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Jessica Payette
Graduate Dissertation Fellow 2006-07, Music

Jessica Payette is completing a dissertation entitled, "Exceeding Expectation: A Reception History of Arnold Schoenberg's Erwartung." Erwartung, a "monodrama" composed in 1909 for soprano and orchestra, follows the disoriented course of an unidentified and increasingly delusional woman in pursuit of her departed lover. The work's radical atonal dialect and thematic focus on conflict between the sexes have assured it a position in the musical canon as the quintessential document of musical Expressionism. This study traces the work's reception by a variety of interpretive communities, including composers of art music, film music composers, performance artists, and choreographers, to demonstrate that the monodrama's novel combination of vocal strain with unruly instrumental sonorities initiates the production of a specialized sound culture that repeatedly accompanies exhibitions of female trauma in diverse art forms.