Ernst Kurth's writings on musical form, while celebrated by many scholars, have been subject to differing interpretations and outright dismissal. Bruckner (1925), his best-known exposition on form, is daunting in scope and idiosyncratic in tone. A more sizable challenge, however, is understanding just what Kurth means by form. This article proposes that his final publication, Musikpsychologie (1931), offers the greatest source of elucidation, and it focuses on a central topic in Musikpsychologie: musical listening as active and participatory. The article begins by outlining two intellectual developments in the early twentieth century on which Kurth's ideas hinge. This is followed by an examination of Kurth's general ideas about musical listening and his specific notion of Erformung—the development of an impression of form through “multitrack listening.” The article discusses why Kurth considers existing theories of form (those of Hugo Riemann and Alfred Lorenz in particular) inadequate for conveying the process of Erformung. Finally, it examines Kurth's 1925 analysis of the opening of Bruckner's Sixth Symphony Finale in light of Musikpsychologie. The discussion emphasizes ways in which Kurth's approach to the analysis of form overlaps with more recent approaches to embodied musical listening.
Research Article|April 01 2017
Daphne Tan; “As Forming Becomes Form”: Listening, Analogizing, and Analysis in Kurth's Bruckner and Musikpsychologie. Journal of Music Theory 1 April 2017; 61 (1): 1–28. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00222909-3855702
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