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A 21st Century Investigation of the Historical, Musical and Acoustical Contexts of a 19th Century Comic Opera, Schermania in America, Composed by Dr. Gabriel Miesse, Jr
Abbott, Carol A.

2011, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Ohio University, Individual Program of Study (Arts and Sciences).

A four-act comic opera created in 1892 by a local physician-artist-composer was discovered intact in 2006 in Lancaster, Ohio. The context of this opera is explored in a number of different areas. Popular culture and musical theatre history as aspects of life in Victorian America will set the stage for a chronology of the history of the city of Lancaster. This city has a rich background as an early frontier town in Ohio and its founding through the time of the composition of the opera spans just less than 90 years. Many examples from period sources are used to illustrate that Lancaster was not isolated and its citizens had access to cultural experiences on a national level.


A careful examination of the surviving documents comprising this opera is recounted, and indications of collaboration between the composer and the librettist (his cousin) are described. The music is examined by reviewing some specific examples from the scores and determining their structure and harmonies. General characteristics and style of the orchestration and of the vocal parts are also given.


A 19th century concept that open notes of cornets sound better than notes requiring the use of valves is defined through contemporary examples. This idea is further specified by a presentation of acoustic principles governing sound production in brass instruments. The basis for measuring the property of input impedance to be used as a qualitative comparison for open and valved notes is explained. Finally, a simple measurement technique is refined and used to obtain impedance data for a number of 19th century cornets. The characteristics and results of these measurements are presented in a number of different graphical formats and some suggestions for further experiments are made.

Martin Kordesch, PhD (Advisor)
Mark Phillips, DM (Committee Member)
Ken Heineman, PhD (Committee Member)
Korcaighe Hale, PhD (Committee Member)
217 p.

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Abbott, C. (2011). A 21st Century Investigation of the Historical, Musical and Acoustical Contexts of a 19th Century Comic Opera, Schermania in America, Composed by Dr. Gabriel Miesse, Jr. (Electronic Thesis or Dissertation). Retrieved from https://etd.ohiolink.edu/

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Abbott, Carol. "A 21st Century Investigation of the Historical, Musical and Acoustical Contexts of a 19th Century Comic Opera, Schermania in America, Composed by Dr. Gabriel Miesse, Jr." Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. Ohio University, 2011. OhioLINK Electronic Theses and Dissertations Center. 29 Jul 2015.

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Abbott, Carol "A 21st Century Investigation of the Historical, Musical and Acoustical Contexts of a 19th Century Comic Opera, Schermania in America, Composed by Dr. Gabriel Miesse, Jr." Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. Ohio University, 2011. https://etd.ohiolink.edu/

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