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Thesis 1

Thesis Title: An exploration of contemporary Irish composers’ use of the poetry of James Joyce in their music
Degree Type: Other
Degree Specialism: Performance
Supervisor(s): Dr Maria McHale
Thesis Status: Accepted
Date Submitted / Accepted: September 2011
Institution Submitting / Submitted To: Dublin Institute of Technology
No. of Volumes (no. of pages): 1 (79pp.)
Thesis Location / Link: DIT Conservatory of Music & Drama Library
Abstract: The thesis focuses attention on contemporary Irish composers’ use of the poetry of James Joyce in their music. It will explore how Irish composers including Philip Martin, Martin O’Leary and Brian Boydell set Joyce’s poetry to music, their history and musical background will be stated briefly, along with his literary compositional techniques, paying particular attention to his poetic structure and its musical influences.
Two song cycles by Martin O’Leary based on the poetry from Joyce’s first publication, ‘Chamber Music’ (1907) are examined, followed by some works of Philip Martin and Brian Boydell, who have set poems to music from this poetic cycle.
An in depth analysis and exploration will take place in order to understand the musical settings of Joyce’s lyrics by the three Irish composers mentioned above. An investigation and comparison of my musical findings and their similarities to the poetic text will be discussed.
The sources used for research on this thesis topic include relevant literature on Joyce and musical analyses, in addition to interviews I conducted. Appendices list composers who have set Joyce’s lyrics to music, as well as lists of Joyce’s works, copies of the music analyzed and poems used to do so and finally, transcripts of the interviews and questionnaires.
From this research I will conclude that James Joyce’s early musical education as a source of influence standing on the works of Irish composers who set his lyrics to music.

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