AMSGNY Meetings


Spring 2018 Meeting Abstracts

Solomon Guhl-Miller (Temple University and Rutgers University)

Hearing the Greek Genera: Re-evaluating Tuning and Interpretation in Three Repertoires

Theories of microtonal divisions have appeared for millenia in treatises from Ancient Greece to Renaissance Italy, yet in practice most performers and teachers avoid these sonorities.  This paper explores what a selection of these works would sound like if we engaged with these microtonal divisions.

Jane Schatkin Hettrick (Rider University)

A Newly Discovered Contract for a Lutheran Organist in Vienna in 1824: Curiosity or Blueprint of  “A Well Regulated Church Music”?

When Johann Sebastian Bach was hired in 1723 by the Leipzig Town Council as Cantor of the Thomas-Schule, he signed a contract listing a job description of fourteen points. When Franz Joseph Haydn became Kapellmeister of the Esterháza Court in 1779, his contract was about two pages long. When Franz Lachner accepted the post of organist of the Evangelische Kirche in Vienna in 1824, the church drew up a contract of no less than thirty pages (!), describing performance requirements in extreme detail. So what could be the reason for this?  Why would an individual congregation, employing just one musician, need a thirty-page contract for that person?

This document, hand-written in old German script, is preserved in the archive of the Lutheran Church in Vienna; it has not been studied. In this paper I examine the job description laid out in the contract and consider possible reasons for its unusual nature and length.

Stephen Allen (Rider University)

"Lateness" in Elgar's The Severn Suite

What if Elgar's 'The Severn Suite' (1930) Op 87, were revealed as a symphony in disguise? What if it constituted Elgar's response to Neo-Classicism as the only branch of Modernism that could possibly engage his interest? What if, as a Late work, it embodied a review of his creative life in a series of 'farewells', an envoi to life in the context of implacable change between two world wars? This paper will investigate such issues and more, recommending a rehearing of the suite as a masterpiece of its kind.

Barry Wiener (New York, NY)

Sibelius, Busoni and Ultramodernism

In this paper, I propose that the “postmodern traits” that contemporary musicians have perceived in the music of Jean Sibelius can be described instead as manifestations of early twentieth-century ultramodernism. I link ultramodernist concepts to the radical ideas of Sibelius’s friend, Ferruccio Busoni, which he outlined in the 1907/16 pamphlet, Sketch of a New Aesthetic of Music. Both Busoni and Sibelius rejected the modernists’ systematic exploration of atonal pitch structures in order to investigate the properties of sound itself, together with those of musical time and space. I will illustrate my discussion with examples from Sibelius’s Fifth Symphony (1919), Ligeti’s Chamber Concerto (1970), and works by Busoni and Rud Langgaard.

Christopher Doll (Rutgers University)

The Rhythmic Influence of the Dave Brubeck Quartet on British-American Pop-Rock

The Dave Brubeck Quartet’s famous single “Take Five,” originally released in 1959 but reissued to tremendous success in 1961, appears to have influenced a small but significant number of US and UK pop-rock artists, as evidenced by the recurrence of a few specific, atypical rhythmic features in some of their songs. These features include a regular 5/4 meter in which the beats are grouped as 3+2, fleshed out with two specific looping cross-rhythms. By detailing these parallel patterns, this paper sketches historical connections between the cool jazz of “Take Five” and the later music of Nick Drake, Jethro Tull, Blind Faith, Andrew Lloyd Webber, XTC, and Radiohead.

Spring 2018 Meeting Schedule

Our last meeting of the year will be Saturday, April 21st.  It will be held at NYU, but not at the same place as last time we met there.  It will be at 20 Cooper Square on the second floor.  This building is right near the corner of West 4th Street, where Cooper Square changes to the Bowery.

The closest subway station is at Astor Place, but all the other stations near NYU are in walking distance.  Take the elevator to the 2nd floor and go to room 222.

12-1
Solomon Guhl-Miller:  Hearing the Greek Genera: Re-evaluating Tuning and Interpretation in Three Repertoires
Jane Schatkin Hettrick: A Newly Discovered Contract for a Lutheran Organist in Vienna in 1824: Curiosity or Blueprint of  “A Well Regulated Church Music”?
***
1-1:45  lunch/business meeting
***
1:45-2:45
Stephen Allen:  'Lateness' in Elgar's The Severn Suite
Barry Wiener:  Sibelius, Busoni and Ultramodernism
***
2:45-3 break
***
3-3:30
Christopher Doll: Five Taken: The Rhythmic Influence of the Dave Brubeck Quartet on British-American Pop-Rock

Winter 2018 Meeting Schedule

Location: Columbia University Department of Music (Dodge Hall)
Date: January 27, 2018

12PM-1:30PM
Lynette Bowring (Rutgers University): Musicking or Musical Work? The Passamezzo from Improvised Formula to Composition

Liu Ye (Columnist for the Chinese Monthly Musical Instrument): The Piano Art in China since the Cultural Revolution (1966-76) and the Beginning of the “Reform and Open Policy”

Luca Levi Sala (New York University): Muzio Clementi’s Output Beyond England: Dissemination, Issues of Authenticity and Textual Problems in Vienna (1787-1799)

1:30PM-2:15PM
Lunch

2:15PM-3:00PM
Panel: Music and Leadership

3:00PM-5:00PM
Danielle Bastone (Music in Gotham): The Sublimity of Dussek's Suffering Queen of France

Heather Platt (Ball State University): “A Novel Affair”:  The Establishment of Lieder Recitals in 19th Century America

Reuben Phillips (Princeton University): Brahms as Reader: Examining the Young Kreisler’s Treasure Chest

Jon Churchill (Duke University): A Second Battlefield: Semantic Exchange in Vaughan Williams’s London and Pastoral Symphonies

Winter 2018 Meeting Abstracts

Lynette Bowring (Rutgers University): Musicking or Musical Work? The Passamezzo from Improvised Formula to Composition

Formulaic patterns such as the ciaccona, romanesca, or bergamasca frequently structured compositions in the early 1600s. Many of these formulas originated in the previous century, when—to use Christopher Small’s term—they could be considered as vehicles for “musicking,” rather than unique musical works. Scholars have identified these formulas in many pieces, and analysts have suggested that adaptations of these harmonic patterns also underpinned compositions in less audible ways. Nevertheless, there remain important questions to ask about the roles that these formulas played in musical life, and how they relate to issues of ontology and creativity in this period. Using the passamezzo as a case study, I argue that the increasing prevalence of these formulas in notated compositions marked changing attitudes towards creativity and individuality in the early seventeenth century, and that this change in the fundamental nature of the formula allowed composers to consider their compositions as artistic creations from individual minds.

Liu Ye (Columnist for the Chinese monthly Musical Instrument): The Piano Art in China since the Cultural Revolution (1966-76) and the Beginning of the “Reform and Open Policy”

Today China has about 30 million people who are learning the piano. This enormous interest in the piano has led to China’s current notable strengths in the classical music field.  It is based, in part, on a “spiritual hunger” that arose since World War II. For many years before 1976 classical music was absent, creating a cultural “vacuum.” Music is a spiritual necessity for people; thus, after three decades of constraint, the need for appreciating and playing music was suddenly being met. In addition, there was the issue of fulfilling the hopes of Chinese parents, particularly the parents born before the 1970s who rarely had the chance to study classical music. When their social situation improved, the parents strongly wanted their children to meet their dreams. And finally, there is the “role model effect” observed in recent years. There are great young pianists such as Lang Lang, Wang Yuja, and Zhang Haochen performing actively around the world. Many children who study piano admire them, and see them as role models.

Luca Levi Sala (New York University) : Muzio Clementi’s Output Beyond England: Dissemination, Issues of Authenticity and Textual Problems in Vienna (1787-1799)

Between 1780 and 1820 Clementi’s output circulated widely throughout continental Europe. His works were reissued by numerous French publishers, including Bailleux, Imbault, Castaud and Porro, Boyer, Sieber and Pleyel and also reprinted and redistributed by many others. The same can be said of the publishing networks encompassing German speaking countries, including Artaria, Torricella, Mollo, and Hoffmeister, Kühnel, Peters, Schott, and so forth. Clementi is likely to have been one of the most frequently and widely published foreign composers in Vienna during the last quarter of the eighteenth century and Artaria was probably Clementi’s most frequent publisher.

In this talk I will examine a great number of editions issued before 1800 by Artaria, whose output exemplifies the widespread dissemination of Clementi’s work among publishers that operated mainly throughout Paris, Leipzig, Offenbach, Mannheim and Vienna. Examination of these facilitates an increased understanding of the process by which errors, erroneous readings and variants were inherited in Artaria’s Clementi editions, raising doubts about the quality of the text eventually transmitted and performed.

Danielle Bastone (Music in Gotham): The Sublimity of Dussek's Suffering Queen of France

In the late summer of 1793, the London press provided almost daily accounts of Marie Antoinette’s captivity and trial. Concern for her welfare and repugnance at the accusers who compromised it became regular topics in the columns about France, as did English support for the Queen’s absolution. News of the regicide in October accordingly elicited fresh condemnations of the sanguinary French leaders and an exaltation of their former monarch, who, it was incessantly reported, met her unjust fate with dignity.

Within weeks of the guillotine’s fall, virtuoso pianist and composer Jan Ladislav Dussek published a new piece in London for solo piano titled The Sufferings of the Queen of France. Each of the work’s ten movements would depict a stage of the Queen’s demise, beginning with her imprisonment and culminating with her apotheosis. The piece belongs to a body of English music written in response to Marie Antoinette’s ruination, much of which unabashedly commercialized the execution for a staunchly monarchist public. Yet beneath its own commercial exterior, The Sufferings sets itself apart from other music of its kind. Dussek’s musical and narrative choices portray the Queen not as a figure to be pitied, but rather as a sublime heroine.

Heather Platt (Ball State University): “A Novel Affair”:  The Establishment of Lieder Recitals in 19th Century America

In 1898 Max Heinrich recalled “Why, twelve years ago I could not get even my friends in America to listen to Schubert and Schumann songs”;  and  he repeatedly claimed he was responsible for introducing the American public to Lieder.  Heinrich, a German immigrant, was known for recitals that had the aura of gentleman's club; he sat at the piano singing,  playing and talking to the audience. I examine his claims by tracing the genesis of Lieder recitals in America to their establishment in the 1880s.  Although scholars of the transatlantic transfer of German music have ignored Lieder, singers in America, such as Heinrich, belonged to the network of proponents of the other German genres.

Reuben Phillips (Princeton University): Brahms as Reader: Examining the Young Kreisler’s Treasure Chest

One of the most fascinating sources of information about Johannes Brahms’s early artistic inclinations is a collection of quotations, aphorisms and poems known as Des jungen Kreislers Schatzkästlein. Comprising four notebooks, the Schatzkästlein, or treasure chest, was begun by Brahms in his native city of Hamburg with the majority of subsequent entries added by the mid-1850s. Titled in homage to E. T. A. Hoffmann’s fictional character of Johannes Kreisler, these notebooks provide evidence of the young Brahms’s voracious consumption of German literature. For his biographer Max Kalbeck, the entries seemed to provide the key to Brahms’s “innermost being”. The Deutsche Brahms Gesellschaft published an edition of notebooks in 1909, but despite this and, in recent decades, the presence of an English translation, the Schatzkästlein has rarely been subjected to scholarly scrutiny.

Drawing on surviving primary source materials housed in Vienna, including the last of the four notebooks and Brahms’s library inventories, this paper provides a critical account of the Schatzkästlein in the context of Brahms’s youthful passion for borrowing and buying books. Which sources did Brahms turn to in harvesting the poems, aphorisms and quotations? What ideas about music, art and society do the entries articulate? And how does the aesthetic world-view of the Schatzkästlein relate to that of Brahms’s mentor Robert Schumann? In pondering these issues, I consider the notebooks variously as a document of Brahms’s self-directed education, an expression of his high aesthetic ideals, and as a kind of secular psalter that was integral to the development of his distinctive musical sensibility.

Jon Churchill (Duke University): A Second Battlefield: Semantic Exchange in Vaughan Williams’s London and Pastoral Symphonies

As a stretcher bearer in WWI, Ralph Vaughan Williams survived events that fundamentally altered his personal life and later works. The clearest musical changes emerge in A London Symphony (1912), begun before the war and edited during, and the Pastoral Symphony (1921), a work first conceived on the Western Front. While the latter work earned the moniker “Vaughan Williams’s War Requiem,” the trenches’ effects first appear in the edits to A London Symphony. There, the composer deletes a gesturally-rich section named “Nocturne” that contains three features common throughout his larger oeuvre: sarabande rhythms, harmonic stasis, and arch-shaped interruptive gestures. Pages of near silence take their place.

The features’ reappearance in the Pastoral reveals their traumatic associations and suggests a protective drive behind their removal. By engaging Vaughan Williams’s own remarks, semiotics, and traditional analysis, this work is the first to illuminate the psychological links between musical gestures and physical experiences that motivated Vaughan Williams’s sweeping edits.

This multifaceted approach uncovers specific changes in Vaughan William’s compositional language and their causes. Both discoveries stand to reveal much about the workings of a sparsely-researched figure, his puzzling later works, and his relationship with one of humanity’s darkest periods.




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