The Essence of Twentieth Centry American Art Songs
Song is a form that combines poetry and music. In general, the compositional style of the twentieth century tried to liberate musical form from the old structure and systems in order to discover and arrange new foundations that would lift music to a new level and reveal music's true purpose. During the middle of the nineteenth-century, German romanticism was brought into the United States by many European virtuosi. By the turn of the twentieth-century, composers Charles Griffes (1884-1 920), John Alden Carpenter (1876-1951) and Charles Wakefield Cadman (1881 - 1946) represented songs based on Romanticism, Impressionism and American Indian themes. In the meantime, Charles Ives (1874-1954), created a uniquely American style by capturing specific moments from personal memory and experiences from his own life. From this point on, American composers started to turn away from Europe and back to America to look for sources of inspiration. What transpired was the creation of a distinct, individual style that stemmed from American culture. This group of American composers was led by Aaron Copland (1900- 990) and followed by Paul Bowles (1910-1999), Samuel Barber (1910-1981), Ned Rorem (1923-), Lee Hoiby (1926-), William Bolcom (1938-), and John Musto (1954). The composers featured in this performance dissertation project represent not only the progression and transformation of various styles of composition, but also the cultural integration. And the results reveal that American art songs have become a repertoire full of richness, subtlety, variation, and freshness. In addition to the two song recitals represented here, my dissertation project also includes a second component of the performance of an opera role. I performed the title role in W.A. Mozart's Le Noue di Figaro with the Maryland Opera Studio in the Kay Theatre of the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center. The program and CD recording will be included in the dissertation packet. Twentieth century American art songs are vast in number and rich in content. Therefore, the two recitals given merely represent a portion of possible works. The two recitals took place on September 28, 2005, and November 28, 2005 in the Ulrich Recital Hall of the Tawes Fine Arts Building at the University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland. The opera production, Le Nozze di Figaro with three performances took place on December 1,3,5,2001 respectively. Recordings of these recitals may be obtained in person or online from the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library of the University of Maryland, College Park.