Benjamin Britten's "Cantata Misericordium", Opus 69: A theoretical analysis and a conductor's guide to gestural analysis.
AuthorOsborn, Lawrence David.
Committee ChairKnott, Josef
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractA complete theoretical and gestural analysis of Benjamin Britten's Opus 69 has usually been treated in a separate and, in terms of choral-orchestral synthesis, exclusive manner. Twentieth-century music reveals more technical complexities than music from earlier periods. For the professional conductor it is becoming increasingly impractical to limit oneself to the choral or instrumental area at the exclusion of the other. There are mutually complementary features and advantages in both the choral and instrumental area that can only serve to enhance and refine conducting gesture and technical artistry. These factors can be realized through the study and analysis of a delicate balanced work that requires, on the conductor's part, this synthesis of choral and instrumental technique. The choral-instrumental works of Benjamin Britten help provide this necessary synthesis and discipline. The Cantata Misericordium, in particular, admirably serves this necessary balance of choral-instrumental integration. The modest scoring for small string orchestra, string quartet, piano, harp, timpani, SATB chorus, and tenor and baritone soloists provides the conductor with a rich array of diversity in choral and instrumental technique. According to the Peter Evens article on Benjamin Britten in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians: Twentieth-Century English Masters, The Composer Biography Series, the Cantata Misericordium is "one of Britten's most beautifully realized works"¹ Writings on this work are few and provide only a limited theoretical analysis with no practical application pertaining to the technical aspects of gestural analysis. This project is designed to present a thorough theoretical and practical performance guide leading to performance through mastery of gesture and the integration of choral and orchestral forces. The purpose of the following Lecture-Recital Document is thereby twofold: (I) To provide a detailed compositional analysis and style summary of Benjamin Britten's work from the time of the War Requiem through the Cantata Misericordium. (II) To present a practical performance analysis that presents a study of the more subjective area of gestural analysis and the application of it in the context of the score itself. It is the application of a variety of gestural patterns that shape and refine a conductor's technical expertise. This score, along with other choral works of Benjamin Britten, provides a wealth of gestural analysis and application necessary for today's conductor. ¹The New Grove, "Twentieth Century English Masters", (New York & London: W. W. Norton & Company, 1986), p. 267.