Research

On this page, you can read more about my research, which is currently focused on marginalized and otherwise forgotten composers. My 2020 doctoral thesis was the first of its kind, a survey of the life and organ works of Olivier Messiaen’s first wife, Claire Delbos. Additionally, “Christian Song across the Centuries” explores hymns from various traditions, particularly those of female poets and composers.

Claire Delbos (1906-1959)

Click here to read “Messiaen’s Forgotten Mie: Rediscovering the organ music of Claire Delbos”

Watch a short lecture for the 2020 AGO OrganFest

Abstract

While Olivier Messiaen is an increasingly popular figure in music research, the life and works of his first wife Claire Delbos (1906-1959) are still shrouded in obscurity. Her compositional career spanned just over 10 years, blossoming alongside yet remaining independent from technical developments in Messiaen’s own music. Delbos wrote at least four works for organ, all of which her husband supervised and performed: Deux Pièces (H. Hérelle & Cie, 1935), Paraphrase (Lemoine, 1949), Parce, Domine (Rouart-Lerolle, 1952), and L’Offrande à Marie (unpublished, 1938-1941). This study—the first devoted solely to her life and music—will define and contextualize Delbos’s compositional language. Using these four works as case studies, I outline her unique approaches to melodic construction, harmony, rhythm, counterpoint, and quotation. Newly available material such as correspondence, diaries, and manuscripts will also offer a more complete narrative of her career than previous scholarship. Although these documents shed light on Delbos’s compositional process, they also reveal the extent to which Messiaen played a role in it. Copious annotations and revisions for the La Trinité instrument become new perspectives on his organ career during the 1930s and ‘40s. Through this combination of musical analysis and archival research, I untangle the story behind Messiaen’s forgotten “Mie,” an artist who lived and collaborated with one of the twentieth century’s most influential composers. 

Christian Song across the Centuries

During the summer of 2020, I created a 14-video survey of hymns from various denominations, eras, and cultures. Four videos detail the work of female poets and composers. Each video presents the material in a way that is accessible and engaging for people of all musical levels and faiths. 

Go to YouTube for the playlist: