Elucidating the compositional praxis of a living composer, Thea Musgrave, through archival papers

Millwood, Sasha Valeri (2020) Elucidating the compositional praxis of a living composer, Thea Musgrave, through archival papers. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

This thesis examines the affordances of archival research in elucidating the compositional praxis of the composer Thea Musgrave (born 1928), informed primarily but not exclusively by the papers she sold in tranches from 2009 onwards to the British Library (GB-Lbl), where they were arranged and catalogued as part of the research for this thesis. These papers elucidate facets of Musgrave’s praxis that are not always apparent from her publications and other primary sources.
The archive thus broadens the domain of primary-source evidence, yet it is still a mediated collection that is not in all respects representative. Such mediation, inasmuch as it is conditioned by the praxis under interrogation, elucidates implicit priorities. Indeed, as a composer who is still professionally active, the transfer of papers to archival collections itself forms part of her praxis. This researcher, whilst maintaining critical distance, has also availed himself of the particular opportunities afforded by a living subject, having conducted a pair of interviews with Musgrave.
Through the evidence afforded by archival papers and other primary sources, this thesis situates Musgrave’s compositional praxis in relation to wider traditions, practices, and professions. Her purview as composer extends beyond devising and notating musical ideas, to encompass various artistic, technical, and ambassadorial activities furthering a tacit quest for canonical status for her oeuvre. As a published composer working to commission, her praxis is artisanal and collaborative to some extent, yet her compositional response is still demonstrably individual, and she retains a prerogative as composer resembling an auteur paradigm.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: This thesis arises from research conducted under the joint auspices of the University of Glasgow and the British Library, the latter of which holds the largest known institutional fonds of Musgrave archival papers. As part of his doctoral studies, Sasha Valeri Millwood arranged and catalogued these papers, assigning shelfmarks at the volume level in consultation with the British Library’s curatorial staff, under the supervision of Richard Chesser, Head of Music Collections. It is envisaged that these catalogue entries, following further review and editing from the British Library’s cataloguing staff, will soon become discoverable on the British Library’s OPAC for manuscripts. This thesis itself is an original document written solely by Sasha Valeri Millwood, under the academic supervision of Dr Martin Parker Dixon (Music) and Dr Simon Murray (Theatre Studies) at the University of Glasgow. Several passages from this thesis are duplicated in the following publications, all written solely by Sasha Valeri Millwood: Millwood, Sasha Valeri ‘Musgrave at 90’, British Library Music [‘]Blog, published at https://blogs.bl.uk/music/2018/05/musgrave-at-90.html on 27/05/2018. Millwood, Sasha Valeri ‘Affirming the composer’s prerogative: Case studies from Thea Musgrave’s collaborations’, Writing about Contemporary Musicians: Promotion, Advocacy, Disinterest, Censure ed. Pace and Wiley (London and New York: Routledge, 2020).
Keywords: Musgrave, living composer, compositional praxis, composer archive.
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
M Music and Books on Music > ML Literature of music
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Culture and Creative Arts > Music
College of Arts > School of Culture and Creative Arts > Theatre Film and TV Studies
Funder's Name: Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
Supervisor's Name: Parker Dixon, Dr. Martin James Christian and Murray, Dr. Simon and Chesser, Mr. Richard
Date of Award: 2020
Depositing User: Sasha Valeri Millwood
Unique ID: glathesis:2020-81762
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 27 Oct 2020 17:22
Last Modified: 27 Oct 2020 17:22
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/81762

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