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A Comparison of Origins and Influences in the Music of Vaughn Williams and Britten through Analysis of Their Festival Te Deums

by Jensen, Joni.

Abstract (Summary)
Ralph Vaughan Williams and Benjamin Britten were two of the most prominent and popular composers in England in the first half of the twentieth century; however, their musical styles represent two different schools of thought, pastoralism and modernism. Despite their differences, they had much in common. They attended the same school; were heirs of a movement to promote English music, the English Musical Renaissance; and greatly admired their predecessor Henry Purcell. This document investigates how these two composers formulated diverse compositional styles even though they shared a common musical heritage. The investigation in this document is two-part. First, the investigation depicts the origin and formulation of both composers’ styles through a discussion and comparison of their musical backgrounds, teachers, influences, and ideals. This discussion includes information on their personal training and ideas, as well as influential movements, composers, and teachers. The second portion includes analysis and comparison of Vaughan Williams’ and Britten’s Festival Te Deums. The document includes a discussion of the origin of the Te Deum text and history of musical settings. Specific elements of the Festival Te Deums are discussed, compared, and traced to possible origins of influence in each composer’s heritage. This document includes an analysis of Purcell’s Te Deum in comparison to the Vaughan Williams and Britten settings as a demonstration of the affects of a common influence on their music. 11 The influences and ideals of each composer clearly manifest themselves in their respective Festival Te Deums. The analysis confirms there are obvious differences in their respective musical ideas; however, the effects of similar influences on their musical styles are not always similar. Although Vaughan Williams and Britten followed the principles of the English Musical Renaissance and emulated Purcell, each composer was so distinct in his musical interpretation that it is difficult to recognize the similar influences in the music itself. In this way, both remained committed to their heritage, but each developed a unique musical voice. 12
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School:The University of Arizona

School Location:USA - Arizona

Source Type:Master's Thesis

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