Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Creative Arts


School of Music

Committee Chair

Peter Amstutz

Committee Co-Chair

Peter Amstutz

Committee Member

Mary T Ferer

Committee Member

James Miltenberger

Committee Member

Kristina Olson

Committee Member

William Skidmore


This project serves as a broad introduction to the keyboard works of American composer Alex Shapiro (1962-present), with primary focus on her works for solo piano. Ms. Shapiro has developed a well-established reputation as a serious and innovative composer, writing both acoustic and electroacoustic music for a variety of musical genres including instrumental solo and chamber music, as well as music for large ensembles. Shapiro's writing is often influenced by extramusical ideas, such as her solo piano piece Luvina (2007), a work based on the short story with that name by Mexican author Juan Rulfo. With scores that often include the composer's own program notes to guide the performer and listener, Shapiro's music carries listeners on a journey that is often unexpected, highly symbolic, and inspired by a synthesis of nature, musical influences, and life itself.;This project is organized in such a way that one can easily reference Shapiro's keyboard works as sets or individual pieces and quickly generate an idea of each piece's musical elements, unique qualities, and aspects of technical and musical difficulty. Following an introductory biographical sketch and compositional background of Shapiro's works, each chapter discussing the pieces is introduced with the composer's own program notes and sources for scores and recordings. In addition, a chapter is devoted to Shapiro's most recent piano compositions: Chord History (2014) and her new eight-movement piano suite entitled Arcana (2014), a musical exploration of the fragile relationship between humans, plants and the planet on which they coexist. The project concludes with references to Shapiro's numerous chamber works that include piano or harpsichord, as well one solo piece for organ entitled Transplant (1999).;The purpose of this project is to introduce these beautiful pieces to a diverse audience and to encourage their being performed more frequently. These works serve as excellent examples of creative writing and modern compositional technique. In addition, they give the listener a taste of the many styles and techniques Shapiro employs in her large and diverse body of compositions.