AMSGNY Meetings

Fall 2009 Meeting--October 3, 2009 "Words and Music"

The fall meeting will take place at the Stony Brook University Manhattan Center, 110 East 28th Street, beginning at 12 noon. The schedule will be e mailed to members. Directions may be found here:

Old Texts/New Music -- The plenary session for the October meeting will be a panel discussion on 20th century composers who set medieval and Renaissance texts to music.

The presenters and the works they will discuss are:

Ed Green (Manhattan School of Music) Schoenberg's Serenade Op.24 (1921-1923)
Jeff Dailey (Five Towns College) Weill’s Frauentanz (1923)
Leslie Sprout (Drew University) Duruflé's Requiem (1947)
Stephen Arthur Allen (Rider College) Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1960)
Mimi S. Daitz (CCNY) Tormis’ Piispa ja pakana (1992/1995)

Additionally, the following papers will be presented:

Relationships among Verse, Rhythm and Tune in Arabic and Persian Theory
Stephen Blum (CUNY Graduate Center)

Responses to Greek music theory are as fundamental to musical thought in the Muslim world as to that of the Latin West. This paper examines treatments of one issue: the nexus of relationships among harmonia, rhythmos and logos. That topic entails brief discussion of Arabic writings on ethos, which reworked Greek typologies of rhythmic and melodic structure.

The Rhetorical Function of Cadences in Lassus’ Penitential Psalm V
Bethany Cencer (Stony Brook University)

Sixteenth-century Dutch humanist Samuel Quickelberg describes Orlande de Lassus’ Penitential Psalm V (1559) as “placing the object almost alive before the eyes.” This essay shows how Lassus’ usage of cadences within his polyphonic setting of Psalm 101 substantiates the psalm text’s vivid rhetoric. Both contemporary and modern scholars have acknowledged the musico-rhetorical prowess of Lassus’ compositions, yet none have exploited his rhetorical application of cadences. By examining how Lassus’ cadences function as articulation points, as well as how the varying strengths of these articulations complement text structure and meaning in Penitential Psalm V, it becomes clear that understanding Lassus’ cadences is imperative for fully understanding his musical rhetoric.

Composer versus Critic: The Politics of Writing Programs at the New York Philharmonic
Jonathan Waxman (New York University)

The turn of the twentieth-century saw an explosion in explanatory literature written by composers and critics about individual pieces, but it also saw disagreements about what should be included in these writings. This paper presents two case studies; the premiere of the New World Symphony by Antonin Dvořák which featured a harmonious relationship between composer and program annotator and the premiere of Mahler’s First Symphony which highlighted tensions on these issues. Examining program notes surrounding the premiers of these two pieces reveals an emerging power struggle between composers and symphony orchestras about how music is best presented to the audience.

Hearing Words in the First Movement of Schubert's A-minor String Quartet D.804
Maja Cerar (Columbia University)

Often listeners recall the words associated with a motive of a song when they encounter the same motive in an instrumental form. Assuming that Schubert intended that his listeners would recognize motives from his Lieder, I explore reminiscences of “Gretchen am Spinnrade” (D.118) and “Die Götter Griechenlands” (D.677) in the first movement of his A-minor String Quartet (D.804).

“Making the Verses of Another Her Own”: Lili Boulanger’s Clairières dans le ciel and the Conflation of Life and Work
Sarah Adams Hoover (Concordia Conservatory)

By examining how the 40-minute, 13-song cycle for high voice and piano Clairières dans le ciel has been read through the lens of selective biographical issues (her youthfulness, beauty, gender, illness, and early death), this paper offers a case study in how the problematic relationship between life and work obscures, narrows, and undermines Lily Boulanger’s musical achievement and, by extension, her place within the larger context of early 20th century French music.

Musical meaning and narrative in Britten’s Canticle II: Abraham and Isaac
Jonathan Boschetto (Princeton University)

At the core of vocal music lies a fundamental tension. This tension, conceived as a conceptual space shifting between combinative (additive, word + music) and synthetic (concretized, indivisible) form, presents a meaningful challenge to prevailing methods of music analysis. How do we make sense of the coalescence of word and music? What mechanisms allow us to ascribe certain musical gestures a narrative or poetic significance? This paper considers these questions through an examination of the musical and cultural forces which partake in the creation of meaning in Benjamin Britten’s Canticle II: Abraham and Isaac (1952).

Passion, Devotion, Sacrifice: Reading Talma’s The Alcestiad
Kendra Leonard (Westminster Choir College)

Louise Talma’s opera The Alcestiad can be read as autobiographical: its themes reflect crucial elements of Talma’s own life. These correlations, manifested in the music, include the demands and restrictions of society upon women’s behavior, represented by Alcestis’s hesitant acceptance of motherhood and Talma’s reluctant teaching career; the yearning for a life of devotion; in which Alcestis’s desire to serve Apollo and Talma’s desire to dedicate herself as a Roman Catholic and as a composer are parallel tropes; and the craving for self-sacrifice, seen in Alcestis’s willing death and Talma’s actions in her relationships with her mother and Nadia Boulanger.

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