UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The art songs of Nikolai Medtner Stanyer, Derek


Nikolai Medtner (1880-1951), a Russian composer, is deserving of greater recognition for his music, particularly his art songs. Unfortunately, his songs have been critically neglected in the art song repertoire, both in terms of performance and scholarly research. This can be attributed to various factors, such as his uncompromising musical beliefs, high philosophical ideals, and the inherent complexity of his compositions, both in interpretation and musical demands. The purpose of this doctoral thesis is to provide performers with a gateway to approach Medtner's art songs, specifically focusing on his Op. 9 No. 1 and all four songs of Op. 45. To accomplish this, a comprehensive understanding of the composer is necessary, including his musical philosophy, beliefs, motivations, and personal relationships. Medtner's lifelong affinity for poetry serves as a starting point, which involves delving into his upbringing and interactions with others to elucidate his strong musical philosophy. The investigation then turns to Medtner's treatise, titled "The Muse and the Fashion," which provides insights into his controversial thoughts and motivations concerning music and his compositional process. By comprehending his firm musical philosophy and ideology, the subsequent analysis gains context and informs the exploration that follows. The study of these songs begins by examining the poetry and exploring how Medtner imbued meaning into his music based on his interpretation of the poems. Finally, the analysis narrows down to Op. 9 No. 1 and all four songs of Op. 45. The inclusion of the Op. 45 songs is significant, as they showcase Medtner's frequent utilization of innovative techniques with complex poetry. Conversely, Op. 9 No. 1 exemplifies his profound emotional connection with the poetry. Overall, this doctoral thesis seeks to shed light on Nikolai Medtner's underappreciated art songs and aims to provide performers with valuable insights and guidance in their interpretation and presentation of his works.

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