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Analyzing the “Idiosyncratic” Music of Prokofiev

January 23, 2017

Rebecca Perry (Music) won the 2016 Arthur J. Komar Award from Music Theory Midwest for her presentation, “Between the Signposts: Thematic Interpolation and Structural Defamiliarization in Prokofiev’s Sonata Process.” Music Theory Midwest is a branch of the international Society for Music Theory.

The award committee praised Perry’s paper for its “extensive knowledge of Sonata Theory and Prokofiev studies in addressing a motivic/thematic ‘problem’ in Prokofiev’s Second Piano Sonata.” Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953) was a Russian composer, pianist, and conductor.

Perry’s “approach was enhanced by the inclusion of concepts drawn from Russian literary theory models,” according to the award announcement. “She displayed not only a sophistication of presentation, but also ease of response to questions and comments following the presentation.”

The “problem” in Prokofiev’s second sonata centers on the interpolation of unrelated material in the middle of a traditional theme space, which complicates the expected formal layout.

This paper was derived from her dissertation, advised by Professor Patrick McCreless. Her dissertation research focuses on the manner in which Prokofiev's idiosyncratic adaptations of sonata form extend and elaborate upon eighteenth- and nineteenth-century precedents.

A native of Missouri, Perry earned her undergraduate degree from Brigham Young University, where she studied piano performance and political science.

Her interest in music stems from early childhood, when she enjoyed playing Beatles songs and bits of movie soundtracks by ear on the piano and voraciously sight-reading whatever sheet music happened to be available.

She was drawn to Yale's academic music department because of her shared research interests with individual faculty members (particularly James Hepokoski and McCreless) and the department's emphasis on bridge-building between music history and theory.

Outside of academics, Perry finds time to play tennis and visit used bookstores around New England.