AMSGNY Meetings

Fall 2016 Meeting - Abstracts

“Expression and Discrètion: Froberger and Traditions of Freedom in Keyboard Performance”
David Schulenberg (Wagner College)

Discoveries made during the last 15 years have added to the list of keyboard pieces by Froberger whose headings call for discrètion in performance, prompting a reexamination of the term. Clearly related to expression, the word  is associated with certain unusual programmatic or autobiographical pieces, especially as preserved in relatively late sources disseminated beyond the composer’s immediate circle. Although present-day harpsichordists have achieved convincing interpretations of these scores, exactly how Froberger’s mature music is expressive, also how his notation and style relate to those of his contemporaries and later composers, has not previously been demonstrated.

On the Two Misleading Notions Regarding Haydn’s L’incontro improvviso
Oak Joo Yap (Brooklyn College)

Never thought of Haydn as an opera composer? He has almost twenty operas under his belt and his comic operas alone represent all the major plot types of dramma giocoso. L'incontro improvviso (1775), for example, along with Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail, is representative of Turkish operas, the eighteenth-century "Turcomania" products. Despite this designation, however, the degree or the nature of Turkishness of L'incontro improvviso has been questioned by some commentators. This paper demonstrates that Turkishness and Oriental exoticism are expressed in L'incontro improvviso in no lesser degree than in other Turkish operas. It also disputes the notion of the “lack of drama” in this opera that some critics have suggested, pointing out “unexciting recitatives” for one. Heavily favoring arias or recitativo accompagnato over "dry" recitativo semplice, listeners of today tend to ignore the latter's important function in conveying expressive qualities of the text and music. We will thus examine how Haydn, a man of his own era, follows the recitative conventions achieving effective musico-dramatic presentations.

I Maesti Cantori:  Is German Art Still Holy When Presented in Italian?
Gwen D'Amico (Brooklyn and Baruch Colleges)

What happens when “die heil’ge deutsche Kunst” becomes “l'arte sacra tedesca?”  In 1891, New York’s Metropolitan Opera presented Richard Wagner’s popular Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg in Italian as I Maestri Cantori di Norimberga. This change came after six successful years of the work presented in its original German to highly favorable reviews and high profits.  Why the sudden change? Especially with this highly charged and controversial piece, did the Italian language alter its perceived German-ness, and by extension, the German Nationalism?  This paper will examine the forces (economic and cultural) that contributed to this change particularly including a polarized New York press willing to fan the fired of controversy.

"Riding the Waves of Feminism: The Impact of the Great Depression and the Popular Press on the Reception of American Women Modernist Composers."
Tonia Passwater (CUNY Graduate Center)

During the years surrounding the Great Depression, the United States experienced an ideological shift from first-wave feminism back to the Victorianism of an earlier time. This shift altered views concerning acceptable roles for women. In this paper, I use critical and popular reception history to illustrate the impact of the era’s “contesting ideologies of womanhood” on the careers of women modernist composers.

The Influence of Zen Buddhism on the Music of Valentin Silvestrov, Ukrainian Avant-Garde Composer in the USSR
Oksana Nesterenko (SUNY Stony Brook)

In this paper, I discuss how Silvestrov’s interest in Eastern beliefs shaped his musical philosophy in the 1970’s. When asked about extra-musical influences on his work, he refers to only one philosophical source – Zen Buddhism, which he encountered in the 1970’s by reading D. T. Suzuki’s lectures. He particularly stresses the importance of the idea of “freeing oneself from all kinds of ideological schemes” that appealed to him because he was fed up with Communist ideology. I argue that it was the engagement with Zen that led Silvestrov to believe that one needs to be free from “all pre-conceived ideas – particularly those of the avant-garde” and, possibly,  to consider using neo-Romantic style of his music.

Schoenberg’s Resonant Voice in Peter Ablinger’s Letter from Arnold Schoenberg
Katherine Kaiser (Independent Scholar)

Peter Ablinger’s Letter from Arnold Schoenberg (2006) converts a 1940s Dictaphone recording of Schoenberg’s voice into a midi piano file. The timbre of Schoenberg’s voice is replaced by rapid strikes of the player piano. The rhythms and vowels of his speech emerge with the aid of an accompanying textual transcription, in which Schoenberg accuses the director of Dial Records of ignoring his compositional wishes in releasing a recording of Schoenberg’s op 41, Ode to Napoleon, with a woman’s voice. Like Schoenberg’s letter, Ablinger’s piece explores themes of authorial intent and the voice.  My study looks beyond Ablinger’s transformations to consider the transmission path of the vocal recording, including close analysis of Schoenberg’s original voice recording and the technology of the Webster Wire Recorder with which it was recorded. What remains of this history and Schoenberg’s voice in Ablinger’s piece? What is absent? In the end, this transmission study probes at the boundaries of voice and music, humanity and technology, to consider the resonances between Ablinger’s work and Schoenberg’s own.  

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