Date of Degree
PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)
David K. Gompper
Sola Fides Sufficit is a 20-minute concerto for solo violin and ensemble. The 16-member ensemble consists of flute (doubling piccolo), oboe, clarinet in Bb (doubling bass clarinet), bassoon, horn in F, trumpet in C, trombone, tuba, percussion I (bass drum, brake drum, chimes, glockenspiel, two woodblocks), percussion II (snare drum, suspended cymbal, two toms, triangle, vibraphone), piano, two violins, viola, cello, and contrabass. Sola Fides Sufficit is based on my previous solo violin composition Et si sensus deficit… written for violinist Emily Rolka in 2010. Sola Fides Sufficit is an expansion, orchestration, and ultimately a recomposition of Et si sensus deficit…
The melodic, harmonic, and formal material in Sola Fides Sufficit is largely based on my detailed musical analysis of the Pange Lingua, an unaccompanied 13th century plainchant written by St. Thomas Aquinas. The six-phrase melody is well-known in the Roman Catholic tradition for its performance at the end of Holy Thursday Mass. My analysis drove my compositional choices regarding two distinct objectives: One, to reflect the chant material in overt ways (e.g., use of neighbor figures) and two, to intentionally diverge from the original chant material, at times exploiting or exaggerating elements purposefully avoided in the chant (e.g., the tritone). I utilized both ways of decision-making to create drama, contrast, tension, and resolution in the piece.
My large-scale formal goal was to create a cohesive composition utilizing particular surface and structural aspects of the Pange Lingua melody, while withholding presentation of the melody in its entirety until the climax (conclusion) of the work. Fragments from the chant were selected and employed in varying contexts depending on the formal goals of each section. Some fragments were presented with few changes, while others were transformed and developed through tonality, registration, timbre, and rhythm.
My structural design was shaped by four words of character the composer Witold Lutoslawski perceived as essential in the creation of his large-scale works: Introduction, Narrative, Transitional and Concluding. Influenced by Lutoslawski’s psychological approach to listener perception as a compositional and analytical tool, Sola Fides Sufficit unfolds in four unbroken parts, each portraying primarily one of these four formal characters. Within each movement, these formal characters also occur on a smaller scale and give shape to each section. Only during the Narrative portions is the content the most important aspect perceived. During the Introductory, Transitional, and Concluding music, however, the role of the given section in the form is more important than the content.
Sola Fides Sufficit is a 20-minute concerto for solo violin and large chamber ensemble that is based on my detailed musical analysis of the Pange Lingua, an unaccompanied 13th century plainchant melody written by St. Thomas Aquinas. In the Roman Catholic tradition, this melody is often sung unaccompanied at the end of the Holy Thursday Mass, celebrating the Last Supper and marking the beginning of the Easter Triduum.
Sola Fides Sufficit combines melodic, harmonic, and formal material from the Pange Lingua with my own musical language in a way that retains the most essential overt and implied elements of the melody. The chant material was broken up into fragments, which were employed in varying obscured contexts until the climax of the work, at which time the complete Pange Lingua melody is heard fully. The title of the work is taken from the fourth verse of the Pange Lingua: “And if sense perception is lacking, to strengthen a sincere heart faith is sufficient.” Ultimately, the composition may be interpreted as a commentary on how faith is embodied, challenged, and sustained.
publicabstract, 21st century music, chamber orchestra, composition, contemporary music, pange lingua, violin concerto
Copyright 2015 Daniel Patrick Houglum