Robert Shaw and the Brahms Requiem, op.45: a conductor's approach to performing a masterpiece
Wikan, Cory David
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Robert Lawson Shaw (1916-1999) was a revolutionary figure in the world of choral music. He pioneered effective choral techniques that both refined the skills of his choristers and faithfully realized the composer's music. These techniques ultimately contributed to his acclaimed performance achievements. Although research on Shaw has been previously conducted, it generally consists of biographical data or single techniques, dissected from the whole of Shaw's complex process. This study outlines the wide array of Shaw's choral methods and how he applied them to the preparation and performance of Brahms's Ein deutsches Requiem, op. 45. The Introduction provides insight into Shaw's acclaim, his relationship with the Requiem, and the rationale, as well as methodology, of this study. Chapter One details Shaw's analytical process-its influences and specific procedures. Chapter Two outlines Shaw's philosophies regarding the "time" element of music (pulse, rhythm, accentuation) as well as his techniques for improving their execution and how he applied them specifically to the Requiem. Chapter Three examines Shaw's notions of music's "tone" component (intonation, vocalism, dynamics, phrasing, and balance) and methods of refining them in and out of the Requiem's context. Chapter Four discusses Shaw's approach to text and traces its origin and evolution. It also provides a synthesis of decades of writings on diction techniques as well as a full, unpublished English translation, which Shaw created in 1999. An edition of the Requiem's sixth movement comprises Chapter Five, placing all of Shaw's choral methods and English translation into the proper musical context. The conclusion summarizes the findings of this study and offers suggestions for future research. Appendices contain additional germane data, including a listing of career performances, his personal reference materials about the Requiem, his choices of tempi, pertinent diction information, as well as various musings comparing the Requiems of Berlioz, Brahms, and Verdi.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Boston University