Date of Award

Spring 2020

Document Type





College of Arts and Media

Primary Advisor

Dr. Cameron H. McNabb


Symphonic poetry, a widely overlooked genre in musico-literary scholarship, provides a unique focal point into the relationship between music and extramusical texts. Invented by Franz Liszt in the mid-19th century, symphonic poems (or ‘tone poems’) interpret literary texts or ideas through short orchestral works. Thus, the symphonic poem invites close analysis of the semiotic relationship between music and literature. Using Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Liszt’s Symphonic Poem No. 10 (“Hamlet”), this thesis examines the relationship between the Shakespearean tragedy and Lisztian symphonic poetry. This focus is a microcosm for the musico-literary relationship and, henceforth, an undiscovered niche that involves disciplines as diverse as intertextuality, semiology, musicology, literary criticism, and neurophilosophy. By bridging the gaps between literary criticism and musical analysis, this thesis provides a fresh glimpse at the relationship between these two different but complementary fields.