Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)



Document Type



Lou Harrison is an American composer whose importance has been somehow overlooked. Amidst the modernist composers of the early 1940’s he was one of the most individualistic, which in turn, made him one of the most unique composers to come out of that era. Harrison’s name is mainly associated with percussion and the gamelan. However, he wrote for much more than just that. The purpose of this dissertation is to facilitate an understanding of Lou Harrison and his Concerto for Violin and Percussion Orchestra, in the hopes of making his music accessible to the more conservative musician.

My research starts with a select biography covering the years pertinent to the composition of the concerto. Following is a detailed background on the violin concerto, including a short explanation about the percussion orchestra. In the next three chapters I provide a formal analysis with focus on melody, texture, and balance. The analysis is followed by a performance guide, where I offer tools and suggestions as to how to interpret Harrison’s music based upon my research of him and my own experience performing his piece with the LSU percussion ensemble.



Committee Chair

Lilleslatten, Espen