Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)



Document Type



American composer Libby Larsen has created works in many musical genres. Larsen’s vocal music recordings have featured well-known performers such as Arleen Augér, for which Larsen won a Grammy as producer. Her vocal music employs texts from various sources including Nursery Rhymes and the Bible, as well as numerous others. Larsen works solely on commission, and in 2000 Larsen was approached by the Marilyn Horne Foundation to compose a group of songs for Metropolitan Opera competition winner, soprano Meaghan Miller. Larsen had always been interested in the wives of Henry VIII and the commission request finally gave her the opportunity to research and characterize the Queens through this set of powerful songs. The texts for Larsen’s Try Me, Good King: Last Words of the Wives of Henry VIII come from the Queens’ letters and/or gallows speeches. This document provides a complete performance guide that encompasses Larsen’s background, a basic historical sketch of each Queen, and a discussion of topics pertinent to the successful performance of the work. The first chapter of this document includes a brief biographical sketch, as well as an explanation of Larsen’s lifelong interest in the Queens. In addition, her journey through the compositional process of Try Me, Good King is discussed. Included in the second chapter is a historical sketch of the Queens. Performers must understand the background of each Queen in order to successfully perform the work. The final chapter of this document covers each individual song with Larsen’s insights and suggestions for a complete performance. Performance and practice suggestions, as well as corrections to the score and additional lute song quotations are addressed with musical examples as needed. Appendix A includes the texts of the lute songs Larsen used in the construction of this work. Appendix B lists the full letters and speeches that Larsen used to create the texts for the work. Appendix C provides a discography of Larsen’s vocal music. Appendix D is a listing of Larsen’s vocal music. Appendix E is a copy of the permission for copyright letter from Oxford University Press.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Patricia O'Neill



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Music Commons