AMSGNY Meetings

Abstracts for Winter Meeting

Edward Klorman (Juilliard School)

The String Quartet Before the Concert Hall: Did the Players Rehearse?

This paper examines an essay attributed to “Cambini in Paris” entitled “Ausführung der Instrumentalquartetten” (AmZ 1804), in which the author harshly criticizes the practice of playing string quartets at sight and argues passionately for the necessity of serious rehearsal (ernsthafte Studium) in order to move listeners in performances. Although the author claims to have engaged in a youthful six-month period of intensive quartet rehearsals and performances together with Boccherini, Manfredi, and Nardini—an account that many scholars cite as the earliest record of a professional string quartet with fixed personnel (c. 1765)—I argue that the account is unlikely to be true due to its various inconsistencies and the lack of independent corroboration. Nevertheless, the essay is historically significant evidence of changing attitudes about quartet rehearsal and performance as the genre began to migrate from the salon to the concert hall.

William E. Hettrick (Hofstra University)

During the fifty-year period from 1880 to 1930, the piano industry contributed greatly to the economy of New York. Manufacturers, both established and new, built larger and larger factories in parts of the city that offered sufficient space as well as convenient transportation and shipping: eastern Harlem and especially the southernmost section of the Bronx. This paper summarizes this final surge of piano manufacturing by offering a guided tour of historical factories in the area, augmented by maps, pictures and descriptions of significant buildings both surviving and long gone, and a complete check-list of hundreds of companies.

Lynette Bowring (Rutgers University)

“The coming over of the works of the great Corelli:” The influence of Italian violin repertoire in London, 1675–1705

It is widely accepted that English instrumental music of the late seventeenth century was influenced by Italian styles, yet the nature of the influence and the repertoires used as models remain relatively little studied. This paper attempts to reevaluate the violin sonatas published in London around the turn of the eighteenth century through considerations of Italian expatriates working in the city, particularly Nicola Matteis, and of the trade in prints of music by Corelli.

Jordan Stokes (CUNY Graduate Center)

John Graziano (CUNY Graduate Center)
The celebration in Philadelphia for the centennial of the United States was intended to be the major cultural and political event of the 1870s. The country, on the surface, was reunited; it had withstood the intrigues of several European powers; and it was eager to show to the world its intellectual and artistic prowess. While America could not compete with the wealth and history of Europe’s musical establishment, it did possess several first-rank orchestras, and one conductor, Theodore Thomas, who, by the early 70s, was generally considered the best in the country.
Thomas took charge of the fair’s ‘classical’ music. He was certainly involved in choosing the composers who would be commissioned to write celebratory pieces. To buttress the international character of the fair that the planning committee sought to project, he asked Wagner, through the Women’s Centennial Committees, to write an orchestral piece that would be performed at the opening festivities. Wagner agreed to provide a piece appropriate to the occasion.
There has been considerable negative comment on the musical worth of Wagner’s Grand Festival March. Several commentators, for example, have alluded to its alleged triviality and inadequacy, through the anecdote that Wagner expended minimal effort on the piece, took his $5,000 commission award, and laughed all the way to the bank. An examination of the score of the Festival March, however, affords a different view. In this presentation, I discuss the negotiations that led to the commission, I analyze the formal and harmonic structure of the piece, and I speculate on the reasons for the generally negative reception of this little-known work.

Paul Christiansen (University of Southern Maine)

“I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing”: How the 1972 Ad “Nixon Now” Changed Political Advertising by Adopting the Musical Style of a Coca-Cola Commercial

By the 1970s, television commercials had all but given up discussing the relative merits of their products or services, instead focusing on lifestyle and other abstractions.  Political advertising followed suit, and “Nixon Now” is a prime example. With this 1972 ad produced by Billy Davis and the November Group, Richard Nixon’s campaign, in a revolutionary move, tapped into the commercial style of Coca-Cola’s ad “Hilltop song,” better known as “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke.”

Heather Platt (Ball State University)

“No, Dear Readers, Brahms is Not Married”:  Brahms and his Mädchen

“No, dear readers, Brahms is not married.”  With this sentence Hermann Kretzschmar concluded his 1880 article about Brahms for the popular family magazine Die Gartenlaube.  Despite the composer’s own statement that “poeticizing or music-making females have indeed been a horror to me,” Brahms was well aware of his female fan base, and he acknowledged suppressing lines of poetic texts so that his lieder would be appropriate for “every young lovely maiden.” Moreover his interactions with members of the Hamburg Frauenchor and his ability to sensitively and realistically recreate the emotional world of young women reveal that his view of the female sex was not unrelentingly harsh and that he did —at least at times—demonstrate an understanding of societal conventions regarding women.

Reba Wissner (Montclair State University)

Music for Murder, Machines, and Monsters: "Moat Farm Murder,” The Twilight Zone, and the CBS Stock Music Library

 The reuse of storylines from radio plays on early television was not uncommon; indeed, much of the television programming of the 1950s and early 1960s consisted of repurposed radio scripts. Among the many radio programs from the 1940s that had music featured in The Twilight Zone was Columbia Presents Corwin “Moat Farm Murder” (Bernard Herrmann, 18 July 1944). Of the radio plays to feature music in The Twilight Zone, this episode provided more cues than any other CBS radio score. This was not simply a radio play, but a radio documentary based upon real-life events, a verbatim confession of a 1903 murder in London from a murderer himself, Dougal, played by Charles Laughton and his victim, Cecile, played by Elsa Lanchester.
     Cues from “Moat Farm Murder” are found in ten episodes of The Twilight Zone. The use of music from this radio score and their appropriation into the television scores has thus far not been examined. This paper discusses the appropriation of radio music in The Twilight Zone and discusses Herrmann’s consciousness that his music would be reused in television, composing it appropriately for reuse. 

The Humanities in Crisis

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