AMSGNY Meetings

Abstracts of Spring Meeting Papers

Catherine Ludlow: Melodrama in Schumann's Manfred, Amplifying the "Most Bright Intelligence" Central to Byron's Play

Robert Schumann's Manfred (completed 1851) is a musical stage adaptation of Lord Byron's 1817 metaphysical drama of the same name. Schumann's genre-defying "dramatic poem" is, in essence, a somewhat cropped German translation of the play, outfitted with a lengthy overture and fifteen incidental movements. These musical interludes are an amalgam of styles used to set or accompany different literary contexts. Preeminent in the work is Schumann's application of melodrama: music with spoken text.
In Manfred, Schumann's use of melodrama serves primarily as the aural manifestation of a specific aptitude: the ability to communicate with the spiritual world, which the Swiss aristocrat Manfred has cultivated through years of intense study. Deeper inspection reveals that Schumann's manipulation of the melodrama textures frequently provides information beyond the words of the speaking characters.
Schumann's use of melodrama intensifies these scenes even at the most basic level, since most of them are set in the same unrhymed meter as most of the play. Through pace of speech, precision of textual notation, and musical accompaniment, Schumann comments upon the speaker's emotional state and skillset. This lecture examines the use and implications of melodrama as found in Schumann's Manfred.

Tina Frühauf: Exploring New Territory during the Cold War Era: Jewish Music Studies in Postwar Germany

In her 2008 article “Jewish Music and German Science,” Pamela M. Potter states that Jewish music has been largely ignored in the scholarship of German-speaking Central European musicologists (both Jewish and non-Jewish), especially in the heyday of musicological growth. Departing from her findings I am challenging her claim of “the lack of any Jewish presence in postwar German musicology” by investigating the situation German musicology faced vis-à-vis Jewish music between 1945 and 1989, both in East and West Germany. While acknowledging and explaining some voids, I will point to and contextualize noteworthy publications that addressed different topics related to what has been commonly termed Jewish music.

Nicholas Chong:  Beethoven’s Favorite Theologian? Johann Michael Sailer, the Missa Solemnis, and the Question of Beethoven’s Faith

What were Beethoven's religious opinions? And how might they be connected to the nature of his sacred music? Though such questions have long preoccupied Beethoven scholars, one crucial subject has received only superficial attention: the ideas of the Catholic theologian Johann Michael Sailer (1751-1832), which Beethoven is known to have come into contact with during the composition of the Missa Solemnis. This paper explains Sailer's complex theological views, and goes on to suggest ways in which aspects of Sailer's theology might explain particular features of the Missa Solemnis.

Lawrence Ferrara:  Music and Copyright Law

A landmark music copyright infringement trial placed the late H. Wiley Hitchcock and Lawrence Ferrara on opposite sides: Professor Hitchcock was a music expert on behalf of the Plaintiff, Raymond Repp and Lawrence Ferrara was a music expert on behalf of the Defendant, Andrew Lloyd Webber. Plaintiff Repp claimed that Lloyd Webber's "Phantom Song" (from The Phantom of the Opera) infringed Repp's song, "Till You."  In his AMS-GNY presentation, Professor Ferrara will (at the piano and with sound recordings) provide analyses of the compositional similarities at issue, and discuss the legal and musicological implications of this landmark case.

Sylvia Kahan: "La musique faite femme": Poulenc, Vilmorin, Polignac, and the Gendered Mélodie

Francis Poulenc gendered his mélodies as a matter of course, mandating that certain songs be sung only by women and others only by men. Many of his "typically feminine" songs were written for soprano Marie-Blanche de Polignac, whom Poulenc described as "la musique faite femme" -- music become women. The texts of many of the songs written for Polignac were set to poems by Louise de Vilmorin. Using the cycle Trois poèmes de Louise de Vilmorin as a case study, I will explore the means by which Poulenc created "feminine songs". I will also address the ways that a 2013 listener might grapple with this rather "retro" concept of "femininity" in Poulenc's musical gendering.

Robert Waters: Music and Politics: Nationalism and Anti-Semitism in American Music Societies, 1918-1939

American composers during the first half of the twentieth century often strived to create a sense of
national identity in their music, which frequently resulted in participating in organizations that promoted these ideals. These included the Society for the Advancement of American Music, the Society of Native American Composers, and the Cadman Creative Club, of which Charles Ives, Amy Beach, Howard Hanson, Carl Ruggles, and Charles Cadman were members. Lulu Sanford Tefft, the “Chairman of Musical Americanization” within the Cadman Creative Club not only championed American music, but took the debate into the political arena by claiming that indigenous works would teach American values and insulate the United States from “insidious” foreign influences—an environment that allegedly dominated American popular and art music. Tefft’s philosophy also included the “patriotic” distrust of foreign musicians, whose views, according to Tefft, began to permeate American music. She later went a step further by forming the Society for the Advancement of American music, in which president Frank Colby helped shape a bylaw not only forbidding foreign-born musicians to participate in the organization, but also included anti-Semitic policies against American-born musicians attempting to join the group. Charles Ives not only expressed dismay when he heard rumors of jingoistic and racist views expressed within this organization, but also threatened to withdraw his membership. This paper will address issues of anti-Semitism and jingoism within certain music societies and discuss the level of involvement of American composers who favored these bylaws instituted in the name of American music.

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