Andrew Norman's "The Companion Guide to Rome": Influence of architecture and visual art on composition

by Lanzilotti, Anne Victoria Leilehua, D.M.A., MANHATTAN SCHOOL OF MUSIC, 2016, 323 pages; 10300208

Abstract:

Andrew Norman’s The Companion Guide to Rome (2010) is a collection of nine pieces for violin, viola, and cello inspired by churches in Rome. Norman uses discrete compositional styles to express visual metaphor, showing the different ways artists or architects express spirituality in these churches. This dissertation presents an in-depth analysis of The Companion Guide to Rome, complemented by interviews with the composer, as well as a free online resource demonstrating extended techniques for strings in Norman’s orchestral and chamber music: http://www.shakennotstuttered.com.

The introduction includes biographical information on Norman and addresses the context and notation of extended techniques for strings. The individual chapters, outlined below by movement, give a detailed historical background of the churches and saints that provided the inspiration for Norman’s work. They also provide relevant information about the method of artistic craft, the history of the saint, and/or the theory behind the architectural principles of the space. Norman uses extended techniques and the transition between coordinated and noncoordinated playing in Teresa to reflect Bernini’s use of bel composto in the Cornaro Chapel, where his masterpiece The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa exemplifies physicality as an expression of the divine. In Benedetto , Norman uses musical palindromes as both a formal structure and a metaphor for the way one experiences music in time just as the Cosmatesque floors in San Benedetto have both a liturgical and practical function. The solo viola movement, Susanna, reveals beauty amidst destruction in the intense, distorted extended techniques that represent a crumbling fresco of the Mary in Majesty in the Chiesa di Santa Susanna. Pietro is a movement about the Renaissance ideals of form: the proportions of Bramante’s Tempietto become the proportions of an isorhythmic motet between the violin and cello. In Ivo, wisdom is paramount: Norman uses twelve-tone composition in juxtaposition with sliding glissandi to express Borromini’s design for Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza, the University church of Rome. Clemente is a movement about the three-tiered Basilica di San Clemente, in which the structure of the church becomes the texture and form of the movement, displaying the divinity of nature. The extreme transition from coordinated to noncoordinated playing defines Lorenzo, a movement about a part of the Cosmatesque floor in the Basilica Papale di San Lorenzo fuori la mura that was poorly repaired. In Cecilia, Norman uses a theraminesque sound in the solo violin to reflect the legend of Saint Cecilia, and the haunting statue of her in the church of her namesake, Santa Cecilia in Trastevere. Finally in Sabina, Norman uses rotational form and extremes in timbre to express the sunrise in the Basilica di Santa Sabina all’Aventino.

The Conclusion shows how Norman’s musical language of motives ties the piece together and creates an overarching structure that reflects the rotational form of the last movement. The use of a “light” theme ties together the piece as a whole, illuminating the churches in which light is used to highlight architectural or artisanal details. Norman’s search for his own compositional voice uses the musical map of The Companion Guide to Rome to find its way.

AdviserReiko Fueting
SchoolMANHATTAN SCHOOL OF MUSIC
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsArt history; Music; Architecture
Publication Number10300208

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