From ideology into sound: Frederic Rzewski's "North American Ballads" and other piano music from the 1970s
Doctor of Musical Arts
Frederic Rzewski's contribution to twentieth century piano literature is deep and varied. Works such as the North American Ballads and the Variations on The People United Will Never Be Defeated represent some of the greatest technical accomplishments in all of piano literature. The composer borrows from the music of different nations and, through a pastiche of styles, tries to communicate many personal ideological beliefs. This document sets these cultural references and ideological values into context, primarily focusing on the North American Ballads of 1979. Other important works, such as the Variations on No Place to Go But Around, Les Moutons de Panurge, Coming Together, and Attica will also be discussed as predecessors to the composer's mature style that developed in the 1970s. Thorough discussion of Rzewski's source materials is featured, as well as a complete motivic analysis of the Ballads . The author has also included a list of the composer's solo piano music and a discography of the piano works discussed in the body of the paper.