AMSGNY Meetings

Winter 2016 Meeting

The 2016 winter meeting will take place on February 13th at Columbia University. 

It will be held in room 622 Dodge, which is where we have met in past gatherings at Columbia. 

You will need to enter from College Walk, up the steps, to the left, into the main door of Dodge, which is actually on the third floor above campus level.  Once inside, take the elevator to the sixth floor, make a right and walk to the end of the hallway.

The first four papers, as described below, will be given from noon to 2 PM.  Then we will have a break and a special presentation.  The remaining papers will then go from 3 to 5 PM.

Here are the abstracts for the presentations:

Veiled Muse, Poetic Collaborator: Infusions of Luise Hensel in Wilhelm Müller and Franz Schubert’s Settings of Die schöne Müllerin
Jane Sylvester (Eastman School of Music)

A Liederspiel—a narrative drama, improvised in poetry and song—was a popular diversion within nineteenth century German salons. Poet Wilhelm Müller participated in one such Liederspiel, which inspired the composition of his poetic cycle, Die schöne Müllerin (1820). Infamous for his appropriations of others’ works, Müller wittily reconfigured trite, folkloric tropes to highlight his own novel variations. Many scholars have argued that Goethe’s set of four miller-ballads served as the primary inspiration for this work. However, considering the social and intellectual milieu of the Liederspiel, a practice which fostered the amalgamation of ideas through creative play, I aim to complicate Müller’s unquestioned authorship of Die schöne Müllerin by introducing another author into this picture: his salon colleague, Luise Hensel. 

While Müller’s Liederspiel character was a narcissistic and flirtatious miller, Hensel’s “trouser role” gardener contemplatively wandered in solitude and communicated with nature. From improvisation to final publication, Müller’s miller increasingly took on an introspective identity—quite similar to that of Hensel’s character—as a man disengaged from bourgeois society. In this paper, I analyze Müller’s edits to his Liederspiel poetry and Franz Schubert’s chosen poems from Müller’s cycle for his later setting of Die schöne Müllerin to explore Hensel’s role in creating Müller’s famed miller. By doing so, I ask: what impact did Hensel’s poetic materials, ideas, and relationship with Müller have in creating both of these well-known works?

The Thousand Hurts of Fortunato: Transforming Gender Expectation in Adapting Edgar Allan Poe’s Short Stories into Chamber Operas 
Robert Butts (Montclair State University)

Creating operas based on “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Cask of Amontillado,” the protagonists were changed to represent women rebelling against the expectations of female roles.  In the case of “The Tell-Tale Heart,” the perception is the protagonist is male, though there are in fact no specific gender references.  In “The Cask of Amontillado,” the idea came when trying to discover just what the thousand hurts may have been that led to the crime.

Ruth Berghaus’s Vision of Wagner in the Frankfurt Ring Cycle (1985-1987)
Alexander K. Rothe (Columbia University)

Ruth Berghaus was one of the greatest female directors of opera and spoken theater in the second half of the twentieth century. Trained as a choreographer under Gret Palucca at the Palucca School in Dresden, she later became famous for her choreographies and stagings at the Berliner Ensemble, where she served as artistic director between 1971 and 1977. Berghaus came to the attention of the opera world with her stagings of her husband Paul Dessau’s operas Die Verurteilung des Lukullus (1960), Puntila (1966), Lanzelot (1969), Einstein (1974), and Leonce und Lena (1979). Today, she is primarily remembered for her groundbreaking productions at the Oper Frankfurt with artistic director and conductor Michael Gielen, in particular Wagner’s Parsifal (1982), Berlioz’s Les Troyens (1983), and Wagner’s Ring cycle (1985-1987). This paper examines Berghaus’s staging of the Ring, which was her final production in Frankfurt. In addition to discussing Berghaus’s vision of Wagner and how she realizes it on the stage, I will consider the circumstances that made it possible for her – a citizen of the German Democratic Republic – to work in Frankfurt, the financial center of West Germany. To what extent is Berghaus’s interpretation of Wagner shaped by the ideology of her homeland? Finally, I highlight Berghaus’s insightful treatment of the female characters in Wagner’s Ring, and examine the relationship between the treatment of these characters and her broader vision of Wagner.

The Dance of Heresy—Music for the Female Pope
Jeff Dailey (Five Towns College)

All of the istanpitte in the fourteenth century manuscript British Library Add. 29987 have names, and all of these titles have subsequently been translated or identified, except for one.  In this paper, I will examine the evidence that ties the one hold-out with a medieval abbess who was elected pope.

Reinforcing Femininity: The Outer Limits and The Musical Undermining of Women’s Agency
Reba Wissner (Montclair State University)

The Outer Limits was one of the most progressive television shows of its time in terms of its portrayal of women. This portrayal of women on the small screen was consistent with the general thoughts about women in real life. On the heels of her seminal 1962 book, The Feminine Mystique, Betty Friedan published a two-part essay in TV Guide in 1963 and 1964 respectively. Friedan resented television’s portrayal of women as a merely “moronic housewife” rather than as an educated woman who works outside the home. Considering that this was the prevailing view of women on television—and, to a certain extent, women in general—of the time, it is no wonder that The Outer Limits’ portrayal of women was so revolutionary. Though women in the series are often portrayed as strong and independent, the composition of musical cues to represent women concretizes the portrayal of the women as feminized object, all while acting the part of obedient wife, daughter, or employee. This paper examines how the portrayal of women in The Outer Limits proves to be in step with the most progressive views on women then available but how at the same time the women in the series are musically scored according to tradition, yet they act in spite of it.

Cold Comfort: Musical Markers of Alterity and the Transmission of Female Agency in Rimsky-Korsakov’s Snegurochka
Martha Sullivan (Rutgers University)

If one makes even a casual habit of attending opera, one quickly notices that female protagonists tend to die grisly deaths, sung to gorgeous music. Audiences watch outsider women die, yet enjoy the spectacle: the horror of death onstage is mitigated by music. How, then, can we assert that these women have any sort of agency? Rimsky-Korsakov’s 1881 opera Snegurochka (The Snow Maiden) treats a character who is the epitome of alterity: Snegurochka is not human but the illicit love-child of Winter and Spring. She strives for human goals, but her story and her music force us to objectify her; we may not even grieve her death. A close analysis of the score clarifies the topoi that mark her alterity. Tracing their appearances throughout the opera offers clues to ways that a character who is first marginalized, then killed (in this case by a ray of sunlight), may be read not as a victim but as a character who asserts musical agency in surprising ways. Analyzing Snegurochka’s unique music will show fresh instances of women’s voices carrying power.

It’s a Man’s World? The Supremes in 1964
John Covach (University of Rochester)

Standard accounts of American popular music usually cast 1964 as the year of the British Invasion—the storming of the US charts by the Beatles, the Animals, and later the Rolling Stones. These UK-based bands were white but with a clear relationship to black pop, and almost exclusively male but with a passion for girl-group hits.  Was American pop in 1964 then exclusively a "man's world."  The success of the Supremes would seem to sound a definitive "no"--but still, it's complicated.

Ursula Mamlok:  The Path to the New Music, 1960-63
Barry Wiener (City University of New York)

Ursula Mamlok (b. 1923) is one of the most renowned composers of her generation. Originally a neoclassicist, she radically changed her approach to composition while studying with Stefan Wolpe and Ralph Shapey during the early 1960s. In this paper, I focus on Mamlok’s creation of a distinctive style, using techniques that she learned from Wolpe and Shapey. 

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