AMSGNY Meetings

Spring Meeting--April 4, 2009 "Music before 1800"

The Greater New York Chapter of the American Musicological Society (AMS GNY) will hold its spring meeting on Saturday, April 4th at Hunter College, 695 Park Avenue, Room 404 North. The theme will be "Music Before 1800." The meeting will start at noon. Directions to Hunter College may be found here:
The keynote presentation will be by John Kmetz, who will speak on "250 Years of German Music Publishing (ca.1500 to 1750): A Case for a Closed Market." Dr. Kmetz is one of the foremost scholars of music of the German Renaissance. He has published three books and numerous articles and reviews pertaining to manuscript and print culture, compositional process, performance practice, cultural economics, and music pedagogy. He wrote the article on “Germany (to 1648)” for the New Grove Dictionary, and (working with David Fallows and Iain Fenlon) controlled all the articles in the Dictionary pertaining to Renaissance music.
Also on the program are the following papers:
Power in Musical Patronage and Cantiones sacrae: The Role of Political Communication in the Music Printing Monopoly Granted Under Elizabeth I
Samantha Bassler, Rutgers University

In the wake of the English Reformation, when important political figures were brutally martyred for their Roman Catholicism or reluctance toward the new Protestant faith, and the Church of England was building a liturgy around music in the vernacular, Elizabeth I granted a music-printing monopoly to Thomas Tallis and William Byrd. To share a monopoly on music printing required a certain amount of political favor, and while these two composers were celebrated throughout England for their musical contributions, they made an audacious political move in choosing to publish these Latin texts with arguably Roman Catholic subject matter for their inaugural effort as music publishers. With their country struggling to build a new Protestant faith while the previous traditions of Popish music and religion were being destroyed, why would these composers publish entirely non-functional Latin-texted motets – the Cantiones quae ab argumento sacrae vocantur (1575) – with their newly-acquired music-printing monopoly?

Music, Competition, and Propaganda in the Court of Philip the Fair
Emily Snow, Princeton University

In the mid 1490s, Philip the Fair sponsored an unprecedented musical event: a public plainchant competition. Entrants from across Europe submitted liturgical texts and music for the chance to contribute to a new liturgy for the Feast of the Seven Sorrows of the Virgin. Devotion to the Virgin of Sorrows had flourished in the Low Countries under the auspices of Philip’s court, in part through his participation in numerous religious and civic rituals. This paper examines the musical and political significance of this innovative chant competition in the context of Philip’s efforts to propagate the devotion for political ends.

Making Cuts: Scarlatti’s Extensive Early Version of La Giuditta
Robert W. Butts, Montclair State University

Alessandro Scarlatti’s oratorio La Giuditta has been known through and recorded based on Lino Bianchi’s edition, based on a manuscript currently in the collection of the Conservatorio di Napoli and published by de Sanctis in 1964. A second manuscript copy of the oratorio exists, however, in the collection of the National Park Service in Morristown, New Jersey. The music common to both manuscripts is practically identical. The Morristown manuscript, however, contains approximately 20 minutes of additional music and text apparently unique to the manuscript. After editing the Morristown version followed by a performance of the complete oratorio, I believe the music was part of Scarlatti’s original composition and then cut, perhaps before the very first performance, though performance details are unknown. It is my belief that these cuts were made primarily for dramatic reasons, tightening the dramatic presentation.

Handel and His Sorceresses: Visions of the Supernatural in Eighteenth-Century Opera
Joanna Gibson, Rutgers University

Magic was a key ingredient of the plot in five of Handel’s operas, framing his early and later career as a composer of Italian opera seria. Four of these feature a powerful sorceress in a leading role, cast in a love triangle with a human couple. Handel’s sorceresses become tragic figures when they cannot command the love of mortal men, despite their supernatural powers. In this paper, I will explore Handel’s musical style and technique for his sorceresses, juxtaposed with the broader topic of the supernatural in the eighteenth-century. I will examine the changing nature of Handel’s settings through a comparison of his first and last sorceresses, the kindred spirits Armida (Rinaldo, 1711) and Alcina (Alcina, 1735). I will also consider the influence of the women for whom the roles were written, neither of whom was named Faustina or Cuzzoni.

The Faithful Text: Oratorio Word-Books & Handel’s Audience
Andrew Shryock,Boston University

The word-book, or printed libretto, provided George Frideric Handel’s audiences with a guided tour through his oratorios. More than a mere concert companion, however, the word-book can be read in numerous ways. In this paper, I will explore alternate readings of the Samson word-book (1743) to argue that it unites the intellectual spheres of music and literature, which scholars such as Jürgen Habermas have characterized as largely distinct. Simply, eighteenth-century literary ideals resonate within Handel’s works. And, in broadening the scope of its influence, one observes the word-book contributing to the pride of place that Handel’s music acquired during his lifetime and continues to enjoy precisely two hundred and fifty years after his death.

The Hamburg Vocal Ensemble of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach
Evan Philip Cortens, Cornell University

Though the debate concerning the size and makeup of the eighteenth-century church choir has been heatedly fought, little consideration has been given to Hamburg, whose situation proves instructive. As cantor and director of music for the five principal churches there from 1768 to 1788, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714-1788) was required to produce roughly 200 performances annually. Now, with the recent rediscovery of the Berlin Singakademie's library, virtually all of the original performance materials are accessible for the first time since before the Second World War. This study examines these materials for information about Bach's performance practice for his vocal works.
At the conclusion of the meeting, there will be a reception and the presentation of awards.

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