Title page for ETD etd-04062006-110959

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Mahan, Jessica
URN etd-04062006-110959
Title Symphony No.1
Degree Master of Music (M.M.)
Department Music
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Dinos Constantinides Committee Chair
Robert Peck Committee Member
Stephen David Beck Committee Member
  • Scottish-Irish influence
Date of Defense 2006-04-05
Availability unrestricted
Symphony No. 1 is a programmatic piece based on the sabbat holidays of the traditional Celtic calendar. The holidays of the Celtic year celebrate the human spirit in context with the changes of the earth during the course of a year. Beginning with autumn, Samhain celebrates death and the preparation for the darkness of the winter months. Yule is the longest night of the year, and the time the Goddess is crowned. Signs of spring come at Imbolg. Ostara is the Spring Equinox, and an equal relationship exists between the Goddess and the God. Beltane is celebrated by wrapping ribbons around a pole, a symbol of the fertility of the Earth. Litha is the longest day of the year, and the time the God is crowned. Signs that the earth will give a good harvest are at Lughnasadh. The year ends with the celebration of life and harvest at Mabon. Each of the eight movements is named for one of the holidays.

The piece is based on a theme and variations form. There are a total of three main themes for the entire piece. When presented, these themes are usually contrasting in orchestral colors. The chosen themes, or motives from themes, are altered and transformed throughout each movement. Inversions, retrogrades, rhythmic manipulations, and key changes are used to create these variations. The variations are also used for the harmonic content. Each movement is contained within its own form. However, the same variations and motives are repeated in more than one movement to bring the entire symphony together as a whole.

The Celtic year is thought of as a circle that continues without an end. In Symphony No. 1, the final movement ends with themes from the beginning of the first movement to incorporate the idea of a continuous circle.

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