Saturday, April 17, 2010

Spring Chapter Meeting, April 17, 2010 (UNH)

AMS-NE Spring Chapter Meeting
Saturday, April 17, 2010
University of New Hampshire

Feng-Shu Lee, "Contextualizing the “Götter Ende”: The Conclusion of the Ring in Relation to the Creation of the Cycle (1848-1852)"
In the first four years of the Ring’s 26-year evolution, Wagner expanded the work from one single music drama to a tetralogy. During this process, he also revised its conclusion, gradually turning the happy ending in Siegfrieds Tod into a denouement, in which the gods’ downfall takes place. A new look at Wagner’s prose and verse drafts shows that the cyclic expansion and the creation of a new ending are closely interrelated and occupy a significant role in the gestation of the tetralogy. I will focus on three examples to illustrate this interrelation: the Norns’ scene, the Waltraute scene, and Siegfried’s meeting with the Rhine maidens. In the original version of these scenes, the idea of the "Götter Ende" was missing: the dramaturgical function of the scenes in that context was to anticipate and to support the happy ending. My examination of Wagner’s drafts demonstrates that his revision of these scenes gave them a new dramatic purpose and thereby solidified a new semantic context, in which the "Götter Ende"was justified. Indeed, shortly after he revised these scenes, Wagner drafted the "Feuerbach ending," confirming the gods’ downfall.

Seen in this light, the revision of these scenes functioned as an indicator, signaling Wagner’s reconsideration of the ending in conjunction with the work’s enlarged scope. Wagner’s reconsideration of a part of the Ring thus functioned within his reconsideration of the entire cycle. This approach provides a firmer basis for a discussion of the evolution of the work’s ending, a notoriously controversial issue in Wagner scholarship. It also demonstrates that Wagner’s cyclic expansion of the Ring did not simply enrich the narrative with more information, a common misconception. Rather, the expansion gave Wagner the opportunity to experiment with different ideas, ideas that were fundamental as he revised the intellectual context of his work.

Mary J. Greer, "The Identity of the Previous Owner of J.S. Bach’s Calov Bible and Commentary Revealed: Implications for Bach Scholarship"
 Christoph Trautmann’s discovery in 1968 of Johann Sebastian Bach’s personal copy of the Calov Bible and Commentary in the Concordia Seminary Library in St. Louis occasioned considerable excitement in the Bach community. In 1985, the tercentennial of Bach’s birth, Howard H. Cox and Robin A. Leaver issued two separate facsimile editions featuring pages with annotations. A handful of articles (Renate Steiger, 1987, and Mary Dalton Greer, 2008) and a dissertation (Thomas Donald Rossin, 1992) have appeared subsequently. However, given the unique nature of this source, it is all the more striking that so few studies of Bach’s Bible have been published over the past four decades. The principal stumbling block is the fact that, in each of the three volumes, Bach wrote his monogram and the year “1733”, in other words, five to ten years after he had composed the great majority of his church cantatas, the Magnificat, as well as the Passions according to John and Matthew. It was difficult to make a case for the annotations in the Bible having any bearing on the genesis of these works if we assumed that he did not take possession of the set until 1733 or a year or two earlier.

By determining which passages in the Bible were almost certainly highlighted by someone other than Bach and linking them to unique biographical details in the life of someone in Bach’s orbit, I have identified who owned the Bible immediately before him. I also cite a host of evidence—completely unrelated to the Bible, including coded references to this individual embedded in several pieces by Bach—that proves that he stood in a far closer relationship to Bach than scholars have previously suspected. Moreover, by identifying correspondences between specific passages that are highlighted and works Bach is known to have composed before 1730, I argue that this individual either transmitted the content of certain passages to Bach well before 1733 or loaned one or more of the volumes to him before giving them to him outright in 1733 or a year or two earlier. The identification of the previous owner of Bach’s Bible and the revelation of the scope of their relationship has far-reaching implications for Bach studies.

Dorothy Lamb Crawford, "Adventures in Research for A Windfall of Musicians: Hitler's Émigrés and Exiles in Southern California"
 In the 1990s the last members of this richly endowed migration in Los Angeles died. In 1997 the Arnold Schoenberg Institute, founded in the 1970s on the campus of the University of Southern California, packed its archives to move to Vienna. Monday Evening Concerts -- whose predecessor, Evenings on the Roof, began as chamber music series because of the presence of the European émigrés -- changed radically. These concerts had been Los Angeles' only consistently supportive performance series for the émigrés music. In 1995, because I had authored two books on twentieth-century music, Expressionism in Twentieth-Century Music (with John C. Crawford) and Evenings On and Off the Roof: Pioneering Concerts in Southern California, 1939-1971, I was asked by an editor to undertake a cultural history of the European émigrés' musical presence in the Los Angeles area. I dug deeply to find primary sources.

The Los Angeles Central Library, threatened at the time by fire, had a set of music scrapbooks containing newspaper announcements and music critics' reviews describing Los Angeles' concert life in the 1930s and '40s. The musicians themselves left letters, memos, essays, even novels, based on their dramatic flights to the "cultural desert" they called Southern California, which subsequently became a "musical Mecca" because of them. Abundant collections of oral histories were scattered widely among California's universities, depending on the interests of their faculties and/or libraries. Copied tapes of interviews with the émigrés were generously donated to me. In a garage threatened by mudslides, I discovered a dissertation on the founding and development of the first state- and city-supported opera workshop in America, established by a German conductor torn from his teaching in the Berlin Conservatory, imprisoned in the SS's fortress prison, yet miraculously enabled to flee to Los Angeles. Because of my seven years' experience as an interview host in music for Los Angeles' classical music radio stations, I was able to personally interview members of the Europeans' student legacy, many of whom became America's musical leaders. In all I accumulated and transcribed almost 50 interviews. In all, the 11 years spent working on this book was a uniquely enriching adventure.

SPECIAL SESSION: Music and the Holocaust
 Anne Shreffler (Harvard University), Chair

Diane Paige, "Vitěslava Kaprálová and the Muses"

 To examine Vitěslava Kaprálová via the notion of musical muses invites two major strands of inquiry. The first is to examine her role as muse to Czech composer and mentor Bohuslav Martinů and what purpose her image served in his creative oeuvre. While scholars of literature and art have written extensively on role of the imaginary muse, musical literature is rather sparse, and has failed to examine the preponderance of musical muses in the lives of Czech composers like Leoš Janáček, Zdeněk Fibich, Antonín Dvořák, and Bohuslav Martinů in any depth. Exploring the nature of muses reveals the nature of musical creativity and the way in which it has been engendered in the Western world. What is often at work is more than a pretty face inspiring a musical melody, but rather a means by which a composer is given license examine the nature of the feminine as a mode of musical exploration and expression. The second strand of inquiry is to look at Kaprálová as a composer rather than as amuse, as active creative agent rather than as passive, often distant helpmate. Since muses are generally female and their artists male, it begs the question of how a female composer imagines and evokes musical creativity, an ability historically encoded as male.

Erik Entwistle, "Václav Kaprál and the Holocaust"

Composers imprisoned in the Terezín Concentration Camp have become symbolic of the immeasurable loss of life and the silencing of creative voices as a result of the Nazi atrocities committed during the Second World War. One composer who is often overlooked in this context is Václav Kaprál. Like Pavel Haas, Kaprál was a pupil of Leoš Janáček. As his dates demonstrate (1889-1947) Kaprál survived the war; not being Jewish, he was spared the fate of his compatriots Haas, Klein, Krása, Schulhoff, and Ullmann. But Kaprál could hardly be counted among the lucky, for the war essentially destroyed him. This paper will introduce the life of this Czech composer and examine in particular the music he composed during the 1940s and the circumstances behind its creation. In 1940 Kaprál suffered the loss of his 25-year-old daughter VÌtĕzslava Kaprálová, who died of tuberculosis in Paris just as the Nazis were preparing to occupy that city. Kaprál’s piano work Předtucha (Presentiment), dating from this time, will be examined and performed. In 1942 Kaprál composed a cycle of 5 duets, entitled Milodĕjné kvítí or (Flowers of Love) in memory of Kaprálová. This strongly folk-influenced work was recently given its American premiere at my faculty artist recital at the Longy School, and I will discuss the piece as well as play examples from the live recording.

Later that same year Kaprál was incarcerated at an internment camp at Svatobořice as punishment for his outspoken left-wing views and his brother’s enlistment the Czech army in exile. Although he survived and managed to compose several works, the 2 ½-year ordeal compromised his health. Kaprál’s last work, the Balada for cello and piano, completed in August 1946 eight months before his death, will be considered in conclusion. It is a remarkable leave-taking for a composer who, like so many others, endured extraordinary hardship as a result of the war.
 Peter Laki, "Le petit macabre: The Personification of Death in Ullmann’s Kaiser von Atlantis and Ligeti’s Le grand macabre"

 In Ullmann’s Kaiser von Atlantis, Death gets tired of his job and decides to go off duty. In Ligeti’s Le grand macabre, Nekrotzar is a charlatan who becomes too drunk to carry out his work. Ligeti started work on his opera in 1974, the year before the Kaiser’s posthumous premiere; therefore no case for a direct influence can be made. The parallels between the two works are, rather, on a different level. These two portrayals of Death stand out among the many other known examples in their satirical intent. Ullmann’s opera shows death as a natural part of life—a statement that was never more true than in Theresienstadt. Ligeti, whose father and brother had died in the concentration camps, mocked Death with the sarcasm of one who had also looked the Grim Reaper in the face. Despite the obvious differences in style and all external factors, there is an astonishing number of similarities between the two operas that I will attempt to explain by tracing the intellectual histories of the two librettos and invoking the theory of the absurd.