The Life and Works of Ethel Barns: British Violinist-Composer (1873-1948)
Englesberg, Barbara J.
MetadataShow full item record
Although little remembered today, Ethel Barns was recognized in London between 1895 and 1928 as an accomplished violin virtuoso and composer, who performed her own and others' works in chamber music concerts and occasionally in orchestra concerts as violin soloist. Like many performers of her day, Barns wrote music which both she and those closely associated with her performed, in the tradition of such nineteenth-century virtuosi as Henryk Wieniawski and Henri Vieuxtemps. Many of her works, particularly for violin, deserve to be incorporated into present-day repertoires. In keeping with popular tastes of the time, Barns wrote more short pieces for violin and piano (53), short piano pieces (19), and songs (37) than she did large-scale works, which include 5 violin sonatas, 2 works for piano trio, 2 suites for violin and piano, a Fantaisie-Trio for Two Violins and Piano, and three works for violin and chamber orchestra. Of the more than 120 compositions attributable to Barns, 87 are extant. The 15 manuscripts which this study has brought to light and which are now located in the British Library, together with her 72 published works, are discussed in this dissertation. Many of Barns's violin works utilize virtuosic techniques such as double-stops (most notably sixths), ricochet, staccato, and arpeggiando figures, the melodic use of the G-string, and cadenza-like passages. Writing first in the High-Romantic harmonic style, with Brahmsian characteristics evident in her well-written, though conservative Sonata No. 2 in A major, Op. 9 (1904), Barns gradually incorporated Late-Romantic style characteristics such as extensive chromaticism and formal expansiveness, as well as Debussy-like traits such as parallel harmonic progressions, metric flexibility, and added-note harmonies in her mature compositions [e.g., the Sonata No. 4 in G minor, Op. 24 (1910) and the Fantaisie for Two Violins and Piano]. Chapter One of this dissertation gives Barns's life history, while the two chapters on her career are largely devoted to details of the Barns-Phillips Chamber Music Concerts (1895-1913), which featured Barns and her baritone husband, Charles Phillips. The last four chapters comprise a complete discussion of her works by genre and are followed by appendices, including excerpts from some of her major compositions, a list of works, and a discography.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Boston University. Bibliography: [p. 157]-161.
RightsThis dissertation is made available in OpenBU at the request and on the authorization of its author, who retains all other rights to it.