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Thesis 1

Thesis Title: The saxophone quartet music of Ian Wilson
Degree Type: Other
Degree Specialism: Performance
Supervisor(s): Dr Mark Fitzgerald
Thesis Status: Accepted
Date Submitted / Accepted: September 2010
Institution Submitting / Submitted To: Dublin Institute of Technology
No. of Volumes (no. of pages): 1 (56pp.)
Thesis Location / Link: DIT Conservatory of Music & Drama Library
Abstract: Original compositions for saxophone quartet by Irish composers amount to quite a modest total. A search of the Contemporary Music Centreís library reveals that a mere twenty works for saxophone quartet have been composed with the first recorded works dating from 1982. These pieces that have been composed for saxophone quartet have largely been commissioned by groups such as the Amstel and Aurelia Quartets, both from Holland with only one of the compositions noted by the CMC specifically written for and performed by and Irish group; the RISE Quartet, which has since disbanded. Consequently, it may be proposed that the lack of a professional saxophone quartet in Ireland has undoubtedly affected the output of Irish composers for the grouping.
Within this small collection of works, however, one name stands out. Ian Wilson is a composer of considerable reputation both in Ireland and internationally. His music could be considered to be extremely versatile and multi-faceted. Throughout his work, Wilsonís use of the saxophone has become an integral component in his compositions most commonly as part of an ensemble but it has also resulted in some solo works and a concerto. A native of Belfast, he has composed a total of seven saxophone quartets making him not only the most prolific composer of saxophone quartet music in Ireland but a significant contributor to the genre globally. Each one of Wilsonís quartets exploits the full potential of the instruments sound world as well as taking advantage of the specific blending possibilities and techniques associated with the saxophone.
The purpose of this dissertation is to discuss and evaluate Ian Wilsonís saxophone quartetís isolation elements of style, harmonic language and the composerís use of extended instrumental techniques. This was conducted through a comparative analysis of the seven saxophone quartets in addition to a series of interviews with both the composer and performers involved in his work. The research culminated in the conclusion that while Ian Wilson has undoubtedly wide-ranging approach to musical style, specific compositional traits can be traced throughout his works and a continued stylistic approach to writing for saxophone can be identified.

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