AMSGNY Meetings

Winter Meeting--"The Twentieth Century Revisited" featuring theremin virtuoso Rob Schwimmer

The Winter Meeting will take place on Saturday, January 24th at 12:30 PM at Church for All Nations at 417 West 57th Street in Manhattan, between 9th and 10th Avenues. This building has been called "one of the finest late nineteenth-century churches in New York City" by the Landmark Preservation Commission. To get there, take the N, R, or Q trains to 57th Street or the 1, A, B, C, or D trains to 59th Street/Columbus Avenue.

The meeting will feature presentations about all types of music from throughout the 20th century.

The meeting will feature a lecture/performance by thereminist Rob Schwimmer. The theremin was invented in 1919 and it helped usher in the electronic music revolution of the 20th century. Mr. Schwimmer is one of the few theremin virtuosos in the world, performing as featured theremin soloist for many projects including the upcoming movie by R.W. Goodwin (producer/ director/ writer of X-Files) "Alien Trespass", Matthew Barney's epic movie Cremaster 3, CBS television series Now and Again and A&E's Breakfast With the Arts (as well as giving Sara Fishko a theremin lesson on the nationally broadcast Studio 360 on NPR). He is an original member of the NY Theremin Society and was one of the chosen participants in the historic (and sold out) 10 Piece Theremin Orchestra at Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. His previous CD "Theremin Noir" featured pianist Uri Caine and violinist Mark Feldman. Here is a link to one of Mr. Schwimmer's performances: (Or click on the link below.)

These are the member's papers that will be given:

“Motives and the Experience of Form in the Adagio of Mahler’s Ninth Symphony”
Laura Hedden, Princeton University

The last movement of Mahler’s Ninth Symphony has always been challenging for analysts to classify formally – or has it been too easy? Authors seem content to describe the Adagio as a traditional rondo or variations, sometimes even a symphonic adaptation of strophic form, even though it clearly resists these labels in certain ways. Furthermore, the terminology (“first theme” and “second theme,” “episode” and “refrain”) belonging to a traditional-form analysis tends to place undue emphasis on certain themes that may, in reality, be of equal importance.
In this excerpt from the author’s dissertation, a new way to view the formal structure of this movement is offered, along with an explanation of how motives guide the listener’s experience of form in Mahler’s most complex symphonic movements. Together with thematic and tonal considerations, a motivic analysis can give a clearer picture of formal structure in Mahler’s symphonic movements that appear to borrow from a traditional model.

"Edgar Varese and the Beyond of Science"
Robert Wood, CUNY Graduate Center

The place of science and technology in the music of Edgar Varèse is undoubtedly one of the more ubiquitous themes in extant Varèse scholarship, yet these endeavors have often done little more than attempt one-to-one correspondences between the composer’s scientific/technological ideas and their potential analogs in his music. I propose instead that Varèse’s relationship to technology must be considered in the context of the early 20th century’s highly ambivalent, romanticized understanding of science and technology; and that ultimately, Varèse was often not so much interest in technology proper—technology as a messianic means to an end—as he was in using musical and other technologies to go beyond the technological, to articulate in a highly mediated way precisely what technology occludes from subjective experience.

"Der Ton des Affirmativen: Adorno, 'Aged Music,' and Karlheinz Stockhausen"
Luke Berryman, Boston University

Theodor W. Adorno, whose work continues to exert a great deal of influence over many musicologists, believed that the auditory effects of serial works ought to be “distressing and confused” (1955); a result of the crystallization of their own historical moment within them. In this presentation I will dissect some of Adorno’s analyses of serialism, and attempt to counter those claims of his that I believe malign our reception of much serial music today. A performance of some of Stockhausen's piano music will follow the paper.

"Blues-Rock, Progressive: A Style Analysis of the Allman Brothers"
Christopher Reali, Bayside, NY

The original Allman Brothers Band were able to fuse the musical influences of the British blues scene, American rhythm and blues, country, urban blues, and jazz into a completely innovative style that was unknown prior to the release of their first recording in 1969. Even though urban blues was a strong influence on the group, they did not hold the traditional blues form sacred, which allowed the group to become a genre defining American rock band. At times, the intricately arranged ensemble parts and improvisational sections of their songs have more in common with the progressive rock and electric jazz-fusion movements than with bands from the British or American blues-rock scene. The fusion of the blues-rock harmonic language with elements of jazz, combined with their instrumental virtuosity, is contradictory to the “Southern Rock” label which is often associated with the Allman Brothers Band. This paper investigates the musical influences and idiolect of the Allman Brothers Band by analyzing selected musical examples taken from their recorded output.

“The Cosmos and the String Quartet—a Study of the Chamber Music of Robert Simpson”
Edward Green, Manhattan School of Music

The enduring contributions to the string quartet literature made by such modern masters as Schönberg, Bartók, Shostakovich, and Carter are well-known. This paper argues that it is high time a fifth composer be added to this distinguished company: Robert Simpson of England (1921-1997).

“’That’s Where I Belong’: Going Home with Paul Simon”
Anna Stephan-Robinson, Eastman School of Music

Paul Simon has been writing and recording songs since the 1950s, and is best known for his folk-influenced Simon and Garfunkel songs and his controversial world-music-influenced 1986 album Graceland. He spent most of the 1990s working on a Broadway musical, The Capeman, which was to be his career culmination. But the show was a commercial and critical failure, and Simon’s subsequent album You’re the One should be seen as a comeback. Its opening track, “That’s Where I Belong,” needed to announce that Simon the master songwriter had replaced Simon the would-be impresario. In this paper, I examine “That’s Where I Belong” as a musical statement, studying the song’s many facets, some readily apparent, others subtle. Most importantly, Simon continually reinterprets both musical and lyrical material as the song progresses. Using musical analysis contextualized with statements from the composer and popular-press reviews and commentary, ultimately I show how Simon is able to imbue a standard form with originality, in the process reestablishing himself as a songwriter, where he belongs.

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