An analysis of Atli Heimir Sveinsson’s “21 Sounding Minutes” for solo flute with interpretive implications

A Dissertation by Sóley Þrastardóttir, Flutist, Univeristy of Oklahoma (2013)

Read the Dissertation Here 


Sóley Þrastardóttir
Sóley Þrastardóttir

Among the most significant and prolific Icelandic composers, Atli Heimir Sveinsson (b. 1938) has created music in virtually every style and genre. He has composed a diverse assortment of works for flute, and his formally innovative and programmatic 21 Sounding Minutes for solo flute, composed for flutist Manuela Wiesler in 1980, has become one of the most performed and best-known pieces of Icelandic flute music. This document provides background information on the work’s genesis, performance and reception history, and defining characteristics. It includes the perspectives of the composer and the two flutists, Áshildur Haraldsdóttir and Martial Nardeau, who have recorded the work in its entirety. 21 Sounding Minutes consists of twenty-one programmatic miniatures for solo flute. This study provides a detailed structural and rhetorical analysis of each movement, including discussion on the ways in which analytical observations may inform performance. The twenty-one movements fall into three formal categories: monothematic, contrasting, and multi-section and many of them share several stylistic features. Furthermore, connections exist both between individual movements and musical and programmatic content. The 21 Sounding Minutes offer flutists myriad programming and interpretive options, giving them the opportunity to create virtually limitless versions of the work. Flutists can use the formal, rhetorical, and programmatic features uncovered in the analysis contained in this document in order to inform their programming and interpretive choices.

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