Schenker has a puzzling and controversial habit of claiming that musical works must be as they are and that their features are somehow necessary. I argue that Schenker's necessitarianism becomes comprehensible if it is recognized as an outgrowth of his methodological organicism, which is in turn motivated by his Hanslickian musical absolutism. What emerges from this triangulation of commitments is that Schenker's interpretive practice accords with the scientific precepts Kant's philosophy of biology attempts to establish. This result casts new light on the purport of Schenker's graphical technique.
Skip Nav Destination
Bryan J. Parkhurst; Making a Virtue of Necessity: Schenker and Kantian Teleology. Journal of Music Theory 1 April 2017; 61 (1): 59–109. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00222909-3855722
Download citation file: