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- Creators: ASU Library. Music Library
An analysis of selected piano solo works inspired by Biblical references: William Bergsma and Louis Weingarden
Biblical references play an important role in traditional programmatic music. Composers such as Kuhnau, Haydn, Liszt, Messiaen, and Bolcom produced considerable amounts of piano repertoire with biblical allusions: Musical Presentations of Some Biblical Stories in 6 Sonatas (1700) by Kuhnau, The Seven Last Words from Our Saviour on the Cross (1787) by Haydn, The Way of Cross (1878-1879) by Liszt, Twenty Contemplations on the Infant Jesus (1944) by Messiaen, and The Garden of Eden: Four Rags for Piano (1969) by Bolcom. The twentieth century American composers William Bergsma and Louis Weingarden participated in this tradition by producing piano pieces that contain direct biblical quotations. These works, which have received little attention, include two movements from Tangents (1951) by Bergsma and Triptych: Three Pieces for Piano (1969) by Weingarden.
This paper provides a comprehensive analysis of these piano works, considering structural, rhythmic, harmonic, and melodic elements. In particular, the paper examines Bergsma and Weingarden’s work through the technique of word painting in order to illuminate the relationship between the biblical text and music. Key findings include that Bergsma’s Tangents contains dissonant harmonies and irregular rhythms to reflect the agony of people on the biblical Judgement day, while the use of tonality reflects God’s love in other parts. Similarly, Weingarden uses an illustrative style of word painting in Triptych to closely reflect this biblical narrative and scene through the combination of some twelve-tone techniques with chromaticism. These works present a high degree of pianistic and musical elaboration that incorporates twentieth-century compositional techniques, and this paper argues that they merit more attention for recitals by college-level and professional pianists. This paper begins with an introduction which provides the methodological approach used in the paper and a biography of each composer. It then progresses to an analysis of Bergsma’s Tangents, followed by an analysis of Weingarden’s Triptych.
The collegiate vocal jazz ensemble: an historical and current perspective on the development, current state, and future direction of the genre
The Vocal Jazz ensemble, a uniquely American choral form, has grown and flourished in the past half century largely through the efforts of professionals and educators throughout the collegiate music community. This document provides historical data as presented through live and published interviews with key individuals involved in the early development of collegiate Vocal Jazz, as well as those who continue this effort currently. It also offers a study of the most influential creative forces that provided the spark for everyone else's fire. A frank discussion on the obstacles encountered and overcome is central to the overall theme of this research into a genre that has moved from a marginalized afterthought to a legitimate, more widely accepted art form. In addition to the perspective provided to future generations of educators in this field, this document also discusses the role of collegiate music academia in preserving and promoting the Vocal Jazz ensemble. The discussion relies on recent data showing the benefits of Vocal Jazz training and the need for authenticity towards its universal integration into college and university vocal performance and music education training.
Playing an orchestral reduction is not always the most joyous of times for pianists. As pianists, we have to express a reduced idea of all the instruments and orchestral textures that are in the full score. However, in many cases, there are often omissions, errors or discrepancies in the existing published reductions. These reductions are made by a variety of people: editors, conductors, pianists, but rarely by the composer, and often do not reflect the composer's true intentions. While many reductions are technically playable, including the reduction of the Sibelius Violin Concerto that will form the basis of this paper, the arrangement of the orchestration can be obscured or inaccurate to the point where the violin soloist may not be receiving the best representation of the actual orchestration. A piano reduction should as closely as possible represent the original intention of the composer, both for the sake of the audience and the performers. The pianist should be able to provide the proper support and orchestration of any reduction for the instrumentalist or vocalist so that the same performance style and technique can be used while performing with either a piano reduction or a full orchestra. This research document contains a detailed examination of the various orchestral reductions of the Sibelius Violin Concerto, culminating in a new version by the author. In this discussion, the author will present a basic understanding of how to orchestrate at the piano through an in-depth explanation of piano skill and technique, practice techniques such as listening to a recorded version of the full orchestration while playing the piano, and ways to study and revise an existing piano reduction. The current published reductions of the Sibelius Violin Concerto contain many errors and discrepancies and will be contrasted with the author's own reduction, available for comparison and study in the appendix. This new revised reduction will clearly show the orchestral instruments represented throughout the score, demonstrate new techniques for various orchestral textures, and will yield a playable product that more closely represents the composer's original intentions.