A comparative study of the songs of William Denis Browne

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Kelly Wilson Burns (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Robert Bracey

Abstract: Composer William Denis Browne died at the age of 26 in World War I. The executor of his musical estate, Edward J. Dent, prevented many of his compositions from being performed or published in the years following his death. Because of these unfortunate circumstances, Browne’s songs fell into relative obscurity and are now under-represented in both scholarship and performance. However, they are deserving of more attention. Browne composed in several genres during his short lifetime, but his nine extant songs represent more than half of his surviving output. Musicians and scholars should be aware of the existence of these songs and their historical context. This study familiarizes scholars, singers, collaborative pianists, and teachers of voice with his extant songs through documentary research into Browne’s life, an introduction to the poets whose texts he chose to set, and a comparative study of each song’s musical score, their setting of the texts, and their pedagogic value. This document examines the poems, their poets, and the musical settings of the nine songs Browne composed between 1908 and 1914. For the musical settings, attention is paid to musical forms, harmony, rhythm, vocal articulation, vocal ranges, piano accompaniments, overall effectiveness, and singer accessibility. These songs represent the full range of Browne’s compositional abilities in the art song genre. Aspects of Browne’s relationships with Edward J. Dent, Rupert Brooke, Edward Marsh, and other important historic figures illuminate the reality in which Browne lived and the circumstances under which he composed this handful of songs. His musical settings blend quality poetry and music. The songs, though small in number, illustrate Browne’s maturation into a composer whose songs deserve to be placed at the center of the British art song canon. Knowledge and understanding of his life from his youth until his death allows performers to convey a sensitive and informed expression necessary to bring his songs to life.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2018
British Art Song, Music, William Charles Denis Browne
Browne, W. Denis $q (William Denis), $d 1888-1915
Poetry $x Musical settings
Music and literature
Songs with piano
Songs, English

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