Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



The first part of this dissertation is a musical composition for orchestra entitled Four Corners: Concerto for Marimba and Orchestra in 4 Movements. This work is a tone poem, featuring marimba and orchestra that depicts American locales as presented by notable American authors. I employed a neo-tonal compositional approach to portray these musical scenes. The work attempts to evoke both the physical features of each place, as well as the author’s experience and mindset with each place. The movements appear in this order: Maine Woods (Henry David Thoreau’s Retreat), Key West (Hemingway’s Home), Big Sur (John Steinbeck’s Backdrop), Mount Desolation (Jack Kerouac’s Quiet Place) The second part of this dissertation addresses the composer Carl Nielsen. Nielsen is the most well-known Danish composer. He is often grouped with other nationalistic composers, but this an arguable fact, and does not help reveal the primary themes of his oeuvre. His pastoral upbringing, and his cultural outsider status lead to a very distinct compositional voice. His writing is often so distinct that traditional analysis is not the best tool for investigation. A better approach may include elements of his past, and personal life that contributed to his unique compositional approach. An examination of his work, both tonal, motivic, and structural, reveals certain themes that are recurrent. The currents that run through his music include: pastoralism, paradox as a creative ethos, and fatalism. These themes are present in most of his works, and especially in his later symphonies. I will explore his 4th, 5th, and 6th symphonies in search of evidence of these themes, and other clues to understanding these works. The result of this study reveals a quixotic logic behind each of these works. The use of progressive tonality and thematicism reveal a composer who used the genre of symphony to portray a dramatic trajectory of his themes that coheres for the listener once the background of Nielsen is understood.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Constantinides, Dinos



Included in

Music Commons