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Thesis 1

Thesis Title: Charles Villiers Stanfordís Preludes for Piano op.163 and op.179: A Musicological Retrospective
Degree Type: PhD
Degree Specialism: Musicology
Supervisor(s): Dr Lorraine Byrne Bodley & Dr Patrick Devine
Thesis Status: Accepted
Date Submitted / Accepted: 2012
Institution Submitting / Submitted To: NUI, Maynooth
No. of Volumes (no. of pages): 3
Thesis Location / Link: NUI Maynooth Library
Persons / Composers: Charles Villiers Stanford
Genres / Musical Instruments: Solo piano music, piano prelude
Related Institutions: Cambridge University, Royal College of Music London
Related Places: Cambridge, London, Dublin
Time Frame: 1852-1924
Key Issues / Concepts: Reception issues of Charles Villiers Stanford, Stanfordís solo piano music, piano music of the British Musical Renaissance, the piano prelude tradition, examination and analysis of Stanfordís forty-eight preludes for piano, edition of Stanfordís forty-eight preludes for piano
Abstract: Despite being credited as one of the leading figures of the British Musical Renaissance, Stanfordís piano music has remained hidden from serious musical scholarship and performance. In this dissertation an exploration of Stanfordís biography identifies changes in Stanford reception history which have affected the understanding of his piano music both during his career and posthumously. Stanfordís experiences as pianist and composer of piano music are explored to provide a contextual backdrop to the thesis. As the first composer to complete a set of twenty-four preludes in Ireland or England, and, as the preludes represent the pinnacle of his compositions for solo piano this provided the impetus to rediscover the music.

In an aim to address misconceptions about Stanfordís piano music this thesis engages in a scholarly and critical examination of each prelude and contextualizes the pieces within the Baroque and Romantic prelude traditions. While analysis of the music highlights Stanfordís exemplary understanding of the piano, it also demonstrates how he merged ideas from both prelude traditions to make his own unique contribution to the genre. Traditionalistic tendencies in Stanfordís compositional writing are revealed through his rich and varied harmonic palette and his approach to structure and motivic development, while unifying compositional features are also noted. Stanfordís compositional intentions are considered, while issues of late style and nostalgia are raised. A revised edition of Stanfordís forty-eight preludes is also included along with a detailed editorial commentary.
In response to the recent resurgence in scholarship on Stanford, this thesis raises an awareness of Stanford as a composer of piano music, re-evaluating the contribution he made to piano music in England and in Ireland. It will emphasise the value and importance of his collection of preludes and will reappraise Stanford as a significant composer of piano music in Irish musicological studies.

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