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Dr Chris van Rhyn

​​Home country: South Africa

Year of enrolment: 2011

Graduation date: December 2013

Department:  Music

Supervisor: Prof Stephanus Muller

Dissertation title: Towards a mapping of the marginal: Readings of art songs by Nigerian, Ghanaian, Egyptian and South African composers


Abstract: The South African-born British composer Priaulx Rainier (1903-1986) wrote her Requiem (1955-1956) for solo tenor and choir to a text by surrealist poet David Gascoyne. The poem (completed in 1940) contradicts the commemorative genre of the requiem and instead anticipates the prospective victims of the war that was to come. Due to the disturbances caused by the war, Rainier only started working on the music fifteen years later in 1955. Existing discourse on Rainier has been shaped by the thoughtless regurgitation of opinions, reviews and clichéd biographical models. Since very few detailed analyses of Rainier's works exist, this thesis attempts to address this gap in research on this composer. It therefore aims to contribute to a more balanced, evidence-based discourse. The significance of the Requiem is that it was said by commentators to indicate a period of increasing abstraction in Rainier's oeuvre. The findings regarding tonality in this work may therefore serve as a point of reference in future analyses of works preceding and following the Requiem. In the literature review, recurring issues in the discourse on Rainier (such as the numerous references to her childhood in Natal as an influence on her works and the descriptions of her works as possessing a masculine gender identity) is highlighted. The contextualisation that follows includes a reception-based periodisation of Rainier's works and a "biography" of the Requiem, with a special focus on the intersection between the symbolic world of David Gascoyne and the Requiem and the sculptor Barbara Hepworth's influence on Rainier's work. Underpinning these contextual considerations is a set theory analysis of the work that attempts to illustrate the composer's aspiration towards musical abstraction as a creative force. The findings of the analysis are also contextualised with regard to existing notions of Rainier's style and tonality in her music.

COMPOSITIONS: In Paradisum for SATB choir 2 Droom for mezzo-soprano and piano: 11 • Kuspad 14 • Sy 17 • Glasblaser 20 • Glasprater 23 String trio arrangements from Droom: • Glasblaser 26 • Glasprater 30 Het Hom! for tenor saxophone 34 The beauty in sorrow for string quartet: 37 • First Movement 40 • Second Movement 49 • Third Movement 54 Symphonata for orchestra: 61 • First Movement 62 • Second Movement 66 • Third Movement 71 • Fourth Movement 77

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