Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)



First Committee Member

Carol Kimball, Chair

Second Committee Member

Alfonse Anderson

Third Committee Member

Stephen Caplan

Fourth Committee Member

Tod Fitzpatrick

Graduate Faculty Representative

Christopher Hudgins

Number of Pages



American composer Libby Larsen is one of the most active, prolific composers living today. Although she is known for composing in many musical genres, her vocal works are among her most recognized compositions. When selecting song texts, Libby Larsen carefully chooses poems that speak to her personally, both in the rhythm of the language and in the text’s depth of meaning and spirit. In addition, a large number of her vocal works are based on texts by or about women.

In sum, authors and poets have profoundly influenced Larsen, specifically in her chamber song cycles Beloved, Thou Hast Brought Me Many Flowers (1994) for mezzo soprano, cello, and piano, and Sifting Through the Ruins (2005) for mezzo soprano, viola, and piano. These two very different cycles embody Larsen’s unique, though always varied compositional style: Beloved, Thou Hast Brought Me Many Flowers contains sweeping, Neo-Romantic qualities, while Sifting Through the Ruins is often angular, less lyrical and at times, stark. Critics laud her ability to create a synthesis of music and text, and this study will examine Larsen’s compositional devices in her musical settings, including her preference for setting to music prose rather than poetry. The analysis will include songs from the song cycles mentioned above, as well as pedagogical aspects including performance practice and preparation

The research for this study includes primarily interviews with the composer. Secondary research relies on dissertations and articles on Ms. Larsen, as well as my own brief examination of her vocal music language.


9/11 Songs; Browning; Elizabeth Barrett; 1806-1861; Influence (Literary; artistic; etc.); Larsen; Libby; Mezzo Sopranos; Sifting Through the Ruins; Songs (Medium voice); Viola; Women composers


Composition | English Language and Literature | Music | Musicology | Music Practice

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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