Music, School of


Date of this Version


Document Type



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 Eric Richards. Lincoln, Nebraska: April, 2014

Copyright (c) 2014 David Christopher Stamps


Garden of the Carpathians is a collection of original compositions inspired by four separate explorations of Romanian cultural elements, rural and urban landscapes, and an American perception of dualism within their historical aesthetic. The four pieces (Țuică, Troubled Splendor, From Unknown Heights, and Modistoric) each emphasize a different aspect of this dichotomy. Țuică focuses on the social traditions of Romania by examining customary meal-time interactions that are now influenced by Western culture and commercialism. Troubled Splendor acknowledges the typical stereotypes of communism, gypsy life, and poverty, but then highlights the hard-working, curious, and motivated enlightenment that the people truly project. From Unknown Heights, based on Carmen Sylva’s poem, Down the Stream, also concentrates on the resilience and strength of the Romanian people but through the lens of the natural beauty of the Balkan landscape. Modistoric paints a picture of the architecture and civic design of the urban areas by drawing attention to the unique juxtaposition of 18th century edifices, communist era concrete slab building, and the modern glass and steel mega-structures that line the streets of Bucharest. This particular piece showcases an assortment of popular Romanian folk songs compiled and arranged by Şafak Alicioğlu that are then extrapolated, developed, and recomposed into a progressive setting.

Apart from the cultural contradictions, the compositions are fashioned in an incongruous manner as well. Each piece blends facets of Romanian folk music with jazz composition sensibilities and contemporary harmonies. While functioning as independent compositions, the pieces are designed to be performed together as they each share motivic fragments, voicing structures, and instrumentation varieties. The mixed instrumentation features modular orchestration that allows for the development of aural “colors” that honor modern sensibilities and momentum while respecting the rich musical traditions of both Romanian folk songs and dances and early American popular song characteristics.

Advisor: Eric Richards