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Title: Portfolio of compositions and critical writing
Author: Garrard, Christopher
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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The portfolio of compositions comprises six pieces: a chamber opera, an orchestral piece and four shorter chamber works. These pieces are diverse and distinct from one another but collectively explore aesthetic tensions relating to tonality, aura and ontology. The largest piece is a chamber opera setting Margaret Atwood's novel, The Handmaid's Tale, which has been flexibly scored as a series of fragments in order to reflect the quality of her text. The remaining pieces draw influence from poetry, landscape and the environment. They all encompass a series of material contrasts but attempt to simply contain these tensions in some way, leaving them partially unresolved. The thesis is a re-assessment of the music of the Ukrainian composer, Valentin Silvestrov, in particular, his 'metamusic' approach to composition that treats pre-existing styles as a form of musical metaphor. Through a series of comparisons with landscape and photography, I offer new vantage points for approaching the aesthetic issues present in his work, relating to aura, imitation and historical reference. The metaphors of landscape and photography might appear far removed from his work, but mediated by the work of the artist Gerhard Richter, offer a basis for critically analysing Silvestrov's approach. Furthermore, by drawing upon the theories of Walter Benjamin, Roland Barthes and the geographer, Stephan Harrison, I demonstrate how concepts from other disciplines can be recast in order to be effective for approaching both Silvestrov and Richter. As a form of conclusion, I consider the role of photography in the production of CD covers and how this relates to the reception of Silvestrov's metamusic in a commercial setting.
Supervisor: Harry, Martyn Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Music ; Composition ; 20th Century music ; contemporary music ; Valentyn Silvestrov ; Gerhard Richter ; Roland Barthes ; photography ; aesthetics ; glaciology ; Margaret Atwood ; The handmaid's tale ; opera ; environment