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Title:Leonard Bernstein's Works for the Musical Theatre: How the Music Functions Dramatically
Author(s):Snyder, Linda June
Department / Program:Music
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Abstract:This study of Leonard Bernstein's works for the American musical theatre attempts to demonstrate how the composer has explored the dramatic function of music in opera, operetta, musical drama, and musical comedy. The study is limited to his six works which contain a narrative line complete with character's names and plot. Most of the material analyzed was also studied in a performance setting. Aimed at producers, educators, directors, and performers of musical theatre, the thesis provides both general and detailed information on Bernstein as a dramatic composer.
The two introductory chapters are devoted to an overview of Bernstein's dramatic works and their place in the development of the American musical theatre, influential theatrical experiences, Bernstein's concepts of musical theatre, and the general character of his musical style. Some discussion is given to Bernstein's conviction that from the American musical comedy will emerge a distinctively American form of opera.
Chapter III discusses Bernstein's one-act opera Trouble in Tahiti in terms of musical characterization, musical elements of continuity, the relationship of the music and the text, and the use of the Vocal Trio. Separate chapters also deal with the comic operetta Candide and the musical drama West Side Story, examining the background and musical style of each. The final chapter considers Bernstein's three musical comedies, On the Town, Wonderful Town, and 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Several selections from each score (save the last which the composer has withdrawn) are examined in detail to demonstrate the music's dramatic function.
Bernstein's well-known eclectic style of composition is evident to some extent in all six works; he has used this mixture of stylistic elements to support, enhance, and advance the dramatic action. Moreover, as an innovator and leader in the development of a distinctively American musical theatre form, he has employed operatic techniques such as recitative, recurring motives, and related melodies, to maintain dramatic continuity, establish mood, and develop characterization. Included is a list of recommended songs and arias suitable for teaching material and recital repertoire.
Issue Date:1982
Description:290 p.
Thesis (D.M.A.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1982.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8302989
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-05-13
Date Deposited:1982

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