Leonard Bernstein’s Halil: Serialism, Eclecticism, and Antagonism in the American Flute Concerto
AuthorNichols, Elsa Kate
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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, presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractLeonard Bernstein produced only three concerto-like pieces in his body of works: Symphony No. 2, The Age of Anxiety (1949), which is largely considered a piano concerto; Serenade After Plato’s “Symposium” for Solo Violin, String Orchestra, Harp and Percussion (1954); and Halil: Nocturne for Solo Flute with Piccolo, Alto Flute, Percussion, Harp and Strings (1981). One of the more frequently performed twentieth century American flute concertos, Halil is representative of the later part of Bernstein’s life and compositional output, combining his unique approach to serialism with the oppositional forces of tonality and atonality. After exploring the existing research, this document provides an overview of Leonard Bernstein’s life and career as a composer. Known predominantly for his Broadway compositions, he always struggled to be regarded as a “serious” composer, refusing to forsake tonality and fully join the 12-tone movement. Like the true showman he was, Bernstein used atonality primarily as a programmatic tool, and Halil is no exception. The genesis of Halil as well as major performances and critical reviews are discussed, followed by an extensive analysis of the serial, tonal, and formal elements that constitute Halil. This analysis demonstrates the many compositional traits that are innately Bernstein, but much focus is placed on his development of form through the juxtaposition of tonality and atonality, as well as their connectivity within the piece provided through the consistent use of three pitch-class sets. Additional information is provided at the end of the document, including a survey of twentieth century American and European flute concertos performed by fifteen orchestras, placing Halil within the most frequently performed flute concertos of the century; a survey of performances of Bernstein’s Halil with conductors and soloists provided; and lists of twentieth century American and European flute concertos organized by origin and date and then also alphabetically.
Degree ProgramGraduate College