AMSGNY Meetings

Winter Meeting--January 29, 2011

This meeting will take place at the Stony Brook University Manhattan Center, located at 101 East 27th Street, just beyond The Devon Shops furniture store, beneath a narrow Stony Brook Manhattan banner, on the third floor. Note that this is next to the where we met last year--the center has moved to the building next door. For directions, click here:

The program will begin at noon and end around 5.

12 - 1 two papers on sacred music
1:15 - 2:15 two papers on Mendelssohn
2:30 - 3:30 panel discussion on teaching music history in the 21st century
3:45 - 4:45 two papers on 20th century music

In between these events, there will be time for refreshments and conversation.

The panelists for the teaching music history panel are:
Ronald Cross, Wagner College
Ruth DeFord, Hunter College
Howard Meltzer, Borough of Manhattan Community College
John Muller, Juilliard School
Anna Zayarunznaya, New York University

Paper abstracts:

Sarah Davies -- Vater unser: English and Italian Influences
in German Intabulations, Fantasies and Variations, c. 1560-1650

"Vater unser im Himmelreich," Martin Luther's memorable 1539 paraphrase of the Lord's Prayer, is first found in ornamented intabulations and fantasies for lutes and organs in German manuscripts and prints of the 1560s and 70s. With Italian organists and English lutenists exerting a stylistic influence at various courts within the Empire, later Vater unser settings reveal an indebtedness to new virtuoso instrumental styles, incorporated within German colorieren practice. Early evidence seen in Johann Woltz (1617) and Samuel Scheidt (1624) culminates in the remarkable but largely unknown 40-variation set of Johann Ulrich Steigleder (1627), framed by the brilliant settings of Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck , Jacob Praetorius and Heinrich Scheidemann.
Jane Schatkin Hettrick -- Sacred or Secular? Criticisms of Church Music in Late 18th-Century Vienna

Throughout the history of the institutional church, music has repeatedly caused controversy. These arguments heated up in Vienna in the 1780s, when Emperor Joseph II relaxed restrictions on the press, enabling the publication of extremist views on all kinds of subjects, including church music. This paper will examine the issues as addressed by governing heads of both Church and state and critiqued by current writers. Writings from these various sources shed light on the practice of church music in the Vienna of Haydn and Mozart.
Paul-Andre Bempechat -- The Location of Mendelssohn’s Culture: Religious Counterpoint, Confusion and Synthesis in the “Reformation” Symphony

When Felix Mendelssohn’s (1809-47) older sister Fanny (1805-47) described her brother’s “Reformation” Symphony (1829-30) as “the beast,” she correctly evoked the myriad of problems associated with understanding it both historiographically and interpretatively. By way of the work’s thematic scheme, its technical and religious counterpoint, this essay seeks to probe the motivation behind Mendelssohn’s composition of spiritually epicurean, ecumenical symphony to honor the tercentenary of the Augsburg Confession (1530). As a grandson of the Father of the Jewish Enlightenment (the Haskalah), Moses Mendelssohn (1729-86), was Felix expressing sincerely the faith into which he was unwillingly converted at seven, and to demonstrate his and his family’s assimilation into European (Christian) society? Or, had he embarked on a self-interested political charade in order to win favor with the powers that were?
Barry Wiener -- Faith, Covenant and Revelation in the Music of Felix Mendelssohn

The figure of Elijah in Felix Mendelssohn’s oratorio of the same name has been interpreted from both Jewish and Christian perspectives. This disagreement is emblematic of larger scholarly disagreements about Mendelssohn’s life and music. Many of the most recent musicological publications about Mendelssohn present a view of his religious identity that emphasizes the conversion of his family to Christianity while minimizing the strong residually Jewish elements in his thought. In my paper, I propose to elucidate Mendelssohn’s beliefs by analyzing the texts of his dramatic works on religious themes with reference to contemporary theological developments. I will focus in particular on the Elijah oratorio, which embodies Mendelssohn's most detailed presentation of his personal theology.
Mark Berry -- Building Contexts for American Dodecaphony: Space-Form and George Rochberg’s Second String Quartet

In his recent overview of American dodecaphonic practice, Joseph Straus focuses on pitch-based analyses of specific 12-tone works at the expense of other important parameters, including cultural context and the creative process. This paper examines Rochberg’s Second String Quartet (1958-1960)—a work Straus discusses—to show how an interpretive analysis guided by the composer’s aesthetic concerns adds a layer of meaning that broadens our understanding beyond pitch-class sets.
Edward Green -- Did Ellington Truly Believe in an “Afro-Eurasian Eclipse?”

What did Ellington mean by giving the title Afro-Eurasian Eclipse to a 1971 album? This paper will show that the customary notion--that Ellington agreed with Marshall McLuhan about the Orientalizing of world culture, and used this album to show that agreement--is completely wrong.

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