Alumni Dissertations

 

Alumni Dissertations

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  • Form in Frank Bridge's Three Phantasies

    Author:
    Vera Hui-pin Hsu
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Norman Carey
    Abstract:

    From 1905 to the mid-1930s, British music (chamber music in particular) enjoyed the enlightened patronage of Walter Willson Cobbett (1847-1937), who supported and sponsored competitions for short, one-movement, chamber works titled "phantasy." There are opposing views as to what forms these phantasies exemplify. On the one hand, Charles Villiers Stanford and J.A. Fuller-Maitland claimed that these twentieth-century phantasies exemplify one specific form, although their descriptions of that form are not completely compatible with each other. On the other hand, Ernest Walker and David Maw have argued that modern British phantasies display a variety of forms. This dissertation examines the forms of the three phantasies composed by Frank Bridge (1879-1941): the Phantasie String Quartet (1905), the award-winning Phantasie Piano Trio (1907), and the Phantasy Piano Quartet (1910). Bridge, who taught Benjamin Britten, is unarguably one of the most important composers of modern British phantasies. I argue here that Bridge applies three different formal models in his three phantasies: the Phantasy String Quartet is a super-sonata in which the first and third parts constitute a mirror-form sonata, while the second part is ternary; the Phantasie Piano Trio is subject to two equally valid readings: a two-dimensional sonata form and an ABCBA arch form; and the Phantasy Piano Quartet is an ABCBA arch. My findings thus lend credence to those such as Walker and Maw who deny that there is a single formal type for the British phantasy. Nevertheless, although Bridge's three phantasies differ in form, they each exhibit the use of arch-like structures. The evolution of form in Bridge's three phantasies suggests that the symmetry of the arch became more useful to him compositionally than conventional sonata or rondo forms. The preference for symmetrical design continues into Bridge's later works.

  • Madness, Sexuality, and Gender in Early Twentieth Century Music Theater Works: Four Interpretive Essays

    Author:
    Megan Jenkins
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Joseph Straus
    Abstract:

    Diagnoses of madness are inextricably entwined with social and cultural beliefs about gender and sexual behavior. The portrayal of characters in music theater as mad relies on contemporaneous understanding of mental illness, as often resulting from, or expressed in transgression of normative gender roles or heteronormativity, and this may apply either to male or female characters. Such transgressions are explored--with regard to recent reconceptualizations of madness within Disability Studies--in four works: Arnold Schoenberg's monodrama Erwartung (1924); Richard Strauss's opera Salome (1905); Kurt Weill's ballet chanté, Anna-Anna (1933), also known as The Seven Deadly Sins; and Igor Stravinsky's neo-classical opera, The Rake's Progress (1951). Like Lucia di Lammermoor, the nineteenth-century opera with the best-known mad scene, Erwartung features a female lead character overwrought by emotion and driven to extreme behavior. Unlike Lucia, however, Die Frau--the main character in Erwartung--was created at a time when Freudian theory was spreading widely and permeating the consciousness of both its creators and its audiences, thus lending Erwartung wider interpretive possibilities. As the title character of Richard Strauss's 1905 opera, Salome is often regarded as the opera's source of pathological desire and mental disease; however, Herod also displays traits of madness, and these traits can be interpreted through the lens of gender studies as being essentially feminine. Anna-Anna, the protagonist of Weill's ballet chanté embodies, in this reading, the Freudian concepts of schizophrenia, homosexuality, and narcissism, which Freud regarded as being inextricably entwined with one another. Baba the Turk is an essential character in The Rake's Progress because she suggests and embodies a spectral homosexual presence in the opera. She "queers" Tom Rakewell, thus highlighting his madness as the result not only of a bad bet with Nick Shadow, but also of his inability to live up to the expectations of manhood in post-World War II America.

  • Weird Scenes Inside the Gold Mine: An Analytical Study of the Music of the Doors

    Author:
    David Johnson
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Mark Spicer
    Abstract:

    The Los Angeles-based band the Doors remains iconic in rock music history and is synonymous with 1960s counterculture. Through their cultivation of a dark self-image and idiom, the band expressed, reflected, and artistically commented on the turmoil and social upheaval of late-1960s America. The Doors influenced the country's socio-cultural nexus for many reasons: their serious and often sober artistic intent, singular and pioneering styles of music, poetic ambition, theatrical inclination, countercultural affiliation, and psychedelic drug associations. This is the first dissertation to focus specifically on the Doors' music, utilizing musicological and analytical tools to explore its modus operandi and its enduring appeal. This study attempts to establish a paradigm with which to read and parse the band's style and musical meaning. Rather than taking a chronological or encyclopedic approach, I examine their output via a taxonomy I have developed based on interlinked musical and thematic qualities: songs derived from existing musical forms, those delineated by subject matter, and epic song formats. Thus, I concentrate on a representative spectrum of songs-- including many lesser-known compositions that have not been addressed to date--which aptly displays the group's ethos and musical imagination. Moreover, this study is unique because I frequently consult live recordings that were captured during the Doors' extensive tours but released years later. These recordings and my analyses of them speak to the exceptional importance of the bands' live concerts, where theatrical and improvisational forays were plumbed, and which had a tremendous impact on bands in the Doors' wake. These inclusions, taken together with the landmark hits, fill out the Doors' portrait and serve to further underscore their musical innovations as well as the boundaries they transgressed. Finally, in contradistinction to the sociological and cultural studies approaches that have prevailed, which address Morrison and the Doors primarily as signifiers of the late 1960s per se, my considerations of cultural factors and context are tethered to the Doors' actual musical, lyric, and performative production, and as such they examine the complex ways these intersected with their audience and with the larger public sphere.

  • The Woodwind Quintets of Darius Milhaud With an Emphasis on Quintette pour Instruments a vent, op.443

    Author:
    Maureen Keenan
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Ora Frishberg Saloman
    Abstract:

    In comparison to other common chamber music genres, such as the string quartet or brass quintet, the woodwind quintet possesses a rather small repertory. Darius Milhaud's (1892-1974) La Cheminée du roi René, op. 206 is a staple in that repertory and his quintets Two Sketches, op. 227 b, and Divertissement, op. 299b are performed occasionally. His final quintet, Quintette pour Instruments à vent, op. 443, is relatively unknown and very seldom performed. This dissertation investigates three of Darius Milhaud's four woodwind quintets. La Cheminée du roi René and Two Sketches are discussed, and there is a focused examination of his final quintet, Quintette pour Instruments à vent. This quintet is also Milhaud's last opus, completed in the year before his death and dedicated to his wife in honor of the couple's fiftieth anniversary, factors which contribute to the significance of the work. This study includes a biographical sketch of Milhaud and a discussion of his writings about music as well as other writers' remarks about the composer's music. It contains a brief history of woodwind quintets from the genre's inception to the twentieth century. A previous study's discussion of the form of La Cheminée du roi René is expanded with harmonic insights, and there are thorough formal analyses of Two Sketches and Quintette pour Instruments à vent. Writings about Milhaud's music are reconsidered after the works are discussed.

  • The Art Songs of Tom Cipullo

    Author:
    Elizabeth Kling
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Norman Carey
    Abstract:

    This study explores the role Tom Cipullo plays in the development of American Art Song 1992-2008. Born in 1956, composer Tom Cipullo has written well over 100 songs. His music is complex and challenging yet firmly rooted in the 20th-century continuation of Romanticism. Cipullo's choice of poetry is almost always contemporary American, embracing a full range of themes. His songs have won top awards in their field, and are well received by audiences and performers. Following a biography, a discussion of the development of the "neo-Romantic" movement in the field of Art Song, and Cipullo's role in this progression is presented. "A Guide to the Songs" provides an annotated catalog and performance guide to 67 published songs written between 1992 and 2007. The performance guide explains non-standard indications in the scores and outlines Cipullo's interpretive preferences. It provides essential information for singers, pianists, coaches, and teachers wishing to access this repertoire. Appendices provide an alphabetic list of songs, a list of authors set by Cipullo, a complete works list 1983-2009, a discography, and a bibliography. This study is informed through interviews with Cipullo. The author prepared, coached, and performed many of the songs; attended coachings and master classes with Cipullo; and attended live performances of Cipullo's songs. The remaining songs are analyzed through both professional and unpublished recordings. Several prominent performers of Cipullo's vocal music provided live interviews. Secondary sources aid in identifying Cipullo's role in the development of American Art Song 1992-2008. This study serves as the basis for further research into Cipullo's life and works, and for successful performances of his songs.

  • Multiple Agency in Mozart's Chamber Music

    Author:
    Edward Klorman
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    William Rothstein
    Abstract:

    This study undertakes an examination of elements of social intercourse encoded in Mozart's chamber music. Since the 1770s, many authors have described chamber music—especially string quartets—as a form of stylized conversation. Although this metaphor still figures prominently in discussions of the Classical style, analyses of individual chamber works rarely capture the interplay among the parts. This dissertation attempts to bridge that divide through the notion of multiple agency, which regards each instrumental part as an independent persona engaged in a seemingly spontaneous interaction with the other parts. Like actors portraying dramatic characters, the players enacting these musical characters may experience the illusion of self-determination, as if they are choosing their own statements, moment to moment, through a process of group improvisation. Multiple agency offers a theoretical model of how players may conceive of their own musical utterances and interactions as the discourse unfolds in time as they play. Harmonic, formal, and metrical events may be construed as resulting from the interaction among the characters, and conflicts or ambiguities arise when they outwit, surprise, or compete with one another. The historical study in Part I of this dissertation provides inspiration for the analytical method developed in Part II. Beginning with accounts of Mozart's own domestic music-making (Chapter 1), the historical survey proceeds to examine eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century sources that describe chamber music as a metaphorical conversation or social interaction among the instruments (Chapter 2). Chapter 3 contrasts the modern practice of performing chamber music in public concerts with the practices of Mozart's time, when this music was most commonly played at home among friends, who usually sight-read from individual parts. This setting presumably lent the music-making a spontaneous, of-the-moment quality that shares affinities to open-ended improvisation. The analytical portion introduces the concept of multiple agency in detail (Chapter 4). Departing from the traditional, omniscient vantage point for music analysis, which views the score as a unitary whole, multiple agency offers a multivalent perspective on the individual characters' roles in determining musical events. Chapters 5 and 6 examine the implications of multiple agency for the analysis of form and meter, respectively, through close readings of a number of musical excerpts from Mozart's chamber music.

  • 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.