Date of Award

Spring 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)



Committee Chair

Elizabeth Moak

Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

Ellen Elder

Committee Member 2 School


Committee Member 3

Michael Bunchman

Committee Member 3 School


Committee Member 4

Edward Hafer

Committee Member 4 School


Committee Member 5

Joseph Brumbeloe

Committee Member 5 School



Music in Ireland has become increasingly popular in recent decades. There is no shortage of Irish musical groups, recordings, and live performances featuring Irish music both in Ireland and abroad. Contemporary art music in Ireland has also seen an increase in support and notoriety. Irish composers face a decision of how, if at all, to engage with traditional folk music that is so prominent in their culture. Ryan Molloy (b. 1983 in Pomeroy, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland) is a composer and performer who incorporates elements of traditional Irish music in the context and in the language of modern art music.

Molloy received a childhood education in both traditional Irish music and in classical piano. He is fluent with both of these musical languages, which gives him a unique perspective and cultural context. This dissertation explores the way in which Ryan Molloy uses traditional musical elements and recontextualizes them in his solo-piano works. Chapter One provides background information about the recent history of Irish art music. Chapter Two provides a brief biography of Molloy and presents some of his chief compositional goals and purposes. Chapter Three introduces basic concepts of traditional Irish music. Chapter Four presents Molloy’s solo-piano works and discusses how he uses the music of his traditional heritage. The appendices include a chronological list of Molloy’s compositions as well as transcripts of interviews of Molloy by the author.

Molloy’s music continues to grow in prominence both in Ireland and abroad. His perspective generates a music language that is fresh and innovative. His music, which draws upon two seemingly opposing worlds, deserves increased performance and research.