Chamber Music in France Featuring Flute and Soprano, 1850-1950, and a Study of the Interactions Among the Leading Flutists, Sopranos, Composers, Artists, and Literary Figures of the Time

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2006-05-10

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Abstract

This dissertation, together with the accompanying recital recordings, constitute an examination of chamber music for flute, soprano, and piano and for flute, soprano, and chamber ensemble written by French composers between 1850 and 1950. This examination includes an annotated bibliography of the music, a written document studying the interactions of the leading flutists, sopranos, composers, artists, and literary figures of the time, and two recitals of representative works from the repertoire of about 120 minutes, which were recorded during performances at University of Maryland in March of 2004. The text examines the various types of chamber works written during this period for flute and soprano, with and without additional accompaniment. The amount of repertoire written for flute and voice during this period by composers of a single nationality is exceptional in the history of music. The annotated bibliography lists about 100 pieces in the genre, a truly substantial repertoire. As a performer, I was intrigued by the possibility that several generations of highly gifted, individualistic performers may have inspired these composers to produce this tremendous outpouring of repertoire. With the proximity of so many great singers and flutists in Paris at the time, it can hardly be coincidental that so many composers, both the most well-known and some who are quite obscure today, produced so many exceptional works for these combinations of instruments with voice. Indeed, I contend that the composers were influenced both by specific musicians and by their contemporaries and colleagues in literature and the visual arts, who inspired them to give so much attention to the development of what would have been regarded as a small form. Part of my historical research has been to search for the intersections between performer, poet, and composer and to determine some of the ways in which they affected one another. A second purpose of my study is to develop an annotated bibliography of these works, thus providing extensive, useful information regarding first performances, instrumentation, vocal range, flute range, keys, time signatures, dedications, timings of the works, publisher, availability, and the relative merit of the works themselves. Many of the compositions for soprano and flute are, admittedly, of dubious musical value, but some are masterworks of the chamber music repertoire, and few are actively performed today. In addition, a large number of the pieces listed in the bibliography are out of print. Because so many of the composers no longer have a significant prominence, their works today lay generally unperformed and undiscovered. The annotated bibliography also serves as a reference guide for today's performers of this repertoire. A final purpose of this study is the performance and preservation through audio recordings of a number of works associated with this project. The recordings will serve as a means of documenting some of this remarkable music.

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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.