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Thesis 1

Thesis Title: The solo piano music of Philip Martin: an assessment of his teaching and concert repertory
Degree Type: MA
Degree Specialism: Musicology
Supervisor(s): Dr Lorraine Byrne
Thesis Status: Accepted
Date Submitted / Accepted: June 2005
Institution Submitting / Submitted To: St. Patricks College, DCU
No. of Volumes (no. of pages): 1
Thesis Location / Link: Cregan Library, St. Patrick's College, DCU
Persons / Composers: Martin, Philip
Genres / Musical Instruments: Contemporary Irish music, piano music
Abstract: Philip Martin, Irish composer/pianist, born 1947, has an extensive compositional output that is both diverse and significant. To date he has written almost two hundred works ranging from orchestral to small ensemble, vocal, choral and solo instrumental forces.

Although Martinís works have received frequent performances and broadcasts, both at home and internationally, little has been written in the way of critical analysis and aesthetic appraisal. The few commercial recordings of his music that are available, have been performed by the composer himself and his wife, professional singer, Penelope Price Jones.

This dissertation examines Martinís solo piano music and contains an introduction and four separate chapters. The Introduction establishes the musicological context for my study. It locates my research within the broader framework of Irish research in the area of contemporary Irish music and defines research objectives. Chapter One, focuses on Martinís biography Ė an element which is essential in the study of contemporary Irish composers, due to the dearth of published material. With regard to his compositional output in this genre, Martin agrees that his solo piano music quite easily falls into two distinct categories: Teaching Repertoire and Concert Repertoire. As all categorisations are, to some degree, arbitrary, the thesis also identifies those pieces that cross the boundaries of both teaching and concert repertoire. Chapter Two, focuses on analysis and pedagogical issues in relation to Martinís Teaching Repertoire and examines the various technical challenges, for example, stretch of the hand, rhythmic challenges, cantabile and staccato touch, pedalling, chord control, octave and scale passages and contrapuntal passagework, that make them ideal for teaching purposes. Particular focus is places upon Pick-Up Pieces (1994) as being representative of his pedagogical output. Chapter Three, deals with the interpretation and analysis of Martinís Concert Repertoire. Here, I examine issues such as pitch and harmonic structures, use of motifs, rhythmic features, use of texture and virtuosic challenges the music presents to the performer.

In addition to such analysis, this thesis examines Martinís influences and inspirations. People, places, literature, art, astronomy and jazz are important in this regard and national identity also impacts on his musical style. Works written specifically as competition pieces form an additional subcategory within his piano output. Both Chapter Two and Three are liberally illustrated with musical examples which have been given a specific category, as have occasional works for more than one piano.

Chapter Four, provides an evaluation of this dissertation and discusses the technical and artistic characteristics that distinguish Martinís piano style. It also suggests how my research could be advanced by further studies.

The Appendices include a full catalogue of Martinís published and unpublished works for solo piano. The inclusion of two CDs with mainly archival recordings of the piano works complements this research. Colour plates of seven paintings exhibited at the Hugh Lane Gallery are also included, since they were a direct inspiration of Soundings (2001).

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