The Voyage of Impressionism in Three Violin Recitals: To See the World in Different Colors

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Wu, Chun Hsin Jenny
Fischbach, Gerald
Impressionism serves as the transition between romantic and modern music. This dissertation examines the varying characteristics and colors of Impressionism in the works of late-romantic French composers, French Impressionistic composers, and composers with Impressionistic influence from countries other than France. Violin Sonata in g minor, L. 140 (1917) is the last work composed by Claude Debussy. The impressionistic characters in this work includes the ambiguous yet innovative and variant sonority and form. As a work also written in 1917, Ottorino Respighi's Violin Sonata in b minor is deeply rooted in Italian Romanticism. Some of the Impressionistic characters can be found in the second movement where the harmonies are in parallel motion. César Franck, a forerunner of impressionism, heavily influenced Debussy with the use of cyclic form. The Violin Sonata in A major (1886) is rich in harmonic language. Ernest Chausson's works mark the transition between Franck and Debussy. The Poème portrays a love story, Song of Love Triumphant by Turgenev. The work is a symphonic poem for violin and orchestra. The Mythes, Op. 30 (1915) by Karol Szymanowski is based on Greek mythology. Ravel's Sonata for Violin and Cello (1922), dedicated to Debussy, points to the future with a sophisticated harmonic language extending into atonality, spare texture, and expanded palate of impressionistic colors and techniques. Ernest Bloch's Violin Sonata No. 1 (1920) portrays the feeling of torment. Beneath the soaring cries of the violin, the harmonic sonority of Impressionism are present. Gabriel Fauré's Violin Sonata No. 1 in A major, op. 13 (1876) is the earliest work of this project. The scherzo movement became a prototype for future scherzo movements for Ravel and Debussy. Ravel's Tzigane (1924), at once a paragon of French impressionism, a delightful gypsy-style dance-fantasy, and a breathtaking virtuoso piece, is the perfect conclusion to my dissertation project. The pieces discussed above were presented in three recitals. Compact disc recordings of these recitals are available in the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library of the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland.
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.