The free serial style of Nikos Skalkottas: an examination of the twelve-tone methods in his late serial compositions
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This study provides detailed analyses of three serial compositions that include Serenata, Tender Melody, and Sonatina, each written for cello and piano in 1949, the year of the composer’s death. Skalkottas re-appropriates Schoenbergian serial principles in order to accommodate his unique style of twelve-tone composition. Certainly, Skalkottas revered his teacher and mentor; he simply found certain principles too confining for his interpretation of the twelve-tone process. He formulates new compositional parameters that vary from work to work. There is no governing serial technique common among these works except for the twelve-tone principle in and of itself. The aforementioned compositions express a notion of freedom in that Skalkottas breaks away from the established serial tradition, and he approaches each composition afresh and anew in that he takes the liberty to reinvent the system from one composition to another. In addition, Skalkottas allows tonality or tonal vestiges to play a significant role in his twelve-tone processes, a compositional choice that also expresses a sense of freedom. In addition to serialism, other compositional techniques brought to light include the implementation of symmetry and octatonicism. Moreover, the present objective is to (1) evince Skalkottas’ compositional approach to serialism, (2) demonstrate his free treatment of the series, and (3) establish the compositional premise from which each work derives. The analyses illustrate the diverse twelve-tone methods employed in these works and their resulting musical implications and aesthetic attributes.