Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2013

Degree Name

DMA (Doctor of Musical Arts)

Degree In


First Advisor

Gier, David A.

First Committee Member

Getz, Christine

Second Committee Member

Rapson, John

Third Committee Member

Manning, John

Fourth Committee Member

Agrell, Jeffrey


This thesis is an analysis and exploration of the feminist themes present in select chamber music theater works by William Osborne for trombonist Abbie Conant. Before analyzing Osborne's compositions, the author provides crucial background information about the lives and experiences of husband and wife and artistic collaborators William Osborne and Abbie Conant. Specifically, the author addresses the sexism that Conant experienced as a trombonist in the Munich Philharmonic. Osborne composed a new genre of works for Conant to perform as an artistic response to the pain both he and Conant experienced during the thirteen year legal battle with the state of Munich and their desire to create fully integrated musical theater works.

The author traces the evolution of Osborne and Conant's collaboration by examining three works within the genre of chamber music theater: Winnie--Osborne's adaptation of Samuel Beckett's Happy Days; Miriam: The Chair--Osborne's first completely original work; and Street Scene for the Last Mad Soprano. Through personal interviews with Osborne and Conant, the author became aware of Osborne and Conant's influences from Samuel Beckett as well as the formal structure that Osborne uses in his works, and she traces this structure in each work as a method for understanding and organizing the musical and dramatic events. Since Osborne's chamber music theater works require the performer to play a musical instrument, act, and sing, the author employs balanced musicological, dramaturgical, and theoretical analytical approaches when studying each piece.

After addressing the formal and compositional devices that Osborne utilizes in each piece, the author focuses her analysis on the feminist themes that are found in the latter two works: Miriam: The Chair and Street Scene for the Last Mad Soprano, for these two works were written as a direct response to the discrimination that Conant experienced in the Munich Philharmonic. The author provides the transcript from her interview with Osborne and Conant as an appendix to the document.


Abbie Conant, Feminist Musicology, Musicology, Music Theater, Trombone, William Osborne


xii, 194 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 191-194).


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Copyright 2013 Jessica Ducharme

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