Title page for ETD etd-03302006-155731

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Fitz-Fitzharris, Jane
Author's Email Address jfitzh1@lsu.edu
URN etd-03302006-155731
Title Compositional Techniques in Thomas Kerr, Jr.'s Anguished American Easter, 1968 and Their Application to the Theme of African American Theology
Degree Doctor of Musical Arts (D.M.A.)
Department Music
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Herndon Spillman Committee Chair
Michael Gurt Committee Member
Victoria L. Johnson Committee Member
William F. Grimes Committee Member
Stuart Baron Dean's Representative
  • thomas kerr jr
  • black theology
  • organ music
  • easter theme
  • compositional techniques
  • african-american composers
Date of Defense 2006-03-20
Availability unrestricted
Thomas Kerr, Jr. (1915-1988), African-American organist, produced works for organ, piano, and choir. His most significant organ work, Anguished American Easter, 1968, was a musical reaction to the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Powerful and dramatic, the work draws on all the forces of the modern pipe organ. Anguished American Easter, 1968, based on the spiritual He' Rose expresses the sorrow and horror of death and the power and hope of the resurrection. A profound composition, it reflects the anguish of an oppressed race.

The purpose of this monograph is to examine the compositional techniques Thomas Kerr, Jr. used in developing the spiritual He' Rose in Anguished American Easter, 1968. Kerr's piano composition, Easter Monday Swagger Scherzino, 1970, based on the spiritual Walk Together Chillen, which expresses African-American unity, will also be discussed in analyzing Thomas Kerr, Jr.'s utilization of the spiritual. The examination will include analyses of how Thomas Kerr, Jr. artistically interpreted the anguished African-American and the theology of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s message.

The value of this study is to provide insight into Thomas Kerr, Jr.'s Anguished American Easter, 1968, as well as the struggle and oppression of the African-American race and their resulting legacy of faith as expressed through the genre of the spiritual. Chapter 1 provides biographical information and an introduction to Kerr's musical style; Chapter 2 examines Kerr's application of the spiritual; Chapter 3 analyzes African-American oppression as evidenced in Anguished American Easter, 1968. The conclusion summarizes Kerr's musical style and the historical and theological messages inherent in Anguished American Easter, 1968.

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