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Thesis 1

Thesis Title: John Rutter's 'Requiem': the origins of and influences on his musical style
Degree Type: MA
Degree Specialism: Musicology
Supervisor(s): Dr Rhona Clarke
Thesis Status: Accepted
Date Submitted / Accepted: June 2007
Institution Submitting / Submitted To: St. Patricks College, DCU
No. of Volumes (no. of pages): 1
Thesis Location / Link: Cregan Library, St. Patrick’s College, Drumcondra, Dublin 9
Persons / Composers: John Rutter, Gabriel Fauré, Joseph Canteloube
Genres / Musical Instruments: The Requiem, analysis, English choral music
Time Frame: Twentienth century
Key Issues / Concepts: Musical reception, musical influences (Plainchant, French sacred music, English sacred music, popular musical idiom)
Abstract: The scholarly and critical reception of John Rutter’s music evokes strong sentiments both for and against and, yet, he consistently provides new music that the public want to sing. This thesis explores the stylistic origins of and influences on one of Rutter’s most important large scale and popular works, the ‘Requiem’ (published 1986). It examines the critical literature and sources pertaining to its composer, its musical style and reception, and locates the work within the overall ‘Requiem’ genre.

Charting the influences that give Rutter’s music its individual stylistic qualities, this thesis establishes four dominant lines of enquiry, vis (i) Plainchant, (ii) French sacred music around the turn of the century (especially, Fauré), (iii) English sacred music (chiefly, Stanford, Howells, Britten and Tavener) and (iv) popular musical idiom.

Focussing on influences derived from Rutter’s editing activities and, specifically, his editing of the 1893 version of Fauré’s ‘Requiem’, this research reveals concordances in the patterns of construction and creative decision-making between both similarly-conceived works, especially in their opening and ‘Pie Jesu’ movements. What emerges, however, is that the Fauré was not just the catalyst for Rutter’s composition but, most importantly, its chief inspiration and model.

The conclusion debates the appropriateness of musicological frameworks for assessing the valuing Rutter’s ‘Requiem’. The ‘Requiem’s’ vitality and visceral appeal, is seen as a product of its stylistic diversity. Its enduring qualities over twenty-two years in performance can be traced to its technical competence and its uniquely musical character which, in spite (or because) of perceived imperfections, allows the work the status of a late twentieth-century English sacred choral classic.

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Current Institution Affiliation: St. Patrick's College, DCU

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