Doctor of Musical Arts Dissertations


Basque and Modernist Influences in Gabriel Erkoreka's Qorks for Solo Piano (1994-2019)

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)


Contemporary Music

First Advisor

Laura Melton (Advisor)

Second Advisor

Yuning Fu (Other)

Third Advisor

Nora Engebretsen (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Brian Snow (Committee Member)


The music of Spanish composer Gabriel Erkoreka (b. 1969) has been widely performed in Spain and across Europe, but it has received little attention from performers in the Americas and from scholars worldwide. To the author's knowledge, only one conference paper has examined a work by Erkoreka in great detail, while two other dissertations include passing mention of his music. The composer has drawn inspiration from his native Basque culture, piano literature from Western Art Music, and modernist techniques and styles, most notably the music of British composer Michael Finnissy (b. 1946). This unique blend has resulted in a style that is authentic and distinct from his contemporaries, while at the same time being rooted in traditional music; it also poses a challenge to analytical methods, since any approach on its own would severely underserve this kind of music.

This research document is the first detailed discussion of works for solo piano by Gabriel Erkoreka to date. For a broad discussion of his writing for the instrument, six works were selected: Nubes I (1994), Jaia (2000), Dos Zortzikos (2000), Kaila Kantuz (2004), Mundaka (2009), and Ballade no. 2 (2019). This selection ranges from Erkoreka's earliest published composition for the instrument to his second most recent work, which is representative of his current style. This document is divided in three parts: (1) an overview of the composer and the main influences behind his compositions, (2) detailed analysis of each of the works mentioned above, and (3) suggestions for performance, both in the form of general notes applicable to most works and specific advice for each piece.

This research draws on literature review related to the influences on Erkoreka's music, original analysis of the piano works based on scores and recordings, and interviews conducted by the author with the composer and five pianists: Ricardo Descalzo, Juan Carlos Garvayo, Alfonso Gomez, Alex Hills, and Jonathan Powell. While the conversation with the composer provided significant information on his background and the context behind each piece, the pianists provided valuable insights on their approach to the technical demands and complexity found in Erkoreka's music for piano.