AMSGNY Meetings

Fall 2010 Meeting Schedule--"Connections"

Our Fall meeting will take place at Wagner College on Staten Island on Saturday, October 16th, beginning at noon.

The theme for the meeting is "Connections," and it will be filled with fascinating interpretations of this word.

The sessions will take place in the Spiro Center, which is building 18 on the campus map:

We will walk to the Performance Center, which is in Campus Hall (building 1) for the piano performance, then return to the Spiro Center for the final session.

12 – 1:15
From Alternativo to Alter ego
Tamara Balter
Beethoven and “Elliptical Tonality”
Edward Green
Scotland, the Hebrides, and the Sea: Bantock’s Hebridean Symphony (1915)
Jennifer Oates

1:30 – 2:15
Jean Cras’ "Paysages"
Paul-André Bempéchat

2:45 – 4:15
Music and Feminism in the GDR: The Case of Ruth Zechlin’s "La Vita"
Johanna France Yunker
Bartok, Cowell, and Tone Clusters in “Music of the Night”
Jack Blaszkiewicz
George Handy Crosses Over: Caine Flute Sonata
Benjamin Bierman

The school is accessible by both car and public transportation. For more information, go to For those wishing to take public transportation, the college has a bus that meets the ferry that departs Manhattan at 10:30. Follow this link for further information: We will also arrange to meet people who take the bus from Brooklyn to the bus stop at Howard Avenue and Clove Road. Further information will be sent to members in October. If you are driving, make a right onto Campus Road (just before the campus) and park in lot P2. This is right next to the Spiro Center.

No matter how you are traveling, if you get confused or lost, you may call the Wagner Security Office at 718 390-3148, and they will assist you.

About the lecture-recital:

In keeping with the theme, "Connections," Paul-André Bempéchat ( will talk about and play the hauntingly beautiful "Paysages" by the French admiral/composer Jean Cras, a musical travelogue illustrating his journey around the Mediterranean. Since performances of Cras' music are rare, you will not want to miss the opportunity to hear this piece live.

Here are some "coming attractions" about the papers to be given at the meeting:

From Alternativo to Alter ego
Tamara Balter
Beethoven’s string quintet Op. 4 (published in 1796) and string quartet Op. 18/1 (published in 1801) share several characteristics with contemporary, then unpublished, pieces by Haydn: Op. 76/6 and the two Op. 77 quartets (published in 1799 and 1802). The interleaving of the publication dates and the absence of extra-musical evidence about the time when either composer became acquainted with the other’s work allow for wide speculation about possible directions of influence. Although various confounding factors further complicate sorting out the direction of influence, ample internal evidence suggests that the borrowing in these early Beethoven string quartets involved parody and rivalry with its model.

Beethoven and “Elliptical Tonality”
Edward Green
“Classical tonality” evokes the image of the circle: a single tonal center being the ultimate source of tonal gravity. Is it possible that, in at least certain of his works, Beethoven evinces an alternative notion of tonality, one that might be called “elliptical?”—that is, a single tonality defined by two distinct foci: two “gravitational centers” of different strengths, connected not so much by modulation as by sudden juxtaposition?

Scotland, the Hebrides, and the Sea: Bantock’s Hebridean Symphony
Jennifer Oates
From the lone shieling of the misty island
Mountains divide us and a waste of seas—
Yet still the blood is strong, the heart is Highland,
And we in dreams behold the Hebrides.
With this quote published in the score, Bantock sets the tone for his Hebridean Symphony, a work that paints dreamy, otherworldly impressions of the Hebrides. Representations of stormy seas shrouded in mists have long been used to depict Scotland in music. The Hebridean Symphony asserts its Celtic connections through the above quote published in the score and the use of Hebridean songs from Marjory Kennedy-Fraser’s popular collection. The ghost-like yet easily identifiable song quotations evoke the faint outline of a tale with elements of distance, longing, dramatic battles, and echoes of laments for these ancient warriors who lived and died upon the sea. Bantock emphasizes this vague story as well as the misty, sea-bound Hebrides through his use of impressionistic orchestration as well as plaintive and pensive melodies.
A closer look at his Hebridean Symphony will illustrate his use of the sea as a metaphor for the Hebrides. Placing the work with Bantock’s oeuvre, particularly his Scottish works, will show Bantock shifting his Celtic focus from Scotland to the Hebrides. Is such a shift significant? How do Bantock’s Scottish and Celtic works fit into British music of the time, particularly the rise of pastoralism? How does all of this impact our view of the historiography of Celtic, Scottish, and British musics? By answering these questions, this paper will rethink Bantock’s reputation as “the English Wagner” and correct long-held, largely negative, assumptions about British music.

Music and Feminism in the GDR: The Case of Ruth Zechlin’s La Vita
Johanna Yunker
In the 1970s and 1980s, the German Democratic Republic saw the emergence of a prominent feminist movement in literature and painting. It is commonly thought that this trend did not extend to music: very few female composers emerged in those years and the most eminent of these, Ruth Zechlin (1926-2007), rejected the importance of gender in her work. Her ballet La Vita (1985) was intended as an abstract ballet, though its plot centered on the lives of three women, which made the ballet similar to the works of GDR feminist artists. The kinship between the ballet and these works was also emphasized in the reviews, specifically in one that compared the ballet to Irmtraud Morgner’s famous novel Trobadora Beatriz. The investigation of La Vita will examine the impact of feminism for East German music, regardless of the claims of the composers, as well as the relationship between music and other arts in the GDR.

Bartok, Cowell, and Tone Clusters in “Music of the Night”
Jack Blaszkiewicz
In the major literature on the two composers, Béla Bartók and Henry Cowell are rarely mentioned in the same sentence. Bartok scholarship in the United States and abroad mostly focuses on the construction of Bartok’s music and on the composer’s relationship to Hungary. Cowell is discussed primarily as a member of the American Experimentalist movement, overshadowed by his idol Charles Ives and by his protégé John Cage.
This paper bridges the gap between these seemingly different men. Through an examination of their letters, archived at the New York Public Library, I provide a closer look into what was a long and productive friendship between Bartok and Cowell. I also discuss how the piano technique of the tone cluster forms a musical-and-aesthetic-

George Handy Crosses Over: Caine Flute Sonata
Benjamin Bierman
The composer-arranger-pianist George Handy (1920-1997) was an important member of a small group of composers working in a “progressive jazz” style in the late 1930s through the early 1950s. Handy’s work—including his commercial dance arrangements—reflect his interest and experience in the field of classical composition, and his final works in particular resist classification. This paper examines one of these, the four-movement Caine Flute Sonata, a work that has not been commercially recorded, has rarely been performed, and has not been discussed in the literature. Through close analysis of each movement, I explore the variety of compositional resources that Handy employs at this late stage of his career. Each movement of The Caine Flute Sonata provides a unique insight into Handy’s compositional style during his late period.

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