UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Analytical approaches to György Kurtág's "Three Old Inscriptions for Voice and Piano" Op. 25 Leung, Prudence Pui Sze


György Kurtág is one of the most influential composers alive today. His music conveys a strong sense of Hungarian culture, but draws influences from many composers and eras. His compositions range from miniature solo pieces to large orchestral compositions (Stele, Op. 33), and from the twelve-tone idiom (String Quartet No. i, op.’) to electroacoustic works (Mémoire de Lalka). His best-known pieces are mostly vocal works, which demonstrate a rare brilliance in utilizing music to heighten poetic content. The Three Old Inscriptions, Op. 25, for voice and piano, is a work that has not yet received close attention from music theorists. Although more compact than some of his other vocal pieces, this work manifests many characteristic features of Kurtág’ s compositional approach and technique. It is an excellent example of how he incorporates traditional and past compositional elements in a contemporary idiom to develop a unique contemporary compositional style. This thesis is divided into three chapters. Chapter one provides background on Kurtág’s compositional style and influences, a brief introduction to The Three Old Inscriptions, and a synopsis of the three pieces. Chapter two contains a section-by-section musical analysis of the third movement. Chapter three discusses compositional techniques that are not treated in chapter two, and examines the relationship between the music and the text in the third movement. Collectively, chapters two and three also address the integration of elements from the past and present in Op. 25.

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