Theses and Dissertations - UTB/UTPA

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Music (MMUS)

First Advisor

Dr. Brendan Kinsella

Second Advisor

Dr. Justin Writer

Third Advisor

Dr. Virginia Davis


This thesis examines the compositional strategies Rzewski applies to affect his audience’s expectations so that the experience of the work parallels the political and philosophical ideas within it. Employing musical narrative theory as a way to characterize the process of expectation that can guide the perception of musical meaning, I explore how Rzewski’s pieces support or reject interpretation through a musical dramatic trajectory in ways that reflect the concepts behind the work to argue that: 1) Rzewski’s early variation works follow a linear narrative whose sequence of musical transvaluation conveys dynamics of socio-political problems and suggest solutions through collective action; 2) Rzewski’s improvisational compositions frustrate the development of expectations in an anti-narrative form paralleling his interest in the discontinuity hidden behind surface perception of reality; and 3) Rzewski’s nonlinear narrative Iraq War variation pieces combine continuity and interruption to merge his anti-teleological perspective on life with war.


Copyright 2014 by Bree K. Guerra. All Rights Reserved.

Granting Institution

University of Texas-Pan American

Included in

Music Commons