Alumni Dissertations and Theses

 
 

Alumni Dissertations and Theses

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  • The New York Chamber Music Society, 1915-1937: A Contribution to Wind Chamber Music and a Reflection of Concert Life in New York City in the Early 20th Century

    Author:
    Lisa Kozenko
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Richard Burke
    Abstract:

    The New York Chamber Music Society, founded in 1915, was one of New York City's prominent cultural institutions in the early twentieth century. A vital piece of the classical music landscape, the Society played an important role in the city's development as one of the major artistic capitals of the world. The contributions that the organization made to wind chamber music repertoire and its mission to further the performance of chamber music in New York City are remarkable. The legacy of the New York Chamber Music Society is the works that were premiered or played for the first time in New York, especially those of leading New York City and American composers. The concerts of the New York Chamber Music Society show founder Carolyn Beebe's visionary, innovative and forward-looking approach to programming as demonstrated by the wide variety of music performed during the Society's existence. Time and again, the remarkable accounts of the lives of the musicians and their virtuosity prove that she was able to assemble the finest instrumentalists available in New York City at the time. She was able to present new and unusual repertoire tailored to New York audiences, first in the renowned Aeolian Hall for nine seasons and then, switching to more informal salon concerts, in the Grand Ballroom at the Hotel Plaza for twelve seasons. Beebe believed passionately that chamber music was, alongside other fine arts, an important and essential part of a civilized and cultured society. To this end, she made a concerted effort to establish a permanent place for chamber music in the United States and her blueprint for success is still relevant today. Classical musicians of this and future generations can read her story, discover the hidden gems she uncovered, and realize the possibilities of this rich and enduring musical legacy.

  • Politics, Improvisation, and Musicking in Frederic Rzewski's `Which Side Are You On?' from North American Ballads.

    Author:
    Andrea La Rose
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Joseph Straus
    Abstract:

    Discussions of the role of politics in Frederic Rzewski's music generally stop at surface elements: the title of the work, the use of a particular song, and guesses as to what left-leaning audience the piece is directed at. Similarly, discussion of the role of improvisation in Rzewski's work begins and ends simply at the mention of its existence. Using transcription and analysis of improvisations from recordings of "Which Side Are You On?" from North American Ballads combined with ideas about modeling from Christian Asplund, musicking from Christopher Small, dialogue from David Bohm, and Rzewski's own writings about music, I demonstrate how the political manifests at every level of the music, enabling listeners and performers to experience a socio-political situation beyond mere sloganeering, and the essential role improvisation plays in creating that experience.

  • THE PEDAGOGY OF YURI YANKELEVICH AND THE MOSCOW VIOLIN SCHOOL, INCLUDING A TRANSLATION OF YANKELEVICH'S ARTICLE "ON THE INITIAL POSITIONING OF THE VIOLINIST"

    Author:
    Mary (Masha) Lankovsky
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Joseph Straus
    Abstract:

    Abstract THE PEDAGOGY OF YURI YANKELEVICH AND THE MOSCOW VIOLIN SCHOOL, INCLUDING A TRANSLATION OF YANKELEVICH'S ARTICLE "ON THE INITIAL POSITIONING OF THE VIOLINIST" by MARY (MASHA) LANKOVSKY Advisor: Professor Joseph N. Straus Following the revolution of 1917, the center of Russian violin playing and teaching shifted from St. Petersburg to Moscow, where violinists such as Lev Tseitlin, Konstantin Mostras, and Abraham Yampolsky established an influential pedagogical tradition. Founded on principles of scientific inquiry and physiology, this tradition became known as the Moscow Violin School, a component of the larger Russian Violin School. Yuri Yankelevich (1909-1973), a student and assistant of Yampolsky, was strongly influenced by the teachers of the Moscow School. Yankelevich taught at the Moscow Conservatory from 1936 to 1973 and contributed a significant amount of methodological work to the pedagogical literature. His texts document the pedagogical principles of the Moscow Violin School, specifically addressing the psycho-physiological aspects of violin playing and teaching. Despite its importance, Yankelevich's scholarly work is largely unknown outside of Russia due, in part, to a lack of English translations of his texts. This dissertation examines Yankelevich's pedagogy, largely drawing from his posthumously published book, Pedagogicheskoe nasledie [Pedagogical heritage]. Yankelevich's work is placed in context of the traditions of the Moscow Violin School. Also included is an original translation (from the original Russian to English) of Yankelevich's article "O pervonachal'noi postanovke skripacha" [On the initial positioning of the violinist].

  • Mátyás Seiber's Twelve-Tone Technique

    Author:
    Bettina Lee
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Joseph Straus
    Abstract:

    This dissertation investigates the compositional style of Mátyás Seiber's twelve-tone music through an analysis of three works composed between 1934 and 1960: String Quartet No. 2, Concert Piece for Violin and Piano, and Sonata for Violin and Piano. Chapter 1 provides an overview of the composer's life and his compositional style. Chapter 2, on String Quartet No. 2 (1934-5), examines the subdivisions of the twelve-tone series into smaller pitch-class sets and introduces the concept of families. Chapter 3, on Concert Piece for Violin and Piano (1953-4), demonstrates the permutation of and within tetrachords derived from the prime series and the use of families as "harmonic" areas in the conventional sense. Chapter 4, on Sonata for Violin and Piano (1960), analyzes the prime series according to certain patterns that develop from the combination of ordered positions. This chapter also shows how families, which represent "harmonic" areas, are used for modulation in the classical sense.

  • Anton Rubinstein's Four Piano Sonatas

    Author:
    Jin-Ok Lee
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    L. Burstein
    Abstract:

    Anton Rubinstein's piano sonatas display stylistic features that at its time were characteristic of a conservative Russian approach to composition. Unlike in the works of some of Rubinstein's Russian contemporaries, these works eschew "folkiness" and are firmly embedded in the tonal and formal tradition of Western Europe. Although Rubinstein's sonatas do play with standard tonal and formal structures of the Romantic period to a certain extent, they nevertheless seem to be firmly in dialogue with classical sonata form and traditional tonality.

  • REWRITING THE PAST, COMPOSING THE FUTURE: SCHUMANN AND THE REDISCOVERY OF BACH

    Author:
    Meebae Lee
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Richard Kramer
    Abstract:

    Robert Schumann's conspicuous penchant for contrapuntal texture and idioms, considered the composer's characteristic musical style, is generally ascribed to the German music tradition in which Johann Sebastian Bach is the most central figure; however, concrete musical extrapolation of Bach's influence on Schumann's repertoire has been confined to rather obvious examples such as his fugal compositions or arrangements of Bach's repertoire for solo string instruments. My dissertation explores how Schumann interpreted and translated J. S. Bach's musical legacy into his own musical idiom, using it as a creative force for developing his own musical style. In this study, Schumann's life will be classified into five periods in reference to his different aesthetical, artistic, and historical imperatives, each with the following narrative pattern. The first section of each chapter lays out a chronology of Schumann's activities regarding J.S. Bach and his study of fugue and counterpoint, based on sources such as diaries, letters, and other writings. The second section discusses the significance of the main sources studied or written by Schumann in each period: Friedrich W. Marpurg's Abhandlung von der Fuge; Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier; Luigi Cherubini's Cours de contrepoint et de fuge; and his own Fugengeschichte and Lehrbuch von Kontrapunkt und Fuge. The third part explores how the historical context and sources are related to particular Schumann's compositions: the Impromptus, Op. 5; Scherzo, Gigue, Romanze, and Fughette, Op. 32; his lieder and the Phantasie for piano and orchestra; Vier Fugen, Op. 72; and Symphony in D-minor, No. 4, Op. 120. The career-spanning trajectory of the changing aspects of Schumann's pursuit of Bach--from a source of creative inspiration to a medium for achieving objectivity--will be discussed with concrete music examples. Ultimately, a reappraisal of Schumann's work in the context of his study of counterpoint and Bach sheds new light on Schumann's position in the nineteenth-century Bach revival and the role of his music as both a public and personal manifestation of Bach's enduring legacy.

  • The Interaction of Korean and Western Practices in Isang Yun's Piri for oboe solo and Other works

    Author:
    Jeong Seok Lee
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Mark Anson-Cartwright
    Abstract:

    Abstract The Interaction of Korean and Western Practices in Isang Yun's Piri for Oboe solo and Other Works by Jeong Seok Lee Advisor: Professor Mark Anson-Cartwright The Korean composer Isang Yun wrote for Western instruments using Western compositional techniques. Despite his overt dependence on resources developed outside his homeland, Yun took pains to invest his music with Korean emotion and thought. This dissertation explores the interaction of Korean and Western practices in Yun's Piri for oboe solo and other works, with particular attention to Yun's adaptation of twelve-tone technique for his own stylistic purposes. The music discussed in this study is personal in expression, yet at the same time general or universal in meaning: it embodies the ancient Eastern philosophical concept of Tao, that universal principle whereby opposites (yin and yang) may coexist. Among the techniques that are specific to Yun's style, the most important is the main-tone technique, which Yun derived from sigimsae, the melodic ornamentation used in Korean traditional music. Main-tone technique governs the processes of Yun's music, even in those pieces that use serial techniques. To gain a deeper insight into Yun's fusion of main-tone and serial techniques, I examine three of his works in detail: Etude for flute solo, Königliches Thema for violin solo, and Piri for oboe solo. Of the three analyses presented here, that of Piri forms the core of this dissertation, while the other two serve to introduce issues that are relevant to Piri. Etude for flute solo uses main-tone technique but not twelve-tone technique, thus illuminating Yun's approach to main-tone technique independent of other constraints. Königliches Thema for violin solo is serial, treating the 20-note `royal theme' of Mach's Musical Offering as a row: this reveals Yun's personal modification of serial technique, through intense engagement with a pre-existing melody. In Piri for oboe solo, main-tone and twelve-tone techniques are not merely combined, but thoroughly interwoven. A major claim of the analysis presented here is that listeners and performers must attend to tonal patterns and registral connections that are projected on three levels: the phrase, the individual movement, and the four-movement cycle. To understand the structure of Piri is not simply to follow its row structure; rather, one must observe how the melodic patterns formed by main tones and their decorations may project or conceal the row structure.

  • A Hidden Theology: Pitch Association and Symbolism in Olivier Messiaen's Meditations sur le mystere de la Sainte Trinite

    Author:
    Jeff Leigh
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Philip Lambert
    Abstract:

    Messiaen's Meditations on the Mystery of the Holy Trinity (1969) was a late work written for organ solo. The compositional idea developed from Messiaen's improvisations, performed alongside Trinitarian sermon-lectures at La Trinité in Paris. The most unique aspect of this composition is the literal language (alphabet and leitmotif grammar--nouns, verbs, and cases) that Messiaen developed for the piece. Messiaen described this as his langage communicable "communicable language." Messiaen created this varied language of leitmotifs in order to convey specific theological ideas about the Trinity. Each meditation exists to communicate Christian theology from specific texts (biblical and non-biblical). As stated above, these leitmotifs appear in a variety of formats. In this study, all motives that include any written explanation will be considered equals. Through analysis, an exploration of the leitmotifs' musical relationships and theological relationships will be considered together. Because Messiaen attaches symbolic meanings to his motives, not simply his modes, a study which focuses solely on the pitch aspect is needed to compare how these motives inter-relate. The study of pitch transformation, relationships and resultant communication is a logical and needed research departure for this unique composition. Through this investigation, the understanding of motivic association will also give further insight into the depth of Messiaen's communicable language and resultant theology.

  • Secrets of a Toy-box: A Study of Claude Debussy's La Boîte à joujoux

    Author:
    Mirna Lekic
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Sylvia Kahan
    Abstract:

    The influence of Claude Debussy's inventive musical language can be traced through to the most modern classical repertoire. Yet of the composer's three ballets, which provided the counterweight to the Russian dominance of Parisian ballet culture in the early 1900s, only Jeux has received substantial scholarly attention. The following document is a monograph on La Boîte à joujoux (1913), Debussy's innovative ballet for children or marionettes. It offers an exploration of the work's broader significance and contextualizes it both within Debussy's oeuvre and in a broader historical realm. Included is a survey of the ballet's performance history, as well as an analysis of its musical language, which establishes La Boîte à joujoux as a microcosm of Debussy's stylistic elements and an encyclopedia of allusions and direct borrowing from other composers, styles, folk and popular music.

  • A SURVEY OF DAVID RAKOWSKI'S PIANO ÉTUDES

    Author:
    Florence Liu
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Jeff Nichols
    Abstract:

    ABSTRACT A SURVEY OF DAVID RAKOWSKI'S PIANO ÉTUDES By Florence Fangchu Liu Adviser: Professor Jeff Nichols This dissertation will explore the piano solo Études written by David Rakowski (b. 1958), providing historical context, description of the body of works as a whole, analysis of selected Études, and guidelines for performance. Despite the large number of Études composed after World War II, few have gained a place in the standard repertory. This study will focus on an overall comparison in the techniques, forms, and technical difficulty of Rakowski's piano Études. His composition repertoire includes a ten-book collection of piano Études, making his not only among the largest sets of études written by a post-war composer, but also among the most comprehensive surveys of every type of piano technique. From utilizing every intervallic degree in the traditional Études to using fist and string plucking seen in contemporary composition, these highly technical Études are necessary for meeting every need as a virtuoso in contemporary music. Books one through ten are published by Peters Editions. As twentieth-century composers have developed new techniques to produce different sounds in their music, I will include a brief chapter with an overview of post-World War II piano solo Études. I will categorize the Études into ten different groups according to the techniques that composers were focusing on, and discuss various extended techniques that were used in specific Études. I will analyze selected piano Études by Rakowski in accordance with each category. This study will examine Rakowki's works from a performance perspective. I will examine both performance challenges and the interpretive elements for each Étude discussed. This study aims at providing technical advice, suggestions on interpretations, and performance solutions specifically targeted at Rakowski's Études. I hope that this dissertation can bring more interest and attention to Rakowski's piano Études. I also hope that this research will serve as a link for both performers and listeners with new ways to appreciate today's contemporary music.