Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Philip Ewell

Committee Members

Joseph N. Straus

Marcy Rosen

Suzanne Farrin

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities | Music | Musicology | Music Performance | Music Theory


Gubaidulina, Ten Preludes for Solo Cello


Sofia Gubaidulina is regarded as one of the most original and highly respected voices in contemporary music today. Her use of the Fibonacci and its related series to structure her compositions has become a defining feature of her music and, therefore, most analysis has focused on pieces that incorporate this method, which she calls “rhythm of form.” Consequently, works written prior to her adoption of this method have garnered much less analytical attention. However, in her earlier works­––from the late 1960s through the early 80s––Gubaidulina not only explores new sounds and colors, but also found creative ways to structure these pieces.

This dissertation will focus on the Ten Etudes for Solo Cello (1974), a seriously neglected piece in the solo cello repertoire. (The published name remains Ten Preludes at the suggestion of the cellist, Vladimir Tonhka.) Each etude explores multiple or single elements of cello technique (such as legato, staccato, ricochet or sul ponticello). I will discuss the various ways Gubaidulina explores and juxtaposes these elements to create structure and continuity in the work. I use a variety of analytical approaches in my analysis and include a number of musical and technical suggestions for the performer. I also include a discussion of the composer’s early life and education and a chapter on the development of her compositional style.