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"Why do I go on doing these things?": The Continuity and Context of Gerald Finzi's Extended Choral Works

WEEDON, ROBERT,ANDREW (2012) "Why do I go on doing these things?": The Continuity and Context of Gerald Finzi's Extended Choral Works. Masters thesis, Durham University.

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Gerald Finzi's reputation as one of England's most respected twentieth-century composers of choral music has continued to grow since his death in 1956. Due to the cost and logistics of performing large-scale works for chorus and orchestra, his settings of English literature for these forces are often obscured behind his output of songs and instrumental works, yet form a backbone to his oeuvre, culminating in "Intimations of Immortality" and "In Terra Pax", the works which arguably offer the greatest summation of his compositional personality.

This dissertation will argue that it is only through examination of his large-scale choral output that one can gain a sense of the composer's development and contextual interests; through these works, Finzi displays some of his finest word setting for both solo and multiple voices, and demonstrates choral writing and orchestral ambition on a par with his contemporaries. It examines these trends through the context in which they were composed, beginning with his 1924 "Requiem da Camera" and ending with "In Terra Pax" of 1954, his last completed work, discussing his distinctive signature paradigms and structures, and showing how from inauspicious early works, Finzi developed a distinctive compositional idiom of his own; music which even after a few bars is unmistakably by the composer. It will also examine the era in which Finzi was writing these works, arguing that the composer was perhaps one of the final exponents of a largely nineteenth-century form, perhaps as a result of the influence of his composition teachers, his research into the works of the nineteenth century, particular Parry, and his friendship or knowledge of the work of his contemporaries Ralph Vaughan Williams, as well as earlier Baroque composers.

For the sake of categorisation, this dissertation has limited 'large scale choral works' to his works of a length beyond that of an anthem and utilising chorus, orchestral or instrumental accompaniment and vocal soloists – works that roughly correspond to the scale of a cantata, oratorio or choral ode. However, to imagine that these works developed independently of the rest of Finzi's output would be an oversight, and significant works from outside his choral works will be discussed.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Keywords:Gerald Finzi; British choral music; twentieth century choral music; Requiem da Camera; Lo the Full Final Sacrifice; For St Cecilia; Intimations of Immortality; In Terra Pax; continuity in the works of Finzi
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Music, Department of
Thesis Date:2012
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:28 May 2012 09:28

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