Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2014

Degree Name

DMA (Doctor of Musical Arts)

Degree In


First Advisor

Uriel Tsachor

First Committee Member

Alan Huckleberry

Second Committee Member

Anthony Arnone

Third Committee Member

Christine Getz

Fourth Committee Member

René Lecuona


The aim of this study is to describe, explicate and make technical and musical suggestions regarding the solo piano compositions of Arnold van Wyk. A pianist himself, Arnold van Wyk, born on April 26th, 1916, was one of South Africa's foremost composers of the previous century. He composed many of his most important works for the piano. Although he composed during a time when some of the most radical musical innovations in composition for centuries were taking place, Van Wyk's compositional style references the Romantic and Impressionistic eras. The reason for this could be located in the reception circumstances of his works (conservative audiences) and in his biographical context: he developed an admiration for mostly Romantic art music in a society that was far removed from the thrust of avant-garde developments in Europe and the United States. Although he studied in London at the Royal Academy of Music (1938-1946) he never wanted to settle abroad and had a strong desire to return to his South African roots. This is part of the reason what makes his music unique- being born and raised in South Africa with little compositional training, but still being able to compose music that related to the Western music culture, praised by writer Howard Ferguson and pianist Dame Myra Hess while in London. Van Wyk performed all of his own piano music and he gave recitals till shortly before his death in 1983. His favorite repertoire was taken from the early Romantic period, especially Schubert. He also played a great deal of Mozart and Haydn. Van Wyk's approach to the piano was a coloristic one. He was technically never very secure or proficient, but set great store by the range of color he could attain at the piano. Still, his pieces do require the technique and musical understanding of the advanced student and could be an asset to any undergraduate or graduate music student's repertoire. Taking into consideration both matters of style (his neo-Romantic harmonic idiom, his preference for sonata form, his conservative approach to rhythm) and matters of his own performance preferences and limitation as a pianist, this study proposes to take a practical approach towards describing, explaining and suggesting appropriate musical and technical approaches to Van Wyk's piano music. The music that will be included in this study is Pastorale e capriccio, Nagmusiek [Night Music] (the largest solo piano work) and Four piano pieces.


xiii, 137 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 135-137).


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Copyright 2014 Grethe Nothling

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