An Analysis of Symphony No. 19 ("Vishnu") by Alan Hovhaness, and "Kshetrajna", an Original Composition for Orchestra.
Date of Award
Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)
This dissertation consists of two parts, both of which share a common link through their inspiration from Hinduism. Part I is an analysis of Hovhaness's Symphony No. 19 (Vishnu). Part II is an original composition in three movements for orchestra entitled Kshetrajna. Hovhaness's Symphony No. 19 (Vishnu), composed between July and August, 1966, in Luzern, Switzerland, is a single movement work of tripartite structure, for symphony orchestra. The title, Vishnu, refers to the second person of the Hindu trinity, whose name is a remarkable metaphor for the explosive energies and sustaining forces of the universe. The work is impressionistic in a sense; Hovhaness achieves a great wealth of "atmospheric" effects, highly suggestive of cosmic space and events (viz., exploding galaxies, vast emptiness and timelessness). Hovhaness is very much a mystic, and this one quality is poignantly manifested in Vishnu through the many Eastern and mesmeric devices employed in the work. In the following analysis the various parameters of form, tonality and modality, "senza misura" practices, melody and vertical sonority found in Hovhaness's 19th symphony are described in depth. The second part of the dissertation, Kshetrajna, is an original orchestral composition in three movements by the author. The title, Kshetrajna, is a Sanskrit term meaning knower of the field. The work draws its inspiration from the thirteenth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita in which Krishna relates to Arjuna knowledge about the field (physical manifestation in its totality) and its knower (the conscious ego). Two basic motives are thus interwoven through the course of the work, and manipulated in diverse ways. The three movements generally adhere to the scheme, fast-slow-fast, respectively. The movements are essentially through-composed, and follow no traditional formal outlines.
Young, Phillip Eugene, "An Analysis of Symphony No. 19 ("Vishnu") by Alan Hovhaness, and "Kshetrajna", an Original Composition for Orchestra." (1990). LSU Historical Dissertations and Theses. 4965.