Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Joseph N. Straus


Jeff W. Nichols

Subject Categories



Analysis, Les litanies d'Icare, Network Theory, Opera, Pousseur, Votre Faust


This dissertation consists of two chapters, largely self-contained, each dedicated to a different piece by Belgian composer Henri Pousseur (1929-2009). The first chapter presents a detailed survey of Pousseur's opera, Votre Faust, attempting to address all major aspects of this vast, ambitious work: origins and reception, compositional design, relationship with the Western operatic and literary tradition, formal experimentations, and harmonic innovations. The second chapter presents a detailed analysis of a work representative of Pousseur's more recent output, Les Litanies d'Icare (1993) for piano solo, focused on Pousseur's trademark techniques of parametric, serial design (technique des groupes), and on his unique harmonic methods (technique des réseaux).

While largely independent from each other, these two chapters can, nevertheless, offer a larger view of the evolution--and, overall, remarkable consistency--of Pousseur's compositional methods, with two pieces representing the boundaries of the composer's post-Darmstadt career, from their early, experimental, inception in Votre Faust, to their more mature, controlled expression in Litanies. It is my hope that these two analyses can also contribute to bringing renewed attention to Pousseur's musical and theoretical work within North American, English-language scholarship.

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