Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Fine Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Karen Bottge


On Christmas Day in 1841, Fanny Hensel presented her husband with a Christmas gift—Das Jahr—a piano cycle comprised of twelve pieces, each one depicting a month of The Year. Not long thereafter, Fanny and husband Wilhelm would collaborate to create a Gesamtkunstwerk, reworking Das Jahr and expanding it by two additional expressions: vignettes drawn into the score by Wilhelm, and epigrams, snippets of poetry by master German poets.

This dissertation seeks to answer the question: “What meaning is achieved by the intersection of the three modalities present in Das Jahr: textual (epigram), visual (vignette), and aural (music)?” The methodology considers the broader texts from which the epigrams are drawn in conjunction with Wilhelm’s vignettes and Hensel’s sonic landscape to arrive at an emergent meaning.

An informed musical analysis drawing on formal considerations, contour, metaphor in music, topic theory, and harmonic function has been employed to arrive at the interpretation that will be presented. By analyzing these three modalities in conjunction with one another, a compelling narrative emerges, whereby the words of poets, the artwork of Wilhelm, and the aural world of Fanny conjoin to tell a story, one that relies upon the relationship between text, art, and music.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

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