Styra Avins (Independent Scholar)
‘I’ll never write a symphony, you have no conception of how it makes the likes of one of us feel when he continually hears such a giant [Beethoven] tramping behind him” This is Brahms, as quoted by his influential biographer Max Kalbeck. Every person who has ever read anything about Brahms and the writing of his First Symphony has read this sentence, because everyone who has ever written about the genesis of Brahms’s 1st Symphony quotes it. But did Brahms ever say it?
The Early History of Modal Rhythm: What Theory Tells us about Practice
Solomon Guhl-Miller (Rutgers University)
One of the first questions a student of Ars Antiqua polyphony asks upon attempting to decipher the notation of a piece of music is “What mode is this in?” However, this question presents challenges as the notation frequently permits multiple interpretations of the same set of ligatures. The assumption has been that it is a flaw in the notation that permits these interpretations, but this paper explores an alternative possibility: the notation was opaque to give performers agency to choose which of the options they would like to perform. We shall examine this hypothesis, and what it may mean for future editions of Notre Dame polyphony, particularly the early motet.
Lutheran Hymnody in Eighteenth-Century Vienna: Orthodox Meets “Politically-Correct”
Jane Schatkin Hettrick (Rider University)
The year 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation—the beginning of Lutheranism. In Austria, Lutherans only became “legal” in 1780, when Joseph II granted religious freedom to some non-Catholics. The first Lutheran Church in Vienna was founded in 1781, and the first official Lutheran hymnal in Austria was published in 1783. This hymnal did not meet with universal approval, however, and ultimately it caused decades of strife in Austrian congregations. This paper will consider the questions: what was wrong with the new hymnal, and why did so many faithful Lutherans reject it? It will also tell the story of its publisher, G. P. Wucherer, who came to a bad end.
Haydn’s Keyboard Sonatas as a Tool for Traditionalist Ideology: A Nineteenth-Century Reappraisal
Jacob Friedman (Princeton University)
Joseph Haydn’s stock famously fell in the nineteenth century. Less famous are attempts from this time to reevaluate Haydn’s image and restore him as a respected and relevant master of the canon. One striking example of this rehabilitation is an 1858 essay by the traditionalist critic Wilhelm Heinrich Riehl entitled “Haydn’s Sonaten.” The essay is one of the most remarkable reflections on Haydn from the nineteenth century: it not only represents what is possibly the earliest attempt to study Haydn reception, it is also a unique reappraisal of his rarely-discussed keyboard sonatas, which had fallen into obscurity since his death. In examining Riehl’s writings we learn how he used this exceptionally neglected output to further his controversial aesthetic and political goals. Doing so puts a spotlight on a historically ignored body of work, illuminating its fortunes over the course of the nineteenth century.
Rethinking Gustav Holst’s A Moorside Suite (1928): The First Brass Band Symphony?
Stephen Allen (Rider University)
Gustav's Holst's 'A Moorside Suite' represents an extraordinary experiment in musical form, employed by Holst to specifically provide brass bands with high quality. What has escaped attention until now, however, is the degree and depth of these forms, re-imagining what an English symphony for a British ensemble might be. This paper reveals these innovations for the first time.
“Berlin, 1945: Towards a Ruin Aesthetic in Music”
Abby Anderton (Baruch College)
By the end of World War II, the Allied Air War had decimated Germany’s cities, and Berlin’s physical devastation had inspired artists to find new modes of coherence. This paper hears Berlin’s destruction in the postwar scores of its musicians, as Max Butting, Eberhard Schmidt, and Heinz Tiessen overwhelmingly composed Lieder in the vein of the nineteenth-century German romantics. To depict their diverse wartime experiences in air raid shelters, bunkers, and concentration camps, Berlin’s composers engaged with the continuities and ruptures of 1945 by romanticizing the rubble landscape of aerial warfare.
The Self-Actualization of John Adams
John Kapusta (UC - Berkeley)
Though John Adams is widely known for his “powerful fusion of post-minimalist process, the post-Romantic symphony, and . . . postmodern operatic pastiche” (Fink), few have examined the cultural origins of Adams’s idiosyncratic minimalist aesthetic. This paper situates Adams’s musical output and critical reception in the 1970s and 80s within what I call the culture of “self-actualization”: the influential contemporary idea that one’s truest, most creative self was to be discovered in the throes of vigorous psychosomatic activity—everything from yoga to tennis and sex and, beginning in the late 1960s, music-making.
In addition to a variety of papers, this meeting will feature the initial installment on a series of discussions on leadership in music. The schedule of the meeting is as follows:
1:45PM-2:45PM: Panel Discussion: Leadership in Music
3PM-5PM: Reassessing Music
David Schulenberg (Wagner College)
Discoveries made during the last 15 years have added to the list of keyboard pieces by Froberger whose headings call for discrètion in performance, prompting a reexamination of the term. Clearly related to expression, the word is associated with certain unusual programmatic or autobiographical pieces, especially as preserved in relatively late sources disseminated beyond the composer’s immediate circle. Although present-day harpsichordists have achieved convincing interpretations of these scores, exactly how Froberger’s mature music is expressive, also how his notation and style relate to those of his contemporaries and later composers, has not previously been demonstrated.
On the Two Misleading Notions Regarding Haydn’s L’incontro improvviso
Oak Joo Yap (Brooklyn College)
Never thought of Haydn as an opera composer? He has almost twenty operas under his belt and his comic operas alone represent all the major plot types of dramma giocoso. L'incontro improvviso (1775), for example, along with Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail, is representative of Turkish operas, the eighteenth-century "Turcomania" products. Despite this designation, however, the degree or the nature of Turkishness of L'incontro improvviso has been questioned by some commentators. This paper demonstrates that Turkishness and Oriental exoticism are expressed in L'incontro improvviso in no lesser degree than in other Turkish operas. It also disputes the notion of the “lack of drama” in this opera that some critics have suggested, pointing out “unexciting recitatives” for one. Heavily favoring arias or recitativo accompagnato over "dry" recitativo semplice, listeners of today tend to ignore the latter's important function in conveying expressive qualities of the text and music. We will thus examine how Haydn, a man of his own era, follows the recitative conventions achieving effective musico-dramatic presentations.
I Maesti Cantori: Is German Art Still Holy When Presented in Italian?
Gwen D'Amico (Brooklyn and Baruch Colleges)
What happens when “die heil’ge deutsche Kunst” becomes “l'arte sacra tedesca?” In 1891, New York’s Metropolitan Opera presented Richard Wagner’s popular Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg in Italian as I Maestri Cantori di Norimberga. This change came after six successful years of the work presented in its original German to highly favorable reviews and high profits. Why the sudden change? Especially with this highly charged and controversial piece, did the Italian language alter its perceived German-ness, and by extension, the German Nationalism? This paper will examine the forces (economic and cultural) that contributed to this change particularly including a polarized New York press willing to fan the fired of controversy.
"Riding the Waves of Feminism: The Impact of the Great Depression and the Popular Press on the Reception of American Women Modernist Composers."
Tonia Passwater (CUNY Graduate Center)
During the years surrounding the Great Depression, the United States experienced an ideological shift from first-wave feminism back to the Victorianism of an earlier time. This shift altered views concerning acceptable roles for women. In this paper, I use critical and popular reception history to illustrate the impact of the era’s “contesting ideologies of womanhood” on the careers of women modernist composers.
The Influence of Zen Buddhism on the Music of Valentin Silvestrov, Ukrainian Avant-Garde Composer in the USSR
Oksana Nesterenko (SUNY Stony Brook)
In this paper, I discuss how Silvestrov’s interest in Eastern beliefs shaped his musical philosophy in the 1970’s. When asked about extra-musical influences on his work, he refers to only one philosophical source – Zen Buddhism, which he encountered in the 1970’s by reading D. T. Suzuki’s lectures. He particularly stresses the importance of the idea of “freeing oneself from all kinds of ideological schemes” that appealed to him because he was fed up with Communist ideology. I argue that it was the engagement with Zen that led Silvestrov to believe that one needs to be free from “all pre-conceived ideas – particularly those of the avant-garde” and, possibly, to consider using neo-Romantic style of his music.
Schoenberg’s Resonant Voice in Peter Ablinger’s Letter from Arnold Schoenberg
Katherine Kaiser (Independent Scholar)
Peter Ablinger’s Letter from Arnold Schoenberg (2006) converts a 1940s Dictaphone recording of Schoenberg’s voice into a midi piano file. The timbre of Schoenberg’s voice is replaced by rapid strikes of the player piano. The rhythms and vowels of his speech emerge with the aid of an accompanying textual transcription, in which Schoenberg accuses the director of Dial Records of ignoring his compositional wishes in releasing a recording of Schoenberg’s op 41, Ode to Napoleon, with a woman’s voice. Like Schoenberg’s letter, Ablinger’s piece explores themes of authorial intent and the voice. My study looks beyond Ablinger’s transformations to consider the transmission path of the vocal recording, including close analysis of Schoenberg’s original voice recording and the technology of the Webster Wire Recorder with which it was recorded. What remains of this history and Schoenberg’s voice in Ablinger’s piece? What is absent? In the end, this transmission study probes at the boundaries of voice and music, humanity and technology, to consider the resonances between Ablinger’s work and Schoenberg’s own.
The meeting will be held at Arnhold Hall's Glass Box Theatre at the Mannes College of Music/New School University at 55 West 13th Street. It is located to the left of the entrance, as soon as you go past the security desk.
Note the change from the usual day of the week and starting time.