Echoes of war--the resonating patterns of influence: an examination of recurrent musical trends in large-scale, sacred, british, anti-war choral works of the twentieth-century



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Texas Tech University


Composers associated with the British Musical Renaissance (c. 1860-1950), and especially those working in and around the period of the First and Second World Wars, created a significant body of works of large-scale, sacred, choral pieces reflecting a strong anti-war bent. Two composers and their respective works that are closely associated with this movement, and for whom much scholarly discourse is extant, are Ralph Vaughan Williams and his Dona Nobis Pacem (1936), and Benjamin Britten and his War Requiem, Op. 66 (1962). A third, later twentieth-century composer, Karl Jenkins, and his lesser-known work, The Armed Man: A Mass For Peace (1999/2000): a multi-movement work based on the Renaissance tune/text of Lhomme Arm, appears also to fall within the margins of this movement. Further examination of the tradition initiated by Vaughan Williams reveals a weight of evidence identifying recurrent patterns in areas of musical and textual structure, iconography, and critical and scholarly reception between the three choral pieces. The presence of such patterns suggests that both Britten's and Jenkins latter works follow the model first established by Vaughan Williams in Dona Nobis Pacem.

This dissertation provides a comparative style analysis of recurrent patterns found in the musical and textual structure, iconography, and critical and scholarly reception of Dona Nobis Pacem by Ralph Vaughan Williams, War Requiem, Opus 66 by Benjamin Britten, and The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace by Karl Jenkins, arguing for a classification of these works into a newly-established sub-genre within the choral music of the twentieth-century British Musical Renaissance that is comprised of large-scale, choral, anti-war pieces within a sacred framework. In addition, this paper provides a movement-by-movement narrative and structural analysis of The Armed Man: A Mass For Peace, the first of its kind.