George Walker Viola Sonata (1989): A History, Analysis and Practical Performance Guide of a Great American Work
Archibald, Amber Cristina
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<bold>ABSTRACT</bold> George Walker Viola Sonata (1989): A History, Analysis and Practical Performance Guide of a Great American Work Amber Cristina Archibald Chair of the Supervisory Committee: Melia Watras, Professor of Viola School of Music George Walker is an important figure in American composition. Recently, I had the esteemed privilege of interviewing Dr. Walker as the capstone for the thesis. This dissertation is a background, analysis and performance guide on his 1989 Viola Sonata. This piece is his only contribution to the viola repertoire. Walker, an African American, has written over 90 works, and continues to write and perform around the United States. His Viola Sonata is still relatively unknown in the viola catalogue. The purpose of this dissertation is to demonstrate how his heritage, musical pedigree and taste for progressive 20th century compositional techniques create a unique style that is demonstrated in two short art songs and, finally, in the Viola Sonata. The Viola Sonata clearly shows a depth of understanding in writing in for the instrument. The analysis is presented in a way such that the performers can have a better of understanding of the material within the work, and as a result, be able to offer a performance that will highlight the appropriate characteristics. The dissertation is divided into three main sections. The first section gives a brief biographical sketch of Walker and what he amassed from each of his primary composition instructors. The second section provides a guide of Walker's composition style. The two shorter art songs Lament and A Red, Red Rose have similar compositional elements to the Viola Sonata. Because they compositely have similar constructs, the songs will help to clarify the analysis of the sonata. The final section is the analysis of the sonata in detail. The analysis will cover the melodic content, rhythms, counterpoint and form. After the analysis, a performance guide gives a firsthand account of Walker's desires for the performance of this wonderful work. The guide also includes details for the violist to consider, including fingerings, harmonics, articulations, bow strokes, and timbres.
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