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Daniel Levitan: An Examination of his Compositional Approach with an Analysis of Marimba Four Hands
  • Gregory Lyons, D.M.A., Louisiana Tech University
Daniel Levitan is the composer of several well-known works for percussion, some of which are scored exclusively for non-pitched instruments such as Variations on a Ghanaian Theme (1981) (cowbells, temple blocks, tom-toms) and Septet (1981) (triangle, cymbal, cowbells, cabasa, bongos, timbales, rototom), alongside others that are scored for only pitched instruments like Marimba Quartet (1987) and Duet for Marimba and Vibraphone (1979). A wide variety of influences have molded Levitan’s particular approach to composition. These influences include the study of North Indian tabla drumming, Latin percussion instruments and styles, and keyboard percussion. Additionally, he studied composition and percussion at Bennington College where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1976. Also influential to his compositional approach have been his many years of experience in the field of piano technology where he has established his career.
His inspiration to compose music waned during the years in which his children were born and raised. In recent years, however, he has entered a new phase of compositional activity. Between 2006-2007, he wrote a set of duos for non-specified, non-pitched percussion entitled Eight Two-Part Inventions. In 2008, he completedMarimba Four Hands, a cycle of five movements for two players utilizing one marimba.
He is currently composing a quintet that involves pitched and non-pitched percussion. ii
This document provides a more complete view of Levitan’s influences and identifies overarching aspects of his compositional style. A particular emphasis is placed on his approach to keyboard percussion writing. For that discussion, Marimba Four Hands is examined since it represents Levitan’s most current compositional thinking with regard to keyboard percussion. During the research stage of the document’s preparation, the author presented a lecture recital that involved a performance of excerpts fromMarimba Four Hands. Consequently, a brief section offering information related to performance demands and considerations complements the work’s formal discussion. Concluding the document are appendices that list Levitan’s published works and include personal interviews conducted by the author.
Publication Date
Winter March 1, 2011
Doctor of Musical Arts
Field of study
Percussion Performance
Citation Information
Gregory Lyons. "Daniel Levitan: An Examination of his Compositional Approach with an Analysis of Marimba Four Hands" (2011)
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