Adèle Commins, Charles Villiers Stanford’s Preludes for Piano op.163 and op.179: A Musicological Retrospective (PhD, NUI Maynooth, 2012)

These details defined Thu Jan 3 13:21:47 2008  edit
 Author:  Commins, Adèle 
 Title:  Charles Villiers Stanford’s Preludes for Piano op.163 and op.179: A Musicological Retrospective 
 Degree, institution:  PhD, NUI Maynooth 
 Status, year:  accepted, 2012 (2012) 
 Volumes, pp.: 
 Supervisor(s):  Dr Lorraine Byrne Bodley & Dr Patrick Devine 
 Repository:  NUI Maynooth Library 
 General specialism:  Musicology 
 Content, timeframe:  1852-1924 
 Content, key terms:  Concepts:
Genres, instruments: 
Reception issues of Charles Villiers Stanford, Stanford’s solo piano music, piano music of the British Musical Renaissance, the piano prelude tradition, examination and analysis of Stanford’s forty-eight preludes for piano, edition of Stanford’s forty-eight preludes for piano
Charles Villiers Stanford
Cambridge, London, Dublin
Cambridge University, Royal College of Music London
Solo piano music, piano prelude

Despite being credited as one of the leading figures of the British Musical Renaissance, Stanford’s piano music has remained hidden from serious musical scholarship and performance. In this dissertation an exploration of Stanford’s biography identifies changes in Stanford reception history which have affected the understanding of his piano music both during his career and posthumously. Stanford’s experiences as pianist and composer of piano music are explored to provide a contextual backdrop to the thesis. As the first composer to complete a set of twenty-four preludes in Ireland or England, and, as the preludes represent the pinnacle of his compositions for solo piano this provided the impetus to rediscover the music.

In an aim to address misconceptions about Stanford’s piano music this thesis engages in a scholarly and critical examination of each prelude and contextualizes the pieces within the Baroque and Romantic prelude traditions. While analysis of the music highlights Stanford’s exemplary understanding of the piano, it also demonstrates how he merged ideas from both prelude traditions to make his own unique contribution to the genre. Traditionalistic tendencies in Stanford’s compositional writing are revealed through his rich and varied harmonic palette and his approach to structure and motivic development, while unifying compositional features are also noted. Stanford’s compositional intentions are considered, while issues of late style and nostalgia are raised. A revised edition of Stanford’s forty-eight preludes is also included along with a detailed editorial commentary.

In response to the recent resurgence in scholarship on Stanford, this thesis raises an awareness of Stanford as a composer of piano music, re-evaluating the contribution he made to piano music in England and in Ireland. It will emphasise the value and importance of his collection of preludes and will reappraise Stanford as a significant composer of piano music in Irish musicological studies.