Death and Transformation in Romantic Song Cycles: Journeys in Interpretation
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The Romantic period gave rise to the genre of the song cycle – a collection of songs grouped by poetic theme or narrative arc - through which composers align their musical inspiration with the works of poets and delve into the human experience. Profound themes, such as death and transformation, appear often in song cycle works as the genre provides a vehicle within which they are carefully examined and expanded upon. The form of the song cycle gives performers an opportunity to explore a long narrative, a particular set of emotions, a philosophical perspective, or a defining set of circumstances in more depth than is possible in individual songs. The question of how a performer approaches this absorbing process, lives and grows within the musical and poetic world each cycle offers, and prepares to perform the resulting interpretation is not often documented, and is the focus of this research. I have chosen three case study programs of Romantic song cycles through which to examine my process as a singer preparing and performing works that focus on the themes of death and transformation – Schubert’s Winterreise; Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder and Mussorgsky’s Songs and Dances of Death; Butterworth’s Bredon Hill and A Shropshire Lad and Vaughan-Williams’ Songs of Travel. I draw on a number of methodologies to do justice to the dynamic and evolving nature of the art of performance.
Thesis (Professional Doctorate)
Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)
Item Access Status
Romantic song cycles
Schubert, Franz, 1797-1828. Winterreise
Mahler, Gustav, 1860-1911. Kindertotenlieder
Mussorgsky, Modest Petrovich, 1839-1881. Songs and dances of death
Butterworth, George, 1885-1916. Shropshire lad
Butterworth, George, 1885-1916. Bredon Hill
Vaughan Williams, Ralph, 1872-1958. Songs of travel.