Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)



First Advisor

Kenneth Fulton


A close examination of any composer's work may yield a revealing picture of the importance placed on text by the composer. This paper focuses on the relationship between poetry and music in Morten Lauridsen's Mid-Winter Songs, settings of five poems of English poet Robert Graves. Chapter One's biography of Morten Lauridsen contains the history of Mid-Winter Songs, from its commission to its present form. The biography of Graves emphasizes those elements in his life that are referred to in the poems of Mid-Winter Songs. Chapter Two demonstrates how the texts of Mid-Winter Songs share a common vocabulary of poetic imagery; in addition, the poems form a temporal and chronological progression from first poem through fifth. Lauridsen seems to use a common harmonic and melodic vocabulary in each movement, derived from the opening choral setting of text, that tie the movements together in much the same way as the vocabulary of poetic imagery unites the separate poems; these musical materials are described in this paper as a set of intervals based on the number of half steps from a given pitch. Thus, Lauridsen reinforces poetic unity by using common musical materials for the various movements, through use of a basic set of intervals and its subsets for construction of both harmonic and melodic structures. In each movement of Mid-Winter Songs, the meter and rhythm of the text have been a starting point for musical meter and rhythm, with exceptions made for important words or poetic concepts. Chapter Three points out the close correlation between poetic and musical rhythm, and the influence of poetic pace and form on the musical settings. Through interviews with the composer and analysis of the work, this paper documents the features of the text Lauridsen used as the basis for its musical setting. Because of his close attention to details of the poems and the reflection of those details in the music, Lauridsen has created a synthesis of the two arts that is enjoyable to hear and to perform.