Date of Award

Summer 2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)



Committee Chair

Danilo Mezzadri

Committee Chair Department


Committee Member 2

Joseph Brumbeloe

Committee Member 2 Department


Committee Member 3

Edward Hafer

Committee Member 3 Department


Committee Member 4

Galit Kaunitz

Committee Member 4 Department


Committee Member 5

Jacqueline McIlwain

Committee Member 5 Department



Mélanie Hélène Bonis (1858-1937) was a female French composer born at a time when musical trends started shifting away from Romanticism. Amidst the various styles that emerged towards the end of the nineteenth century, Bonis remained faithful to the practices of the Late-Romantic period. Her style, characterized by its adherence to tonality and classical forms, was considered outdated by the Parisian public and proved to be detrimental in her career. This document focuses on the four chamber works originally written for flute. Bonis’ chamber works demonstrated a composer who was willing to experiment with the modern techniques of the twentieth century but was deeply rooted in tonality and structure.

This document determines the socio-political factors that influenced Bonis’ reliance on tonality and classical forms. Some notable composers such as Saint-Saëns, Franck, and D’Indy continued to write in a tonally driven manner and achieved success in their works. However, female composers such as Bonis and Chaminade were not as fortunate. The numerous restrictions imposed on women limited their chances for success and affected the posterity of their works. The gravity and effect of these restrictions in Mel Bonis’ music are examined in this dissertation.

The style changes in the flute chamber works provides an excellent summary of the choices that Bonis made in her music: The traditional form of the Suite en Trio, the late-romantic style of the Fantaisie Septuor, the programmatic language of the Scenes de la Forêt, and the Baroque practices of the Suite dans le style ancien. The research focuses on the consistencies as well as stylistic changes that materialized in the four chamber works. Theoretical analysis is limited to large-scale sections, thematic materials, transition sections, and cadences.