Spanish Dances for Violin: Their Origin and Influences

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Many of the Spanish-styled violin virtuoso pieces from the mid-18th century to the twentieth century were dedicated to, or inspired by Pablo de Sarasate's personal style of violin playing and his own Spanish-styled compositions. As both violinist and composer, Sarasate tailored these compositions to his technical flair and unique personality. Among Sarasate's enormous output - total of sixty-one original compositions - the four volumes of Spanish Dances were the most popular and influential. Sarasate successfully translated many of his native folk dances and melodies in these dances, and introduced them to the European musical community with his amazing performances.

In my written dissertation, I have discussed and illustrated in detail Sarasate's four volumes of Spanish Dances, the origin of the Spanish-styled pieces, and the influenced works including Saint-Saëns's Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, Op. 28, Édouard Lalo's Symphonie espagnole, Op. 21, Kreisler's transcriptions of Granados' Spanish Dance in E minor and Albeníz's Tango, and Waxman's Carmen Fantasie.

In the performance part of the dissertation, assisted by pianist Kuei-I Wu, I have played all of the mentioned works in their entirety, which is rare in modern concert programming. Through this project, I have gained deeper understanding of the Spanish style and the folk dances, and mastered many of Sarasate's technical innovations.