“Terre de France: nostalgia in Louise Talma’s French song cycle”
A Dissertation Submitted to the Faculty of The Graduate School at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Doctor of Musical Arts
Abstract: Louise Talma’s songs are under-represented in both scholarship and performance, yet are deserving of more attention. Talma composed in this medium throughout her career, which lasted over six decades. Musicians and scholars should be aware of the existence of these high caliber works, as well as their musical workings and historical context. This study seeks to generate familiarity with Talma’s Terre de France song cycle through documentary research into the lives of Talma and those who influenced her, as well as through musical and poetic analysis of the cycle. This document examines text setting, form, rhythmic devices, and neoclassical techniques in the five songs of Terre de France, composed in 1943 and 1945. In this cycle, Talma addresses several personal losses, changes in her life, and hopes for the future of France through a nostalgic treatment of traditional French poetry. Aspects of Talma’s relationship with Nadia Boulanger illuminate Talma’s treatment of Terre de France. Written at a turning point in her life, Terre de France shows parallel development and progression in her compositional style. Talma’s articulate, neoclassical settings of relevant, quality French poetry merit a prominent place in art song study and performance. Knowledge and understanding of the changes in Talma’s life during this time will allow performers to convey a sensitive, informed expression of the music and poetry.