Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Joseph Straus

Committee Members

Norman Carey

Sylvia Kahan

Edward Klorman

Subject Categories

Music Performance


Günter Raphael, Unaccompanied Viola Sonatas, Analysis


Günter Raphael (1903–1960) was a skillful German-Jewish composer, organist, pianist, violinist and violist largely unknown outside of Europe. Although he is best known for his sacred choral and keyboard music, he was prolific in composing for strings, especially for his beloved viola. Raphael's unaccompanied viola sonatas are particularly fascinating to study and perform because of their complex harmonies and sonorities, and rhythmic and technical challenges.

This dissertation offers the first significant English-language biographical account of Raphael’s life, a thorough analysis of his unaccompanied viola literature, and performance issues through annotated passages and notes on interpretation. This dissertation also examines the development of Raphael’s compositional style within his three unaccompanied viola sonatas, contextualizing them using biographical information and theoretical analysis, with particular attention to their form, meter and rhythm, harmony, tonal centers and harmonic transformations, thematic and motivic development, relations to tonal traditions, and performance issues.

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