Highly active in the fields of viola performance, composition, recording, and pedagogy, Lionel Tertis is known as one of the first and most influential career violists. Established in 1980, the Lionel Tertis International Viola Competition and Festival was founded in his honor and occurs triennially at the Isle of Man. While addressing facets of the professional violist with workshops, lectures, and masterclasses, this event provides a venue for competitive performers, acting as a platform for new viola repertoire.
Each competitor must prepare an extensive set of viola repertoire, among which is a compulsory piece for unaccompanied viola by an English composer. These commissioned works require the virtuosity and expression available within a contemporary musical language; this additionally challenges competitors to provide an artistic interpretation relatively untouched by tradition or common practice.
Although these pieces are written specifically for the competition, the commissioned works have the capacity to reach beyond the competition sphere and are highly programmable in most recital and solo performance settings. These pieces provide the contemporary violist with a greater selection of repertoire that displays idiomatic and expressive strengths of the viola.
My project commemorates the contributions of Lionel Tertis to the advancement of viola repertoire and performance with the study of works written a century post his prolific career. The secondary intent is to provide biographical information about each composer and to explore how these highly programmable works enrich the violist and their repertoire, ultimately bringing recognition to these new works for solo viola. Through biographical research, musical analysis, interviews and the recording process, I will provide a performer's analysis and supplemental recordings for three of these works: Darkness Draws In by David Matthews, Sonatine I by Roger Steptoe and Through a Limbeck by John Woolrich.
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