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George Lynn: Visions and Innovations in Choral Composition Analysis of the Sacred Symphony for Voices Alone (1958)

Kyungouk Ko, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


In the history of American Choral music, Randall Thompson (1899-1984) is recognized as a significant composer and educator in the twentieth century. As one of Thompson’s pupils, George Lynn (1915-1989) was somewhat overshadowed by his mentor in spite of his remarkably comprehensive and high quality catalogue of works. Among his over eight hundred choral works are four masses, three sacred symphonies, and twenty-three extended choral compositions, the Sacred Symphony for Voices Alone (1958) is the first choral work of Lynn’s three sacred symphonies. The primary focus of this study is an extensive analysis of Lynn’s compositional innovations in the Sacred Symphony for Voices Alone , coupled with an investigation of his compositional heritage, including his influential teacher Randall Thompson, Roy Harris and Lynn’s own interest in Baroque music, particularly the works of Heinrich Schütz. Understanding of musical heritage will give us a clear picture of the roots of the composer’s innovations which relate directly to matters of interpretation and pedagogical approaches. Lynn’s unique compositional languages will be discussed from an analytical perspective through a discussion of the text and melody, texture and voicing, harmony and rhythmic characteristics. Exploring Lynn’s un-published major work will help to ensure the composer’s legacy and illustrate his particular skill connecting musical heritages with the artistic innovations of his time. The Sacred Symphony for Voices Alone, even when considered as merely a single work in Lynn’s extensive catalogue (eight hundred works total, circa two hundred published), clearly shows us an exemplary artistic and creative statement which stretches our understanding of the musical and artistic capacity of choral music.

Subject Area

Music history|Musical composition|Music

Recommended Citation

Ko, Kyungouk, "George Lynn: Visions and Innovations in Choral Composition Analysis of the Sacred Symphony for Voices Alone (1958)" (2018). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI10844799.