Dissertation Documents

Dissertation Proposal, Advisors and Program


Classical music has become marginalized in America. The flagship classical music ensembles that provide the bulk of performance employment – symphony orchestras – continue to struggle or fail. This risks the loss of professional performances of the great orchestral works of the classical music canon.  Extreme Transcription argues for a shift away from a focus on symphony orchestras that put a financially straining 80 – 108 musicians on a stage. As an alternative, it calls for a move towards more stable, enduring, less labor intensive and less expensive chamber orchestras, thereby rightsizing orchestras to the needs and funding capacities of their communities.

It calls for expanding the reach of the Canon by rescoring some of these great works for chamber orchestra and proves the viability of this process by presenting three masterworks from the German, French, and Russian schools, representing almost 1000 pages of scores and parts.  Extreme Scoring documents the methodologies and modalities developed for achieving this rescoring process.

Given that there are implications to making changes to classical music masterworks in Extreme Transcription, there are also aesthetic, ethical, and ontological issues discussed in The Aesthetics and Ethics of Transcribing Classical Music. Some argue against changing something that is already perfect and the composer’s intention. Others aver that the sharing of the classical music canon in any form is justifiable if it emotionally moves people. Who is right? Only time and the marketplace will tell.

Further, Extreme Transcription eschews the focus on geographical centralization of orchestras in downtown concert halls, as well as the failed outreach activities used by U.S. orchestras to acquire new patrons. It instead provides and documents a model that orchestras can use for systematically capturing the essence of their communities by learning the lessons of the brilliant model developed by the Brooklyn Philharmonic in 2011-13 through The Brooklyn Model. By combining classical music with the culture and music of their chosen communities, professional orchestras as well as classical ensembles of any size can regain relevance in American society while preserving the canon.  While this document was not included in the final version of the Extreme Transcription dissertation, it is nonetheless a significant work that will be published as a book with a foreword by a major U.S. conductor, and is included on this website.