Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)



First Advisor

Jack Guerry

Second Advisor

Jeffrey Perry


Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937) is generally considered to be one of Poland's most significant composers after Frederic Chopin (1810-1849). His work represents a nationalistic link between Chopin and the twentieth-century Polish school, which includes Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994) and Krzysztof Penderecki (b. 1933). Szymanowski's twenty Mazurkas, Op. 50 (1922-1924), are an important contribution to piano literature because they demonstrate the first true development of the genre after Chopin. Written during Szymanowski's 'Nationalistic' period (1920-1937), the Mazurkas reflect the composer's intent to utilize elements of Polish folk music in a twentieth-century musical context, thus contributing to the development; of the modern Polish nationalistic school. This study examines the tonal structure of the first four mazurkas in Op. 50. The format for the analyses includes an identification of the tonic pitch or group of pitches asserted in each piece, a discussion of the form, and an examination of the relationship of melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic materials to the tonal center. It is the author's intention to provide the performer with insight into Szymanowski's tonal language, noting specific ways in which the composer defines the tonality of each piece. Interpretive suggestions for performance are included in the text. Two techniques found to be pervasive are Szymanowski's use of articulation to note important tonal events and the tendency to withhold immediate identification of mode, thereby emphasizing the importance of a particular pitch. Other factors, such as long-range bass movement, rhythmic patterns, and Szymanowski's use of dual-modality are discussed when relevant. Analysis of the individual pieces is preceeded by an overview of Szymanowski's life and works and a brief discussion of the mazurka as an indigenous folk dance.