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Wilkinson, Edward Nigel

*Theory and Practice: An Interpretation of Serialism in the Music of Luigi
Dallapiccola*

#### Ph.D. Royal Holloway College, University of London, 1983

Revered by many, performed by relatively few, the music of Luigi Dallapiccola has
received only modest analytic attention. This thesis is concerned principally
with the serial works which form the major part of his mature output. With
reference to all the relevant pieces, it provides a detailed account of the basic
compositional techniques, and relates these, where appropriate, to Dallapiccola's
models in the music of the Second Viennese School. Although many of his works
will be shown to be strictly conceived in serial terms, they retain an Italianate
quality, which the composer described as "bellezza". The central chapters of this
study grapple with this somewhat subjective issue, using objective, often
quantitative analytic techniques. In particular, they endeavour to show that the
composer retained an exceptionally rigorous harmonic control, even in complex
linear and contrapuntal passages. His widespread use of derived material is also
discussed at length. Using set-theoretic results developed in an introductory
chapter, an elegant classification of all the derived trichord rows is possible.

Shorter chapters on structure and rhythm show that Dallapiccola dabbled in
applying numerical patterns to both parameters, but the examples which do occur
fall far short of the "total serialism" favoured by some composers in the
post-Second World War period. The composer regarded the opera *Ulisse* as
his major achievement. Appropriately, this thesis culminates in a complete tabular
analysis of the opera, which should provide a valuable starting-point for
subsequent research.

For maximum clarity, the text uses standard mathematical terminology. A detailed
understanding of certain passages (though not their results) requires a basic
familiarity with set theory, equivalence relationships and matrices.