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Title: The life and music of Benigno Zerafa (1726-1804) : a mid-18th century Maltese composer of sacred music
Author: Aquilina, Frederick.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3425 9051
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2001
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The aim of the following thesis is to provide a study of the life and music of Benigno Zerafa (1726-1804), a mid-18th-century Maltese composer of sacred music. As a model adopted in this dissertation, research on Benigno Zerafa is divided into four categories which the author chose as important points of evidence in musicology: i) biographical, historical and literary studies (based mainly on official documents, the musical documents, and the informative descriptions of performances at the Cathedral, all housed in the archives of the Cathedral Museum) dealing with the composer's life, the environment in which he was brought up and in which he worked, the liturgy and local religious life, the texts he used for his vocal works, performance practice, the reception of his music, and its performance history; these are given in chapters one, two, three and four; ii) source studies - (i) gathering the sources, (ii) identifying the composer's musical and textual handwriting, (iii) determining the authenticity of works attributed to him - involving documentary or external evidence, provenance, paper studies of handwriting, watermarks and staving (rastrography), methods of dating, etc.: these are discussed in chapter four and the thematic catalogue; iii) style analysis concerned with internal evidence deriving from the music itself, and ultimately confronting questions of eesthetics, the place of the composer in music history and, especially, his influence on the development of the Maltese Baroque style - chapters five, six and seven. Empirical methods involving analysis of motifs, phrase structure, harmony, style characteristics, texture, form and word-painting are all considered. The arguments presented demonstrate how topoi, rhetorical figures and systematic overall planning are essential features of Zerafa's works in general; iv) a thematic catalogue of Zerafa's 148 works - volumes three and four - in chronological order concludes this study; a general preface and various indexes to facilitate quick reference are also included. A critical edition of Zerafa's Z116, Nisi Dominus for soprano solo, is presented as appendix A. Other appendices (B to G) follow as aids to the main text. To the best of my knowledge (as of 31 October 2001), no critical editions, books, papers and theses on the composer have yet been published and are in the process of being published. The present author's critical edition of Z2, Messa a due cori (1743), has appeared as part-fulfilment of requirements for the M. Mus. degree (Liverpool, 1997) in a computerised version, and was performed professionally in four locations in France in 1998 under the direction of French conductor Jean-Marc Labylle . One or two dissertations on Zerafa have now appeared. A doctoral thesis by Franco Bruni (Sorbonne, 1998) entitled La Cappella musicale della Cattedrale di Malta nel diciasettesimo e diciottesimo secolo presents a detailed study of the Cappella Musicale of the Cathedral up to the 18th century; a concise biographical note on Benigno Zerafa and an analysis of watermarks of the manuscript paper used are included. There is also a brief analysis of a small number of works, followed by a general thematic catalogue of the works according to manuscript number. The aims of this thesis and the results achieved lie within the context of . the composer's life and career, and are intended to promote a better understanding of the man and his music.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Church