Reviving Mesopotamia| Genocide and the preservation of cultural heritage in the nationalist music of William Daniel (1903 – 1988)

by Rashel Pakbaz

Institution: San Jose State University
Year: 2015
Keywords: Music; Middle Eastern studies
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2122132
Full text PDF: http://pqdtopen.proquest.com/#viewpdf?dispub=1596632


Once an illiterate Christian community suppressed by its Muslim neighbors, the Mesopotamian population in Persia benefitted from the American missionaries establishing schools and hospitals that helped their culture and language flourish in the late 1800s. Their survival as a people and a culture was threatened, however, when the Muslim Ottoman Empire began the Christian Genocide in Eastern Anatolia during World War I. As a survivor of these horrific events, composer William Daniel (1903–1988) felt the need to preserve and promote Mesopotamian culture through music, and as a Western trained musician, he successfully developed a nationalist style of music based on a combination of Mesopotamian folk music elements, which he called the “Mesopotamian timbre,” and Western European art music techniques. To better understand Daniel’s compositions, this study first situates Daniel within the history of the Mesopotamian people and of the Middle East and provides an explanation of Mesopotamian musical characteristics in contrast to their Muslim neighbors. This study concludes with the analyses of five of Daniel’s songs for voice and piano, “Shahrah” [Festival], “Dkhari d’Vaadaan” [Memories of Fatherland], “Shooshane d’Raghoole” [Lilly of the Valley], “Marganeeta” [Pearl], and “Ninveh” [Nineveh], showing how Daniel expressed and represented the social and political situation of the Mesopotamian people in his compositions.