Date of Award

Spring 2019

Thesis Type

Rollins Access Only

Degree Name

Honors Bachelor of Arts




Daniel Crozier

Committee Member

Gloria Cook

Committee Member

Benjamin Hudson


This paper analyzes three of Decadent Movement poet Paul Verlaine’s poems through songs of the same names by French composers Gabriel Fauré and Claude Debussy. The poems analyzed were “Clair de lune”, “Mandoline”, and “En sourdine”. By drawing connections among the poems, their influence, a painting by Antoine Watteau, and the music they influenced themselves, this paper highlights the fact that individual interpretation creates masterpieces with differing content. It aims to provide an in-depth interpretation from a singer’s perspective of the subtleties of composition and how it influences performance. Each poem was studied comprehensively, and each of the six songs’ musical aspects were analyzed, including meter, rhythm, melody, harmony, form, text painting, and dynamics. Then, each song was learned in its entirety (from which research was synthesized and documented in journal entries from practicing) and performed in Tiedtke Concert Hall on the Rollins College campus. Analysis of these poems and songs revealed the striking similarities and differences in the music of the two distinct French composers. The musicians' works are reflective not only of their personal lives and individuality, but their unique interpretation of the same set of words. Evident in the songs, these differences help us understand the composers and allow singers to more accurately perform their compositions.

Rights Holder

Alexia Della Valle