Libby Larsen's My Antonia: the song cycle and the tonal landscape of the American prairie
Zavracky, Gregory Paul
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Libby Larsen is one of the most prolific composers living today. Her music is frequently performed, and her art songs in particular have found a place in the American canon. This paper seeks to provide a detailed analysis of Libby Larsen's 2000 song cycle, My Antonia. Each song is discussed at length, and harmonic, formal, motivic, and textual elements as well as other noteworthy components are detailed. I also elaborate the ways in which Larsen evokes the prairie landscape through her music. The vastness of the prairie, its late- nineteenth-century settlers and the emotional journey of Jim, the narrator, are all captured in the song cycle, My Antonia. My own analysis of My Antonia is the primary source of material for the paper, supplemented by information from related scholarly writings. Quotes from my December 18th, 2013 interview with Libby Larsen are interspersed throughout the paper, and the interview is included in full as an appendix. Also included in the body of the paper are biographical information on the Minnesotan composer's formative years and an examination of her general compositional style. I discuss the physical landscape of the bygone prairie of Willa Cather's youth, and will provide a synopsis of her 1918 novel, My Antonia. I examine Larsen's selection of text from the Cather novel and her construction of poems for each song.
Thesis (D.M.A.)--Boston University