Abstracts of issue 7-8 (1989)

George Zervos

The Ontological Features of the Theme and Thematic Abstraction

The release of a musical form any kind of external interpretation as well as the research for an internal meaning or musical subject forms the conclusion of an evolutionary historical process, originating through Kant, moving onwards to Hegel and Schopenhauer, and finally reaching into conclusion through Hanslick.
The latters famous proposition, that the musical theme of a composition is also the subject, doesnt simply constitute culminating point of a stepwise realization of philosophical thought in relation with the essence of music, which is not anymore interpreted in a base of a predetermined external model, but also enlightens from a different angle the meaning of the theme, which is the most important creative factor of the absolute music.
The theme is not simply an element of the whole form of a work, but something more essential; it emerges the form and in the same time it creates form. The 4th from the Five movements for string quartet op. 5 of A. Webern gives us the possibility to trace the meaning of abstraction in music, which is meant as an equal of the abolition, of the traditional function of the theme, and its final abolishment.
The systematic attempt of concealing the theme in contrast with the attempt of emerging it in tonal music leads us to the conclusion that in that work of Webern there is no theme with the traditional meaning, but a wider idea of the theme as a constructive principle, whose transformations are presented and obtain meaning through the form. But in this way, this constructive principle is ammulated.