Compositions for Flute by American Students of Nadia Boulanger
Dunnavant, Jessica Guinn
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Throughout the twentieth century, young American composers made a pilgrimage across the Atlantic Ocean to study their craft with Nadia Boulanger (1887-1979). Many of them wrote substantial, interesting works for flute, and this dissertation focuses on performances of a selection of those compositions. Boulanger's life is well documented, as is her reputation for helping her students find their own musical voices. In this project she serves as a lens through which three generations of American composers may be viewed. This topic brings together a wide variety of flute music in almost every style imaginable. A selection of music to perform was made because the amount of music far exceeds the amount of available performance time. A list of Nadia Boulanger's American students was primarily derived from the website nadiaboulanger.org and from composers listed in the two editions of the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. These lists are far from comprehensive and other notable flute composers have been added. The following is an alphabetical list of the works that were performed: Alexander's Monody, Amlin's Sonata, Bassett's Illuminations, Berlinski's Sonata, Carter's Scrivo in Vento, Cooper's Sonata, Copland's Duo, Dahl's Variations on a Swedish Folktune, Diamond's Sonata, Erb's Music for Mother Bear, Finney's Two Ballades, Glass's Serenade, Kraft's A Single Voice, La Montaine's Sonata, Lewis's Monophony I, Mekeel's The Shape of Silence, Piston's Sonata, Pasatieri's Sonata, Rorem's Mountain Song, and Thomson's Sonata. The works were grouped stylistically to form four recital programs. The compositions chosen for performance were written between 1933 and 2000 and include some of the more popular works of flute literature as well as lesser-known compositions. Included in the written part of this performance dissertation is a list of American students of Nadia Boulanger as well as a list of those composers who wrote for the flute. Annotations and timings from my performances are provided for the compositions that were publicly performed, and biographical information is included for those composers.