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Title:Hermann Suter's oratorio "Le Laudi di San Francesco d'Assisi": A reflection of Swiss musical life in the early twentieth century
Author(s):Carney, Timothy Francis
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Alwes, Chester L.
Department / Program:Music
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Abstract:Hermann Suter's oratorio Le Laudi di San Francesco d'Assisi is a work of about seventy-minutes' duration for soloists, mixed chorus, children's chorus, orchestra, and organ. Its text, by St. Francis of Assisi, is the Canticle of the Creatures, in which each element of creation is personified. Suter sets the text in a series of nine movements, each expressing the characteristics of a particular element. Thus, Brother Fire is described in a vigorous triple-fugue with flame-like string figuration, and Sister Moon and the stars by string harmonics, harp, and celeste.
Hermann Suter (1870-1926) studied in Basel, Stuttgart, and Leipzig, under Reinecke. As conductor of the Musikgesellschaft, (Symphony Society) the Gesangverein, and the Liedertafel, he shaped the musical life of the city of Basel for the first quarter of the twentieth century. His style is late-romantic, a synthesis of German counterpoint and Italianate lyricism, with Gregorian motives used in the oratorio.
The oratorio, written in 1923, was enthusiastically received, and quickly heard throughout Europe and in New York. Yet today it remains virtually unknown outside Switzerland, the only place where it is still performed regularly.
In Chapter One, Suter's life and career are outlined. In Chapter Two, I survey the tradition of choral music in Switzerland, and the repertory of choral works most often performed there. In the third chapter, the history of the cult of St. Francis is examined, and music relating to the Saint is described. Chapter Four is devoted to the text of the Canticle, the starting point for Suter's compositional decisions. Chapter Five, an overview of the oratorio, examines the formal design, orchestration, vocal writing, and other musical elements. In Chapter Six, the oratorio is examined movement by movement. Chapter Seven presents the reception history of the piece, reviews, and conclusions.
By examining the oratorio Le Laudi and its context, we discover an unjustly neglected choral work and are offered a glimpse of musical life in Switzerland in the early years of this century. I hope in this thesis to introduce the oratorio to English-speaking readers and to generate some interest in it among choral musicians.
Issue Date:1995
Rights Information:Copyright 1995 Carney, Timothy Francis
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9522086
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9522086

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