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Title: The development of The dream of Gerontius, poem and oratorio
Author: Hollingsworth, Norma E.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2723 7753
Awarding Body: Keele University
Current Institution: Keele University
Date of Award: 2008
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This thesis traces the development of The Dream of Gerontius from its genesis in the writings of John Henry Newman, through his early sketches and fair copies to the edition published in 1866. It then considers the possible reasons for Edward Elgar’s decision to set the poem to music and traces its development into an oratorio, exploring the extent to which the oratorio reflects the ideas contained in the original poem. Chapter One examines how the poem emerges out of the broad and immediate context of Newman’s life, considering (inter alia) both the position of the Roman Catholics in nineteenth-century England, and Newman’s experience of writing the Apologia, the work immediately preceding the poem. Chapter One also investigates the compositional process and the circumstances surrounding the publication of the poem. Chapter Two traces the development of the ideas of the poem through its early texts; taking three sections of the poem as examples, it provides a detailed comparison of five different versions of the poem. Chapter Three explores the poem’s philosophical and theological ideas, examining the extent to which Newman endeavours to make Roman Catholic theology acceptable to a Protestant readership. The reasons for Edward Elgar’s choice of the poem and his redaction of it into the libretto are considered in Chapter Four. Chapter Five looks at Elgar’s compositional processes and, through an examination of his early sketches, traces the development of his early ideas, especially in relation to the Soul’s appearance before God and how his ideas were altered as a result of the intervention of August Jaeger. The extent to which Newman’s original themes are still reflected in the oratorio is the subject of Chapter Six which also includes a description and account of the music of the oratorio.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available