An examination of the song cycles of Thea Musgrave

Dana Roppolo Rice

Abstract

This study begins with a brief biography which traces Thea Musgrave's education, musical training, background, and primary compositional influences. Awards and commissions, which contributed to Musgrave's success as composer, lecturer, or conductor, are identified. A general overview of Musgrave's significant compositions in all genre, including choral, chamber, electronic, instrumental and orchestral music, as well as ballet and opera, are also noted. Three chapters, devoted to an examination of her three published song cycles, A Suite O Bairnsangs (for medium voice and piano), Five Love Songs (for soprano and guitar), and Four Portraits (for baritone, clarinet, and piano), follow a brief introduction and biography and constitute the majority of the study. Though Musgrave wrote two other song cycles, Two Songs (for baritone and piano), and Six Songs (to early English poems), the cycles were either never published or withdrawn by the composer shortly after publication. Therefore, these cycles are excluded from this examination. The chapters devoted to the song cycles include an analysis of the compositional devices and features of her songs, with eighty-seven musical examples, as well as mention of the poetry and background of the songs. The final chapter both summarizes Musgrave's compositional techniques within the three song cycles and traces the evolution of her style, from the first published song cycle in 1953 to the final song cycle in 1956. A bibliography and letter of permission from G. Schirmer, Inc. is also provided.