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Thesis 1

Thesis Title: Busoni's Aesthetic and the Development of a Modern Compositional Language
Degree Type: Other
Degree Specialism: Performance
Supervisor(s): Dr Mark Fitzgerald
Thesis Status: Accepted
Date Submitted / Accepted: 2009
Institution Submitting / Submitted To: Dublin Institute of Technology
No. of Volumes (no. of pages): 1 (50pp.)
Thesis Location / Link: Dublin Institute of Technology Library
Abstract: This dissertation explores the ways in which Ferruccio Busoni developed a modern and personal musical language in the years following the publication of his essay ‘A Sketch of a New Aesthetic of Music’ in 1907. This ‘Sketch’ marks a watershed between Busoni’s works written in a tonal Romantic language and the modernist works of increasing tonal and harmonic ambiguity which followed. The dissertation will investigate the ways in which novel ideas Busoni presented in the ‘Sketch’ were first explored in the composition of the ‘7 Elegies’ of 1909 and reached their most extreme realisation in the ‘Sonatina seconda’ of 1912. Busoni looked back towards the masters of the more distant past, most particularly Bach, for a solution to the difficulties he encountered with the free atonality and formlessness of the ‘Sonatina seconda’ forming his concept of ‘Young Classicism’, a desire to build on the elements of the past similar in some ways to Neo-classicism. Through considering the ‘Fantasia Contrappuntistica’ of 1910 it is shown that Busoni found counterpoint, using Bernhard Ziehn’s innovative ‘symmetrical inversion’, was to prove an effective tool in providing order and form to the increasing chromaticism and atonality in his compositions. Busoni’s language became a powerful and modern tool which gave Busoni the flexibility to change swiftly between mood and character without a break in style that was especially effective in his later operas.

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