Elizabeth Stuart. Doctor Zay. New York: The Feminist Press at The City University of New York, 1987. Orig. publ. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1882.

Percival, James Gates. “Consumption.” Percival’s Poems, 312, 313, 614 [sic], 315. New York: C. Wiley, 1823. Orig. publ. 1821.

Smart, Christopher. “Hymn to the Supreme Being on Recovery from a Dangerous Fit of Illness.” Poems. Edited with introduction and notes by Robert Brittain, 100-05. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1950. Orig. publ. 1756.

Stevenson, Robert Louis. “Father Damien.” The Biographical Edition of the Works of Robert Louis Stevenson. Introduction by Mrs. Stevenson, 67-87. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1898 and 1911. Orig. publ. 25 Feb. 1980.

302 Whitman, Walt. Leaves of Grass and Other Writings. Edited by Michael Moon. New York: W. W. Norton, 2003. Orig. publ. Philadelphia: David McKay, 1891-92.

Winchilsea, Anne Kingsmill Finch, Countess of. “The Spleen.” Selected Poems. Edited with an introduction and notes by Denys Thompson, 40-44. Manchester: Fyfield, 1987. Orig. publ. 1712.

Twentieth-Century Illness Narratives

Bennett, Arnold. Riceyman Steps. New York: George H. Doran, 1923.

Bregman, Lucy and Sara Thiermann. First Person Mortal: Personal Narratives of Illness, Dying, and Grief. New York: Paragon, 1995.

Broyard, Anatole. Intoxicated by My Illness, and Other Writings on Life and Death. Compiled and edited by Alexandra Broyard. New York: Fawcett Columbine, 1992.

Chester, Laura. Lupus Novice: Toward Self-Healing. Barrytown, NY: Station Hill Press, 1987.

Cioran, E[mile]. M. “On Sickness.” The Fall Into Time. Translated by Richard Howard, 125- 39. Chicago: Quadrangle, 1970.

Cousins, Norman. Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient: Reflections on Healing and Regeneration. New York: W. W. Norton, 1979.

Didion, Joan. The Year of Magical Thinking. New York: Vintage, 2006.

Duff, Kat. The Alchemy of Illness. New York: Bell Tower, 1993.

Eberhart, Richard. Undercliff: Poems 1946-1953. London: Chatto & Windus, 1954.

Evans, Margiad. A Ray of Darkness. London: John Calder and Dallas: Riverrun Press, 1978. Orig. publ. London: Arthur Barker, 1952.

Fassett, Denise and M. R. Gallagher. Just a Head: Stories in a Body. St. Leonards, New South Wales, Australia: Allen & Unwin, 1998.

Finke, Beth. Long Time No See. Urbana and Chicago, IL: University of Illinois, 2003.

303 Frank, Arthur W. At the Will of the Body: Reflections on Illness. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1991.

______. The Wounded Storyteller: Body, Illness, and Ethics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995.

Grealy, Lucy. Autobiography of a Face. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1994.

Kleinman, Arthur. Writing at the Margin: Discourse Between Anthropology and Medicine. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1995.

Kreinheder, Albert. Body and Soul: The Other Side of Illness. Studies in Jungian Analysis 48. Edited by Daryl Sharp. Toronto: Inner City, 1991.

Lerner, Max. Wrestling With the Angel: A Memoir of My Triumph Over Illness. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1990.

Lorde, Audre. The Cancer Journals, 2nd ed. San Francisco: Spinsters Ink, 1980.

Meldin, Madeleine. The Tender Bud: A Physician’s Journey Through Breast Cancer. Hillsdale, NJ: Analytic Press, 1993.

Metzger, Deena. TREE: Essays & Pieces. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic, 1997.

Moore, Tony. Cry of the Damaged Man: A Personal Journey of Recovery. Sydney: Picador/Pan Macmillan, 1991. Munthe, Axel. The Story of San Michele. New York: E. P. Dutton, 1932. Orig. publ. July 1929.

Murphy, Robert F. The Body Silent. New York: Henry Holt, 1987.

Pensack, Robert, M.D. and Dwight Williams. Raising Lazarus. New York: Putnam, 1994.

Sacks, Oliver, M.D. A Leg to Stand On. New York: Touchstone/Simon and Schuster, 1984.

Selzer, Richard. The Exact Location of the Soul: New and Selected Essays. New York: Picador, 2001.

Stein, Michael, M.D. The Lonely Patient: How We Experience Illness. New York: Harper, 2007.

304 Thompson, Peter J., prod. An Anatomy of an Illness. Miracle Pictures/PMC, 1984. Motion Picture. Miracle Pictures/PMC, 2002. DVD movie.

Welch, Denton. A Voice Through a Cloud. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1966. Orig. publ. London: John Lehmann, 1950.

______. The Journals of Denton Welch. Edited by Michael De-la-Noy. New York: E. P. Dutton, 1974. Orig. publ. University of Texas Press, 1952.

Woolf, Virginia. “On Being Ill.” The Moment and Other Essays, 9-23. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1948. Orig. publ. 1930.

Illness Narratives, Clinical

Druss, G. Richard, M.D. The Psychology of Illness: In Sickness and in Health. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Press, 1995.

Eakin, Paul John. How Our Lives Become Stories: Making Selves. Ithaca: Cornell University, 1999.

Frank, Arthur W. “What Kind of Phoenix? Illness and Self-Knowledge.” Second Opinion 18/2 (Oct. 1992): 30-41.

______. “The Rhetoric of Self-Change: Illness Experience as Narrative.” The Sociological Quarterly 34/1 (1993): 39-52.

______. “Reclaiming an Orphan Genre: The First-Person Narrative of Illness,” Literature and Medicine 13/1 (Spring 1994): 1-21.

______. "Illness and Autobiographical Work: Dialogue as Narrative Destabilization." Qualitative Sociology 23/1 (2000): 135-56.

Groopman, Jerome, M. D. The Measure of Our Days: New Beginnings at Life’s End. New York: Viking Penguin, 1997.

______. Second Opinions: Stories of Intuition and Choice in the Changing World of Medicine. New York: Penguin, 2000.

305 Kerby, Anthony Paul. Narrative and the Self. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1991.

Kleinman, Arthur. The Illness Narratives: Suffering, Healing, and the Human Condition. New York: Basic Books, Inc., 1988.

______. “Local Worlds of Suffering: An Interpersonal Focus for Ethnographies of Illness Experience. Qualitative Health Research 2/2 (May 1992): 1992.

Lockhart, Russell A. Words as Eggs: Psyche in Language and Clinic. Dallas, TX: Spring, 1987.

Mattingly, Cheryl. Healing Dramas and Clinical Plots: The Narrative Structure of Experience. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

McLellan, Faith. "'A Whole Other Story': The Electronic Narrative of Illness." Literature and Medicine 16/1 (1997): 88-107.

Morris, David B. Illness and Culture in the Postmodern Age. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.

______. The Culture of Pain. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1993.

Nash, Christopher, ed. Narrative in Culture: The Uses of Storytelling in the Sciences, Philosophy, and Literature. Warwick Studies in Philosophy and Literature 5, gen. ed. David Wood. London: Routledge, 1990.

Polkinghorne, Donald E. Narrative Knowing and the Human Sciences. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1988.

Sacks, Oliver, M.D. Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain. New York: Knopf, 2007.

Sandblom, Philip. Creativity and Disease: How illness affects literature, art and music. Philadelphia: G.B. Lippincott, 1989.

Smith, Dinitia. “Diagnosis Goes Low Tech.” The New York Times, 11 Oct. 2003.

Stewart, Garrett. Death Sentences: Styles of Dying in British Fiction. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1984.

Thomas, Lewis. The Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher. New York: Viking, 1974.

306 ______. The Medusa and the Snail: More Notes of a Biology Watcher. New York: Viking, 1979.

______. The Youngest Science: More Notes of a Biology Watcher. New York: Viking, 1983.

Toombs, S. Kay. "Taking the Body Seriously." The Hastings Center Report 27 (September/October 1997): 39-43.

Trautmann, Joanne, ed. Healing Arts in Dialogue: Medicine and Literature. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 1981.

Trautmann, Joanne and Carol Pollard. Literature and Medicine: An Annotated Bibliography. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1982.

Young-Mason, Jeanine. The Patient’s Voice: Experiences of Illness. Philadelphia: F. A. Davis, 1997.

D. Literary Criticism of Illness Narratives

Booth, Bradford A. “Wilkie Collins and the Art of Fiction.” Nineteenth-Century Fiction 6/2 (Sept. 1951): 131-43.

Hepburn, James G. “The Notebook for Riceyman Steps.” PMLA 78/3 (June 1963): 257-61.

Jones, Christine Kenyon. “’Some World’s-Wonder in Chapel or Crypt’: Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Disability.” Nineteenth-Century Studies 16 (2002): 21-35.

Meiners, Katherine T. “Imagining Cancer: Sara Coleridge and the Environment of Illness.” Literature and Medicine 15/1 (1996): 48-63.

Mudge, Bradford Keyes. Sara Coleridge, a Victorian Daughter: Her Life and Essays. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989.

Rothfield, Lawrence. Vital Signs: Medical Realism in Nineteenth-Century Fiction. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992.

Stevenson, Robert. “Robert Louis Stevenson’s Musical Interests.” PMLA 72/4 (Sept. 1957): 700-04.

Strouse, Jean. Alice James: A Biography. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1980.

307 E. Music and Medicine

Bazelon, Irwin. Knowing the Score: Notes on Film Music. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1975.

Blum, David. “The Healing Power of Music.” BBC Music (April 1996): 30-32.

Duchen, Jessica. “Musician, Heal Thyself.” BBC Music (October 2004): 28-30.

Neumayr, Anton. Music & Medicine 1: Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert: Notes on Their Lives, Works, and Medical Histories. Translated by Bruce Cooper Clarke. Bloomington, IL: Medi-Ed, 1994.

______. Music & Medicine 2: Hummel, Weber, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Brahms, Bruckner: Notes on Their Lives, Works, and Medical Histories. Translated by Bruce Cooper Clarke. Bloomington, IL: Medi-Ed, 1995.

______. Music & Medicine 3: Chopin, Smetana, Tchaikovsky, Mahler: Notes on Their Lives, Works, and Medical Histories. Translated by David J. Parent. Bloomington, IL: Medi- Ed, 1997.

O'Shea, John. Music & Medicine: Medical Profiles of Great Composers. London: J. M. Dent and Sons, 1990.

Spingte, Ralph and Roland Droh. Music Medicine. International Society for Music in Medicine IV. International Musicmedicine Symposium, Annenberg Center for Health Sciences at Eisenhower, Rancho Mirage, CA, 25-29 October, 1989. MMB Music, Inc., 1992.

F. Musical Narratology

Botstein, Leon. “Memory and Nostalgia as Music-Historical Categories.” The Musical Quarterly 84/4 (Winter 2000): 531-36.

Brendel, Alfred. Music Sounded Out: Essays, Lectures, Interviews, Afterthoughts. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1991.

Cone, Edward T. The Composer’s Voice. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1974.

308 ______. "Three Ways of Reading a Story — or a Brahms Intermezzo." Georgia Review 31 (1977): 554-74. Repr. in Music: A View From Delft, ed. Robert P. Morgan, 77-93. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989.

Hatten, Robert. "On Narrativity in Music: Expressive Genres and Levels of Discourse in Beethoven." Indiana Theory Review 12 (1991): 75-98.

______. Interpreting Musical Gestures, Topics, and Tropes: Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2004.

Hewett, Ivan. “The Great Divide.” BBC Music (January 2003): 28-30.

Kramer, Lawrence. Music as Cultural Practice, 1800-1900. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1990.

______. Classical Music and Postmodern Knowledge. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1995.

Maus, Fred Everett. “Music as Narrative.” Indiana Theory Review 12 (1991): 1-34.

______. “Narrative, Drama, and Emotion in Instrumental Music. The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 55:3 (Summer 1997): 297-303.

______. “Music as Drama.” Music Theory Spectrum 10 (1988): 56-73.

______. “Narratology, narrativity.” In The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians 17, 641-3. Series ed. Stanley Sadie. London: Macmillan, 2002.

McClary, Susan. Feminine Endings: Music, Gender, and Sexuality. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 1991; repr. 2002.

Monelle, Raymond. "Genre and Structure in Nineteenth-Century Instrumental Music." Sävellys ja musiikinteoria 2/95: sisällysluettelo. .

Peschel, Enid Rhodes and Richard Peschel. "Medicine, Music, and Literature: The Figure of Dr. Miracle in Offenbach's Les contes d'Hoffmann." Opera Quarterly 3/2 (Summer 1985): 59-71.

Ratner, Leonard G. Classic Music: Expression, Form, and Style. London: Collier Macmillan, 1980.

309 ______. Romantic Music: Sound and Syntax. New York: Schirmer Macmillan, 1992.

Scher, Steven Paul, ed. Music and Text: Critical Inquiries. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992.

G. Special Musical Narratives of Illness

1. Ludwig van Beethoven, String Quartet no. 15 in A minor, op. 132

Agawu, V. Kofi. "The First Movement of Beethoven's Opus 132 and the Classical Style." College Music Symposium 27 (1987): 30-45.

Berger, Karol. "Beethoven and the Aesthetic State." Beethoven Forum 7. Edited by Lewis Lockwood et al., 17-44. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1999.

Brandenburg, Sieghard. "The Autograph of Beethoven's String Quartet in A Minor, Opus 132: The Structure of the Manuscript and its Relevance for the Study of the Genesis of the Work." The String Quartets of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven: Studies of the Autograph Manuscripts. Edited by Christoph Wolff, 278-301. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1980.

______. “The Historical Background to the ‘Heiliger Dankgesang’ in Beethoven’s A-minor Quartet Op. 132.” In Beethoven Studies 3, ed. by Alan Tyson, 161-91. Cambridge, London, and New York: Cambridge University Press

Chua, Daniel K. L. The “Galitzin” Quartets of Beethoven, opp. 127, 132, 130. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995.

Davies, Peter J. Beethoven in Person: His Deafness, Illnesses, and Death, Contributions to the Study of Music and Dance, no. 59. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2001.

______. The Character of a Genius: Beethoven in Perspective, Contributions to the Study of Music and Dance, no. 60. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2002.

Fiske, Roger. Beethoven's Last Quartets. London: Oxford University Press, 1948.

Hatten, Robert S. Musical Meaning in Beethoven: Markedness, Correlation, and Interpretation. Advances in Semiotics Series, ed. by Thomas A. Sebeck. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1994.

310 Henahan, Donal. "Shaking the Foundations of Music." The New York Times, 31 July 1988.

Johnson, Douglas Porter, Alan Tyson, and Robert Winter. The Beethoven Sketchbooks: History, Reconstruction, Inventory. California Studies in 19th-Century Music, 4. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1985.

Kerman, Joseph. The Beethoven Quartets. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1967.

Knittel, Kristin M. "Imitation, Individuality, and Illness: Behind Beethoven's 'Three Styles.'" Beethoven Forum 4, 17-36. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1995.

Korsyn, Kevin. "J.W.N. Sullivan and the Heiliger Dankgesang: Questions of Meaning in Late Beethoven." Beethoven Forum 2. Edited by Christopher Reynolds, Lewis Lockwood, and James Webster, 133-74. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1993.

Lockwood, Lewis. Beethoven: The Music and the Life. New York: W. W. Norton, 2003. de Marliave, Joseph. Beethoven's Quartets. Translated by Hilda Andrews. New York: Dover Publications, 1961. Orig. ed. Paris: Librairie Félix Alcan, 1925.

Marx, A.B. Musical Form in the Age of Beethoven: Selected Writings on Theory and Method. Edited and translated by Scott Burnham. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997.

Mellers, Wilfrid. Beethoven and the Voice of God. New York: Oxford University Press, 1983.

Radcliffe, Philip. Beethoven's String Quartets. London: Hutchinson University Library, 1965.

Schlosser, Johann Aloys. Beethoven: The First Biography. Edited by Barry Cooper, translated by Reinhard G. Pauly. Portland, OR: Amadeus Press, 1996. Orig. ed. Prague: Buchler, Stephani & Schlosser, 1827.

Schweisheimer, Waldemar. "Beethoven's Physicians." Musical Quarterly 31 (1945): 289-98.

Solomon, Maynard. Beethoven. New York: Schirmer, 1979.

______. Beethoven Essays. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988.

______. Late Beethoven: Music, Thought, Imagination. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2003.

311 Steinberg, Michael. "The Late Quartets." The Beethoven Quartet Companion. Edited by Robert Winter and Robert Martin, 215-82. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1994.

Sullivan, J. W. N. Beethoven, His Spiritual Development. New York: Knopf, 1927.

Wallace, Robin. Beethoven's Critics: Aesthetic Dilemmas and Resolutions During the Composer's Lifetime. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986.

______. "Background and Expression in the First Movement of Beethoven's op. 132." Journal of Musicology 7/1 (Winter 1989): 3-20.

Weiss, Philip. "Beethoven's Hair Tells All!" The New York Times, 29 November 1998.

Wolff, Christoph, ed. The String Quartets of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven: Studies of the Autograph Manuscripts. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1980.

2. Franz Schubert, Piano Sonata in B¯ major, op. posth. (D. 960).

Brendel, Alfred. “Schubert’s Last Sonatas.” In Music Sounded Out. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1990.

Brown, Maurice J. E. Essays on Schubert. New York: St. Martin’s, 1966.

Clive, Peter. Schubert and His World: A Biographical Dictionary. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997. Deutsch, Otto Erich. The Schubert Reader: A Life of Franz Schubert in Letters and Documents. Translated by Eric Blom. New York: W. W. Norton, 1947.

Fisk, Charles. “What Schubert’s Last sonata Might Hold.” In Music and Meaning, ed. Jenefer Robinson. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1997: 179-200.

______. Returning Cycles: Contexts for the Interpretation of Schubert’s Impromptus and Last Sonatas. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2001.

Gibbs, Christopher H. The Life of Schubert. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

Hill, William G. “The Genesis of schubert’s Posthumous Sonata in B flat Major.” The Musical Quarterly XII (1951): 269-78.

312 Hirsch, Marjorie Wing. Schubert’s Dramatic Lieder. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993.

Kinderman, William. “Wandering Archetypes in Schubert’s Instrumental Music.” 19th-Century Music XXI/2 (Fall 1997): 208-22.

Kramer, Richard. Distant Cycles: Schubert and the Conceiving of Song. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1994.

MacDonald, Hugh. “[9/8 and G-Flat Major Key Signature].” 19th-Century Music 11/3 (Spring 1988): 221-37.

Marston, Nicholas. “Schubert’s Homecoming.” Journal of the Royal Music Association 125 (2000): 248-70.

Perry, Jeffrey. “The Wanderer’s Many Returns: Schubert’s Variations Reconsidered. The Journal of Musicology XIX/2 (Spring 2002): 374-415.

Pesic, Peter. “Schubert’s Dream.” 19th-Century Music XXIII/2 (Fall 1999): 136-44.

Porter, Ernest G. Schubert’s Piano Works. London: Dennis Dobson, 1980.

Radcliffe, Philip. Schubert Piano Sonatas. BBC Music Guides. London: Billing & Sons, 1967.

Reed, John. Schubert: The Final Years. London: Faber & Faber, 1972.

Sams, Eric. “Schubert’s Illness Re-examined.” The Musical Times 121/1643 (January 1980): 15-22.

Solomon, Maynard. “Franz Schubert’s ‘My Dream.” American Imago 38/2 (Summer 1981): 137-54.

Taruskin, Richard. The Oxford History of Western Music., Vol. II. New York: W. W. Norton, 2002.

Whitton, Kenneth S. Goethe and Schubert: The Unseen Bond. Portland, OR: Amadeus, 1999.

Wolff, Konrad. “Observations on the Scherzo of Schubert’s B Flat Sonata Op. posth. (D. 960).” Piano Quarterly 92 (1975-76): 28-29.

313 3. Schumann, Symphony no. 2 in C major, op. 61

Brion, Marcel. Schumann and the Romantic Age. Translated by Geoffrey Sainsbury. New York: Macmillan, 1956.

Brown, Thomas A. The Aesthetics of Robert Schumann. London: Peter Owen, 1986.

Chissell, Joan. Schumann. London: J. M. Dent and Sons, 1967.

______. Clara Schumann: A Dedicated Spirit: A Study of her Life and Work. London: Hamish Hamilton, 1983.

Daverio, John. “Reading Schumann by Way of Jean Paul and His Contemporaries.” College Music Symposium 30/2 (1990): 28-45.

______. Robert Schumann: Herald of a New Poetic Age. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997.

Finson, Jon. "The Sketches for the Fourth Movement of Schumann's Second Symphony, op. 61." Journal of the American Musicological Society 39 (1986): 143-68.

Finson, Jon and R. Larry Todd, eds. Mendelssohn and Schumann: Essays on Their Music and Its Context. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1984.

Newcomb, Anthony. "Once More 'Between Absolute and Program Music': Schumann's Second Symphony." 19th-Century Music 7 (1984): 233-50.

______. “Schumann and Late 18th-Century Narrative Strategies.” 19th-Century Music 11/2 (Fall 1987): 163-74.

Ostwald, Peter. "Florestan, Eusebius, Clara, and Schumann's Right Hand." 19th-Century Music 4/1 (Summer 1980): 17-31.

______. Schumann: The Inner Voices of a Musical Genius. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1985.

Pederson, Sanna. "On the Task of the Music Historian: The Myth of the Symphony after Beethoven." Repercussions 2/1 (Spring 1993): 5-30.

314 Seaton, Douglass. “Back from B-A-C-H: Schumann’s Symphony No. 2 in C Major.” In About Bach, ed. Gregory F. Butler, George B. Stauffer, and Mary Dalton Greer, 191-206. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2008.

Sotheby’s. Robert Schumann: The Autograph Manuscript of the Symphony No. 2 in C Major, Op. 61. London: Sotheby’s, 1 December 1994. [Auction Catalogue]

Steinberg, Michael. The Symphony: A Listener’s Guide. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.

Todd, R. Larry, ed. Schumann and His World. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994.

______. “On Quotation in Schumann’s Music.” In Todd, R. Larry, ed. Schumann and His World: 80-112. Princeton University Press, 1994.

4. Johannes Brahms: Clarinet Quintet in B minor, op. 115.

Avins, Styra, ed. and annot. Johannes Brahms: Life and Letters. Translated by Josef Eisinger and Styra Avins. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997.

Berger, Melvin. Guide to Chamber Music. New York: Anchor, 1989.

Berry, Wallace. Form in Music: An Examination of Traditional Techniques of Musical Structure and Their Application in Historical and Contemporary Styles, 2nd ed. Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1966.

Botstein, Leon, ed. The Compleat Brahms: A Guide to the Musical Works of Johannes Brahms. New York: W.W. Norton, 1999.

Bryant, Rebecca. The Influence of Terminal Illness upon Johannes Brahms’s Composition of the Vier ernste Gesänge and the Elf Choralvorspiele. M.M. thesis, University of Cincinnati, 1996.

Epstein, David. Beyond Orpheus: Studies in Musical Structure. Cambridge, MA: M.I.T. Press, 1979.

315 Hanslick, Edouard. “Hanslick on Brahms’s Chamber Music with Clarinet.” Trans. by John Daverio. In American Brahms Society Newsletter 13/1 (Spring 1995), 5-7. Orig. publ. Neue Freie Presse, 1891 and 1895; repr. Fünf Jahre Music [1891-1895] (Der “Modernen Oper,” VII. Teil), 3rd. ed. Berlin: Allgemeiner Verein für Deutsche Litteratur, 1896: 168-73, 312-14.

Keys, Ivor. Brahms Chamber Music. BBC Music Guides. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1974.

______. Johannes Brahms. London: Christopher Helm, 1989.

Knapp, Raymond. Brahms and the Challenge of the Symphony. Stuyvesant, NY: Pendragon, 1992.

Lawson, Colin. Brahms: Clarinet Quintet. Cambridge Music Handbooks. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

Mason, Daniel Gregory. The Chamber Music of Brahms. New York: Macmillan, 1933.

Musgrave, Michael, ed. Brahms 2: Biographical, Documentary and Analytical Studies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987.

Parmer, Dillon. “Brahms, Song Quotation, and Secret Programs.” 19th-Century Music 19/2 (Fall 1995): 161-90.

Pascall, Robert, ed. Brahms: Biographical, Documentary and Analytical Studies. Cambridge, London: Cambridge University Press, 1983.

Sams, Eric. “Brahms and his Musical Love Letters.” Musical Times (April 1971): 329-30.

______. “Brahms and his Clara Themes.” Musical Times (May 1971): 432-34. Swafford, Jan. Johannes Brahms, A Biography. New York: Vintage/Random House, 1997.

Webster, James. “The General and the Particular in Brahms’s Later Sonata Forms.” Brahms Studies, Analytical and Historical Perspectives. Edited by George S. Bozarth, 49-78. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990.

316 5. Other Musical Narratives

Adorno, Theodor W. Mahler: A Musical Physiognomy. Trans. Edmund Jephcott. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992.

Andraschke, Peter. Gustav Mahlers IX. Symphonie: Kompositionsprozess und Analyse. Beihefte zum Archiv für Musikwissenschaft 14. Series ed. Hans Eggebrecht. Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner Verlag, 1976.

Christy, Nicholas P., Beverly M. Christy, and Barry G. Wood. “Gustav Mahler and His Illnesses.” Transactions of the American Clinical and Climatological Association 82 (1970): 200-17.

Goreau, Angeline. “Chopin’s Funeral: Whatever George Sand Wants . . .” The New York Times, 20 April 2003.

Hefling, Stephen E. “The Ninth Symphony.” The Mahler Companion, ed. Donald Mitchell and Andrew Nicholson, 467-90. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Johnson, Julian. “The Status of the Subject in Mahler’s Ninth Symphony.” 19th-Century Music 18/2 (Fall 1994): 108-30.

Katz, Derek. "Smetana's Second String Quartet: Voice of Madness or ‘Triumph of Spirit?’" Musical Quarterly 81/4 (Winter 1997): 516-36.

Kolleritsch, Otto, ed. Gustav Mahler: Sinfonie und Wirklichkeit. Graz: Institut für Wertforschung, 1977.

Lewis, Christopher Orlo. Tonal Coherence in Mahler’s Ninth Symphony. Studies in Musicology 79. Series ed. George Buelow. Ann Arbor, MI: UMI Research Press, 1984.

Mahler, Alma. Gustav Mahler: Memories and Letters. Ed. Donald Mitchell, trans. Basil Creighton. New York: Viking, 1969.

Matthews, Colin. Mahler at Work: Aspects of the Creative Process. Outstanding Dissertations in Music from British Universities. Series ed. John Caldwell. New York: Garland, 1989.

Micznik, Vera. “The Farewell Story of Mahler’s Ninth Symphony.” 19th-Century Music 20/2 (Fall 1996): 144-66.

317 Newcomb, Anthony. “Narrative Archetypes and Mahler’s Ninth Symphony.” Music and Text, Critical Inquiries, ed. Stephen Paul Scher, 118-36. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992.

Oestreich, James R. “Mahler and the Lesser Known Stars in His Universe.” The New York Times, 9 Aug. 2002.

Orlova, Alexandra. "Tchaikovsky: The Last Chapter." Music and Letters 62/2 (April 1981): 125-45.

Schuh, Willi. "Der Sohn in Wort und in der Musik des Vaters." Festschrift Dr. Franz Strauss zum 70. Geburtstag, 101-14. Tutzing: Hans Schneider, 1967.

Stahmer, Klaus Hinrich. Form und Idee in Gustav Mahlers Instrumentalmusik. Taschenbücher zur Musikwissenschaft 70. Series ed. Richard Schaal. Wilhelmshaven: Heinrichshofen, 1980.

Stein, Erwin. Orpheus in New Guises. London: Rockliff, 1953.

Tchaikovsky, Pyotr. The Diaries of Tchaikovsky. Translated by Wladimir Lakond. New York: W. W. Norton, 1945.

Thomas, Lewis. Late Night Thoughts on Listening to Mahler’s Ninth Symphony. New York: Penguin, 1980; repr. 1983. Eisler, Benita. Chopin’s Funeral. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2003.


Deborah Olander was born in Philadelphia and earned the Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Sweet Briar College in 1976; she spent her junior year in France. Her thesis was titled Heroic Quest Romances from Anonymous to the Present.

Deborah was awarded the Master of Music degree in Historical Musicology from Florida State University in 1982, for which she wrote a thesis titled Structure, Expression, and Aesthetic Issues in Hector Berlioz’s Romeo and Juliet. Her continued area of interest was Shakespearean music, and her paper “Interpreting Berlioz’s Overture to King Lear: Problems and Solutions” was published in Current Musicology 35 (1983). She then pursued a twenty-year career in technical writing with a specialization in aerospace and defense electronics, while actively publishing her journalistic writing in more than a dozen newspapers.

Since returning to Florida State University in 1999, she has been an active member of the Department of English in the College of Arts and Sciences, earning the Master of Arts degree in Creative Writing in 2002 with her thesis Composing Sleeping Beauty. Deborah was an Instructor in The Florida State University’s First-Year Writing program for Rhetoric and Composition from 2000 until 2007. She was nominated for the Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award in 2007.

In the College of Music, her area of concentration has been Illness Narratives in Nineteenth- century German Instrumental Music. Deborah has also served as program annotator for FSU's Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra, and Philharmonia. While teaching in the Department of English, Deborah was also the Arts Information and Cultural Events Coordinator at WFSQ- FM, where she hosted the broadcasts of the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra, the Saturday Opera Preview before “Live From the Met,” and all of the concerts in the Summer Concert Series. She received the inaugural Curtis Mayes Orpheus Scholar award in the academic year 2005-2006 for her work on the present investigation.

319 Her next project is completing a book, A Smelt is a Little Fish, that recounts stories from the world of the Freshman Writing classroom.

The most important piece of knowledge that Deborah has acquired since 1999 is that the Ph.D. is considered a terminal degree because one dies while trying to get it.