Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Joan Tower and the clarinet: An examination of her compositional style and a performer's guide to “RAIN WAVES” (1997) and “A GIFT” (2007)
by Baruth, Lori Elizabeth, D.M.A., University of Cincinnati, 2010, 216; 3422058
Abstract (Summary)

A study of the literature written about Joan Tower and her works in the past fifteen years shows scholarly interest, but no one has yet attempted to trace Tower’s treatment of the clarinet in her recent works. Her vibrancy is evident in her music, and her melodies are colorful and organic. In this document I examine her “compositional profile” from her departure from serialism in 1974 and investigate how her current perception of the clarinet relates to her previous treatment of the instrument with regard to color and power.

Tower’s contributions to the repertory of woodwind and orchestral literature, and solo instrumental works, have placed her in the forefront of contemporary American music. Her works have a distinctive style and sound, each bringing interest and reward for audiences and performers alike. Clarinet virtuosos such as Laura Flax, David Shifrin, Elsa Ludewig-Verdehr, and Richard Stoltzman have been intrigued by Tower’s music and have commissioned works from her. Tower obliged, and thus has given clarinetists numerous varied and challenging pieces to perform. In addition, Tower’s involvement with her chamber group, Da Capo Chamber Players, persuaded her to grow the chamber music library with works for flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano.

Her two most recent works with clarinet included are Rain Waves (1997) for clarinet, violin, and piano, and A Gift (2007) for wind quartet and piano. The latter work is based on a short duet for flute and clarinet entitled A Little Gift (2006). These two chamber works differ in instrumentation as well as period of composition for the composer compared with her many chamber works composed for her former group, the Da Capo Chamber Players. Her use of motives, seamless transitions, and organic sense of melody (often in an octatonic framework) is unique and colorful. It is the goal of this document that clarinetists and other musicians alike get to know Joan Tower’s music and the craft behind these works.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Mcclung, Bruce
Commitee: Hawley, Richard, Zierolf, Robert
School: University of Cincinnati
Department: Clarinet
School Location: United States -- Ohio
Source: DAI-A 71/10, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Music
Keywords: A Gift, Clarinet, Compositional style, Performer's guide, Rain Waves, Tower, Joan
Publication Number: 3422058
ISBN: 9781124206080
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