UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Barbara Pentland : a biography Eastman, Sheila Jane


The following thesis is primarily a biography of the Canadian composer Barbara Pentland, and within three chapters deals with three main periods of her life. At the end of each chapter is a short discussion of musical development and style. Chapter I, 1912-41, concerns her childhood, schooling, and life at home, where she was always faced with opposition to her Interest in composition by rather dominating parents. Her musical studies included a year in Paris with Cecile Gauthiez, and later, three years at the Juilliard Graduate School of Music where she studied with Frederick Jacobi and Bernaard Wagenar. During this period there was a gradual development of compositional skills, and early influences included Beethoven, Franck and Hindemith. Her music revealed a tendency towards the French-Romantic style. Chapter II, 1942-55, includes two summers of study with Aaron Copland at Tanglewood, followed by seven years in Toronto during which she taught theory and composition at the Toronto Conservatory, and enjoyed increased recognition. In 1949 came a move to Vancouver for a teaching position in the music department at the University of British Columbia. Within the two trends evident in her music at this time, the French-Romantic and the neo-classic, there was a gradual development of interest in a serial approach, which was further stimulated by Pentland's exposure to many of the works of Schoenberg at the MacDowell Colony in 1947-48. Chapter III, 1955-74, deals with her musical activities to the present. During her two trips to Europe Pentland was exposed to many new works, and was deeply impressed with the music of Webern. This led to an intensification of the serial approach and to a new concern for economy of means, two characteristics which dominate her mature style. Chapter IV attempts to give a more personal view of the composer, including problems she has encountered as a woman working in a field dominated by men, her way of life, personality, and comments from performers and composers about her works. The four appendices include a list of works, a list of first performances, an index of reviews of Pent land's works found in newspaper articles, and a short outline of the biography.

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