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Libby Larsen's Margaret songs: a musical portrait of Willa Cather's Margaret Elliot

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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

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.

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Date Created
2013

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The life and music of the Mexican composer Samuel Maynez Prince (1886-1966): study and edition of the complete works for violin and piano

Description

Samuel Máynez Prince (1886-1966), was a prolific and important Mexican musician. Prince’s musical style followed the trends of the nineteenth-century salon music genre. His compositions include lullabies, songs, dances, marches, mazurkas, waltzes, and revolutionary anthems. Prince’s social status and performances

Samuel Máynez Prince (1886-1966), was a prolific and important Mexican musician. Prince’s musical style followed the trends of the nineteenth-century salon music genre. His compositions include lullabies, songs, dances, marches, mazurkas, waltzes, and revolutionary anthems. Prince’s social status and performances in the famed Café Colón in Mexico City increased his popularity among high-ranking political figures during the time of the Mexican Revolution as well as his status in the Mexican music scene.

Unfortunately there is virtually no existing scholarship on Prince and even basic information regarding his life and works is not readily available. The lack of organization of the manuscript scores and the absence of dates of his works has further pushed the composer into obscurity. An investigation therefore was necessary in order to explore the neglected aspects of the life and works of Prince as a violinist and composer. This document is the result of such an investigation by including extensive new biographical information, as well as the first musical analysis and edition of the complete recovered works for violin and piano.

In order to fill the gaps present in the limited biographical information regarding Prince’s life, investigative research was conducted in Mexico City. Information was drawn from archives of the composer’s grandchildren, the Palacio de Bellas Artes, the Conservatorio Nacional de Música de México, and the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional. The surviving relatives provided first-hand details on events in the composer’s life; one also offered the researcher access to their personal archive including, important life documents, photographs, programs from concert performances, and manuscript scores of the compositions. Establishing connections with the relatives also led the researcher to examining the violins owned and used by the late violinist/composer.

This oral history approach led to new and updated information, including the revival of previously unpublished music for violin and piano. These works are here compiled in an edition that will give students, teachers, and music-lovers access to this unknown repertoire. Finally, this research seeks to promote the beauty and nuances of Mexican salon music, and the complete works for violin and piano of Samuel Máynez Prince in particular.

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2016