Crisis and Catharsis: Linear Analysis and the Interpretation of Herbert Howells' "Requiem" and "Hymnus Paradisi"

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Hymnus Paradisi (1938), a large-scale choral and orchestral work, is well-known as an elegiac masterpiece written by Herbert Howells in response to the sudden loss of his young son in 1935. The composition of this work, as noted by the composer himself and those close to him, successfully served as a means of working through his grief during the difficult years that followed Michael's death. In this dissertation, I provide linear analyses for Howells' Hymnus Paradisi as well as its predecessor, Howells' Requiem (1932), which was adapted and greatly expanded in the creation of Hymnus Paradisi. These analyses and accompanying ... continued below

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Davenport, Jennifer Tish August 2018.

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  • Davenport, Jennifer Tish

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Hymnus Paradisi (1938), a large-scale choral and orchestral work, is well-known as an elegiac masterpiece written by Herbert Howells in response to the sudden loss of his young son in 1935. The composition of this work, as noted by the composer himself and those close to him, successfully served as a means of working through his grief during the difficult years that followed Michael's death. In this dissertation, I provide linear analyses for Howells' Hymnus Paradisi as well as its predecessor, Howells' Requiem (1932), which was adapted and greatly expanded in the creation of Hymnus Paradisi. These analyses and accompanying explanations are intended to provide insight into the intricate contrapuntal style in which Howells writes, showing that an often complex musical surface is underpinned by traditional linear and harmonic patterns on the deeper structural levels. In addition to examining the middleground and background structural levels within each movement, I also demonstrate how Howells creates large-scale musical continuity and shapes the overall composition through the use of large-scale linear connections, shown through the meta-Ursatz (an Ursatz which extends across multiple movements creating multi-movement unity). Finally, in my interpretation of these analyses, I discuss specific motives in Hymnus Paradisi which, I hypothesize, musically represent the crisis of Michael's death. These motives are initially introduced in the "Preludio," composed out on multiple structural levels as Hymnus Paradisi unfolds, and, finally, I argue, are transformed as a representation of the process of healing, and ultimately, catharsis.

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  • August 2018

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  • Sept. 26, 2018, 6:16 p.m.

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Davenport, Jennifer Tish. Crisis and Catharsis: Linear Analysis and the Interpretation of Herbert Howells' "Requiem" and "Hymnus Paradisi", dissertation, August 2018; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1248387/: accessed November 17, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .