The guitar works of Stephen Dodgson
In 1986, the guitarist Roy Brewer expressed a thought in the minds of many guitarists when he wrote in his book A Guitarists Notebook that 'the guitar is an instrument searching for an identity'. This dissertation examines the guitar music of Stephen Dodgson, an English composer born in London in 1924, and who has been a prolific composer of music that includes the guitar since the early 1950s. It examines Dodgson's guitar music to determine the extent to which it reveals the guitar's identity, or helps to provide it with one; the extent to which his writing provides guitarists with a vantage point from which they are able to get a more inclusive, less isolated view of art music, and see the wider musical world in perspective; and in what ways his compositions have helped to integrate the guitar into the ambit of art music. There is little literature on Dodgson's work, including his writing for the guitar, other than a small number of magazine articles and a handful of essays by Dodgson himself. Therefore an ancillary aim of this dissertation is to conduct a survey of Dodgson's guitar music, and to discover the essential characteristics of his musical language, coupled with a demonstration of how his guitar works have been representative of his musical language throughout his career as a composer. It examines his background, and in what sense it prepares him as an innovative guitar composer; the reason he writes for the guitar, and how he regards and uses it; his works for solo guitar; what he has contributed to teaching materials for guitarists; his approach to the guitar in combination with other instruments, in the context of concertos, massed guitar groups and other ensembles; and how he combines the guitar with the voice. The dissertation draws from the articles and essays, from the results of a series of interviews with the composer and guitarists with whom he has collaborated, and from detailed scrutiny of selected scores.