Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)


School of music

Document Type



John Corigliano's composition for "The Red Violin," a 1998 film by Don McKellar and François Girard, presents a multifaceted exploration of thematic material and performance challenges. This dissertation investigates Corigliano's creation of the "Red Violin" Caprices, examining their origins in the film's soundtrack and their transformation into solo works. Corigliano's intention to showcase the artistry of violinist Joshua Bell through these caprices underscores their technical and musical complexity. The Caprices, replete with references to the Baroque era and various virtuosic works, demand a high level of virtuosity from performers. Drawing on a sequence of seven chords and Anna’s Theme from the film, Corigliano weaves a tapestry of musical styles and technical demands. Variations on Anna's theme, short in duration yet rich in complexity, challenge performers with rapid stylistic shifts and intricate technical passages. This study delves into the performance practice considerations of the "Red Violin" Caprices, suggesting a thorough familiarity with works such as Paganini's Caprices, J. Sibelius' Violin Concerto, J.S. Bach's Partita III, Eugene Ysaye's Sonatas, and Pablo de Sarasate's Zigeunerweisen as prerequisites. Additionally, isolating and analyzing specific measures for their references to the violin repertoire enhances a performer's understanding of Corigliano's compositional choices. Corigliano's deep knowledge of the violin, influenced by his upbringing in a musical family, is evident in the intricate weaving of diverse musical elements within the Caprices. By delving into solo violin composition, Corigliano expands the idiomatic language of the instrument while paying homage to its rich tradition. This dissertation aims to provide a comprehensive analysis of the "Red Violin" Caprices, shedding 4 4 light on their thematic material, technical intricacies, and musical depth. Ultimately, it contributes to the scholarly understanding of Corigliano's masterful composition and its significance within the solo violin repertoire.



Committee Chair

Lilleslatten, Espen