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Title: Portfolio of original compositions and critical writing
Author: Lewis, Luke
ISNI:       0000 0004 6495 4057
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2016
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On a May morning in 2013 news broke that a unique figure within British musical life had died unexpectedly in his sleep at the age of fifty-eight. First coming to notoriety in the early 1980s, the composer Steve Martland's output spanned fusions of classical and popular instruments, a song cycle/pop album released on an independent alternative label, a predilection for string music descended as much from Dutch and American minimalists as his more pastoral English forebears, works for his own band of winds, guitars and drums, and ended with a choir piece giving traditional seafaring texts a minimalist treatment. Paralleling this stylistic evolution, all the while he was an opinionated and outspoken left-winger, frequently commenting on both the politics of music-making and broader socio-political topics. But from my perspective most compelling is how he sought to address these concerns with his compositions. With little sustained attention having been paid to Martland beyond journalistic writings and some from a sociological perspective, this dissertation seeks both to be the first tracing of his career but have as its central focus an examination of just how his politics were expressed in his compositions and how this evolved. I cast a critical eye toward the works themselves, sketches held at the British Library and interviews and reviews to build insight into an idiosyncratic artistic response to a period of great social and cultural change in Britain that reveals itself to be a great deal more nuanced, conscientious and sometimes contradictory than it first appears.
Supervisor: Saxton, Robert ; Cross, Jonathan Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Composition ; Steve Martland ; Music ; Sexual/gender politics ; Thatcherism ; Louis Andriessen ; Postmodernism ; Politics