Alumni Dissertations

 

Alumni Dissertations

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  • Worthy of the Light: Feminine Heroism in Die Zauberflöte

    Author:
    Patrice Boyd
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Barbara Russano Hanning
    Abstract:

    "Worthy of the Light: Feminine Heroism in Die Zauberflöte" posits that the opera represents the apotheosis of a heroism depicted by Mozart in the female protagonists of his mature works (Konstanze and Blondchen in Die Entführung, the Countess and Susanna in Figaro, Donna Anna in Don Giovanni), with the possible exception of Così fan tutte (and arguably, in Fiordiligi, even there). This heroism encompasses moral and physical courage within the context of Christian theology, Masonic ideals, and Enlightenment philosophy (exemplified by the English philosophers and the American Revolution, rather than the French enlightenment of Voltaire and Rousseau). My premise challenges the prevailing view that Zauberflöte is misogynistic in its depiction of women. Mozart sought in Die Zauberflöte to portray a proactive, feminine heroism comprising emotional intuition, intelligence, integrity, and physical pluck. The heroine Pamina braves death, yet triumphs in life rather than in martyrdom. In her, Mozart depicts a woman who rescues herself and the man she loves while remaining honest and true to her principles (unlike some of his previous female characters, who employ deception to achieve noble ends). Konstanze is Pamina's closest operatic predecessor and a proxy for Mozart's bride Constanze Weber, whom he married following Entführung's premiere in 1782. Constanze served as his business manager in his final years, making heroic efforts to `rescue' him from financial difficulties (efforts judged by numerous critics to have been on the right track, had they not been cut short by Mozart's untimely death). The deepening of the Mozarts' love in the decade between Entführung and Zauberflöte is manifest in Pamina, whose music resembles Konstanze's and could have been sung by the real Constanze. The Queen of the Night, Pamina's mother, has been perceived as a witch for two centuries, but evidence suggests that Mozart and his librettist, Schikaneder, intended to portray her quite favorably and changed their approach for political reasons - creating a jarring shift between Acts I and II. Yet Mozart, through vocal writing for the Queen that is also strikingly similar to Konstanze's, uses musical `code' to portray her as worthy of our sympathy - and perhaps even a feminine hero.

  • The Seventeenth-Century Singer's Body: An Instrument of Action

    Author:
    Brooke Bryant
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Barbara Hanning
    Abstract:

    In the seventeenth century, singers relied both on their voices and movements of their bodies for affective expression. This study investigates the close relationship between the body and voice in the seventeenth century from a variety of viewpoints, both theoretical and practical, offering an interdisciplinary approach to this connection. The work of natural philosophers such as Galileo, Kepler, Descartes, Hooke, Huygens and Newton demonstrates sight's role as the fundamental sense through which the world was processed and understood during the seventeenth century. In this context, it is imperative to elevate the role of sight in sung performances to a position comparable to that of sound, an idea corroborated by contemporary descriptions of singing by Marino, Monteverdi and Tillet. I reexamine singing manuals and oratory, acting and iconography treatises published during this time--such as Mersenne's Harmonie Universelle, Butler's Principles of Musik in Singing and Setting, Tosi's Opinioni de' cantori antichi e moderni, Le Faucheur's Traitté de l'action de l'orateur, Hobbes's Briefe of the Art of Rhetoricke, Bulwer's Chirologia and Ripa's Iconologia--uncovering a wealth of information on how gestures of the face and hands and postures of the body may be used in song. Medical studies completed in the present and in the seventeenth century, such as Bartholin's Anatomy and Browne's Compleat Treatise of the Muscles, reveal that there are both physiological and psychological connections between the body and voice. The body plays an integral role in vocalization, which suggests that posture, movement and gesture may assist the singer in creating vocal sounds appropriate to the texts and music at hand. This research is applied to three pieces of music written for performance in different contexts: Strozzi's cantata Moralità amorosa (1654), the famous Act II recitative from Lully's Armide (1686) and "Morpheus, Thou Gentle God," a mad song by Daniel Purcell. (1699). A close reading of both music and text suggests that the composers wrote physical movement into these works, providing musical clues regarding the way that singers could manipulate their bodies in sung performances. These readings offer a new methodology for performers and historians seeking to investigate seventeenth-century performance circumstances.

  • The Seventeenth-Century Singer's Body: An Instrument of Action

    Author:
    Brooke Bryant
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Barbara Hanning
    Abstract:

    In the seventeenth century, singers relied both on their voices and movements of their bodies for affective expression. This study investigates the close relationship between the body and voice in the seventeenth century from a variety of viewpoints, both theoretical and practical, offering an interdisciplinary approach to this connection. The work of natural philosophers such as Galileo, Kepler, Descartes, Hooke, Huygens and Newton demonstrates sight's role as the fundamental sense through which the world was processed and understood during the seventeenth century. In this context, it is imperative to elevate the role of sight in sung performances to a position comparable to that of sound, an idea corroborated by contemporary descriptions of singing by Marino, Monteverdi and Tillet. I reexamine singing manuals and oratory, acting and iconography treatises published during this time--such as Mersenne's Harmonie Universelle, Butler's Principles of Musik in Singing and Setting, Tosi's Opinioni de' cantori antichi e moderni, Le Faucheur's Traitté de l'action de l'orateur, Hobbes's Briefe of the Art of Rhetoricke, Bulwer's Chirologia and Ripa's Iconologia--uncovering a wealth of information on how gestures of the face and hands and postures of the body may be used in song. Medical studies completed in the present and in the seventeenth century, such as Bartholin's Anatomy and Browne's Compleat Treatise of the Muscles, reveal that there are both physiological and psychological connections between the body and voice. The body plays an integral role in vocalization, which suggests that posture, movement and gesture may assist the singer in creating vocal sounds appropriate to the texts and music at hand. This research is applied to three pieces of music written for performance in different contexts: Strozzi's cantata Moralità amorosa (1654), the famous Act II recitative from Lully's Armide (1686) and "Morpheus, Thou Gentle God," a mad song by Daniel Purcell. (1699). A close reading of both music and text suggests that the composers wrote physical movement into these works, providing musical clues regarding the way that singers could manipulate their bodies in sung performances. These readings offer a new methodology for performers and historians seeking to investigate seventeenth-century performance circumstances.

  • Eastern and Western Concepts in Two Taiwanese Contemporary Works for Clarinet

    Author:
    Chiu-Yuan Chen
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Joseph Straus
    Abstract:

    In this dissertation, I examine in detail two contemporary clarinet works, Three Fantasias for solo clarinet (2006) by Yu-Hui Chang and All But Not At All for solo clarinet (2001) by Wei-Chieh Jay Lin, through the lens of performance practice. Each work reflects the composers' culture and training, and each combines Western and Eastern musical concepts. Through the use of Western compositional techniques, Chang and Lin exhibit various Chinese musical idioms, including pentatonicism, folk song quotation, traditional Chinese instrumental ornamentations and styles, and even Chinese philosophical ideas. In Three Fantasias, Chang vividly conveys her stories through a fusion of Taiwanese pentatonic folk song elements and the Western whole-tone and major scales. And in All But Not At All, Lin employs a trichordal set in various musical and conceptual dimensions through modeling the "trichordal array" techniques of his teacher Milton Babbitt. Besides theoretical and musical analyses, I include commentary from my interviews with the composers, interpretive suggestions from my own performing experience, and a CD of live performance recordings of these pieces.

  • Johann Nepomuk Hummel's Piano Etudes, Op. 125: A Pedagogical Analysis

    Author:
    Sun-Im Cho
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Sylvia Kahan
    Abstract:

    This study focuses on Hummel's Piano Etudes, Op. 125 (1833), his final works for piano solo. Hummel's etudes and his piano treatise Ausführliche theoretisch-practische Anweisung zum Piano-Forte Spiel (A Complete Theoretical and Practical Course on the Art of Pianoforte Playing) are his two monumental pedagogical works on the art of playing the piano, and together represent the sum total of his considerable expertise. The treatise, published in 1828 and copiously illustrated with examples and exercises, is primarily theoretical: its purpose is to explain the entire technique of piano playing. The etudes, which draw upon the essence of the ideas set forth in the treatise and which represent musical renderings of a variety of musical and technical problems, are entirely practical. In this study I analyze all twenty-four etudes and assess their importance in the context of the repertoire of piano pedagogy in general. Each etude is examined for its technical objectives, fingering, articulation, touch, dynamics, pedaling, and tempo. Whenever possible, the technical problems presented by an etude are directly correlated with Hummel's piano treatise. In passages where Hummel's instructions cannot produce the desired effect on the modern piano, an informed, alternative approach is suggested. These analyses will help the modern performer to develop a deeper understanding of Hummel's technique and a greater interpretative insight into his piano etudes.

  • Sevcik's Analytics of Works By Mendelssohn and Bazzini: A Pedagogical Analysis

    Author:
    Amelia Christian
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    John Graziano
    Abstract:

    Otakar Sevcik (1852-1934) is one of the preeminent pedagogues of violin technique of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. His well-known technical works are still in print and widely used. Sevcik's lesser-known Analytics apply his pedagogical methods to works in the standard violin repertoire. The primary focus of this dissertation is an examination and analysis of the pedagogical approach contained in two Analytics by Otakar Sevcik: Mendelssohn's (1809-1847) Violin Concerto in D (first movement), and Bazzini's (1818-1897) The Round of the Goblins. The analyses in this paper examine Sevcik's pedagogical and analytical techniques in order to more fully understand and describe his methodology. The secondary goal of this dissertation is to promulgate the Analytics and make them more widely available as resources for teachers and students. There also appears a brief survey of Sevcik's life, students, and purely technical works; his work is also placed within its historical context. Sevcik-style exercises are included for passages from Samuel Barber's Violin Concerto to demonstrate the application of his pedagogical and analytical ideas to other works. The appendices provide newly typeset publications of Sevcik's Bazzini Analytic as well as a performance score, edited with fingerings and bowings based on Sevcik's Analytic.

  • Originality and Complexity: An Analysis of Robert Schumann's Gesänge der Frühe, Op. 133

    Author:
    Eunjoo Chung
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    L. Poundie Burstein
    Abstract:

    In October 1853, Schumann wrote a set of five character pieces for piano entitled Gesänge der Frühe. During mid-1853, when Schumann composed this cycle, his creative energy was at its peak, as he exhibited remarkable pace and productivity. Schumann's unswerving enthusiasm for the Gesänge and its publication, which occurred in November 1855 as his Opus 133, is attested by many letters to his confidants during his final years. Perhaps due to the noticeably distinct compositional style of the Gesänge, as well as Schumann's mental illness during his late years that has been a source of much prejudice regarding his late compositions, relatively scant attention in both pedagogical and performing venues has been paid to this last piano cycle of Schumann. A comprehensive analytical study of the five Gesänge helps reveal much of this work's distinct compositional style, which represents both influences from the past and Schumann's personal originality.

  • Pannalal Ghosh and the Bânsurî in the Twentieth Century

    Author:
    Carl Clements
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Peter Manuel
    Abstract:

    Pannalal Ghosh (1911-1960) is credited with the introduction of the bânsurî (North Indian bamboo flute) into Hindustani classical music in the twentieth century. While the transverse flute played a significant role in the music of India at least since the early centuries CE, it had lost its status as a prominent instrument in Indian art music several hundred years before Ghosh brought it to the forefront of Hindustani classical music. Ghosh's achievement is considered in the context of his time in terms of the social, political, economic, technological, and musical circumstances in India, and particularly Bengal. While twentieth-century developments contributed to his success, it was ultimately through his own efforts that the bânsurî was accepted as a featured Hindustani classical instrument. By redesigning the instrument, working out a technique to emulate the subtleties of the voice, listening to diverse genres and styles of music, engaging in intensive study, and conceptualizing his own eclectic style of playing, he succeeded in convincing twentieth-century audiences that the bânsurî deserved a place as a valued instrument for the performance of Hindustani classical music. His achievement also paved the way for other instruments such as shahnâî, sârangî, and santûr to achieve similar recognition in the classical music of North India. I have drawn from elements of musical biography; Indian history; organology; music theory, transcription, and analysis; and anthropology to show how Ghosh's career is illustrative of a broader narrative of tradition and innovation in twentieth-century Hindustani classical music. My own studies of Hindustani classical music in the lineage of Pannalal Ghosh began in 1988, and provided a foundation for much of the work in this dissertation. Interviews with former students and associaties of Pannalal Ghosh, along with several articles about his life and work, enabled me to piece together his biography. Research into the history and culture of his time provided a clearer picture of the environment that shaped his life and musical development. Transcription and analysis of performances by Ghosh and other vocalists and instrumentalists helped me to situate his music within the context of North Indian classical music in the twentieth century.

  • LADAKHI TRADITIONAL SONGS: A CULTURAL, MUSICAL, AND LITERARY STUDY

    Author:
    Noe Dinnerstein
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Stephen Blum
    Abstract:

    This dissertation examines the place of traditional songs in the Tibetan Buddhist culture of the former Himalayan kingdom of Ladakh. I look at how Buddhism and pre-Buddhist religion informed the texts and performance contexts of traditional songs, and how Ladakhi songs represent cultural self-images through associated musical, textual, and visual tropes. Many songs of the past, both from the old royal house and the rural Buddhist populations, reflect the socio-political structure of Ladakhi society. Some songs reflect a pan-Tibetan identity, connecting the former Namgyal dynasty to both the legendary King Gesar and Nyatri Tsangpo, the historical founder of the Tibetan Yarlung dynasty. Nevertheless, a distinct Ladakhi identity is consistently asserted. A number of songs contain texts that evoke a mandala or symbolic representation of the world according to Vajrayana Buddhist iconography, ritual and meditative visualization practices. These mandala descriptions depict the social order of the kingdom, descending from the heavens, to the Buddhist clergy, to the king and nobles, to the common folk. As the region has become more integrated into modern India, Ladakhi music has moved into modern media space, being variously portrayed through scholarly works, concerts, mass media, and the internet. An examination of contemporary representations of "tradition" and ethnic identity in traditional music shows how Ladakhis from various walks of life view the music and song texts, both as producers and consumers. Situated as it was on the caravan routes between India, Tibet, China, and Central Asia, Ladakhi culture developed distinctive hybrid characteristics, including in its musical styles. Analysis of the performance practices, musical structures, form, and textual content of songs clearly indicates a fusion of characteristics of Middle Eastern, Balti, Central Asian, and Tibetan origin. Looking at songs associated with the Namgyal dynasty court, I have found them to be part of a continuum of Tibetan high literary culture, combined with complex instrumental music practices. As such, I make the argument that these genres should be considered to be art music.

  • Cadenzas Written for the Brahms Violin Concerto: Interpretation and Technical Commentary

    Author:
    Ming-Shi Du
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Ruth DeFord
    Abstract:

    Brahms' decision to leave the creation of the cadenza in his violin concerto to the soloist sets his work apart from most concertos of his time. Although the Joachim and Kreisler cadenzas are still the most commonly used for the Brahms concerto, a large number of cadenzas were written by virtuoso violinists and eminent musicians during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; most of these remain obscure and unexplored by performers and scholars alike. In this project, I analyze six cadenzas written by violin virtuosos and composers and examine stylistic and aesthetic features of each writer's approach. Although violinists who wrote cadenzas for the Brahms concerto were also composers to some extent, the underlying plan and characteristics, especially individual markings for bowings and fingerings, reveal fundamental differences from those created by musicians who were primarily composers. These kinds of markings are crucial to the musical interpretation and exploration of technical possibilities in executing the cadenzas, especially in making more instrumentally feasible and natural passages created by non-violinists. Each analysis contains my technical suggestions for bowings and fingerings, and commentary on important performance practice points.