Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)




Katherine Preston

Committee Members

James Armstrong

Leisa Meyer


This paper analyzes Ingolf Dahl’s 1968 song cycle, A Cycle of Sonnets, within the specific personal and historical context surrounding its composition. This piece—perhaps more than any of his other works—shows the strong imprint of the emotional forces caused by Dahl’s personal life—specifically, his complex conception of his identity as a gay man. Through detailed examination of the score, text, and compositional sketches for the work and of entries in the composer’s unpublished diaries, this paper establishes a connection between the work itself and Dahl’s struggles to cope with aging, relationships, and his own ideas of what it means to be a gay man. Connections between this composition and Dahl’s sexual identity suggest that although he tried to set his homosexuality aside as a separate part of his biography, it nevertheless played an important role in shaping A Cycle of Sonnets. Furthermore, my discussion of Dahl’s identity and the forces shaping it breaks away from stereotypes of repression that frequently characterize discussions of LGBT composers living and working before the Stonewall Riots. Instead, it provides a more three-dimensional portrait of the composer as an independent agent working within a complex and changing web of self- and socially-designed power structures that influenced his decisions in how to present himself publicly, how to form relationships, and-–most importantly—how to write his music.

On-Campus Access Only