Melbourne Conservatorium of Music - Theses

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    The dodo was really a phoenix: the renaissance and revival of the recorder in England 1879-1941
    This study provides a critical analysis of the modern renaissance and popularization of the recorder in England, examining the phenomena and placing them within their broader musical and cultural contexts. It explores the roles of the principal protagonists and institutions, arguing that a confluence of different agendas—musical, educational and social—within an environment of changing conditions, was crucial to the successful revival of an instrument, which in Victorian England had no living tradition at all. There was a clear relationship between the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century scholarship on the recorder and the desire to learn more about England’s ‘golden age’ of music during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Even before the 1870s, scholars represented the recorder as an obsolete instrument. By the 1890s and particularly from 1900, there were a few people playing the instrument in public, most notably Canon Galpin and Arnold Dolmetsch. Unquestionably, Dolmetsch’s work with the recorder between 1900 and the late 1920s was crucial to the subsequent mass revival. Changes in educational ideas and doctrine between the World Wars led to children’s music classes including active instrumental music making, in part to stimulate a sense of cultural identity. From 1926 the bamboo pipe gradually became the melodic instrument most commonly used in English schools, until Edgar Hunt, inspired by Arnold Dolmetsch’s Haslemere concerts, conceived of a popular recorder revival. Hunt began to import inexpensive German recorders, and to research and publish pre-Classical recorder music. From 1935 the recorder began to usurp the place of the bamboo pipe in English elementary schools. Concurrently, musical and educational authorities were encouraging domestic music making, for social and musically nationalistic reasons, often linking it with Elizabethan music making. The idea that a strong musical knowledge across all demographics could enable the nation to become ‘a land with music’ once more was invoked in many of the activities undertaken between the Wars. The work of The Society of Recorder Players, established in 1937, was significant and had long-term consequences for the success of the popular revival, as well as for the relative status of the recorder. At the same time, classes established by Edgar Hunt at Trinity College of Music as well as new compositions for the recorder helped to legitimize the instrument. This thesis addresses a number of gaps in previous research, by exploring thoroughly the history of the recorder in England between 1879 and 1941, utilizing extensive primary source materials—many hitherto overlooked—; by examining linkages between the recorder’s increasing usage and the various strands of the English musical renaissance; and by determining why the recorder was so highly popular when other instruments—notably the bamboo pipe—appeared to have similar attributes.
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    Aspects of the creative process in Manuel de Falla's El retablo Maese Pedro and Concerto
    Manuel de Falla's output during the 1920s was a product of his conscious identification with elements of the Parisian avant-garde in order to create universal manifestations of Spanish musical nationalism. These ideals were pursued in El retablo de Maese Pedro (1918-23) and the Concerto (1923-26), works which were enthusiastically received in certain modernist circles despite their more limited appeal with the broader public. The extended period of gestation for both works allowed Falla to explore an ever increasing range of contemporary, historical and folk musical models, literary and historical sources, and religious, philosophical and aesthetic considerations, in an attempt to realise his aims. To a greater extent than in his earlier works, El retablo and the Concerto reflect Falla's preoccupation with innovation and resulted from a more pronounced interdependence of poetic, evocative, structural and technical parameters. His attempts to theorise his procedures at this time, however, unsystematic, were also symptomatic of an increasingly conscious, analytical, synthetic and at times articulated approach to composition. Through a detailed study of the material held at the Archivo Manuel de Falla, this dissertation examines the ideas that Falla explored and brought to the composition of El retablo and the Concerto, and attempts to contextualise them within his aesthetic, cultural and personal framework. The conception and evolution of these works is outlined and this discussion is informed by an examination of the musical and extra-musical sources studied by Falla, biographical documentation of the composer and his works, and reference to compositional sketch material. While El retablo and the Concerto formed the principal focus of his creative activity between 1919 and 1926, his overall literary and compositional activity throughout this period is taken into consideration as it relates to the two works in question. The evolution of his musical language during this period is also examined in relation to contemporary developments within his artistic milieu, and through an overview of stylistic precursors to this new style in Falla's own output to 1919.