Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2014

Degree Name

DMA (Doctor of Musical Arts)

Degree In


First Advisor

Nosikova, Ksenia

First Committee Member

Cook, Robert C.

Second Committee Member

Huckleberry, Alan

Third Committee Member

Tsachor, Uriel

Fourth Committee Member

Puderbaugh, David


This thesis explores the eleven solo piano nocturnes by living American composer Lowell Liebermann (b. 1961), to serve as a performer's guide. Characteristics of previous nocturnes provide historical context for Liebermann's pieces, illustrating similarities to the style developed by John Field, Frédéric Chopin, and Gabriel Fauré. Other musical influences on Liebermann, such as Ludwig van Beethoven and Ferruccio Busoni, demonstrate his relationship to the Western art music tradition and placement within the canon. Four distinct facets of Liebermann's musical style are presented: his reliance on traditional formal practices, motivic coherence, his particular harmonic vocabulary, and his use of texture. Liebermann's works use consonant triads, third relations, and smooth voice leading; because of these features, Neo-Riemannian models are suggested as a potential lens through which to view and analyze these pieces. In particular, hexatonic systems and their depiction of the musically "uncanny" relate to how Liebermann's music can have a sort of "defamiliarizing" and destabilizing effect on the listener. The salient musical features of motivic coherence, harmonic relationships, and formal innovations within tradition are presented for each nocturne alongside descriptions of musical character, to capture the essence and spirit contained within the works. The pieces verge on the fantastic and the rhapsodic, demonstrating Liebermann's imaginative approach to tradition. By utilizing a harmonic language that both synthesizes gestures of the past with a rich history of suggestive emotional content, and that innovates with a more modern and dissonant sensibility, Lowell Liebermann has achieved a distinctive musical vocabulary that captures the poetic and dark essence of nocturnes.


contemporary music, Lowell Liebermann, nocturnes, piano


xv, 281 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 272-281).


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Copyright © 2014 Ann M. DuHamel

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