Electronic Theses and Dissertations


Ai Ishihara



Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts



Committee Chair

Janet Page

Committee Member

John Baur

Committee Member

Tim Shiu

Committee Member

Suan Owen-Leinert


My research focuses on Toru Takemitsus composition for piano and orchestra, riverrun. The title was taken from Finnegans Wake by James Joyce, and I consider riverruns relationship to Joyces novel. Takemitsu did not leave any information beyond the title as to how riverrun is related to Finnegans Wake. With limited understanding of the English language, he had access only to a Japanese commentary and a partial translation of Joyces novel. Thus, this document discusses literary phrases and metaphorical meanings of the beginning and the end of Finnegans Wake as well as the information that Takemitsu had access to through the Japanese commentaries. Also, I explore the composers philosophical beliefs that are reflected in this composition, such as the Japanese strolling garden, silence, and dream, number, and water themes. To Takemitsu, music was life; thus, everything he composed in his music came from his life experiences and interactions with arts and nature. Based on this information and musical examples from riverrun, I explore the possible programmatic meanings of Takemitsus piece. Takemitsus instrumental colors, textures, dynamics, and articulations all reflect the idea of the Japanese strolling garden. His use of motivic ideas both in the piano and the orchestra helps to create a continuous flow in riverrun, where every segment of the piece can seem to be the beginning, middle, and end in a cycle of sound. The cyclic nature of the novel is one of the elements that interested Takemitsu, and thus the structure of riverrun is programmatically related to the structure of the novel.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to ProQuest