AMSGNY Meetings

Fall 2014 Meeting "Unusual Music"

The Fall Meeting will take place on Saturday, October 18th at the Center for Remembering and Sharing, located at 123 Fourth Avenue in Manhattan.  The Center is located on the second floor.  It is just south of Union Square, between West 12th and 13th Streets.

The meeting will start promptly at noon.  Come a little early for refreshments and socializing; we will also take a break during the meeting.  There will be seven papers:

Isabella d’Este: Patronage, Performance, and the Viola da Gamba
Elizabeth Weinfield

Isabella d'Estes endorsement of the viola da gamba would substantially alter the current of musical composition at the Italian court. This paper will discuss Isabella dEstes interdisciplinary patronage alongside the rapidly changing musical climate of Mantua at the turn of the sixteenth century, and shall reveal that the viola da gamba granted a great patroness the means to perform through her collection.

“The Most Beautiful Lyrical Masterpiece of the Eighteenth Century”:  Antonio Salieri’s Axur, re d’Ormus on the Warsaw Stage (1789-1825)
 Anna Parkitna

Axur, re d’Ormus by Lorenzo da Ponte and Antonio Salieri (premiered in Vienna on January 8, 1788) was one of the most successful operas presented at the National Theater in Warsaw in the years 1789-1825. Introduced by the Italian troupe of Domenico Guardasoni, the work soon became the favorite adaptation in the repertoire of national singers. The success of the Polish version generated excitement for the skill of the young national opera, and was praised most enthusiastically in the writings of Wojciech Bogusławski, the director and promoter of Polish opera.  Bogusławski’s fascination with the new mixed mode inspired him to name Axur, re d’Ormus “the most beautiful lyrical masterpiece of the eighteenth century.” His comments not only shed light on the success of the Polish production, but also provide important evidence regarding the aesthetics of mixed mode opera in the late-eighteenth century. 

The Concerti of Boris Tchaikovsky
Louis Blois

In my talk today, I will focus on the three instrumental concerti that Tchaikovsky wrote between 1964 and 1971, the Cello Concerto, the Violin Concerto, and the Piano Concerto. They are of particular interest in that they represent the outlying extremes to which Tchaikovsky would take his mature idiom. They also take us into the core of the composer’s musical thinking, and offer a glimpse of the essential characteristics of his music.

Gustav Jenner and the Music of Brahms: The Orchestral Serenades
Jacquelyn Sholes

This paper provides the first serious comparison of Gustav Jenner’s only complete orchestral piece, his little-known Serenade in A major (1911-1912), with its most obvious precedents, Brahms’s orchestral serenades. Given Jenner’s unique status as Brahms’s composition student over a period of years, deeper comparison of the two composers’ works should yield insights into the nature and extent of Brahms’s influence as a teacher and into the music of a forgotten composer whom Brahms, in striking exception to his usual practice, deemed worthy of investing so much pedagogical time.

 Parenthetical Sounds in Haydn’s “Distracted” Symphony
Anoosua Mukherjee

The final movement of Haydn’s Symphony No. 60 (1774) opens with an absurd moment: following a short fanfare, the symphony grinds to a halt and the sound of violinists tuning their instruments can be heard. This impromptu “tuning session” concludes after a few bars and the symphony resumes as if nothing unusual had occurred. By bookending this nonsensical interlude with grand sections of composition, Haydn plays something of a joke on his listener. This paper explores Haydn’s use of parenthetical sounds throughout the symphony as moments of comic relief – or sonic exploration – tucked into an otherwise sublime piece of writing. Haydn was well known for his love of humor and spectacle, but here the composer is at his most child-like, undermining the expectations of a tight symphonic form with playful sound exercises and tangents of whimsical exploration.

Mimetic Silence in the Early Eighteenth-Century Comic Intermezzo
 Keith Johnston

The frequent use of silence as a punchline in operatic comedy of the early-eighteenth century poses a unique interpretive problem for a poetics of opera buffa.  Does it suggest that music itself lacks the power to be funny and therefore simply primes the audience to laugh at the real jokes—at the pauses, looks, and exclamations that don’t find expression in the musical score? Or does it do both?  Might music, to paraphrase Falstaff, be not only witty in itself, but the cause that wit is in other men?

“Do You Know How to Play?”: Music, Violence, and Narrative in Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West (1969)
 Mark Durrand

Italian film director Sergio Leone, most famous for his series of Spaghetti Westerns in the nineteen-sixties, invests his film-worlds with a bizarre musical significance by relating musicality to both the threat and realization of onscreen violence.  Music and mayhem as a conflicting yet conflated pair are woven most finely into the narrative web of Once Upon a Time in the West (1969).  A pithy exchange in the movie encapsulates Leone’s musico-violent program, which, I argue, engenders a cinematic ethic operating at the core of Leone’s film-worlds and the narratives they contain.

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