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Thesis 1

Thesis Title: The Evolution of the Piccolo as an Orchestral Instrument
Degree Type: MA
Degree Specialism: Musicology
Supervisor(s): Barra Boydell
Thesis Status: Accepted
Date Submitted / Accepted: July, 2005
Institution Submitting / Submitted To: NUI, Maynooth
Abstract: This thesis examines the role of the piccolo in the orchestra from its early beginnings to the twentieth century. The choice of composers is representative of the standard orchestral repertoire, and examination of their works demonstrates traditional and innovative use of the piccolo. The piccolo in the classical orchestra was employed sparingly and it was Beethoven who first introduced the piccolo into symphonic works. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the format of the orchestra became more standard. Subsequent development of the wind section, leading to the emancipation of wind instruments, confirmed the rightful place of the piccolo amongst its members. The ensuing evolution of the piccolo began to facilitate well-crafted and imaginative orchestrations. In 1914, Macauley Fitzgibbon’s description of the piccolo as a crude instrument, a ‘glorified tin-whistle,’ is no longer valid. Indeed, in the modern orchestra it is acknowledged as a principal wind instrument.

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