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A Thematic Index of Works by Eugène Bozza: Author Interview

The following is an interview with Lois Kuyper-Rushing, author of A Thematic Index of Works by Eugène Bozza, part of the MLA Index and Bibliography series, newly published by A-R Editions.

Q: Lois, you mention in the Acknowledgments that your research into Eugène Bozza’s works began as a doctoral dissertation. What was your journey like, from your doctoral research to creating this thematic index?

Lois: Lisa, Thanks so much for giving me this opportunity to share my research with the music library community. As a student working on a Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) oboe performance degree at Louisiana State University School of Music (1977-1981), my attention was directed toward the practice room rather than the library. I had few ideas for a research topic. The School of Music required a “monograph” for its DMA students, a sort of dissertation-lite.

At the time, I was a regular babysitter for the children of Lyle Merriman, Dean of the Louisiana State University School of Music at the time, so I had a chance to speak casually with him on several occasions. Dr. Merriman was a clarinetist and woodwind specialist, and he suggested I create a thematic index of the works for woodwinds by Eugѐne Bozza. I took the bait and my work began.

My degree was put on hold as I moved with my husband as he pursued graduate degrees and we settled in Manhattan, Kansas where he was a voice professor at Kansas State University. I worked in the library as a nascent music cataloger. The library dean, Brice Hobrock, was generous with granting research time, and I began my dissertation work there by ordering Bozza scores through InterLibrary loan to feed into my dissertation. One memorable loan came with a note from the person in charge of ILL at Tulane University, fellow LSU graduate Mark McKnight!  I wrote and finished the monograph while at KSU and I graduated in 1991.

I moved to Louisiana in 1992 where I finished an MLIS degree. In 1993 I was hired at the LSU Library as Music Librarian. In 2008 I was elected to the Music Library Board. Over supper one evening during a board meeting, Jim Cassaro asked about my dissertation. He asked if I’d considered publishing it. I said I’d love to publish it, and he recommended MLA Indexes and Bibliography Series. Within a year, I had submitted a proposal and began my work on a Thematic Index for all the works by Eugѐne Bozza.

Q: Is there a piece or two of Bozza’s that you think deserves more recognition/performances than it has?

Lois: Bozza was very prolific, and he composed much more broadly than for the solo and chamber wind instrument works for which he is best known. There is a so much music that is out of print or has never been published.

The works that I would like to see performed are his works for voice and piano. There are six titles that are available for purchase or through InterLibrary Loan:

Arietta, KR 18, 1935
Colloque sentimental, KR 23, 1936
Cinq chansons niçoises, op. 43, avec accompagnement de piano, KR 45, 1941
Cinq chansons florentines, [op. 54] : pour voix élevées avec accompagnement de piano, KR 67, 1946
Notre amour est un secret, op. 41, KR 50, 1942

Q: How would you like researchers and performers to use this index?

Lois: I address this question in the Preface (p. ix-x) to my book. I’ll include it here rather than rewriting it:

The first iteration of the Bozza index was a doctoral monograph of the works for woodwinds by Bozza. The intended audience for this was woodwind performers and instructors. It included comprehensive documentation of similar “themes” (or, more accurately, “incipits”) for each movement of each composition. This allowed musicians to study etudes that have similar thematic content to performance pieces before working on the corresponding solo or chamber work.  […]

The scope of the current publication is much broader than the dissertation as it provides entries for all Bozza’s works and serves a wider audience. Primarily, the work will assist researchers as a starting point for their investigations into the music of Bozza, and aid librarians as they provide uniform titles for the many works currently published and those that exist only as unpublished manuscripts. Thematic similarities are included for all works as they were for the doctoral monograph so the functionality for performers remains, although the current volume includes works for all instruments and voices making it a comprehensive representation of Bozza’s oeuvre.

Thank you, Lois, for sharing your work on Eugène Bozza!