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Title: The Viola as a Secret Weapon in Antonio Vivaldi's Orchestral Revolution: Sonority and Texture in Late Baroque Italian Music
Authors: Lockey, Nicholas
Advisors: Heller, Wendy
Contributors: Music Department
Keywords: eighteenth-century music
history of orchestration
history of style
history of texture
performance practice
reception history
Subjects: Music
Performing arts
Fine arts
Issue Date: 2013
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation examines Vivaldi's use of the viola as a flexible orchestra resource, revealing the composer's varied strategies for achieving striking contrasts of texture and sonority in his work. Using Vivaldi's music as a case study, my research provides a fundamentally new approach to understanding the co-existence of multiple textural models in late Baroque music, exploring hitherto-overlooked continuities between textures and orchestrations in early and late eighteenth-century music. The first musicology study to focus on scoring and texture in the music of Vivaldi and his contemporaries, my dissertation presents vocabulary and theoretical models that make it possible to analyze the various roles fulfilled by the viola in a piece of ensemble music, and the complex ways in which these aspects of scoring and orchestration interact with one another. After highlighting problematic assumptions in existing historiographies of orchestration and eighteenth-century music, I identify Vivaldi's earlier works - those written prior to the beginning of his employment at the court of Mantua in spring, 1718 - as a focal point for demonstrating the variety of ways Vivaldi uses the viola to achieve effects that might otherwise require a larger number of ensemble parts (Chapter 1). I then examine, in turn, the range of melodic (Chapter 2), bass (Chapter 3), rhythmic (Chapter 4), and harmonic-rhythmic and textural functions (Chapter 5) assigned to the viola. In all of these cases, I show how Vivaldi relied on the flexibility of his viola parts to produce expressive and structural contrasts, often through imaginative use of devices such as the bassetto, parallel melodic lines, monophonic textures (including orchestral unisons), vertically-elaborated bass lines, sostenuto harmonic writing, metric emphasis, and a variety of contrapuntal and rhythmic imitation. I also demonstrate (Chapter 6) the interactions of texture and sonority with aspects of form, harmony, and melodic-rhythmic motives over the course of entire movements. In the case of a work such as the opening movement of the Violin Concerto in G Major, Op. 4 No. 3, this raises several possibilities for a narrative reading of the movement. As I then show, Vivaldi harnessed these interactions, coupled with descriptive sonnets, to help communicate more detailed expressive and narrative elements in The Four Seasons - works that may have been composed during his employment in Mantua (Interlude). While I focus on the earlier works of Antonio Vivaldi - those written prior to the beginning of his employment at the court of Mantua in spring, 1718 - I also address the music of Albinoni, Corelli, and Torelli to show that Vivaldi's revolutionary contrasts of sonority and texture build upon the most innovative trends of his predecessors and contemporaries (Chapter 7). The net result (Conclusion) is that Vivaldi's works emerge as some of the more striking examples of a trend towards aligning textural juxtapositions with melodic, harmonic, structural, and expressive contrasts within certain late-Baroque Italian music - the products of which often appear to foreshadow similar alignments in music of the late eighteenth century,
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Music

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