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Recondite Harmony

Essays on Puccini's Operas

Deborah Burton
December 13, 2012

330 pp.

16 illustrations

ISBN: 978-1576472125

6X9 Paperback $48.00


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Who is Puccini? Most debates about the composer are focused on his cultural and musical identity: is his music traditional or progressive? The thesis of this volume is that the diametrically opposed forces of the traditional and the progressive live together in Puccini’s music, embedded deeply within his harmonic constructs and in many musical parameters. Recondite Harmony is a study of all of Puccini’s operas examined through a primarily analytic lens. It offers essays on salient aspects of each of the operas while tracing in them both progressive and traditional elements. The volume is divided into two parts: in the first, approaches that inform the entire corpus of Puccini’s operas are examined. The second half of the book is devoted to brief essays discussing interesting aspects of each of his operas. Techniques in each opus that merit analytic attention are highlighted and discussed in relation to the drama at hand, individuating more fully musical aspects special to each score. Included are also previously unpublished source material and autograph sketches.
Deborah Burton:

Currently Assistant Professor of Music at Boston University, and has taught at Harvard University; University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Florida International University, Fordham, University of Michigan and Adrian College. Her research concerns opera analysis, counterpoint, and the history of theory, emphasizing Italian sources. Professor Burton was president of the New England Conference for Music Theory from 2006-2008, was a Junior Fellow of the Boston University Humanities Foundation in 2009-2010. Her recent monograph, entitled Recondite Harmony: Analytic Essays on the Operas of Puccini, will soon be published by Pendragon Press. Along with Giorgio Sanguinetti (University of Rome, Tor Vergata), Dr. Burton will edit the scholarly series, also for Pendragon Press, entitled Italian Theoretical Treatises as part of the Harmonologia: Studies in Music Theory umbrella. In December 2010, in honor of the centenary of Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West, she created a website www.fanciulla100.org, moderated a special panel discussion on the opera at the Italian Cultural Institute of New York, and organized a symposium and exhibition in conjunction with Boston University’s Howard Gotlieb Archival Center, videos of which can be seen at: http://www.bu.edu/buniverse. In Spring 2008, she organized and presented at the interdisciplinary conference Opera and Society at Boston University, podcasts of which can be seen at www.operaandsociety.org. Dr. Burton collaborated with Gregory Harwood to write a prize-winning annotated translation of Francesco Galeazzi’s 1796 Elementi Teorico-Practici, volume II, entitled The Theoretical-Practical Elements of Music, Parts III and IV as volume 5 of the Studies in the History of Music Theory and Literature of the University of Illinois Press (2012). She has recently been a guest lecturer at the University of Rome-Tor Vergata, at the Metropolitan Opera Young Artists Program, and at the Hartt School of Music. She gave two research presentations at the 2008 AMS-SMT national meeting in Nashville, and presented at the 2006 Fourth International Schenker Symposium, and the 2005 meeting of the New England Conference of Music Theorists. Co-editor of Tosca’s Prism: Three Moments of Western Cultural History (Northeastern University Press, 2004), which won an AMS subvention prize, she has published articles and reviews in Music Theory Spectrum, Rivista di Analisi e Teoria Musicale, Studi Musicali, Nuova Rivista Musicale Italiana, Opera Quarterly, and others. Dr. Burton was an originator of and participant in the interdisciplinary conference “Tosca 2000” in Rome, honoring the centennial of Puccini’s opera, and the bicentennial of the events that inspired it.

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