Tse Wei Chai

Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Creative Arts


School of Music

Committee Chair

James Miltenberger

Committee Co-Chair

Peter Amstutz

Committee Member

Mary Ferer

Committee Member

William Haller

Committee Member

Bernie Schultz


This research document focuses on three American compositions: John Corigliano's Fantasia on an Ostinato, Miguel del Aguila's Conga for Solo Piano, and William Bolcom's Nine New Bagatelles. These three pieces fall into the category of standard contemporary works which require pianists' advanced technique, sound exploration, and imagination. The intention of this research is to provide guidance for pianists and piano instructors who want to learn, perform, or teach any of these contemporary pieces. There are five chapters in this document. Chapter One highlights the existing literature regarding these three pieces. Chapter Two, "John Corigliano," has three main sections. Section one includes a biography of John Corigliano. Section two focuses on how Corigliano has used minimalist technique, music quotation, and aleatoric elements in his Fantasia on an Ostinato. Section three highlights the major technical challenges and their possible solutions in the Fantasia on an Ostinato. It includes discussions of "Bebung" effect, metric modulation, aleatoric elements, hand shifting, and dynamic control. Chapter Three, "Miguel del Aguila," also consists of three main sections. A biography of Miguel del Aguila is presented in section one. Section two provides a brief history of "Conga" as the Cuban drum and also as the Conga dance. Miguel del Aguila's inspiration in writing the Conga Line in Hell is also discussed in section two. Section three focuses on the structural analysis and the performance concerns of this Conga. Clave pattern, distorted rhythms, salsa-like pattern, tango rhythm, glissando, tempo, dynamics, wrist movement, body posture and balance are discussed in section three. Similarly, Chapter Four, "William Bolcom," has three main sections. A biography of William Bolcom is presented in section one. Bolcom's significant piano solo works are discussed in section two, together with the placement of his Nine New Bagatelles among his piano solo works. Section three provides brief structural analysis of each bagatelle as well as the performance concerns of tempo, articulation, pedaling, division between hands, trills, dynamics, tone quality, balance of sound, and voicing in the Nine New Bagatelles. The summary is presented in Chapter Five.