AMS-NE Fall Chapter Meeting
October 4, 2014
10:00-10:35 Refreshments and Registration (Annual Dues $10--exact change appreciated!)
10:40 New Sonic Landscapes: Otto Luening, Ferruccio Busoni, and Electronic Music
Erinn Knyt (University of Massachusetts Amherst)
Erinn Knyt is currently an assistant professor of music history at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She received her B.A. in Music with highest honors from the University of California, Davis in 2003, an M.M. in Music from Stanford University in 2007, and a Ph.D. in Music and Humanities from Stanford University in 2010.
Knyt received a Mellon Fellowship for her dissertation research and has an article that explores Busoni's idiosyncratic compositional process in the Journal of Musicology. Her article, Ferruccio Busoni and the Absolute in Music: Nature, Form, and 'Idee', appeared in the Journal of the Royal Musical Association in 2012, and she has also published in American Music, Twentieth-Century Music, The Journal of Music History Pedagogy, and Engaging Students: Essays in Music Pedagogy, vol. 2. Her book-in-progress documents Busoni’s relationship with early composition pupils, including Jean Sibelius, Edgard Varèse, Otto Luening, Louis Gruenberg, and Philipp Jarnach. Knyt has presented papers at conferences throughout the U.S. and abroad, and she recently received a Faculty Research Grant for archival research related to her book.
During World War I, Otto Luening (1900-1996) and Ferruccio Busoni (1866-1924) sought refuge in Zurich. When their paths met, the result was dynamic and long lasting. Luening first witnessed Busoni perform in 1917 and went to him for private composition lessons from 1919-1920. Prior to working with Busoni, Luening had already become a promising composer, excelling in his studies at the Zurich Conservatory and writing traditional Germanic-style lieder and and chamber pieces. Busoni’s impact on Luening was significant, as evident by his newfound interest in acoustics, as well as experimentation with polytonality, instrumentation, and form beginning with his first string quartet (1920). Although Luening did not start experimenting with electronic music until 1951, when he had access to the necessary equipment, the seeds were planted by Busoni in Zurich. As one of the first serious composers to envision the possibilities of electronic resources in music, Busoni talked about it constantly with his pupils.
11:20 Arlecchino as Übermarionette
Lufan Xu (The Chinese University of Hong Kong/Brown University)
Lufan XU is a Ph.D. candidate in historical musicology at The Chinese University of Hong Kong. Originally from Shanghai, Lufan developed a strong interest in opera through her experience as an opera singer. Lufan’s Ph.D. research examines the intersection between commedia dell’arte and musical modernism. During the fall of 2014, Lufan is a visiting fellow at Brown University, where she is conducting an additional research project on European canonic opera in its global context.
Ferruccio Busoni called his second opera Arlecchino a “Marionette Tragödie” and “nuove commedia dell’ arte”, which also invites comparison with contemporary discourses on commedia dell’ arte and puppetry theatre, especially Edward Gordon Craig’s discussion on übermarionette in On the Art of Theatre, a book that Busoni owned. Craig’s übermarionette does not merely contribute to a theory of depersonalised acting, but is also a metaphor for art itself, being artificial and transcendental. Supported by Busoni’s own discussions on music aesthetics in Entwurf einer neuen Ästhetik der Tonkunst and Von der Einheit der Musik, I reveal the connection between Craig’s übermarionette and Busoni’s construction of opera characters both on physical and metaphysical levels.
Craig’s denunciations of emotion are heard in Busoni’s parody of love duets. In addition to the influence of Craig’s physical turn, Busoni also depicted the contours of marionette body through the pantomimic techniques of melodrama, as well as stereotypical rhythmic gestures of Mozart. Craig’s ideal of “noble artificiality” can be seen to parallel to Busoni’s celebration of the “supernaturalness” and “absoluteness” in older number opera. Though the lens of Craig’s übermarionette, I also seek to explain the disparity between public reviews of Arlecchino as “inhumane and scornful” and the composer’s assessment of the work as “the most moral.” By interpreting the title character Harlequin as übermarionette, I show that he expresses Busoni’s artistic ideal – which is close to Craig’s – of transcending beyond earthly human conditions and embracing the eternal freedom.
12:00-2:00 Lunch Break
2:00-2:20 Business Meeting & Announcements
2:20 Welcoming the World with Third-Relations: George Whitefield Chadwick's Ode for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition
Katie Callam (Harvard University)
Katie Callam is a PhD student at Harvard University. Her research interests include music in the United States circa 1900, music and baseball, and women performers in the second half of the nineteenth century. She holds a BMU in violin performance and a BA in classical studies from Hope College.
The World’s Columbian Exposition drew millions of visitors to Chicago in 1893; while music played a large part at the hugely popular event, it has received little scholarly attention, especially in recent years. Studying music at the Exposition yields valuable clues as to what was accepted in the soundscape of classical music in the United States circa 1893, as well as the degree to which that music was perceived to be a universal mode of expression. This paper will examine George Whitefield Chadwick’s Ode for the opening ceremony, a piece praised at its premiere and all but forgotten since. I build on extant overviews of the work’s development and performance (Ann McKinley, Bill Faucett) by employing musical analysis for a further understanding of the piece and its context. I argue that the musical techniques employed by Chadwick were well-suited for the physical space and sonic environment of the ceremony, as well as the overarching ideas celebrated at the Exposition proper.
The program for the opening ceremony featured several musical tributes, including the Ode: Chadwick’s decision to employ large-scale third relations, instead of tonic-dominant relations, generated a work that exuded grandeur in a different manner than the other compositions on the program. Despite its harmonic uniqueness, the Ode fit in well with the other selections, as Western art music alone welcomed the world to Chicago. Considering Chadwick’s harmonic language in tandem with reviews of the Ode provides a tantalizing glimpse of the sound and sentiment surrounding the Exposition’s opening ceremony.
3:00 Broadway Mozart: The Metropolitan Opera House in the 1940s
Christopher Lynch (Indiana University)
On December 7, 1896, while reviewing a Metropolitan Opera House production of Don Giovanni, New York Tribune critic Henry Krehbiel lamented that “Mozart’s Don Giovanni will soon be a curiosity in our operatic museum, to be inspected at intervals as a thing having a strange interest, chiefly historic.” His statement proved prophetic, for the Metropolitan highlighted none of Mozart’s operas in its repertoire until the so-called Mozart Revival in the 1940s. Thus far scholars like Leon Botstein have focused on the revival’s 1890s European roots as an anti-Wagnerian movement. This paper, however, investigates the uniquely American issues that surrounded the Mozart Revival in New York City.
Throughout the 1930s, the Metropolitan’s management struggled to deal with reduced financial resources, a shrinking audience, and new competition from increasingly operatic Broadway musicals and Hollywood films. In 1935, a new general manager, Edward Johnson, initiated a series of reforms to rejuvenate the company, the most enduring of which was the reintroduction of Mozart’s operas into the repertoire. By investigating Johnson’s public statements and private papers, this paper reveals that Johnson decided to produce Mozart’s operas because he perceived them to be similar to Broadway musicals, and he proceeded to aggressively market them with rhetoric derived from discourse surrounding Broadway’s operatic works like Porgy and Bess and Carmen Jones. This marketing, it will be shown, continues to influence the reception and scholarly assessment of Mozart’s operas today.
3:40 A Cold War Welcome: The American Reception of Prokofiev and His Choreographic Collaborators During the Bolshoi Ballet's 1959 TourAnne Searcy (Harvard University)
Anne Searcy is a PhD candidate at Harvard University, where she is currently working on her dissertation, "'It was not merely success, but something furious': Soviet and American Cold War Ballet Exchange, 1959-1962." She holds a BA in history and music from Swarthmore College.
In 1959 the Soviet Union’s Bolshoi Ballet appeared in the United States for its first ever engagement in the Western Hemisphere. While on tour, the Bolshoi Ballet highlighted the music of Sergei Prokofiev, hoping that the composer’s international fame would help make Soviet aesthetics palatable to Western viewers. While public reception was enthusiastic, critical reviews labeled the ballets conservative, a critique that has continued to reverberate in Prokofiev’s Western reception to this day. Using sources from the Bolshoi’s archive in Moscow and from choreographer Leonid Lavrovsky’s collection at the Russian State Archive for Literature and Art, I show the gap in understanding between Prokofiev’s choreographic interpreters and their American critics and explore the political underpinnings of these criticisms.
On tour, the Bolshoi performed two works by Prokofiev, Romeo and Juliet and Stone Flower. These works represented the two major schools of Soviet choreography: Leonid Lavrovsky shaped Romeo and Juliet into the premier example of a drambalet, merging theater and dance, and Stone Flower was Yuri Grigorovich’s first successful foray into choreographic symphonism, a more abstract genre. Drawing on preparatory sketches and documents from the original Romeo and Juliet production in 1940, Lavrovsky’s essays and letters, Grigorovich’s published essays and numerous reviews of the 1959 tour, I explore the differences between Lavrovsky’s and Grigorovich’s approaches to Prokofiev’s music and how those approaches were read in their American critical reception. I combine this primary source analysis with choreographic and musical analysis to address the ways in which Prokofiev’s ballets have been understood in the US. Prokofiev is still often viewed as a forward thinking composer trapped by conservative choreography and plodding bureaucracy. Here, I demonstrate that these choreographers were as invested in musical and balletic modernism as Prokofiev and shared many of his aesthetic aims.