The Voluble Viola: Music for Viola Inspired by Text and Poetry

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MacDuff, Timothy Joseph
Murdock, Katherine H.
This project is an exploration of music that draws inspiration from text or works that utilize programmatic themes. The vision for this project comes from Ernest Bloch’s Suite 1919 in which the composer created the music with a programmatic element in mind, but made the decision to not include extra-musical material in the title of the work or its movements. Bloch wrote quite eloquently about his extra-musical inspiration in his notes about the piece, but leaves the performer the option of relaying this information to their audience. I was not aware of the program notes Bloch wrote the first time I heard this work. My perception of the music changed after I read Bloch’s intended titles for each movement, as well as his written words about the colorful and evocative scenes he was imagining when writing the piece. The music came alive and moved me in a different way once I knew of Bloch’s inspirations. From this experience, I wanted to further my understanding of how a composer uses music to depict non-musical images or scenes when using text as a source, and how these extra-musical elements serve the performance and affect the expressive power of music. The first program focuses on poetry and literature set to instrumental music, featuring two poetic oboe, viola, and piano trios by August Klughardt and Charles Martin Loeffler, as well as Prokofiev’s musical portrait of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Vocal chamber music and the exploration of text as part of the performance is the theme of the second program, including works by Johannes Brahms, Frank Bridge, Charles Martin Loeffler, and Benjamin Britten. The final program interprets music titled “Fairytales” by Robert Schumann, as well as further examining poetic settings by Vincent Persichetti and Toru Takemitsu. The recitals were performed on November 2, 2018, February 22, 2019, and April 28, 2019 at the University of Maryland School of Music’s Ulrich Recital Hall, and I was assisted by oboist Michael Homme, mezzo-soprano Gabriela Estephanie Solis, clarinetist Dane Clark, and pianist Andrew Welch. The CD's for this dissertation recording project are available on compact discs which can be found in the Digital Repository at the University of Maryland (DRUM).
NOTICE: Recordings accompanying this record are available only to University of Maryland College Park faculty, staff, and students and cannot be reproduced, copied, distributed or performed publicly by any means without prior permission of the copyright holder.