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Ober, Mary E.S. (2012) EXPRESSIVE PROSODY IN FRENCH SOLO SONG: GABRIEL FAURÉ'S MÉLODIES, AND THEIR HISTORICAL ANTECEDENTS. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The mélodies of Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924) are regularly faulted for “poor prosody,” for frequent mismatches of musical accent and the French text. This study presents evidence that calls for a significantly different approach to accentuation in this popular body of art songs. Close examination of virtually all of Fauré's mélodies reveals a unique prosodic practice grounded in the rhythmic nuances of spoken French, in a way not found in the works of his peers. Frequently, performance of a Fauréan song with correct accentuation calls for a substantially greater awareness of the French text as spoken, along with a studied disregard of the musically notated meter. Tracing the evolution of Fauré's prosodic style ultimately leads to settings that are less problematic for its interpreters. In addition, on a number of occasions the composer manipulates the notated rhythms in a way that adds greater expressive meaning; specific examples are given.
The argument for reassessment of Fauré's text-setting is preceded by the author's discussion of the role played by French prosody at the point of its connection with solo song over the previous three centuries. Beginning with the application of rhetorical principles to an early seventeenth-century air de cour by Antoine Boësset and continuing through representative quotes from Lully, Rameau, Rousseau and Gluck, comparisons are ultimately made with the purposefully rustic practice of wildly popular staged works of the eighteenth-century Forains and a rising tide of opéras-comiques built on 'realistic' themes, such as those composed by André Grétry. Analysis connects linguistic, poetic and musical elements as the major actors in these socially complex art forms.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Ober, Mary
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairCassaro, James P.cassaro@pitt.eduCASSARO
Committee MemberRoot, Deane L.dlr@pitt.eduDLR
Committee MemberNisnevich, Annaann28@pitt.eduANN28
Committee MemberFallon,
Date: 29 June 2012
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 4 April 2012
Approval Date: 29 June 2012
Submission Date: 9 May 2012
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 270
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Music
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: mélodies; Fauré, Gabriel; French song; prosody; Boësset, Antoine; air de cour
Date Deposited: 29 Jun 2012 19:25
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:58


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