I have spent most of my active creative life as an artist and composer. However, from time to time I have interrupted these activities to write about music in a desperate attempt to explain the unexplainable. Music remains such a mystery that serious efforts to analyze it are like shooting at clouds. However, in the process of doing so I have learned a great deal about the genius of others and I have tried to share these insights with my students and colleagues.
My first foray into the world of music scholarship was the doctoral dissertation I wrote under the mentorship of Martin Chusid at New York University. Since he was a leading Verdi scholar he invited me to choose a topic in that little traveled area. After much struggle to find something significant to write about I discovered that Verdi had revised a large number of his operas and, in doing so, generally made the revisions more interesting, complex, and tonally coherent. This resulted in "The Development of Tonal Coherence as Evidenced in the Revised Operas of Giuseppe Verdi" that I typed on my Olivetti portable way back in 1973 and now resides on a dusty shelf in the basement of the NYU library.
When my life adventure arrived at its 60th year I decided to give myself a present, one that was a long time in coming. For the previous 38 years of my teaching career I had tried on numerous occasions to share with my students some insights into the mysteries of Wagner's Prelude to "Tristan und Isolde." At age sixty I felt that I had never sufficiently plumbed the depths of this musical monument to understand what was really going, so I sat down and attempted to clarify the harmonic obfuscations by creating a lead sheet of the melody, bass line, and chord symbols. Cutting through the hyper-chromatic voice leading in this piece was like hacking my way through a jungle thicket, so it took me two months to accomplish this task. Afterwards, I spent another three months thinking about the data I had unearthed and trying to write something coherent about what I had observed, or what I thought I saw since everything in life is about perception.
On the next page of this website you will find the introduction to this birthday gift. The article was accepted for publication in the International Journal of Musicology but has yet to see the light of day because of problems with the publisher and the world of scholarly music theory publications in general.
If you would like to receive a copy of this 20-page paper, or any other scholarly tome mentioned herein, just e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be happy to send it to you. However, you should know that reading a theory treatise like this has been known to cause extreme cases of narcolepsy.