AMSGNY Meetings

Spring 2018 Meeting Abstracts

Solomon Guhl-Miller (Temple University and Rutgers University)

Hearing the Greek Genera: Re-evaluating Tuning and Interpretation in Three Repertoires

Theories of microtonal divisions have appeared for millenia in treatises from Ancient Greece to Renaissance Italy, yet in practice most performers and teachers avoid these sonorities.  This paper explores what a selection of these works would sound like if we engaged with these microtonal divisions.

Jane Schatkin Hettrick (Rider University)

A Newly Discovered Contract for a Lutheran Organist in Vienna in 1824: Curiosity or Blueprint of  “A Well Regulated Church Music”?

When Johann Sebastian Bach was hired in 1723 by the Leipzig Town Council as Cantor of the Thomas-Schule, he signed a contract listing a job description of fourteen points. When Franz Joseph Haydn became Kapellmeister of the Esterháza Court in 1779, his contract was about two pages long. When Franz Lachner accepted the post of organist of the Evangelische Kirche in Vienna in 1824, the church drew up a contract of no less than thirty pages (!), describing performance requirements in extreme detail. So what could be the reason for this?  Why would an individual congregation, employing just one musician, need a thirty-page contract for that person?

This document, hand-written in old German script, is preserved in the archive of the Lutheran Church in Vienna; it has not been studied. In this paper I examine the job description laid out in the contract and consider possible reasons for its unusual nature and length.

Stephen Allen (Rider University)

"Lateness" in Elgar's The Severn Suite

What if Elgar's 'The Severn Suite' (1930) Op 87, were revealed as a symphony in disguise? What if it constituted Elgar's response to Neo-Classicism as the only branch of Modernism that could possibly engage his interest? What if, as a Late work, it embodied a review of his creative life in a series of 'farewells', an envoi to life in the context of implacable change between two world wars? This paper will investigate such issues and more, recommending a rehearing of the suite as a masterpiece of its kind.

Barry Wiener (New York, NY)

Sibelius, Busoni and Ultramodernism

In this paper, I propose that the “postmodern traits” that contemporary musicians have perceived in the music of Jean Sibelius can be described instead as manifestations of early twentieth-century ultramodernism. I link ultramodernist concepts to the radical ideas of Sibelius’s friend, Ferruccio Busoni, which he outlined in the 1907/16 pamphlet, Sketch of a New Aesthetic of Music. Both Busoni and Sibelius rejected the modernists’ systematic exploration of atonal pitch structures in order to investigate the properties of sound itself, together with those of musical time and space. I will illustrate my discussion with examples from Sibelius’s Fifth Symphony (1919), Ligeti’s Chamber Concerto (1970), and works by Busoni and Rud Langgaard.

Christopher Doll (Rutgers University)

The Rhythmic Influence of the Dave Brubeck Quartet on British-American Pop-Rock

The Dave Brubeck Quartet’s famous single “Take Five,” originally released in 1959 but reissued to tremendous success in 1961, appears to have influenced a small but significant number of US and UK pop-rock artists, as evidenced by the recurrence of a few specific, atypical rhythmic features in some of their songs. These features include a regular 5/4 meter in which the beats are grouped as 3+2, fleshed out with two specific looping cross-rhythms. By detailing these parallel patterns, this paper sketches historical connections between the cool jazz of “Take Five” and the later music of Nick Drake, Jethro Tull, Blind Faith, Andrew Lloyd Webber, XTC, and Radiohead.

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