"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.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries
Memento mori: Concert for Violoncello and Orchestra

Memento mori: Concert for Violoncello and Orchestra

Access: Use of this item is restricted to the UNT Community.
Date: December 2006
Creator: Fakhouri, Fouad K.
Description: Death, as a subject, has been treated extensively throughout history, both in literature as well as in music. The focus of Memento mori is to portray the inevitability of death through music. The first part of the document is an essay exploring the topic of death, its inevitability, unpredictability and the fragility of life. This section also includes a number of examples of composer's whose works have influenced the composition of the piece. The title of the work is meant to reflect that death catches up with all of us and that humans no matter how invincible they feel at certain stages of life will, eventually, succumb to death. The second part of the document is the notated orchestral score. The work is for full orchestra and solo violoncello. It is in three acts that loosely resemble three stages of life; Youth followed by life in adulthood and finally death. The work is not programmatic and the piece's formal structure varies from a traditional concerto, for although comprised of three distinct acts, there are no pauses between them. The entire work is meant to be dark and morbid and the specter of death looms throughout the piece.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries
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.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries
A Mexican Postmodernist Vision Grounded on Structuralism: the Cases of Juan Trigos' Cuarteto Da Do (1988) and Victor Rasgado's Rayo Nocturnal (1989)

A Mexican Postmodernist Vision Grounded on Structuralism: the Cases of Juan Trigos' Cuarteto Da Do (1988) and Victor Rasgado's Rayo Nocturnal (1989)

Date: May 1999
Creator: Madrid-González, Alejandro L. (Alejandro Luis)
Description: This thesis contributes analyses of two works by Mexican composers: Rayo nocturnal (1989) by Victor Rasgado (b. 1959), and the Cuarteto da do (1988) by Juan Trigos (b. 1965). Although composed according to structuralist principles, a postmodern interpretation is offered. The analytical method applied is based on Allen Forte's set theory, including rhythmic and timbral dimensions that are integral to the conceptions of these works. A survey of modernism and postmodernism in twentieth-century Mexico serves to place these works in their cultural context.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries
Expectation as Narrative Strategy in Richard Wagner's Parsifal

Expectation as Narrative Strategy in Richard Wagner's Parsifal

Date: August 1997
Creator: Straughn, Greg, 1972-
Description: The story of Parsifal is presented in two manners: through action and through narrative. Using the formalist theories of Vladimir Propp, the overall narrative is articulated in three narrative episodes. This thesis interprets the structure of narrative episodes in Parsifal on the basis of expectation. Propp's theory of functions provides labels for an interpretive analysis. Levi-Strauss' reconstruction of Propp's functions into paired structures identifies key points in the drama as moments of "functional" saturation. This "functional" saturation coincides with Wagner's practice of Leitmotivic saturation. The semiotic theories of Charles Sanders Peirce, specifically his notion of sign, clarify the dense accumulation of meanings accrued by the Leitmotifs. Finally, Parsifal, as a "quest" for the unobtainable object, fits into the matrix of desire as formulated in the theories of Jacques Lacan.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries
Boulez's Sonatine and the Genesis of His Twelve-tone Practice

Boulez's Sonatine and the Genesis of His Twelve-tone Practice

Date: May 1998
Creator: Chang, Sangtae
Description: This dissertation proposes that the Sonatine broadly unfolds a kinetic structure that stems from the traditional tension-relief model and, consequently, its dependence on tradition proves much deeper than Boulez would acknowledge.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries