Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type

Doctoral Essay

Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)


Keyboard Performance (Music)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Santiago Rodriguez

Second Committee Member

Tian Ying

Third Committee Member

Dorothy Hindman

Fourth Committee Member

Robynne Redmon


George Walker, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1996, composed a total of five sonatas for piano. Each of them have a distinctive sound and approach to the sonata form due to Walker’s processes of manipulating musical elements. These processes are crucial in understanding the composer’s approach to sonata form, and also they are highly important as means to interpreting his sonatas. Therefore, the observations here represent important performance aspects that serve as a guide for performers. The five piano sonatas were written in 1953, 1956, 1975, 1984, and 2003. There have been academic dissertations written about the first four piano sonatas, but none for Sonata No. 5 for Piano. This study will emphasize the analysis of Sonata No. 5 for Piano. In order to do so, the study will initially analyze compositional processes found in Sonata No. 2 for Piano and Piano Sonata No. 3, and relate those to Sonata No. 5 for Piano. Based on the development of Walker's compositional language, the analysis of these three sonatas can be a valuable reference for all five sonatas. The essay is comprised of four chapters. The first chapter is an introduction and general background of the five piano sonatas, and the statement of the reason for this study. The second chapter is a brief biography of the composer in relation to his piano sonatas. The third chapter introduces the manipulative processes of musical elements in Sonata No. 2 for Piano and Piano Sonata No. 3. The fourth chapter is dedicated to the analysis of Sonata No. 5 for Piano. Lastly, the conclusion encompasses all the aspects discussed in this study.


George Walker; Sonata for Piano; Manipulations; Projection; Fantoms; Bell