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Gordon Binkerd’s “Intermezzo” From Essays for the Piano (1976): a Comprehensive Analysis of Brahmsian Compositional Influences and Stylistic Elements

Description: Gordon Binkerd (1916-2003) was an influential and well-known twentieth century composer. While his choral works are renowned worldwide, his piano music is rather unfamiliar to present-day scholars and performers. Binkerd’s Essays for the Piano (1976) is a set of six pieces that was greatly influenced by Brahms’ music. Especially noteworthy is the first piece of the set, titled “Intermezzo,” which is based on Brahms’ “Intermezzo” Op. 118, No. 1. The fact that Binkerd’s compositional procedures allow for a “recasting” of Brahms’ piece in a way that disguises the original source of his work are intriguing and call for further research on the topic. As such, the main purpose of this study is to analyze Binkerd’s modern transcription-style writing, and consequently examine how it incorporates a series of influences and compositional elements from Brahms’ music. This dissertation is divided into five chapters. The first chapter contains a general overview of piano works by Binkerd that incorporate quotations of works by other composers are addressed. These include Five Pieces for Piano, Suite for Piano: Five Fantasies (Nos. 2, 3, and 4), and the Piano Sonatas Nos. 1-3. The second chapter provides an analytical study of the fundamental structure found in Brahms’ Intermezzo, No. 1 from Sechs Klavierstücke, Op. 118 The third chapter equally analyzes the fundamental structure of Binkerd’s “Intermezzo,” No. 1 from Essays for the Piano. The fourth chapter consists of a comparative study of the findings in Chapter 3, as they relate to both Brahms’ and Binkerd’s intermezzi. The fifth and final chapter is a conclusion.
Date: August 2014
Creator: Noh, Kyung-Ah
Partner: UNT Libraries