THE INFLUENCE OF FRENCH AND ITALIAN NATIONAL MUSICAL STYLES AND GENRES ON THE MUSIC OF J.S. BACH: A PERFORMANCE DISSERTATION PROJECT
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The music of Johann Sebastian Bach was heavily influenced by the French and Italian styles of composition. The three recitals that comprise this dissertation trace these connections through programming of French and Italian Baroque works alongside the compositions of J.S. Bach. The recitals include original viola repertoire as well as viola transcriptions of works for the cello, viola da gamba, and violin. In addition to showing the connection between Bach and his extra-national contemporaries, these recitals expand the capabilities and repertoire of the viola as a solo instrument and ensemble instrument in Baroque repertoire. The first recital features Italian Baroque composition paired with selections from the third, fourth, and sixth cello suites of J.S. Bach. The works of Marco Uccellini and Carlo Marino show the contrapuntal and rhythmic Italian aesthetic that Bach would mimic when writing comparable suites. In addition, his use of ornamentation directly reflects the works on the program. The second recital consists of works from seventeenth century France. The instrumental and orchestral suites of Marin Marais are paired with Bach's fifth cello suite to show his adoption of the pure dance forms and harmonics that arise from the period. The final recital consists solely of works by J.S. Bach. The connections drawn in the first two recitals are heard in the performances of the repertoire of the third and final recital. While the viola often seems like a neglected instrument during the Baroque period, these recitals, performed during the 2011-2012 school year, show that the versatile and improvisatory nature of Baroque instruments and composition give the viola a unique place in modern period performance. The viola suits the range and tone quality of many Baroque instruments, allowing for natural transcriptions and arrangements of many works. The viola da gamba suite of Marin Marais and cello suites of J.S. Bach display the viola as a solo instrument fully capable of achieving the expressive qualities of the original intentions. The ensemble work featured in the first two recitals show the viola as not just a member of the continuo section, but also as an independent melodic voice.