Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





David Schober

Committee Members

Sylvia Kahan

Scott Burnham

John Musto

Janette Tilley

Subject Categories

Music Performance | Music Practice | Music Theory


Jean Coulthard, Piano, Piano Concerto, Vancouver, David Gordon Duke


Jean Coulthard (1908-2000) is recognized as one of Canada’s most prolific and important female classical composers in the twentieth century. She remained creatively active from her hometown of Vancouver, British Columbia, for eight decades, resulting in a catalog of over 350 works representing most classical music genres. Her music continues to be performed and recorded by renowned ensembles and soloists such as the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, CBC Vancouver Orchestra, Calgary Philharmonic, Purcell String Quartet, pianists John Ogdon and Jane Coop, and contralto Maureen Forrester. Coulthard is known for her distinctive coloristic sonorities reminiscent of those in works by European composers such as Rachmaninoff, Debussy, Ravel, and Scriabin, but unique through her use of extended chords based on triadic harmony, fleeting tonal centers, and juxtaposition of major and minor modalities.

Coulthard’s Piano Concerto (1963) is an audience-accessible work that represents a confluence of traditional forms and twentieth-century approaches to melody and harmony. However, the piece has not yet been placed under considerable analytical scrutiny and has not been performed since 1980. This essay seeks to introduce Coulthard’s life and work to a wider audience and make a case for why the Concerto deserves to be revived and considered a serious concert work.