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Four Movements in Search of a Composer draws inspiration from the play Six Characters in Search of an Author by Luigi Pirandello. Rather than a character sketch of the six Characters in this play, this piece centers around four moments from the play highlighting grand philosophical and artistic ideas. The first and last movements form a pair centered around the entrance and exit of the Characters. These metatheatrical moments from the play are represented in the interaction between the wind ensemble and the brass sextet. The rehearsal of one play is interrupted by the appearance of the Characters, causing the actors to stop as each notices the characters. The piece being played on the stage by the wind ensemble in this composition is influenced by the works for band of Stravinsky and Messiaen. The offstage brass ensemble interrupts this with a march. I have used the motives from each of these to represent the dichotomy of reality (work on stage) and fantasy (march) that appears throughout the play. The ending of Six Characters in Search of an Author is quite complex, with the metatheater of the Characters’ story, the interaction of all in the present, and the overarching question of what is real and what is fantasy all at work. After the actors and director leave, the remaining four Characters (two died as their story was told) have the final scene. Three remain stuck in the theater while one is able to leave. For the final movement of Four Movements in Search of a Composer, the interplay between the march and the initial piece is at first reversed and then begins to blur, just as what is reality and fantasy begins to blur in the play. As the wind ensemble finishes, three Characters (part of the brass sextet) continue looping a fragment of the march as if stuck, while v the other one plays the altered chant that is part of the Messiaen-influenced work in the first movement while moving through the audience and eventually exiting the hall. The second movement of Four Movements in Search of a Composer centers around the idea that the characters do not experience their story in a teleological manner (hence the difficulty in trying to tell their story). Central to this movement is a six-note motive. Fragments of this motive build into an aggregate before the motive is repeated and harmonized, cementing the “correct” order into the listeners’ minds before the order is scattered, employing layers of the motive and/or its harmonization forward or backward beginning at any point within the motive. The third movement centers around the question of which is more real: the character or the actor. In this movement, aleatoric blocks are set out with the indication that the conductor chooses the order in which to cue the groupings of instruments. The blocks are created around particular intervals, sonorities, or gestures in such a way that a different order is going to create a different implication for the listener. For instance, the second block has one group focused around a minor third and another around a major third. One order might hint at a major sonority moving through an (014) sonority before becoming minor. Another order might begin with the (014) and overlap with the other groups enough that the implications of major and minor never surface for the listener. Four Movements in Search of a Composer is my musical implementation of the ideas and moments of Pirandello’s play that grabbed my attention in my first encounter with the work.
A Dissertation submitted to the College of Music in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Music.
Includes bibliographical references.
Clifton Callender, Professor Directing Dissertation; Richard Clary, University Representative; Mark Wingate, Committee Member; Evan Jones, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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