Nino Rota's Fifteen Preludes for Piano Solo: An Analytical and Interpretive Study

Date of Completion

January 2010






While Italian composer Nino Rota is best known for his many film scores, he composed a good deal of “classical art music” in many genres over the course of his career. One of his most significant piano compositions is the Fifteen Preludes for Piano composed in 1964. In the last few decades this work has appeared consistently in recital programs in Italy and has been a favorite for diplomandi (“graduates-to-be”) of Italian conservatories where it is often chosen as a twentieth-century work of an Italian composer as required by conservatory final examination guidelines. The main characteristics of these preludes clearly recall several previously established models, notably the “introductory preludes” of J. S. Bach and the cycle of short monothematic and highly pianistic pieces of Chopin. At the same time, the fusion of such conventional elements as directed linear motion, cadential progression and sequence with compositional elements typical of the early twentieth century helps to create a highly personal and distinctive sound. ^ This dissertation was written to provide historical and theoretical insights for performers and scholars who wish to further investigate this delightful work. It is the hope of the author that this dissertation will stimulate more interest in Rota's under-investigated classical output. ^