Alumni Dissertations

 

Alumni Dissertations

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  • Julius Klengel (1859-1933) and Hugo Becker (1864-1941): Their Works and Legacies as Violoncello Performers and Pedagogues

    Author:
    Yu Chi Vicky Wang
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Barbara Hanning
    Abstract:

    Julius Klengel (1859-1933) and Hugo Becker (1863-1941) were two of the most influential cellists of the late nineteenth century. Both were closely associated with the Dresden cello-school tradition of Grutzmacher and masters of interpretation of Romantic-period composers. However, very little has been written about their respective beginnings, concertizing careers and accomplishments, teaching styles and materials, compositions and editions, and philosophies relating to cello technique. Nonetheless, Klengel's and Becker's legacies and contributions to cello literature and technique continue to influence cellists today. Thanks to the memoirs of their contemporaries and students through an analysis of recordings, technical studies, perofrmance editions, and published compositions, this dissertation attempts to investigat the different aspects of their respective careers, illuminating the similarities and differences between these two German master cellists. This dissertation also revisits the evolution of cello techniques, performance practices, and repertoire just prior to the emergence of Casals's revolutionary teaching philosophies, which shaped the succeeding generation of cellists.

  • A HIstory of the New York Flute Club

    Author:
    David Wechsler
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Bruce MacIntyre
    Abstract:

    Abstract A History of the New York Flute Club by David J. Wechsler Advisor: Dr. Bruce MacIntyre The New York Flute Club is one of the oldest organizations of its kind in the United States. The club has been a fixture on the New York City music scene since its inception in 1920. It was formed as a gathering place for amateurs and professionals alike to promote the flute in both social and performance contexts, and has had a direct impact on the musical life of flutists who have come to New York City to study and perform. From the historic perspective, it has provided a meeting ground for flutists to network for many years. From an artistic viewpoint, it has been a place to hear many styles of flute repertoire: from the many premieres of conservative style new works to cutting-edge avant-garde pieces; from standard works to chamber music. In addition to conventional flute concerts, there have been early music, jazz, electronic, avant-garde, and ethnic flute performances. The idea for the NYFC took shape in 1920, when a group of seventeen flutists met at the home of its founder, French émigré Georges Barrère, to play the Kuhlau Grand Quartet op. 103. Barrère was then the principal flutist of the New York Symphony Orchestra and flute professor at the Institute of Musical Art (predecessor of The Juilliard School). The club was incorporated in the State of New York on December 31, 1920 and held its first meeting five days later. The Club's activities in the first decade were regularly covered by The Flutist magazine, published by Dr. Emil Medicus, and early programs included flute ensemble music and the works of contemporary composers, including several women. In more recent years, the club has released recordings, mounted exhibits at the New York Public Library at Lincoln Center, introduced competitions, done outreach to schools, and started an annual flute fair. The club's value to scholarly research lies in its longevity as an organization, its advocacy of the French style of flute playing, its flexibility in a time of changing artistic tastes, and the large number of concerts that have been performed by great flutists for the past 91 years. It is a club worth knowing more about. The appendixes to this study include a detailed chronology of the repertoire and personnel of the club's concerts, as well as separate lists of concerts performed by officers and/or key personnel of the club whose presence in the club's history is noteworthy. These include John Wummer, Harry Moskovitz, Paige Brook, and Eleanor Lawrence.

  • A study and reconstruction of _The Passing Show of 1914_: The American Musical Revue and its Development in the early Twentieth Century

    Author:
    Jonas Westover
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Allan Atlas
    Abstract:

    "A Study and Reconstruction of _The Passing Show of 1914_: The American Musical Revue and its Development in the Early Twentieth Century" examines a subject that has been neglected in many fields, including those of music, film, and theater: the revue. Specifically, this dissertation offers a complete restoration of one of the earliest examples of the American revue, with a full score, the script in its incarnations, costumes, photographs, contracts, and a vast array of other pertinent information. This study stands as the earliest example of any musical comedy reconstructed with its original orchestrations, which in this case are by Frank Saddler, a legend in the business for whom no original work has been examined in depth. This revue is important for many reasons: it is the first musical comedy written by Sigmund Romberg, it is one of the most important starring roles for the female impersonator George W. Monroe, and it presents the Broadway debut of Marilyn Miller, one of the biggest stage stars of the 1920s. Significantly, the show uses a script with recurring characters who act out a plot, challenging the very notion of what constitutes the genre of the revue. Biographies of the creators and actors in the show are explored, as is the reception history of the show and its relationship with its major competitor, Ziegfeld`s _Follies_. Issues of orchestration, musical form, melodic and harmonic analysis, and the formulation of a musical hit are also examined. The result of this research indicates that The Passing Show was a series that relied on its audience`s knowledge of the complete Broadway experience--from operettas and ―straight plays to musicals and vaudeville--for references and for a sense of cohesion that the modern revue purposefully eschews. This study provides a unique window into the world of early American musical theater.

  • Focal Dystonia in Pianists: The Role of Musical Institutions

    Author:
    Judy Woo
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Sylvia Kahan
    Abstract:

    This dissertation examines the role of musical institutions in the prevention and possible cure for focal dystonia through the possible collaboration between the medical, pedagogical, and performance professions. The first chapter will outline the medical profession's role in musicians' health, including the diagnosis and current treatment of focal dystonia. The second chapter outlines the pedagogical profession's role in the prevention of focal dystonia and includes an analysis of several pedagogical retraining programs seen through the eyes of the medical, pedagogical and performance professions. The final chapter covers the performance profession's role in focal dystonia, and includes interviews with the celebrated pianists Gary Graffman and Leon Fleisher.

  • At the Threshold: Edgard Varèse, Modernism, and the Experience of Modernity

    Author:
    Robert Wood
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Richard Kramer
    Abstract:

    The writings of composer Edgard Varèse have long been celebrated for their often ecstatic, optimistic proclamations about the future of music. With manifesto-like brio, they put forth a vision of radically new instruments and sounds, delineate the parameters for spatially oriented composition, and initiate the discourse of what would become electronic music. Yet just as important for understanding Varèse is the other side of the coin: a thematics of failure concerning the music of the present--a failure of old instruments to transcend their limitations, a failure of technique to achieve certain compositional ideals, and a failure of music to connect listeners adequately to the vital current of the times. This dissertation explores the connection of Varèse's visions of transcendence, together with his continual refrain of art's metaphysical failure, to one of modernism's utopian and impossible demands: that the artwork somehow seize upon or make contact with modernity itself--that it be, in the words of Rimbaud, "absolutely modern." In Varèse's case, this will mean a desire--stemming partially from the sense of always being left behind by the coursing temporality of post-war modernity--for works (and through them, listeners) to enter into an intimate communion with the modern world, providing a kind of unmediated contact with the creative-destructive drive of the new. Chapter 1 will explore this desire by way of Varèse's interest in the siren, whose continuous parabolic curves will come to symbolize an unmediated realm of the musical real beckoning just beyond the clumsy reach of the tempered scale. In chapter 2, Varèse's desired immediacy will take the form of the absolute present, which the artwork will attempt to apprehend both through its collaboration with science and through what Varèse will call its necessary "permanent revolution." In chapter 3, immediacy will be explored by way of Varèse's highly physical, at times violent, notion of sound, which will become a means of making actual contact with the listener's body while dissolving the barriers separating them from modernity's coursing vital stream.

  • Chappie Willet and Popular Music Arranging in Swing Era New York

    Author:
    John Wriggle
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Jeffrey Taylor
    Abstract:

    American popular music of the 1930s and '40s, commonly referred to as the Swing Era, saw established traditions of Broadway stage scoring and commercial dance band arranging intersect with the jazz tradition and the continued expansion of New York City's music publishing and recording industries. Music arrangers held an integral role within each of these fields, and the corresponding emergence of the large dance orchestra or "big band" as the primary vehicle for popular music resulted in significant visibility of their work. The music of these arrangers reflected and influenced popular culture through stage productions presented at the theater and nightclub venues of New York's Times Square district, where segregated black entertainment formerly offered in Harlem was now presented to largely white audiences on Broadway. This study demonstrates the central position music arrangers held in New York's Swing Era music industry. Chapters 1, 2, and 3 examine the historical role of popular music arrangers, the technical education required of the profession, and historical practices in the context of live stage entertainment. Chapters 4, 5, and 6 analyze orchestration techniques and characteristics of different Swing arranging genres--including classics, concertos, novelty songs, vocal ballads, dance specials, and exotic numbers--that comprised Swing's cross-cultural aesthetic. The career and music of African-American freelance arranger Francis "Chappie" Willet (1907-1976) is examined to explore relationships between musical style and the contemporary entertainment industry. Additional technical and social context is provided through the author's interviews with primary participants, analyses of archival manuscripts, and citations from contemporary press and trade publications.

  • Robert Schumann's Genoveva and the Creation of a German Opera

    Author:
    Elizabeth Wright
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Richard Kramer
    Abstract:

    ROBERT SCHUMANN'S GENOVEVA AND THE CREATION OF A GERMAN OPERA History tells us that Wagner, in the 1840s, was attempting to put his stamp on a modern German operatic tradition. Schumann too, in his only opera Genoveva (1847-49), was preoccupied with many similar issues. His aim was not so much to create something completely new, but something truly German, devoid of all foreign influence. His criticisms and correspondence attest to just how important the idea of a national German musical identity was to him. While a complete break with the surrounding musical world was unrealistic, Schumann did incorporate significant elements that can be identified as incontrovertibly progressive: the use of an almost continuous arioso style of vocal writing; the eschewal of conventional recitative and coloratura; a rudimentary leitmotif technique; and an almost unbroken through composition, where each number flows effortlessly into the next. Schumann's text was an amalgam of several different literary sources (chiefly those of Ludwig Tieck and Friedrich Hebbel), but the finished libretto was very much dictated by Schumann's own literary predilections. Contemporary criticism largely read Schumann's characters as flat and undifferentiated but, in actuality, the individuation of his characters and their resonance in the tension of the Schumann household have left us with a stronger view of the composer's personality. In particular, closer attention to Schumann's treatment of characterization, in his libretto as well as in the details of the composition, supply evidence of the need for a critical reexamination of the work.

  • MUSIC AND NATIONAL IDENTITY: A STUDY OF CELLO WORKS BY TAIWANESE COMPOSERS

    Author:
    YU-TING WU
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Philip Rupprecht
    Abstract:

    The purpose of this study is to explore the impact of folkloric elements in music by Taiwanese composers and to uncover the methods they treat regional materials under the influences of Western compositional techniques, hereby creating a new fusion within classical music. This study centers in the ethnic impact on modern Taiwanese music, and also provides an opportunity to probe the significance of the subject "nation" in the field of musical creativity. In this dissertation, the discussion includes the development of traditional and Western music in Taiwan including the historical and cultural background, how music serves as an emblem of national identity; the ties that have developed in the twentieth century between concert music and traditional Taiwanese music, and the progress in Western contemporary music. Musical forms and textures of five cello-related works of Taiwanese composers are analyzed and compared. These Taiwanese composers are representative of the last three generations; all have had traditional Western-style training in composition in Japan, Europe, or America. The works discussed are Trio: Nostalgia, Three Melodies by Tsang-Houei Hsu, Cello Concerto by Tyzen Hsiao, Idea and Image by Shui-Long Ma, Monologue of Sin by Gordon Chin, and Trio by Kwang-I Ying. By focusing on the relationship between national materials and new music compositions, and how composers understand and interpret these elements in their own works, such a study may stimulate more research in Taiwanese art music and bring it to a broader stage and serve to draw attention to further possible directions for Taiwanese educators, performers, and composers allowing them to introduce their works to an international audience.

  • Voice Leading in the Music of George Perle

    Author:
    John Wykoff
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Joseph Straus
    Abstract:

    Most studies of George Perle's music have an essentially harmonic orientation. They typically involve referring harmonies back to Perle's precompositional arrays. This study seeks to shift the conversation in a new direction by giving voice leading priority. Twelve-tone tonality is construed as a voice leading system in which two streams of voice leading flow simultaneously, generating a higher level counterpoint of counterpoints. Each stream of voice leading consists of trichords or dyads that wedge symmetrically. A novel three-tier analysis is introduced which enables the analyst to peer through the score to the voice leading. Motion within and between arrays is considered from the perspective of voice leading. Examples of Perle's music are given, including a voice leading analysis of two full movemements. The study ends with a discussion of implications for hearing wedge voice leading.

  • FREE FROM JAZZ: The Jazz and Improvised Music Scene in Vienna after Ossiach (1971-2011)

    Author:
    Thomas Zlabinger
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Music
    Advisor:
    Peter Manuel
    Abstract:

    Focusing on a diverse and eclectic scene that is under-documented, this dissertation investigates the historical, social, and cultural aspects of jazz and improvised music in Vienna over the last four decades. Through fieldwork, I have observed various characteristics and trends regarding the jazz and improvised music scene in Vienna and have subsequently organized the musicians and their recordings into seven fluid "fields": Traditional-U.S. Performance, Post-Tradition, DJ/Hip-Hop, Volk/Ethnic, Cabaret, Unclassified, and Abroad. One of the most striking aspects of the entire scene is the near-absence of a racialized discourse among musicians and critics and of stereotypical markers of "blackness" in performance. Moreover, the absence of an African-descendent population in Austria, due to the country's near-lack of a colonial history, distinguishes it from the U.S.'s jazz context. Even without a colonial history, one of the common threads throughout Austria's history is cultural mixture (Brook-Shepherd 1996) due to its geographic location and its propensity to merge with its neighbors through marriage rather than might. Additionally, Austria's jazz scene had no need to resist a U.S.-model of jazz performance practice, while other jazz scenes in Europe and around the world struggled to "be free of America" (Atkins 2001). Therefore, the construction of jazz and improvised music in Vienna is better seen as a process of cultural layering, rather than the more familiar process of signifying (Gates 1988) in the United States. Finally, most jazz and improvised music is performed without a driving rhythm. I highlight these and other aspects of Vienna's scene by examining recordings by Mathias Rüegg, Franz Koglmann, Wolfgang Mitterer, Clemens Salesny, Franz Hautzinger, and ctrl.