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Libby Larsen is one of the most performed and acclaimed composers today. She is a spirited, compelling, and sensitive composer whose music enhances the poetry of America's most prominent authors. Notable among her works are song cycles for soprano based on the poetry of female writers, among them novelist and poet Willa Cather (1873-1947). Larsen has produced two song cycles on works from Cather's substantial output of fiction: one based on Cather's short story, "Eric Hermannson's Soul," titled Margaret Songs: Three Songs from Willa Cather (1996); and later, My Antonia (2000), based on Cather's novel of the same title. In Margaret Songs, Cather's poetry and short stories--specifically the character of Margaret Elliot--combine with Larsen's unique compositional style to create a surprising collaboration. This study explores how Larsen in these songs delves into the emotional and psychological depths of Margaret's character, not fully formed by Cather. It is only through Larsen's music and Cather's poetry that Margaret's journey through self-discovery and love become fully realized. This song cycle is a glimpse through the eyes of two prominent female artists on the societal pressures placed upon Margaret's character, many of which still resonate with women in today's culture. This study examines the work Margaret Songs by discussing Willa Cather, her musical influences, and the conditions surrounding the writing of "Eric Hermannson's Soul." It looks also into Cather's influence on Libby Larsen and the commission leading to Margaret Songs. Finally, a description of the musical, dramatic, and textual content of the songs completes this interpretation of the interactions of Willa Cather, Libby Larsen, and the character of Margaret Elliot.
Puerto Rico has produced many important composers who have contributed to the musical culture of the nation during the last 200 years. However, a considerable amount of their music has proven to be difficult to access and may contain numerous errors. This research project intends to contribute to the accessibility of such music and to encourage similar studies of Puerto Rican music. This study focuses on the music of Héctor Campos Parsi (1922-1998), one of the most prominent composers of the 20th century in Puerto Rico. After an overview of the historical background of music on the island and the biography of the composer, four works from his art song repertoire are given for detailed examination. A product of this study is the first corrected edition of his cycles Canciones de Cielo y Agua, Tres Poemas de Corretjer, Los Paréntesis, and the song Majestad Negra. These compositions date from 1947 to 1959, and reflect both the European and nationalistic writing styles of the composer during this time. Data for these corrections have been obtained from the composer's manuscripts, published and unpublished editions, and published recordings. The corrected scores are ready for publication and a compact disc of this repertoire, performed by soprano Melliangee Pérez and the author, has been recorded to bring to life these revisions. Despite the best intentions of the author, the various copyright issues have yet to be resolved. It is hoped that this document will provide the foundation for a resolution and that these important works will be available for public performance and study in the near future.