Oppression, Evaluation, and Direction: Understanding Character Agency through the Music of Wozzeck
Date of Award
Master of Arts
Dr. Alexander M. Cannon
Dr. Matthew C. Steel
Dr. Daniel C. Jacobson
Dr. Paul R. Solomon
Music, analysis, Alban Berg, Wozzeck, Semiotics
Masters Thesis-Open Access
In Alban Berg’s opera, Wozzeck, the concept of agency is one of fundamental importance. The oppressive dictates of fate and social position are featured prominently in the plot of the opera, and the characters evaluate their relationship with these oppressive structures in order to direct their agency. This thesis explores how Berg uses musical form, leitmotivs, and semiotic topics to show how characters engage in this evaluative act and ultimately find agency in their world. Music-drama analysis in this paper is approached from a Peircean semiotic perspective, exploring how the dramatic meaning behind the music is used to inform the evaluative process. Ultimately, the analysis of these musical ideas constructs a consistent interpretation of the work, showcasing how the music of Wozzeck is integral to understanding the characters’ motivations, their fears, and the oppressive world within which they struggle to survive.
Hester, Eric Allen, "Oppression, Evaluation, and Direction: Understanding Character Agency through the Music of Wozzeck" (2016). Masters Theses. 702.