2015 Undergraduate Awards

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The last in a set of three pieces, Folio III (1974) by Toru Takemitsu (1930–1996) was the composer’s first foray into solo classical guitar composition. Although Takemitsu’s guitar works are often overlooked or examined sparingly at best, Folio III is a complex composition that warrants exploration. It combines aspects of chromatic saturation and octatonicism with Baroque-era tonality via the quotation of Chorale No. 72 “O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden” from the St. Matthew Passion (1727) by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750). This essay blends theoretical analysis with aspects of Takemitsu’s philosophy to clarify the significance of the chorale’s quotation to the overall composition. In the Passions, chorales—due to their origins in a communal performance practice—provide links between complex music and that understood by the common population. In Folio III, the quotation of the chorale enables similar dialogues between tonal and post-tonal music; classical guitarists and the larger classical music community; and, the past and the present. Through intertextuality and quotation, Takemitsu’s Folio III reconciles these dichotomies to create an environment of mutual understanding, rather than isolation and exclusion.


Image by Mrugesh Karnik, posted with a CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license.

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