Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Distant Glimmerings
by Winfield, Steven, Ph.D., The University of Chicago, 2011, 71; 3460295
Abstract (Summary)

Distant Glimmerings is a three-movement chamber work for thirteen players. Each movement is a meditation on the existential musings of a specific work of literature: Saul Bellow's Henderson the Rain King, Hermann Hesse's Demian, and Carl Sagan's Cosmos. The movement titles, taken from passages in each work, are "The Sleep is Burst" (Bellow), "The Egg is the World" (Hesse), and "...like a mote of dust..." (Sagan). The compositional ambience of each movement is motivated by the passage after which it is titled. The music does not tell any specific story; each movement is not about anything more than a reaction to the essence of the associated quote--a glimmering of recognition. Musically, the piece reflects the sentiments expressed in the associated passages as experienced by the composer. The first movement examines the interrelated concepts of being and becoming, a call to awakening that is distant and soft at first, and loud, anxious, and immediate at the end. The second movement explores Hesse's depiction of the God Abraxas, symbolized in Demian as a bird breaking out of an egg, and variously recognized as a dualistic entity containing both God and Satan, "good" and "evil," Hesse's worlds of "light" and "dark"; the outer sections are serene and meditative while the inner section is aggressive and turbulent. The third movement seeks to echo the violent power and the cold, distant beauty and vast scope of the cosmos. These ideas are common in literature but have an extraordinarily powerful resonance in the works referenced by this piece. Distant Glimmerings is scored for flute/piccolo/alto flute, clarinet/bass clarinet, C trumpet, two percussionists, piano, three violins, viola, two cellos, and contrabass. Performance time is approximately twenty minutes.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Ran, Shulamit
Commitee: Ptaszynska, Marta, Suzuki, Kotoka
School: The University of Chicago
Department: Music
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: DAI-A 72/09, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Music
Keywords: Chamber music, Composition, Contemporary, Distant Glimmerings, Ensemble, Orchestra, Original composition
Publication Number: 3460295
ISBN: 978-1-124-71895-8
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