Robert Snarrenberg

Associate Professor of Theory and Composition
PhD, University of Michigan
MM, University of Cincinnati
BM, Covenant College
research interests:
  • Schenker
  • Metaphor and Music Analysis
  • Brahms
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contact info:

office hours:

  • By appointment

mailing address:

  • Washington University
  • CB 1032
  • One Brookings Drive
  • St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
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​Professor Snarrenberg's research has focused on close reading of the writings of Heinrich Schenker, in particular his uses of figurative language in analytical writing, his philosophy of music analysis, and problems of translation.

Robert Snarrenberg earned a B.Mus. from Covenant College (1979), a Masters of Music from the University of Cincinnati's College-Conservatory of Music (1985), and a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan (1991). He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on species counterpoint, analysis of tonal music, German art song, and contemporary music theory. He served as chair of the Department of Music in 2000-2005. 

Professor Snarrenberg's research has focused on close reading of the writings of Heinrich Schenker, in particular his uses of figurative language in analytical writing, his philosophy of music analysis, and problems of translation. Prof. Snarrenberg is the author of the award-winning book, Schenker's Interpretive Practice (Cambridge University Press, 1997), work on which was supported by a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities. His current book project is a study of language and music in the solo songs of Johannes Brahms.

Publications

                 “Brahms’s Non-Strophic Settings of Stanzaic Poetry: Three Case Studies.” Proceedings of the 9th European Music Analysis Conference, ed. Pierre Couprie, Alexandre Freund-Lehmann, Xavier Hascher, and Nathalie Hérold (Strasbourg, 2018). Forthcoming.

2017        “Linear and Linguistic Syntax in Brahms’s O kühler Wald, Op. 72 No. 3.” Music Analysis 36 (3) (2017): 372–83.

2017        “Brahms’s Non-strophic Settings of Stanzaic Poetry.” Music & Letters 98 (2) (2017): 204–31.

2014        “On the Prosody of German Lyric Song.” Journal of Music Theory 58 (2): 103–54

2012        "Brahms’s Six Songs, Op. 3." Music Analysis (31) (1): 2–36

2004-5 Translations of 10 essays in Heinrich Schenker, Der Tonwille. Vol. 1. Ed. William Drabkin. Trans. Ian Bent, William Drabkin, Joseph Dubiel, Joseph Lubben, and Robert Snarrenberg. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

2001        "Schenker, Heinrich." The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2d ed.

1997        Schenker's Interpretive Practice. Cambridge Studies in Music Theory and Analysis, no. 11, ed. Ian Bent. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

1996        "The Art of Translating Schenker: A Commentary on The Masterwork in Music, vol. 1." Music Analysis 15 (2-3): 301-42.

1994        "Competing Myths: The American Abandonment of Schenker's Organicism." In Theory, Analysis and Meaning in Music, ed. Anthony Pople (Cambridge University Press), 30-56.

1992        "Schenker's Senses of Concealment." Theoria 6:97-133.

1992        "Zen and the Way of  Soundscroll." Perspectives of New Music 30 (1): 222-37.

1987        "The Play of Différance: Brahms's Intermezzo, Op. 118, No. 2." In Theory Only 10 (3): 1-25.

1986        "Hearings of Webern's 'Bewegt.'" Perspectives of New Music 24 (2): 386-404.

Awards

Young Scholar Award, Society for Music Theory, 1998

Fellowship for University Teachers, National Endowment for the Humanities, 1995

Jacob K. Javits Fellowship, U.S. Department of Education, 1987-89

Courses

Music Theory I-IV

Analysis I-II

Introduction to Schenker

Seminars in Schenkerian analysis, contemporary music theory, variations, thoroughbass, German art song, and Brahms's chamber music.

Translations

2004        Heinrich Schenker, Der Tonwille. Vol. 1. Ed. William Drabkin. Trans. Ian Bent, William Drabkin, Joseph Dubiel, Joseph Lubben, and Robert Snarrenberg. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

          “Die Urlinie: Eine Vorbemerkung” (1:22–26)

          “Franz Schubert: ‘Ihr Bild’” (1:46–49)

          “Gesetze der Tonkunst” (2:3)

          “Geschichte der Tonkunst” (2:3–4)

          “Noch ein Wort zur Urlinie” (2:4–6)

          “Haydn: Sonate Es-Dur” (3:3–21)

          “Die Kunst zu hören” (3:22–25)

2005        Heinrich Schenker, Der Tonwille. Vol. 2. Ed. William Drabkin. Trans. Ian Bent, William Drabkin, Joseph Dubiel, Joseph Lubben, and Robert Snarrenberg. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

          “Der wahre Vortrag” (6:36–40)

          “Beethoven: Sonate opus 57” (7:3–33)

          “Wirkung und Effekt” (8–9:47–48)

Schenker's Interpretive Practice

Schenker's Interpretive Practice

Schenker's Interpretive Practice is the first comprehensive study of this century's most influential music theorist, Heinrich Schenker. Since the 1960s, American theorists and musicologists have focused almost exclusively on analytical methods distilled from Schenker's writings. Breaking from that tradition, Robert Snarrenberg returns to Schenker's texts and to the humanist roots of his approach, situating Schenker's work in the broader context of his desire to portray the richness and particularity of musical experience. Snarrenberg concentrates on four aims that Schenker hoped to achieve: to present a theoretical account of musical effects encountered in European music of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, to represent the mindset shared among composers of that music, to convey the expressive interaction of musical effects in individual artwork, and to promote continued creative and re-creative participation in the musical tradition.Author recipient of the 1998 Young Scholar Award from the Society of Music Theory.

“Linear and Linguistic Syntax in ‘O kühler Wald’ (Brahms, Opus 72, No. 3)” Music Analysis, 36/3

“Linear and Linguistic Syntax in ‘O kühler Wald’ (Brahms, Opus 72, No. 3)” Music Analysis, 36/3

This essay explores the interplay between states of syntactic completion and incompletion in the text and music of Brahms's O kühler Wald and how the composer thereby conveys an interpretation of the poetic text to create an experience for the listener that bears a striking resemblance to the experience of the poem's lovelorn persona.

“Brahms’s Non-Strophic Settings of Stanzaic Poetry” Music & Letters 98/2

“Brahms’s Non-Strophic Settings of Stanzaic Poetry” Music & Letters 98/2

There are only a handful of solo songs in which Brahms composed a setting that is not congruent with the poem’s stanzaic structure. This article explores textual motivations for the non-strophic design of twelve songs, tracing the correlation of musical designs with such factors as the grammatical mood of the poem’s verbs (indicative, imperative, subjunctive, realis/irrealis), changes in the persona’s attention (digressions or interruptions in a train of thought, a shift of focus between inner and outer worlds), alternation between the lyric present and the persona’s past or future experience, as well as changes in semantic focus (imagery, topic), discourse function (dialogue, quotation, requests and commands, descriptions and wishes), and narrative (characters, scenes, agency).