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Stylistic fusion in the Cabaret Songs of Benjamin Britten and W.H. Auden : a performer's analysis Roberts, Erinn

Abstract

The Cabaret Songs of W.H. Auden and Benjamin Britten merge characteristics of a multitude of styles. The purpose of this document is to investigate the fusion of styles making up the Cabaret Songs and to analyze them from a performer’s perspective with the goal of providing collaborative partnerships with an historical and musical foundation on which to build their interpretation of the Cabaret Songs and thereby serve as a basis for informed performance decisions. Chapter 1 includes biographical information for both Benjamin Britten and W.H. Auden focusing on how the two artists met and discusses their working relationship during the seven years in which they collaborated. Also included is a short section of relevant biographical information on the singer/actress Hedli Anderson for whom the Cabaret Songs were created. Chapter 2 includes a brief overview of the history of the European cabaret-artistique and examines the creation and development of this art form. Examples of cabaret songs from other composers, namely Erik Satie, Kurt Weill, Friedrich Hollaender, and Noel Coward are given to show the musical soil of the era, from which the Britten and Auden pieces sprouted. Chapter 3 discusses the Cabaret Songs on a song-by-song basis and provides a musical analysis from a performer’s perspective, outlining the different musical influences in each song and investigating the cross-pollination of musical styles. The songs will be examined for characteristics of traditional European art song, operatic elements, American popular song elements, European dance rhythms and elements of original European cabaret.

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