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Date of Graduation
Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)
School of Music
Sonya G. Baker
Jo-Anne van der Vat-Chromy
This Doctor of Musical Arts document is an exploration of the four soprano song cycles by Lori Laitman based on text settings from victims of the Holocaust, with a specific focus on the compositional and performance devices that both underpin the power of words to bear witness to lived experience and ensure the process of musical commemoration as an act of historical preservation. Lori Laitman (b. 1955) has composed ten distinct song cycles commemorating victims of the Holocaust, of which four are included in this study – I Never Saw Another Butterfly, In Sleep the World is Yours, The Ocean of Eternity, and The Secret Exit.
Following the introduction and purpose (where the need for the study, guiding questions, project design, and delimitations are explored), this document undertakes an in-depth review of existing English language song cycles for solo voice based on poetry, prose, or witness experiences from the Holocaust. The study continues with the life history and the origins of the poetry of the witnesses Laitman honors in these four song cycles (Hana Volavková and the children of the Terezín ghetto, Selma Meerbaum-Eisinger, Anne Ranasinghe, and Nelly Sachs) and reviews the background, musical style, and other Holocaust works of Lori Laitman. This document analyzes Laitman’s use of four specific musical devices (tessitura and range, instrumentation, use of text, and use of dissonance) to memorialize the witnesses and demonstrate why she selected the soprano voice versus another voice type.
The research was conducted by examining existing scholarly work on both Laitman and the Holocaust victims and personal interviews with the composer and the musicians involved in the origin of the pieces. By interviewing the composer and many of the premiere artists, this document seeks to understand the role of artists in the commemorative process, particularly how art songs can honor Holocaust victims. An accompanying traveling museum exhibit, “Words, Music, Memory: (Re)presenting Voices of the Holocaust,” opened with the lecture-recital.
Ramirez, Sheena, "Words, Music, Memory: An exploration of four soprano song cycles by Lori Laitman based on poetry by victims of the Holocaust" (2021). Dissertations, 2020-current. 89.