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Title: Jani Christou's Strychnine Lady (1967) : the development of an interpretative strategy in the context of the interdisciplinary ideas surrounding its genesis
Author: Yerosimou, Maria
ISNI:       0000 0004 5360 8140
Awarding Body: Goldsmiths College (University of London)
Current Institution: Goldsmiths College (University of London)
Date of Award: 2015
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The present thesis offers a holistic analysis of Strychnine Lady, a work created by the Greek composer Jani Christou (1926–70) in 1967. This work belongs to Christou’s last compositional period, during which he experimented with a personal art form that involves stage performance, mythical archetypes, dramatic elements and avant-garde materials and means. At this time, he also introduced new concepts, such as metapraxis and protoperformance, in order to engage with elements of the unconscious, influenced, in particular, by the field of analytical psychology as shaped by the Swiss psychologist, Carl Jung (1875–1961). The thesis works on two levels: one, an analysis of primary material referring to archival findings and the score of Strychnine Lady itself; and two, the identification of links with the theories of others via my own use of secondary sources towards a clarification of the relationship of these theories to the work. Hence, I aim at situating Christou in the 1960s through a comparison between him and two other well-known composers of that era who appear to have similar practices, John Cage (1912–92) and Mauricio Kagel (1931–2008), as well as offering a comparison between Strychnine Lady and the experimental music-theatre of the 1960s. Furthermore, I seek to clarify Christou’s compositional concepts with reference to Strychnine Lady through an in-depth analysis of his personal writings found in his archive, and I present connections with other, non-musical theories by which, I argue, he was influenced. These theories predominantly concern the concepts of Jung and Mircea Eliade. Furthermore, this study argues that these areas of thought, commonly regarded as ‘non-musical’, become, in an important sense, musical in Christou’s late works. In addition, I identify spiritual elements in Strychnine Lady and present links between several of its aspects and spiritual practices. Finally, the thesis also provides an extended critical analysis of the work’s score, which follows Christou’s new, personal and ground-breaking music notation system. It is important to mention that this is the first dedicated study to explore Strychnine Lady both holistically and critically, and one of the very few attempts thus far to research Christou’s output in depth. Hence, its importance lies in the concern to confirm the composer’s posthumous reputation in the 21st century via research that will, it is hoped, make a significant contribution to improving understanding of the composer’s late works.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available