Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)



First Committee Member

Tod Fitzpatrick, Chair

Second Committee Member

Alfonse Anderson

Third Committee Member

Carol Kimball

Fourth Committee Member

Dave Loeb

Graduate Faculty Representative

Philip Hubbard

Number of Pages



John Musto, a contemporary composer based in New York, is known for his vocal, piano, and orchestral compositions. Musto is an active performer, who accompanies his own compositions in performance and on recordings. Several festivals and foundations have commissioned his compositions, many of them vocal works.

This document will examine a song set, a solo song and two song cycles by John Musto, which represent the composer's developing vocal compositional style from beginning to present. Equally informed by classical and jazz techniques, his style is comprised of popular idioms, ambiguous key structures, irregular rhythms and meters, unpredictable intervallic movements, and large vocal ranges.

Two by Frost , "Triolet," Quiet Songs, and Dove Sta Amore... , provide the material for my study of John Musto's compositional style. Musto's first set of songs, Two by Frost , was composed in 1982 and published in 1987; and "Triolet," a solo song with poetry by Eugene O'Neill, was published in 1987. The cycle, Quiet Songs , published in 1991, was commissioned by the New York Festival of Song and premiered in 1990 by soprano Amy Burton and pianist Steven Blier.

As a result of winning the Concert Artists Guild International Competition in 1991, soprano Lauren Wagner commissioned John Musto to compose Dove Sta Amore... for soprano and piano. The song cycle was first composed for voice and piano, rescored for voice and orchestra and premiered by the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra in Jacksonville, Florida on March 2, 1996. The orchestral version was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Music in 1997. Dove Sta Amore... was published in 1998 in a piano/vocal format.

John Musto, Amy Burton, Steven Blier and members of the New York Festival of Song gave extensive interviews throughout the course of my research and continue to be accommodating and encouraging. Musto's vocal compositions were recently published in one volume with slight revisions to some songs and significant alterations to others. I will discuss each of these modifications in the document. My document will also address Musto's songs through compositional and stylistic analysis, performance practice, vocal and dramatic issues, as well as pedagogical aspects.


Composers; Composition (Music); Songs; Style; Musical; Vocal music


Composition | Music

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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