WORKS FOR VIOLIN FROM DISTINCT EUROPEAN COMPOSITIONAL TRADITIONS IN THE FIRST HALF OF THE 20TH CENTURY: NATIONALISM, IMPRESSIONISM, AND NEO-CLASSICISM
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20th century Europe fostered the development of a variety of trends in music which emerged on the heels of Romanticism. Compositions within each style exhibit recognizable common characteristics but are also crafted quite uniquely in the hands of individual composers. Commonalities and distinctions in 20th century violin works are illustrated in recordings of three recitals I performed in satisfaction of requirements for a Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the University of Maryland, College Park. As a violinist performing pieces typifying three great trends--Nationalism, Impressionism, and Neo-Classicism--I strove to approach each piece both from the perspective of the overarching style and also in a way that would convey the personal expression of each composer. Musical Nationalism first appeared in the 19th century as composers strove to express their heritage and patriotism, primarily absorbing recognizable folk idioms into conventional styles. Following World War I, Nationalism was reinvented as composers expanded more pervasively upon the tonal and rhythmic vocabulary in their works. The Czech Leos Janacek pioneered the scientific study of folk music, followed in turn by Hungarian Béla Bartók. Jean Sibelius of Finland is a third composer of the Nationalistic works performed in my first recital. At the core of Impressionism--a term first used to describe a French school of painting that emerged in the late 19th century--is the use of suggestion to invoke a mood or sensation. Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel championed and helped define musical Impressionism, exemplified by its characteristically allusive and evocative use of harmony and tone color. In my second recital I performed four works by Impressionist composers Debussy, Francis Poulenc, Eugene Ysaÿe, and Karl Szymanowski. Neo-Classicism defines the 20th century style of juxtaposing the old with the new. Traditional musical features--such as harmonic tonal centers, symmetrical phrasing, and the use of standard forms--are incorporated with fresh elements--such as dissonance, irregular rhythms, and multiple or nonexistent tonal centers. My third recital features three Neo-Classic works composed by Paul Hindemith of Germany, and Serge Prokofiev and Igor Stravinsky of Russia.