AMSGNY Meetings

Winter 2017 Meeting - Abstracts

Beethoven’s Footsteps and Max Kalbeck’s Brahms Biography
Styra Avins (Independent Scholar)

‘I’ll never write a symphony, you have no conception of how it makes the likes of one of us feel when he continually hears such a giant [Beethoven] tramping behind him”  This is Brahms, as quoted by his influential biographer Max Kalbeck.  Every person who has ever read anything about Brahms and the writing of his First Symphony has read this sentence, because everyone who has ever written about the genesis of Brahms’s 1st Symphony quotes it.  But did Brahms ever say it?

The Early History of Modal Rhythm: What Theory Tells us about Practice
Solomon Guhl-Miller (Rutgers University)

One of the first questions a student of Ars Antiqua polyphony asks upon attempting to decipher the notation of a piece of music is “What mode is this in?”  However, this question presents challenges as the notation frequently permits multiple interpretations of the same set of ligatures.  The assumption has been that it is a flaw in the notation that permits these interpretations, but this paper explores an alternative possibility: the notation was opaque to give performers agency to choose which of the options they would like to perform.  We shall examine this hypothesis, and what it may mean for future editions of Notre Dame polyphony, particularly the early motet.

Lutheran Hymnody in Eighteenth-Century Vienna: Orthodox Meets “Politically-Correct”
Jane Schatkin Hettrick (Rider University)

The year 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation—the beginning of Lutheranism. In Austria,  Lutherans only became “legal” in 1780, when Joseph II granted religious freedom to some non-Catholics. The first Lutheran Church in Vienna was founded in 1781, and the first official Lutheran hymnal in Austria was published in 1783. This hymnal did not meet with universal approval, however, and ultimately it caused decades of strife in Austrian congregations. This paper will consider the questions: what was wrong with the new hymnal, and why did so many faithful Lutherans reject it? It will also tell the story of its publisher, G. P. Wucherer, who came to a bad end.

Haydn’s Keyboard Sonatas as a Tool for Traditionalist Ideology: A Nineteenth-Century Reappraisal
Jacob Friedman (Princeton University)

Joseph Haydn’s stock famously fell in the nineteenth century. Less famous are attempts from this time to reevaluate Haydn’s image and restore him as a respected and relevant master of the canon. One striking example of this rehabilitation is an 1858 essay by the traditionalist critic Wilhelm Heinrich Riehl entitled “Haydn’s Sonaten.” The essay is one of the most remarkable reflections on Haydn from the nineteenth century: it not only represents what is possibly the earliest attempt to study Haydn reception, it is also a unique reappraisal of his rarely-discussed keyboard sonatas, which had fallen into obscurity since his death. In examining Riehl’s writings we learn how he used this exceptionally neglected output to further his controversial aesthetic and political goals. Doing so puts a spotlight on a historically ignored body of work, illuminating its fortunes over the course of the nineteenth century.

Rethinking Gustav Holst’s A Moorside Suite (1928): The First Brass Band Symphony?
Stephen Allen (Rider University)

Gustav's Holst's 'A Moorside Suite' represents an extraordinary experiment in musical form, employed by Holst to specifically provide brass bands with high quality. What has escaped attention until now, however, is the degree and depth of these forms, re-imagining what an English symphony for a British ensemble might be. This paper reveals these innovations for the first time.

“Berlin, 1945: Towards a Ruin Aesthetic in Music”
Abby Anderton (Baruch College)

By the end of World War II, the Allied Air War had decimated Germany’s cities, and Berlin’s physical devastation had inspired artists to find new modes of coherence.  This paper hears Berlin’s destruction in the postwar scores of its musicians, as Max Butting, Eberhard Schmidt, and Heinz Tiessen overwhelmingly composed Lieder in the vein of the nineteenth-century German romantics.  To depict their diverse wartime experiences in air raid shelters, bunkers, and concentration camps, Berlin’s composers engaged with the continuities and ruptures of 1945 by romanticizing the rubble landscape of aerial warfare.

The Self-Actualization of John Adams
John Kapusta (Colgate University)

Though John Adams is widely known for his “powerful fusion of post-minimalist process, the post-Romantic symphony, and . . . postmodern operatic pastiche” (Fink), few have examined the cultural origins of Adams’s idiosyncratic minimalist aesthetic. This paper situates Adams’s musical output and critical reception in the 1970s and 80s within what I call the culture of “self-actualization”: the influential contemporary idea that one’s truest, most creative self was to be discovered in the throes of vigorous psychosomatic activity—everything from yoga to tennis and sex and, beginning in the late 1960s, music-making.

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