Overview and Introduction to the Organ Music of Alsatian-american Composer René Louis Becker (1882-1956)
Description: This dissertation provides the first biographical overview and annotated catalog of the organ music of Alsatian-American organist and composer René Louis Becker. Born and educated in Strasbourg, Alsace, Becker emigrated to the United States in 1904 and remained active as a composer and church musician for the next 50 years. in addition to providing sources for his biographical information, documentation of the specific organs with which Becker was professionally associated is included for the purpose of evaluating possible dates of composition of his undated organ works as well as for consideration of organ registrations when performing his works. Primary sources include newspaper clippings, personal correspondence, family scrapbooks, organ archives, and both published and unpublished manuscripts. Study of these manuscripts, including rediscovery of more than fifty works of Becker’s which were previously published in the early 1900s, present an opportunity to introduce a large new body of sophisticated repertoire from a distinguished and accomplished musician to the field of organ music. Becker composed more than 180 individual works for the organ, over half of which remain in manuscript and which were completely unknown since even before his death in 1956. Becker’s complete known oeuvre for organ includes 34 marches, 15 toccatas, three published large-scale sonatas as well as numerous works styled as preludes, postludes, finales, chansons, fantasies, fugues, and multiple small-scale compositions. After a brief biography and an overview of Becker’s compositional style and complete extant organ works, an introduction to his largest-scale work for the organ, the five-movement First Sonata in G, op. 40, is given. This is followed by an illustration of the overt stylistic influences present in the first two movements of that sonata with extensive musical examples, serving to establish Becker as one of the inheritors of the romantic tradition of the large-scale organ sonata and as ...
Date: May 2012
Creator: Spritzer, Damin
Partner: UNT Libraries