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The "Medieval Suite" for flute and piano by Katherine Hoover: An examination, analysis and performance guide

Eileen Anne Yarrison, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The objective of this study is to analyze, interpret, and suggest performance techniques for a work by American composer and flutist Katherine Hoover: the Medieval Suite, Opus 18, (1981), for flute and piano. The work has a significant extra-musical source: A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous Fourteenth Century, the history of medieval France written in 1978 by Barbara W. Tuchman. Each of the suite's five movements, Virelai, The Black Knight, The Drunken Friar, On the Betrothal of Princess Isabelle of France, Aged Six Years, and Demon's Dance, depicts a character, musical work, or historical event described in A Distant Mirror. The opening chapters introduce the scope of the project, present a brief biography of Katherine Hoover, provide information about the creative process behind the Medieval Suite and offer a brief synopsis of A Distant Mirror. Subsequent chapters present the historical context, a detailed analysis and a performance guide for each of the suite's five movements. The historical background and in-depth character sketches for each movement are drawn primarily from Tuchman, as this was Hoover's single historical sources for the composition. Complementary information from other historical sources is offered to complete certain characterizations. Compositional connections to the music of Hindemith and Bartok, as well as to medieval musical styles and forms such as the virelai, are explored. Unique compositional aspects of each movement are examined, using such approaches as formal, reductive, motivic, harmonic, and melodic analysis. Material from interviews with the composer is introduced to shed light on several hypotheses about the work's structural and stylistic elements. Interpretive comments and suggestions are intended to help the performer realize and clarify both structure and style.

Subject Area

Music|American literature

Recommended Citation

Yarrison, Eileen Anne, "The "Medieval Suite" for flute and piano by Katherine Hoover: An examination, analysis and performance guide" (1996). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI9712535.