A recording and performer's analysis of Partita-variations for piano solo by George Rochberg

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Chin, Yu-Ching
Kilburn, Ray
Rhoden, Lori E.
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Thesis (D.A.)
School of Music
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The purpose of this document is to provide a recording and a performer’s analysis of the piano work titled Partita-Variations by American composer George Rochberg, as well as to provide an accessible guide for the pianist in understanding his role as a musician of the twenty-first century. Partita-Variations for Piano Solo, composed in 1976, is a large-scale keyboard work that features a juxtaposition of two different musical genres (partita and variations) and consists of twelve variations on a theme. Chapter One presents an introductory statement of the need and the purpose of the study, including an introduction, review of the literature, methodology, and organization. Chapter Two consists of two parts: an overview of Rochberg’s compositional techniques and styles, and a survey of Rochberg’s published works for solo piano. Rochberg experimented with various musical styles and techniques over the course of his career. His style evolved in the mid-1960s from serialism to conventional tonal idioms to create a unique and expressive voice in the twentieth-century. The chapter concludes with a brief discussion of the musical characteristics of each of Rochberg’s published solo keyboard works. Chapter Three is devoted to an analysis and interpretation of the Partita-Variations. The analysis focuses on characteristics such as harmony, texture, form, referenced musical styles, quotation technique, and specific thematic relationships of the pieces. Chapter Four summarizes the analysis of Partita-Variations and concludes with observations on how Rochberg absorbs and transforms musical elements from the past within his own distinctly twentieth-century approach. Finally, a recording of Rochberg’s Partita- Variations is provided as an aid for performance interpretation.