Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts





Committee Chair

Pamela Gaston

Committee Member

Kenneth Kreitner

Committee Member

Pu-qui Jiang

Committee Member

John Baur


The focus of this dissertation is on the vocal music of Young-Ja Lee, the most important Korean woman composer of our time, within the context of the history of Korean Western music with special attention given to her songs. Many Korean women composers of Western music invested great efforts to incorporate the musical elements of Korean traditional music into their compositions, and define “Koreanness” despite the challenges that they faced within a male-dominated society. Korean women have faced different experiences and challenges from their male counterparts, and thus the art of Korean women offers us a unique insight into Korean society and its modern culture. Young-Ja Lee’s music combines the musical elements of French, West African, Indonesian gamelan, and traditional Korean music, thus creating some of the finest examples of interculturalism. Her vocal music is not only microcosm of her music, but also the story of Korean women because she selects poems that tell the stories of the lives of Korean women. Young-Ja Lee has composed a number of songs on the poems by one renowned Korean woman poet, Nam-Jo Kim, because she found a direct connection to these poems; as a result, these songs are a direct reflection of Young-Ja Lee’s life as a woman and as a composer. In this paper, I have selected two songs by Young-Ja Lee that best represent Lee’s music and a women’s perspective on the lives of women in Korea, as seen through her music and the poems that inspired her songs.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.