UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Musical coherence and poetic meaning in George Crumb’s Apparition Szutor, Kristina F.


This document examines a somewhat neglected work by George Crumb—his song cycle entitled Apparition: Elegiac Songs and Vocalises for Soprano and Amplified Piano. This work is based on texts from Walt Whitman’s poem “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d.” The approach taken is twofold: the musical integrity of Crumb’s work is disclosed through a study of its motivic relations, and its semantic content is examined through the relations it sets up between music and text. The introduction sets out the author’s position relative to some of the current thought on the methodology of song analysis. It also gives some background information about Apparition and points out its more traditional character in comparison to the innovative series of works that constitute Crumb’s “Lorca Cycle.” The musical images that appear in Apparition are intimately bound up with the symbols and events in Whitman’s poem. An understanding of this poem is therefore vital to an appreciation of the song cycle. Chapter One discusses the features of Whitman’s poem that are salient to Crumb’s work. Chapter Two provides a detailed analysis of each movement, taking into account form, motivic content, compositional procedures, musico-poetic relations and the function of each movement within the cycle as a whole. The analysis reveals a highly unified cycle which derives most of its musical materials from those presented in the first movement. The work takes as its central informing principle, the idea of the cyclic nature of life and death.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


For non-commercial purposes only, such as research, private study and education. Additional conditions apply, see Terms of Use https://open.library.ubc.ca/terms_of_use.