AMSGNY Meetings

Abstracts for Spring Meeting

Music and Other Arts

Victoria Aschheim: Seeing Different Trains through Walter Benjamin and Photography

Steve Reich’s Different Trains (1988) responded to the aporia surrounding art that remembers the Holocaust; in his sketchbook, housed at the Paul Sacher Stiftung, Reich frames the work as history-writing. By reading Different Trains and its sketches through concepts of photography in three essays by Walter Benjamin, whose ideas have not entered the discourse on Different Trains, I address the terms of history, remembrance, and re-experience with which Reich frames Different Trains, and connect those terms to the work’s identity as a product of technical media. Using Reich’s sketches, not investigated by other scholarship, I argue that Different Trains’ compositional process is an analog to photographic technology that engenders historical memory. My paper provides a framework for understanding Reich’s method of recalling historical trauma. Different Trains’ sketches are a link between Reich’s postmodern inscription of language and Benjamin’s conception of history as event and image.

Jeff Dailey: Sullivan on the Titanic

Although Arthur Sullivan died twelve years before the Titanic sank in 1912, his influence was felt on the doomed liner. This paper looks at the connection between Sullivan and Wallace Hartley, the Titanic's band leader, and the music played on board during the fateful voyage.

Performance Practice

Jane Hettrick: Musical Treatment of the text Sub tuum praesidium in Connection with Marian Worship in Viennese Liturgical Practice of the Eighteenth Century

Sub tuum praesidium (under thy protection) is believed to be the oldest Christian prayer offered to the Virgin Mary. Originally in Greek, this text appeared first in an Egyptian papyrus dating from between A.D. 250 and 280. Of great theological importance, it sets forth the concept of Theotokos (God-bearer or Mother of God). Probably the work of the Greek church father Origen (known for his controversial doctrine of “universal salvation”), it entered the Roman rite in Latin translation around 870. The long history and great number of compositions based on Sub tuum mirror important changes in the theological view of Mary (Mariology). Musical settings flourished in 17th- and 18th-century Austrian practice, when the cult of Mary rose to renewed prominence, and the Habsburg court celebrated numerous Marian feasts. My paper will examine the various ways that this text functioned liturgically and demonstrate how certain composers represented the Mariology of their time.

David Hurwitz: Vibrato, the Orchestral Organ and the ‘Prevailing Aesthetic’ in Nineteenth-Century Symphonic Music

The absence of recorded evidence does not pose quite the insurmountable barrier to ascertaining certain aspects of period performance practice as we may have been led to believe. This is particularly true in the case of orchestral vibrato in the 19th century. One group of performers and composers--the organists--not only discussed the subject in detail, they indicated in their orchestral transcriptions of specific works whether vibrato was used, how frequently, and to what degree of intensity. In this study, original source material provides a vivid picture of true period performance practice, while meticulously preserved and restored instruments allow us to hear the same sounds as did period listeners.

Problems with Text

Lawrence Ferrara: “The Amount of Music Copied in Copyright Litigations: How Much Is Too Much?"

Music copyright infringement claims are directed at sound recordings and/or the musical compositions embodied in those sound recordings. A key question for musicians is “how much is too much”, i.e., how much copying represents copyright infringement?

James Newton, a noted jazz flutist, sued the group, Beastie Boys, for their use of a six-second “sample” from Newton’s composition, “Choir.” The presenter, Lawrence Ferrara, was the music expert on behalf of the defendants. Olly Wilson (Professor of Music Composition at UC Berkeley) and Christopher Dobrian (Professor of Music Composition at UC Irvine) were the music experts on behalf of the plaintiff, James Newton. A discussion of the legal and musicological implications of this landmark case answers “how much copying is too much?” and “how much is not too much?” within the context of Newton v. Diamond.

Andrew Unger: Recollection, Inner Feelings, and Actuality: Exploring Text and Music in A Child of our Time

On November 8-9, 1938, Jewish communities throughout Germany and Austria were put to ruin by Nazi paramilitary groups and civilian instigators alike, during what became known as Kristallnacht. The pretext cited by Adolph Hitler for this anti-Semitic pogrom was the assassination of a Nazi Party diplomat, Ernst vom Rath, by a seventeen-year-old Polish Jew, Herschel Grynszpan.

For the former schoolteacher and young choral conductor Michael Tippett, Grynszpan was both a martyr and a moral singularity. The competing personae of a young hero and a convicted murderer inspired Tippett to simplify and universalize the pacifist message of his emerging oratorio, A Child of Our Time. Through the left-leaning sentiments expressed in the piece, Tippett lent a unique voice to the international public conversation. In this paper, I will explore his fusion of texts ranging from war poetry to the African American folk idiom with music blurring the line between the modern and the traditional.

Nineteenth Century Topics
Catherine Ludlow: "Ancient wonders reappear in moonlight": Nighttime in Robert Schumann's Text Settings

While Robert Schumann explores a number of natural subjects in his text settings, nighttime is of central importance: many compositions feature stories set in the evening hours, or contain important allusions to the moon, stars, and nocturnal animals.

Many of Schumann’s night-themed works are from his Liederjahr. After 1840, Schumann highlights nighttime less frequently, but it remains central to the Nachtlied, Szenen aus Goethes Faust, and Manfred. These later works demonstrate enduring ideas of night—of its literary importance and appropriate musical representation—that Schumann developed early in his career.

While a small number of his night-themed compositions involve morbid tales, the vast majority are positive, contemplative, and even soothing. Schumann’s literary and compositional choices can create meanings for night quite different from those found in the original sources. This paper explores the place and prominence of nighttime in Schumann’s text settings, examining the changing cultural conception of night, as well as Schumann’s literary influences, text selection, and musical realization.

Styra Avins: Brahms in the Wittgenstein Homes

Johannes Brahms, averse to formal attire and formal occasions, the darling of the super-wealthy Viennese Wittgensteins? Really? "Brahms in the Wittgenstein Homes" is based on a number of previously unknown Wittgenstein family letters and a memoir written by a member of the family who knew him from her childhood. What they had in common was not just music.

0 Responses to “Abstracts for Spring Meeting”

Post a Comment

© 2008 American Musicological Society of Greater New York
Blogger Templates by GeckoandFly | Blog customization by Jeff C. Li and Philip D. Reid.
Image © 2008 mawel. Used under Creative Commons license.
No part of the content or the blog may be reproduced without prior written permission.