Music, School of


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A Doctoral Document Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Musical Arts, Major: Music, Under the Supervision of Professor Peter A. Eklund. Lincoln, Nebraska: May, 2010
Copyright (c) 2010 James E. Wilson


Seth Daniels Bingham (1882-1972) holds a unique place within the pantheon of American composers. He was one of many composers to travel to France for lessons in composition during the first decades of the Twentieth Century. From 1906 until 1907 he studied organ with Alexander Guilmant and composition with Charles Marie Widor and Vincent d’Indy. Through his absorption of the French musical aesthetic, Bingham learned to improvise and compose in the French style, to voice textures according to a French system of registration, and to combine modernity with tradition. It is true that Bingham was not the only American composer to study with Widor, Guilmant, and/or d’Indy; in fact approximately twenty-five Americans of his generation studied with some combination of these teachers. What makes Bingham unique is the combination of his compositional pedigree and his vast output of sacred choral music. He was one of only two French-educated American composers of his generation to write and publish a large number of sacred choral works–the other being Clarence Dickinson. The focus of this study is to demonstrate the influences, style, and artistic merit of Seth Bingham’s sacred choral music, particularly through discussion and analysis of his "The Canticle of the Sun," published in 1949. As part of its conclusion, the study attempts to identify the current state of Bingham’s status and recognition as a choral composer, and to reaffirm the qualities that make his music worthy of revival.

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