Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)
The Seven Last Words of Christ—those sayings uttered by Jesus between his crucifixion and death as recorded in the Gospels—have long been of interest to liturgists and composers alike. Many composers have been inspired by these texts, and this study examines three settings, by Charles Gounod, César Franck, and Theodore Dubois. All were French composers who set this text in Latin during the Romantic era. Not only were these works composed in the same temporal vicinity, within twelve years, but they were also all composed within the same geographic vicinity, Paris. Franck and Dubois even worked together at the same church. The possibilities for influence are therefore quite strong. Chapter One provides an overview of the paper. Chapter Two provides background information on the textual sources for the “The Seven Last Words”—what Christ uttered from the cross. Chapter Three discusses the problematic musical genre of the Seven Last Words, being obviously related to but not directly derived from settings of the Passion, and provides a list of all of the known settings of this text. Chapter Four is dedicated to Gounod’s Les Sept Paroles de Nôtre Seigneur Jesus-Christ sur la Croix (1855). Chapter Five addresses Franck’s Sept Paroles du Christ sur la Croix (1859). Chapter Six is concerned with Dubois’ Les Sept Paroles du Christ (1867). Chapter Seven provides a summary and comparison, noting the similarities between these works on orchestrational, textual, durational, formal, and musical levels. While the Dubois setting is arguably his best known work, the other two languish in relative obscurity. Beyond merely bringing their existence to light, this study aims to identify correspondances between them. The enormous similarities between the Franck and Dubois settings in particular are too strong to be coincidental. Dubois was familiar with Franck’s setting and may even have written his own in intentional emulation of Franck’s earlier work.
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Roste, Vaughn, "The seven last words of Christ : a comparison of three French romantic musical settings by Gounod, Franck, and Dubois" (2013). LSU Doctoral Dissertations. 3987.