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 Degree Discipline: Musicology
Reconstructing Convention: Ensemble Forms in the Operas of Jules Massenet

Reconstructing Convention: Ensemble Forms in the Operas of Jules Massenet

Date: December 2004
Creator: Straughn, Gregory
Description: Over the last quarter-century, scholars have taken a unified approach in discussing form in Italian and French opera of the nineteenth century. This approach centers around the four-part aria and duet form begun by Bellini, codified by Rossini, modified by Verdi, and dissolved by Puccini. A similar trajectory can be seen in French opera in the works of Meyerbeer, Gounod, and Massenet; however, only Meyerbeer and Gounod have received significant critical attention. This is in part due to Massenet's reception as a "composer for the people," a title ill fitting and ripe for reconsideration. This dissertation will examine duet forms in Massenet's oeuvre and will focus on the gradual change in style manifest in his twenty-five operas. Massenet's output can be divided into three distinct periods delineated by his approach to form. Representative works from each period will show how he inherited, interpreted, thwarted, and ultimately rewrote the standard formal conventions of his time and in doing so, created a dramaturgical approach to opera that unified the formerly separate number-based elements. Massenet's longevity and popular appeal make him the quintessential French opera composer of the fin de siècle and the natural choice for examining reconstructed conventions.
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Beyond the Human Voice: Francis Poulenc's Psychological Drama La Voix humaine (1958)

Beyond the Human Voice: Francis Poulenc's Psychological Drama La Voix humaine (1958)

Date: May 2000
Creator: Beard, Cynthia C.
Description: Francis Poulenc's one-character opera La Voix humaine (1958), a setting of the homonymous play by Jean Cocteau, explores the psychological complexities of an unnamed woman as she experiences the end of a romantic relationship. During the forty-minute work, she sings in a declamatory manner into a telephone, which serves as a sign of the unrevealed man at the other end. Poulenc uses musical motives to underscore the woman's changing emotional states as she recalls her past relationship. The musical dramaturgy in this work resignifies Debussy's impressionist symbolism by collapsing devices used in Pelléas et Mélisande in a language that shifts between octatonicism, chromaticism, harmonic and melodic whole tone passages, and diatonicism. This late work recontextualizes elements in Poulenc's Dialogues des Carmélites (1953-56), and the end of the opera provides a theme for his Sonate pour Clarinet et Piano(1962), as Poulenc reflects on his youthful encounters with Cocteau, Erik Satie, and Les Six.
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Beyond the "Year of Song": Text and Music in the Song Cycles of Robert Schumann after 1848

Beyond the "Year of Song": Text and Music in the Song Cycles of Robert Schumann after 1848

Date: May 2007
Creator: Ringer, Rebecca Scharlene
Description: In recent years scholars have begun to re-evaluate the works, writings, and life of Robert Schumann (1810-1856). One of the primary issues in this ongoing re-evaluation is a reassessment of the composer's late works (roughly defined as those written after 1845). Until recently, the last eight years of Schumann's creative life and the works he composed at that time either have been ignored or critiqued under an image of an illness that had caused periodic breakdowns. Schumann's late works show how his culture and the artists communicating within that culture were transformed from the beginning to the middle of the nineteenth century. These late works, therefore, should be viewed in the context of Schumann's output as a whole and in regard to their contributions to nineteenth-century society. Schumann's contributions, specifically to the genre of the song cycle from 1849 to 1852, are among his late compositional works that still await full reconsideration. A topical study, focusing on three themes of selections from his twenty-three late cycles, will provide a critical evaluation of Schumann's compositional output in the genre of the song cycle. First, Schumann's political voice will be examined. The political events that led to the mid-nineteenth-century revolutions inspired crucial ...
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"Marvelous Accidents": The Concerto for Prepared Piano and Chamber Orchestra of John Cage

"Marvelous Accidents": The Concerto for Prepared Piano and Chamber Orchestra of John Cage

Date: December 1999
Creator: Boutwell, Brett N.
Description: John Cage’s Concerto for Prepared Piano and Chamber Orchestra (1950-51) holds a unique position within the composer’s oeuvre as the first work based in part on chance-derived compositional procedures. Cage entered into such practice gradually, incrementally abandoning subjective taste and personal expression through the course of the work. Drawing from the philosophical framework provided by Cage’s "Lecture on Nothing" (1950) and "Lecture on Something" (c. 1951-52), this thesis explores the aesthetic foundations of the concerto and examines Cage’s compositional methodology throughout its three movements. Special attention is paid to the procedure underlying the first movement, whose analysis is based largely on the composer’s manuscript materials for the work.
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Nobody's Fool: A Study of the Yrodivy in Boris Godunov

Nobody's Fool: A Study of the Yrodivy in Boris Godunov

Date: December 1999
Creator: Pollard, Carol J.
Description: Modest Musorgsky completed two versions of his opera Boris Godunov between 1869 and 1874, with significant changes in the second version. The second version adds a concluding lament by the fool character that serves as a warning to the people of Russia beyond the scope of the opera. The use of a fool is significant in Russian history and this connection is made between the opera and other arts of nineteenth-century Russia. These changes are, musically, rather small, but historically and socially, significant. The importance of the people as a functioning character in the opera has precedence in art and literature in Russia in the second half of the nineteenth-century and is related to the Populist movement. Most importantly, the change in endings between the two versions alters the entire meaning of the composition. This study suggests that this is a political statement on the part of the composer.
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Asserting Identity in Wagner's Shadow: The Case of Engelbert Humperdinck's  Königskinder (1897)

Asserting Identity in Wagner's Shadow: The Case of Engelbert Humperdinck's Königskinder (1897)

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Date: August 2004
Creator: Kinnett, Forest Randolph
Description: Engelbert Humperdinck (1854-1921), who was considered a Wagnerian due to to his past work in Bayreuth and the Wagnerian traits of his Hänsel und Gretel, seems to have believed that to define himself as a composer, he had to engage somehow with that designation, whether through orthodox Wagner imitation or an assertion of his independence from Wagner's musical legacy. The latter kind of engagement can be seen in Humperdinck's Königskinder (1897), in which he developed a new kind of declamatory notation within the context of melodrama, thus fulfilling Wagnerian ideals as well as progressing beyond them. The effectiveness of Humperdinck's effort is seen in the ensuing critical reception, in which the realities of being heard as a Wagnerian composer are clarified.
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Poetry and Patronage: Alessandro Scarlatti, The Accademia Degli Arcadia, and the Development of the Conversazione Cantata in Rome 1700-1710

Poetry and Patronage: Alessandro Scarlatti, The Accademia Degli Arcadia, and the Development of the Conversazione Cantata in Rome 1700-1710

Date: May 2005
Creator: Hale Harris, Kimberly Coulter
Description: The special relationship of patrons, librettists, and composers, in the Accademia degli'Arcadia in Rome from 1700-1710 appears in Alessandro Scarlatti's settings of Antonio Ottoboni's cantata librettos in the anthology GB Lbm. Add. 34056. An examination of Arcadian cantatas and their texts reveals the nature of their audience, function, and their place within the historical development of the genre. The conversazione cantata did not exist outside of Rome and was popular for only a brief period in the early eighteenth century. Critical examination of primary sources, including minutes from the Arcadian Academy meetings as well as household documents regarding the Cardinals Ottoboni and Pamphili, Prince Ruspoli, and other noble families, sheds light on the culture of the Arcadian Academy and the cantata within it, broader study clarifies the individuality of the conversazione cantata within Rome, and closer study of the contribution of the greatest cantata composer 1700-1710, Alessandro Scarlatti.
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The Waning of Victorian Imperialism: Stylistic Dualism in Gustav Holst's One-Act Opera Sāvitri (1908-9)

The Waning of Victorian Imperialism: Stylistic Dualism in Gustav Holst's One-Act Opera Sāvitri (1908-9)

Date: May 2005
Creator: Broughton, Joseph Earl
Description: Gustav Holst's one-act opera Sāvitri (1908-9) represents a turning point in his compositional style, which came at a significant time in British history. Holst combines a simpler style informed by his work with English folksong with the Wagnerian style that permeated his earlier compositions. Although influenced by a British imperialist view of the world, Sāvitri renders Hindu-Indian culture in positive terms without relying on the purely exotic, offers a perspective on gender relationships that does not depend solely on convention, and presents the commoner as the British ideal rather than romanticizing the aristocracy. The result is an opera subtle in its complexity, approaching the profound themes of love, death, and spirituality with emotional restraint and self-control.
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Opera at the Threshold of a Revolution: Francis Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites (1953-1956)

Opera at the Threshold of a Revolution: Francis Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites (1953-1956)

Date: December 2011
Creator: Beard, Cynthia C.
Description: Francis Poulenc’s three-act opera Dialogues des Carmélites (1953-1956) depicts the struggles of the novice nun Blanche de la Force during the Reign of Terror of the French Revolution. The use of Latin liturgical music at critical points in the opera conveys the ritualistic nature of Catholic worship. The spiritual message of mystical substitution, along with the closely related notion of vicarious suffering, imbue the opera with a spirituality that offers a sharp contrast to earlier operatic settings of Catholic texts, particularly during the age of grand opera. Marian devotion also plays an important role in the opera. The final tableau of the opera stages the execution of Blanche and her sisters, complete with the sound of a guillotine, with the nuns singing the Salve Regina as they proceed to the scaffold. The multivalence of the final tableau highlights the importance of voice and its absence. While the nuns, onstage spectators, and the guillotine are audibly present in the scene, the priest participates solely through gesture. The surfacing of the Lacanian Real in the silent moment of traumatic shock that follows the guillotine’s first fall allows for intertextual references to the opera in Poulenc’s Sonate pour Flûte et Piano (1957) to ...
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Voice and Genre in Beethoven's  Deux Grandes Sonates pour le Clavecin ou Piano-Forte avec un Violoncelle obligé, Op. 5

Voice and Genre in Beethoven's Deux Grandes Sonates pour le Clavecin ou Piano-Forte avec un Violoncelle obligé, Op. 5

Date: May 2004
Creator: Kim, Jungsun
Description: This paper examines the generic aspect of Beethoven's Opus 5 Cello Sonatas (1796) from structuralist and post-structuralist perspectives, and explores the works from these viewpoints in order to gain insights into how the sonatas function as autonomous musical texts rather than historiographic documents of Beethoven's biography or transitional contributions in the development of the genre of the solo sonata as it was later cultivated. The insights offered by these perspectives argue for a reconsideration of the conventional notions of "work" and "text," which underscore the doctrine of work-immanence. This perspective also offers insights that have proven elusive when the works are considered primarily in the context of the historical-biographical construct of Beethoven's three style-periods. By applying the aesthetic practice of expressive doubling prevalent at the turn of the nineteenth century to Beethoven's Opus 5 Sonatas, a deeper understanding of the constellation of the duo sonatas in accompanied keyboard literature will be attained. Also, by illuminating the relational nature of meaning realized within a textual framework, this study attempts to enlarge the restricted scope of interpretation conventionally imposed on the Opus 5 sonatas.
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