Performance and analytic study of selected piano music by American composers
By: Hadassah Gallup Sahr
Published: 1969
Uploaded: 10/19/2006
Uploaded by: Pocket Masters
Pockets: Gottesman Libraries Archive, Historical Dissertations
Tags: Composers, Piano music, United States

06 no.pdf
Hadassah Gallup Sahr
The purpose of the dissertation is to focus attention on the piano literature of American composers through a recital of representative piano compositions and an analytic study of the music relevant to its performance and teaching.
The selection of compositions has been made with the following criteria in mind:
1. Variety in genre, form, structure, expressive content.
2. Diversity in compositional styles and techniques.
3. Representation of music which illustrates exploration in new musical directions rather than adherence to European music traditions and standards.
4. Representation of music that illustrates specifically American musical characteristics.
The analytic study is organized so as to direct attention to the ways in which an understanding of the structural and interpretive elements of a composition can lead to deeper musical understandings and to more effective performance and teaching of the music.
The procedures for each analytic study include first a consideration of the environmental influences that have been part of the composerĂs background, not so much for the biographical data they provide as for the insight they give into the composerĂs way of thinking, his approach to his music, and to the sources of his compositional style.
This is followed by an analysis of the music that deals with the structural and interpretive elements of each composition and the ways in which certain of these elements affect the solution of specific problems in performance.
The conclusion includes a consideration of the symbiotic relationship between analysis and performance and the educational implications in the presentation of the works represented on the program.
The program is as follows:
˘Thoreau,÷ from Second Pianoforte Sonata, ˘Concord, Mass., 1840-1860÷ Charles E. Ives (1874-1954)
Sonata Charles T. Griffes (1884-1920)
Feroce--Allegretto con moto
Molto tranquillo
Allegro Vivace
Souvenir de Porto Rico Louis M. Gottschalk (1829-1869)
Sonata Aaron Copland (1900- )
Molto moderato
Andante sostenuto
Five Etudes Virgil Thomson (1896- )
Broken Arpeggios (Waltzing Waters)
Parallel Chords (Tango)
Alternating Octaves
Pivoting on the Thumb
Ragtime Bass
˘Thoreau÷ is the fourth movement of the Second Pianoforte Sonata, a work which has been called ˘the greatest music composed by an American.÷ It is permeated with the philosophical approach of the Transcendentalist writers whose ideas were the basis for IvesĂ own personal philosophy and whose names Ives gave as titles for the four movements of the Sonata: ˘Emerson,÷ ˘Hawthorne,÷ ˘The Alcotts,÷ and ˘Thoreau.÷ Although written between 1909 and 1915, it represents an exploration in new musical directions that still reveals an experimental approach to composition more than fifty years after being written.
In the Griffes Sonata the composer turned to Oriental and synthetic tonal patterns while searching for a musical language that would express his esthetic values, and created a work which may be regarded as ˘a peak of neo-romantic expression in American music.÷
The Gottschalk composition represents a composer who has been termed ˘a true original whose music speaks with an authentic American accent.÷ The Copland Sonata is the work of a historically important American composer whose musical compositions may be considered a compendium of twentieth century trends in American music.
The Thomson Etudes provide a contrast in mood and genre to the other compositions on the program and represent the simplicity of style which is recognized as one of ThomsonĂs most significant contributions to American music.
It is hoped that the outcome of this project will be more widespread attention to the music of American composers in the teaching of piano at the college level.

Sponsor: Robert Pace
Dissertation Committee: Charles Walton, Craig Timberlake,
Degree: Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University