Projects from students in the classes of the Music Theory Department, University of Colorado Boulder

Energy Variations, for flute and electronics

Katherine Scholl (junior, flute performance)
(Post-Tonal Theory class, Daphne Leong, fall 2017)



The Brahms Project

Brittan Braddock, Ashley Gulbranson, Ryan Jacobsen, Jonathan Morris, Caitlin Stokes (doctoral performance students)
(The Music of Brahms, doctoral seminar, Keith Waters, fall 2017)


Commentary with Musical Examples

Annotated Scores

Brahms – Sonata for Clarinet and Piano, Op. 120, No. 1, in F minor
Brahms – Sonata for Piano and Violin, Op. 100, in A
Brahms – Piano Quintet, Op. 34, in F minor

Schubert Lied Transcriptions

Daniel Nester and Jose Leon (doctoral performance students)
(The Music of Schubert, doctoral seminar, Yonatan Malin, fall 2016)

Schubert’s “Erlkönig
transcribed for solo bassoon by Daniel Nester

Published by T.D. Ellis

The two main features of the arrangement, and the reasons why I think this piece fits the bassoon so well, are the wide range of the instrument that allows a very clear and disparate setting of each individual voice in Schubert’s narrative, and the bassoon’s propensity for intense, clear articulation. Utilizing a playing technique called “triple tongue”, this arrangement allows the bassoon player to convey the quintessential feature of the original piece: the triplet “gallop” motif. 

Originally conceived as “the next phase” in the virtuosic development of the piece (from Goethe to Schubert, to Liszt, to Nester), the arrangement was set as a sort of “show piece” – a way for a player to demonstrate their command of the instrument. It is my belief that players should expand the instrument’s repertoire by “borrowing” musical masterpieces such as this and transforming them to a setting that benefits their play. Looking back at the performance, I believe that I would be interested in attempting to play the piece again, but in a different context: rather than a demonstration of prowess, I think that the piece can be treated as a musical homage, conserving Schubert’s musical ideas in this new setting.   – D.N.

Der Jüngling, das Mädchen, und der Tod
Jose Leonardo Leon
Published by Warwick Music

This piece, a trombone quartet in three movements, adapts and arranges Schubert’s Lieder “Der Tod und das Mädchen” and “Der Jüngling und der Tod.”

The two original poems by Claudius and Spaun, “Der Tod und das Mädchen” and “Der Jüngling und der Tod,” present similar and yet contrasting dramatic plots. They share a common character, der Tod (Death), represented in this quartet by the dark sound of the bass trombone. To portray the other two characters, I used the tenor trombone in registers that are closer to the human voice: the mid-to-high register for das Mädchen (the Maiden) and the mid-to-low register for der Jüngling (the Youth). These two characters approach death differently: the Youth calls to Death to take him along, and the Maiden rejects the sudden appearance of Death. But both Claudius and Spaun present Death as an embracing and warm, central character.

The quartet is divided into three movements, one for each character. “Der Jüngling,” at the center of the first movement, has sorrow and darkness that will draw the listener into a different dimension. The ending chords of “Der Jüngling” share several common tones with the beginning chords of “Das Mädchen,” which helps provide a smooth transition. The more active melodic lines of the frantic Maiden’s theme characterize the second movement, and Death’s somber processional theme features in the third movement.

As an arranger and performer, I encountered many challenges in adapting Schubert’s vocal music for instrumental performance. One of these challenges was writing and performing the proper articulations for each trombone part, to emulate the sentiment of the original songs. Phrasing and melodic shapes also had to be determined. Through listening to different versions of the pieces, and learning about analytical approaches to Schubert’s music in Prof. Malin’s seminar, I was able to achieve these tasks. I became a better exponent of the singing approach to brass instrumental performance. – J.L.

Video credits: 
Scholl Energy Variations || Production: Daphne Leong || Video: Jonathan Galle
The Brahms Project || Production: Keith Waters || Video: Jonathan Galle