Peter Maxwell Davies's 'Revelation and Fall': Influence study and analysis

Rees, Jonathan (2011). Peter Maxwell Davies's 'Revelation and Fall': Influence study and analysis. PhD thesis The Open University.



This thesis is an analysis of Peter Maxwell Davies's Revelation and Fall, through the influences that affect the development of its musical language and adoption of the expressionist aesthetic. Each chapter concentrates upon one aspect of the work: (1) its deployment of precompositional processes of thematic transformation; (2) the superimposition of different levels of structural organization; (3) motivic working within thematic transformation and contrapuntal devices; (4) experiments with timbre and the manipulation of temporal flow; and (5) the dramatic and aesthetic influences that shape the presentation of the work. Throughout the thesis also runs a critique of certain trends in recent music analysis that seem to limit a full understanding of the analyzed work. I contend that restricting an analysis to the serial level of organization cannot prove the musical viability of the work. The other levels through which the work articulates its material must be identified by the analyst and given importance equal to this serial level. Through this thesis, I attempt to address Kevin Korsyn's complaint that some analyses (of music of all periods, not specifically Davies's) tend to view works as autonomous, synchronic entities, divorced from an artistic continuum of historical development, by focussing on the many connections with other music and ideas that inform the work's identity. Influence study is suggested as a method whereby the shortcomings of these analytical trends can be countered and the Conclusion of the thesis opposes the criticism of this method found not only in analytical studies, such as David Roberts's study of Davies's compositional techniques, discussed in Chapter One, but also a great number of commentaries on literary theory, particularly intertextuality.

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