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Title:Petr Eben's oratorio Apologia Sokratus (1967) and ballet Curses and Blessings (1983): An interpretative analysis of the symbolism behind the text settings and musical style
Author(s):Matova, Nelly
Director of Research:Buchanan, Donna A.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Buchanan, Donna A.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Tipei, Sever; Cooper, David L.; Herrera, Ricardo
Department / Program:Music
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Apologia Sokratus
Curses and blessings
Choral music
Abstract:The Czech composer Petr Eben (1927-2007) has written music in all genres except symphony, but he is highly recognized for his organ and choral compositions, which are his preferred genres. His vocal works include choral songs and vocal-instrumental works at a wide range of difficulty levels, from simple pedagogical songs to very advanced and technically challenging compositions. This study examines two of Eben‘s vocal-instrumental compositions. The oratorio Apologia Sokratus (1967) is a three-movement work; its libretto is based on Plato‘s Apology of Socrates. The ballet Curses and Blessings (1983) has a libretto compiled from numerous texts from the thirteenth to the twentieth centuries. The formal design of the ballet is unusual—a three-movement composition where the first is choral, the second is orchestral, and the third combines the previous two played simultaneously. Eben assembled the libretti for both compositions and they both address the contrasting sides of the human soul, evil and good, and the everlasting fight between them. This unity and contrast is the philosophical foundation for both compositions. The dissertation discusses the multileveled meanings behind the text settings and musical style of the oratorio and ballet in analyses focusing on the text, melodic and harmonic construction, and symbolism. Additional brief analyses of other vocal and vocal-instrumental compositions by Eben establish the ground for the examination of the oratorio and ballet and for understanding features of the composer‘s musical style. While the oratorio Apologia Sokratus was discussed in short articles in the 1970s, the ballet Curses and Blessings has never previously been addressed within Eben scholarship. The dissertation examines the significant features of Eben‘s music. His melodic style incorporates influences as diverse as Gregorian chant and folk tunes on the one hand, and modern vocal techniques such as Sprechgesang and vocal aleatoricism on the other. His harmonic language includes bitonality and polytonality, used to augment the tonal legacy of earlier times, together with elements of pitch collections and limited serial procedures as well as various secundal and quartal harmonic sonorities derived from them. His music features the vibrant rhythms of folk music, and incorporates other folk devices like ostinato, repetitive patterns, and improvisation.
Issue Date:2010-08-20
Rights Information:Copyright 2010 Nelly Matova
Date Available in IDEALS:2010-08-20
Date Deposited:2010-08

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