Compositional Tradiations and Innovations in Violin Literature: The Twentieth Century and beyond

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The twentieth century is an age that saw striking innovations in music composition while cultural and societal changes, including the dramatic evolution of recording and broadcast techniques, revolutionized the economic and social relationships inherent in music. A global and permeable audience may now hear a most diverse range of musical styles through live performance or by means of high quality recorded or broadcast media. During this time, and also in the twenty-first century, many composers for violin have continued to write in a way that is clearly traditional in both form and content. Other composers have made significant advances in style and technique while still employing a melodic, harmonic, structural, and textural language grounded in the nineteenth century and quite accessible to most listeners. Still others have made contributions that incorporate new conventions of harmony, rhythm and tonality such as free dissonance, bitonality, atonality, and complicated rhythmical constructs. Meanwhile, musical opportunities and tastes have broadened throughout the world to assimilate and appreciate works incorporating musical languages that were once unfamiliar. Western musicians have become increasingly interested in music from other cultures. Non-Western ideas have enriched Western styles and have been accepted enthusiastically. A new "world music" is starting to emerge. These works may freely mix elements fiom multiple cultures, independent of the composer's own origins. For this dissertation project I have performed and recorded-at the University of Maryland School of Music in College Park-three recitals of works for violin selected from three time periods: early in first part of the twentieth century (1900-1950); the middle of the second part of the twentieth century (1950-2000); and the very beginning of the twenty-first century (beyond 2000). These time frames have allowed me to choose contrasting works demonstrating diverse cultural and compositional elements. A benefit of this project was the opportunity to work with two living composers in a collaborative process. Of special interest are two Chinese compositions selected for comparison, one composed with and one without Western influences. Finally, given the importance of the genre in modern popular culture, I have selected one piece from a film score.



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