Description: Edwin Fissinger (1920-1990) was a conductor and prolific choral composer. His compositional techniques, settings of text, jazz-influenced harmonies, and melodic propulsion fulfill an important role in each of his compositions. In the eight choral cycles he composed, Fissinger unified each cycle through thematic and textual elements. Although this resulted in a logical progression of poetry and music, Fissinger's final choral cycle, Prairie Scenes, was not published as he intended. Rather, individual selections from the cycle were published by two different publishing houses, out of sequence, and sixteen years apart. Consequently, the eight pieces are not currently performed together. Today's choral conductors, singers, and audience do not fully appreciate the value of this choral cycle and cannot understand its intended context. It is necessary to provide an in-depth investigation of the original eight-piece work Prairie Scenes: A Choral Cycle to place the appropriate organizational set together. This study illustrates the importance of the unification of Fissinger's Prairie Scenes: A Choral Cycle through a study of the poetry, the thematic material as it relates to the natural elements of the prairies, the manuscripts, and interviews with Fissinger's publishers and colleagues. An examination of Fissinger's compositional technique to convey the meaning of the text reveals a clear link between Prairie Scenes and the North Dakota prairies and its seasons. A description of the development of the choral cycle throughout music history and a biography of Edwin Fissinger and his compositional style are also included.
Date: August 2016
Creator: Jilek, Dean Francis