Powerful Structures: The Wind Music of Ida Gotkovsky in Theory and Practice

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Ida Gotkovsky is a French composer whose style has emerged as a unique voice in the wind repertoire of the late twentieth century, while retaining stylistic traits of earlier French composers. As a product of the Paris Conservatory (where she was also a professor), she is part of a heritage that reaches back to Debussy and Ravel, and more significantly to her teachers Olivier Messiaen and Nadia Boulanger. Having published more than twenty-two works for wind orchestra, Gotkovsky’s output for the medium has been continuous and impressive in scope. Her work represents bridges twentieth century French musical styles such as impressionism, modernism, and the avant-garde. Her music has codified these styles into a cohesive voice throughout her career. This style relies on traditional instrumentations to present distinctive arrangements of color, shape, and form. Despite her pedigree and widespread recognition of her works in Europe during the last quarter of the twentieth century, Gotkovsky’s music remains generally unknown to American conductors, due in part, to a lack of detailed scholarship or analysis of her life and work.

The purpose of this writing is to explore Gotkovsky’s work, and to discover points of connection between her and her French musical heritage, specifically Olivier Messiaen. Using all available resources, this paper provides a more thorough portrait of the composer’s career and music than heretofore. Focusing on her works for wind orchestra, this writing explores Gotkovsky’s education and inspiration, provides an analysis of her overall compositional style, and a detailed analysis of her monumental work, Concerto pour grand orchestra d’harmonie.