Saturday, April 18, 2015

Spring Chapter Meeting: Saturday, May 2, 2015 (Yale University)



AMS-NE Spring Chapter Meeting
May 2, 2015
Sudler Hall
Yale University

9:45-10:15 Refreshments and Registration

Morning Session

10:15   Welcome

10:20   Assimilation, Gypsies, and Jews in Meyerbeer's Ein Feldlager in Schlesien

                   Laura Stokes (Indiana University / Brown University)

ABSTRACT:
Giacomo Meyerbeer was appointed General Music Director of the Berlin Royal Opera in June 1842. The recently ascended king Friedrich Wilhelm IV—who had an ambitious program to remake Berlin as a European cultural center—persuaded Meyerbeer to return after an absence of over three decades. Meyerbeer, who was Jewish, was appointed music director of the Royal Opera at a time of political challenge for Prussia’s Jewish community: that same year, Friedrich Wilhelm IV proposed that the Jewish community be separated into its own Estate, attempting to counter decades of assimilation of Jews into Prussian society.  Thus Meyerbeer encountered a situation in Berlin where the status of assimilated Jews was under significant threat.

The only opera that Meyerbeer composed during his four-year tenure in Berlin was Ein Feldlager in Schlesien (The Encampment in Silesia), a Singspiel recounting episodes from the life of Frederick the Great.  The lead female character, Vielka, is an adopted Gypsy (Roma) who, through the power of her voice, obedient self-sacrifice, and her ability to navigate across cultures, saves Frederick the Great from the hands of enemy soldiers.  Vielka’s Act I aria, “Es summt und schwirrt,” is the key to her cross-cultural navigation and use of exotic musical powers to the benefit of her adopted country, Prussia.

Although Vielka cannot and does not hide her background, her Prussian loyalty is nonetheless clear.  Given the unstable status of assimilated Jews in Berlin at the time of this work, it is notable that Meyerbeer gave a key role in saving Prussia in this Singspiel to an adopted member of an outsider ethnic group.  Meyerbeer’s portrayal of Vielka was a clear stance in favor of assimilation of non-Germans into Prussian society, thus musically dissenting from the king’s proposed measures. 
Laura Stokes is the Performing Arts Librarian at Brown University and a doctoral candidate in musicology at Indiana University.  She holds a master of arts in musicology from Indiana University, and is currently writing a dissertation on music and cultural politics in mid-nineteenth-century Prussia under the direction of Halina Goldberg.  She also holds a master of science in information from the University of Michigan and a bachelor of arts in music from Carleton College.  She has previously presented her research on Felix Mendelssohn’s sacred music and Fanny Hensel’s piano music at meetings and conferences in the United States and the United Kingdom.  She is an assistant editor for the journal Notes, and the vice-chair/chair-elect of the New England Music Library Association.








11:00   Joseph Joachim and the Mendelssohn Legacy
                    Robert W. Eshbach (University of New Hampshire) 

ABSTRACT:
In 1853, W. H. Riehl wrote that Felix Mendelssohn had been “the first musician who made music for ‘fine society’ — in the good sense of the word.” Riehl located the unique depth and breadth of Mendelssohn’s influence throughout Germany in the fact that the gebildete Gesellschaft in which he had lived and worked — whose spirit he had expressed — was, throughout all of Germany, the same. 

With Mendelssohn’s death in 1847 and the ubiquitous revolutions of 1848, mid-19th century Germany experienced a caesura in its musical and cultural life. The times were imbued with the Hegelian notion of progress, and devolved into partisan dispute. In Germany, the Mendelssohnian ideal of music-making for the gebildete Gesellschaft was substantially interrupted by social turmoil, and by the radical challenge from the New German School, which viewed the Bildungsbürgertum as essentially and irrecoverably philistine. 


Joseph Joachim was Mendelssohn’s protégé, and his early career was conditioned by Mendelssohnian ideals. After Mendelssohn’s death, he spent several years in close personal and musical contact with Liszt, becoming an early and enthusiastic advocate of the progressive new music of the “école de Weimar.” Then, in 1853, he left to take a job as concertmaster in Hanover, and was gradually drawn into Schumann’s circle. In a famous 1857 letter, Joachim distanced himself from Liszt, causing an irrevocable and painful split between the erstwhile friends. Joachim’s late-career work can be seen as an attempt to counter the social and political program of the New Germans, picking up the Berlin Hochschule project that Mendelssohn had left undone, and attempting to perpetuate the social ideals of pre-March music making. My paper will examine Joseph Joachim’s relationship with Mendelssohn, and his project to keep the Mendelssohn legacy alive. 

Violinist, conductor, and historian Robert Whitehouse Eshbach is an honors graduate of Yale University (BA), where he majored in music history and minored in German literature. He studied violin at the Vienna Conservatory (now the Konservatorium Wien Privatuniversität) with Walter Barylli, concertmaster of the Vienna Philharmonic and State Opera Orchestras, and earned a Master of Music degree in violin at New England Conservatory, studying with Eric Rosenblith. His recent publications and invited papers have focused on nineteenth-century musicians: Joachim, Brahms, Schumann, Reinecke, and Wilhelmine Norman-Neruda (Lady Hallé). His article, “Joachim’s Youth — Joachim’s Jewishness,” was published in the Winter 2011 issue of The Musical Quarterly. His chapter “The Joachim Quartet Concerts at the Sing-Akademie zu Berlin: Mendelssohnian Geselligkeit in Wilhelmine Germany” appeared in the volume Brahms in the Home and the Concert Hall: Between Private and Public Performance, Katy Hamilton and Natasha Loges (eds.), Cambridge University Press, 2014.
Eshbach is an associate professor of music at the University of New Hampshire. 




11:40    The Turn to subtilitas and the Motet Apta caro / Flos virginum

                       Karen Desmond (McGill University)

ABSTRACT:
In the middle of the fourteenth century, the author of the Tractatus figurarum invoked the example of the motet Apta caro/Flos virginum as representative of a new more ‘subtle’ style of composition (modus subtilior) that was compared to an older style exemplified in the motet Tribum que/Quoniam secta. Mid-fourteenth-century theorists such as Johannes Boen, Petrus frater dictus Palma ociosa, and Aegidius de Murino all emphasized the positive aspects of subtilitas with respect to musical composition.

But subtilitas was also characterised as superficial complexity that counters utility: subtilitas obscures that which ought to be clear. For example, the music theorist Jacobus, in his Speculum musicae, a treatise written slightly earlier in the fourteenth century, specifically objected to the subtle mathematical calculations applied to musical durations by modern theorists and composers (the moderni), and devoted an entire chapter of his seventh book to a criticism of these subtilitates. In these complaints Jacobus echoed the sentiment of John of Salisbury’s mostly negative characterisation (in his Metalogicon) of the subtilitates practiced by twelfth-century philosophers and logicians (who John also referred to as the moderni). 


This paper examines the emergence of the aesthetic of subtlety in music in the middle third of the fourteenth century (that is, before Ursula Günther’s ars subtilior), and explores how this aesthetic was linked to the innovative notational techniques of the ars nova. Given its texts, its wide copying, prominent placement in its manuscript sources, and its invocation in music theory treatises, I suggest the possibility that Apta caro/Flos virginum was written as a demonstration of this desired ars nova aesthetic.


Karen Desmond (PhD, New York University, 2009) is a musicologist and medievalist whose research focuses on the intellectual and aesthetic experience of music in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. From 2011 to 2013 she held a two-year visiting teaching post at University College Cork, Ireland, concurrently with a one-year research post at the Institut für Musikwissenschaft at the University of Cologne. In 2013 she was awarded a one-year NEH Research Fellowship for her monograph on novelty and change in early fourteenth-century music, titled Greedy for New Things: Novelty in Early Fourteenth-Century Music. In 2014, she was appointed as a two-year Banting postdoctoral fellow at the Schulich School of Music at McGill University. She has published articles in Journal of Musicology, Plainsong and Medieval Music, Early Music History, and Musica disciplina, with a second article in Journal of Musicology forthcoming, and her translation of Lambert’s Ars musica, edited by Christian Meyer, will be published April 2015 by Ashgate as part of the RMA Monographs series.





12:20-2:00   Lunch Break

2:00-2:30     Business Meeting

Afternoon Session                

2:30     Dissonance Resolved: Occursus and the Surrender of Ornamentation to the Countersubjects in the Finale of Beethoven's Grosse Fuge, op. 133

                     Stephen Husarik (University of Arkansas -- Fort Smith)

ABSTRACT:
The source of the cantus firmus in Beethoven’s Grosse Fuge, Opus 133 has remained a mystery for nearly two hundred years and the composition itself has been perceived by one critic as a “Chinese puzzle.” This paper offers Christoph Willibald Gluck’s “Dance of the Blessed Spirits” from the opera Orphée et Eurydice (1774) as a likely source of the cantus firmus. Briefly examining its evolution in Beethoven’s Autograph 11 sketchbooks, and showing Haydn’s String Quartet in G, Opus 33 No. 5 as the probable route of transmission, this paper describes how the transformation of the cantus firmus within the final composition arises from treatment of characteristic Baroque figures.

Grosse Fuge
is presented as a humoristic composition whose cantus firmus is rhythmically varied with figures such as interruptio, hyperbole, abruptio and trilletto to produce a comedic work. Specific baroque rhetorical figures are defined in the course of the discussion and their applications are shown in selected portions of the music. In particular, Beethoven attaches rhetorical figures to the cantus firmus at the beginning of the Grosse Fuge but transfers them to the countersubjects at the end in order to resolve long-term dissonance. He thus generates a compositional procedure that currently has no name in musicology but is here labeled the Occursus technique. As an outgrowth of the discussion, a new explanation is offered for the often-debated trilletto sign (same-note slur) placed upon the notes of the cantus firmus that shows how it is transformed into a tie that contributes to a final comedic resolution of the work.  

 

 Stephen Husarik, Ph.D. is Professor of Humanities/ Music History at the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith where he serves as Head Carillonneur. Husarik has received teaching excellence awards and local, national and international recognition for his publications. He was the recipient of several National Endowment for the Humanities college teacher and traveling fellowships to the University of Maryland, Harvard University, New York University and Bayreuth, Germany. In addition to reading numerous papers at national and international conferences, he has authored and/or contributed to over half a dozen books and nearly thirty articles in the areas of music and humanities. His textbook entitled Humanities Across the Arts (Kendall Hunt, 2014) received an award of excellence from the Humanities Education Research Association. Husarik has published articles on Beethoven in The Musical Times, The Journal of International Humanities and Speculum Musicae.

  




3:10    Monstrous North: Utopian and Dystopian Fantasies in Glenn Gould's Idea of North
               Brent Wetters (Providence College)

ABSTRACT:
Musicological work on Glenn Gould’s groundbreaking radio documentary, The Idea of North, has tended to focus on the work’s generic status and its musical construction (Sallis, 2005; Bazanna, 2005; Cushing, 2012). Considerably less interpretive work has been done on its meaning and message. I intend to show avenues by which Gould constructs something like a thesis about the north through the assemblage of divergent voices in the work’s production. Much of the documentary is concerned with the north not just as idea, but as ideal. The north appears to be, as one of the interviewees says, “the final playing out of those two great dreams of man: Eldorado and Utopia.” This sentiment is further supported as the participants ponder the north as a potential space, and a space of pure potentiality. The documentary ends with an assertion of an ethical purity in the north—a place where humanity is still at the mercy of a powerful and dominating nature. This assertion is played against the triumphant strains of Sibelius’s Fifth symphony, again evoking a kind of power and victory embodied in the desolate isolation of the north. The north, as a blank and potential space, functions more as mirror than Utopia. It shows humanity both its highest aspirations and most troubling impulses—and the two are frighteningly hard to separate. In this paper, I investigate the ways that Gould simultaneously constructs the north as both utopia and dystopia. Between the two, the north itself may be salvaged, precisely for its capacity to disturb the very concept of humanity.

Brent Wetters is a musicologist and composer, and currently Adjunct Professor of Music at Providence College. He holds degrees in composition from University of Michigan, Wesleyan University and a doctorate in musicology from Brown University, with a dissertation on the Darmstadt Summer Courses. He has two articles on Bruno Maderna published in 19th-Century Music and the Cambridge Opera Journal. He is currently preparing a volume of collected essays with Anthony Cushing on Glenn Gould's Idea of North.








3:50     "Laughter is Preferable to Tears": John Cage and Golden-Age Television
                     John Green (Eastman School of Music)

ABSTRACT:
John Cage often voiced his disdain for electronic broadcast forms, once declaring to Richard Kostelanetz, “I don't keep any records...I don't even bother looking at the television anymore.  I don't ever listen to the radio.  You could say, perhaps, that I'm not a proper member of the twentieth-century society.”  Yet, his ambivalence concealed his important role in the mid-century avant-garde's evolving relationship with broadcast technologies.  The composer's appearance on two 1960s game shows are the most visible manifestations of his links to mass media.  He premiered his composition Water Walk on Italian television in January 1959 for the quiz show Lascia O Raddoppia and later reprised a similar performance on the American game show I've Got a Secret in January 1960.  While no film of the Italian appearance survives, an examination of the score and American performance footage highlights the composer's satire of both musical and visual conventions.

Cage's deliberate pace and use of readymade instruments in a kitchen-like arrangement evoked the postwar domesticity that historian Lynn Spigel believes television helped create.  At the same time, Cage's inversion of gender surely baffled the mainstream audience, as he performed feminine household chores and interacted with newly-minted appliances.  These visual features, along with musical events, such as a dominant-seventh chord answered by a bang of the piano lid, form his commentary on mid-century composition and television culture.  Yet in his examination of the performance, scholar Andre Mount does not find Cage's connection to television either a conscious “artistic medium” or “promotional tool.”  However, Cage's attention to television as a medium in Water Walk shows that broadcast media represented a defining facet of his career, persona, and reception.

John Green is a PhD musicology student at Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester.  He holds a BM in saxophone performance from SUNY Fredonia as well as an MA  in musicology from Eastman.  His research areas include late-twentieth century modernism, popular music, and ethnomusicology.  In addition to pursuing a dissertation that explores John Cage's links to radio, television, and film, Green also performs traditional and diasporic Zimbabwean music.









4:30     Sonic Materiality and Psychoanalytic Technique: Helmholtz, Freud, and the "Talking Cure"
             Clara Latham (Harvard University)

ABSTRACT:
“He must adjust himself to the patient as a telephone receiver is adjusted to the transmitting microphone.”
--Sigmund Freud, “Recommendations for Physicians Practicing Psychoanalysis”


Recent research (Latham, 2014; Kane, 2014) suggests that the technique of psychoanalysis, the so-called “talking cure”, was part of an epistemological change in aurality. In 1856, the year of Freud’s birth, Hermann von Helmholtz’s experiments proved the ear was a resonator, mechanically identical to those he fashioned out of glass and pigskin. What is the relationship between Freud's metaphor of the telephone as the instrument of psychoanalysis and Helmholt'z metaphor of the resonator as the instrument of hearing?


By demonstrating that the ear can pick out individual tones from a complex sound with a resonator sealed to the inner ear, Helmholtz argued that the ear was split into a bodily ear (das körperlice Ohr) that perceived Ton, and a mental ear (das geistige Ohr), that perceived Klang. Ton correspond to the mathematical resonance of objects in the world, while Klang is the corresponding mental understanding of that acoustic phenomenon, something like a sign that the mind hears. I show how this split buttresses the technique of the “talking cure”, in which patients speak their traumas in order to move those traumas out of the body and eradicate their corresponding hysterical symptoms.


Helmholtz’s split ear stages the modern subject explicitly in terms of hearing tones. Freud’s “talking cure” expands this split ear beyond object and subject to an aural interaction between two people – analyst and analysand. In the psychoanalytic encounter the bodily ear is mechanically and materially tied not to a tone, but to the voice of another. By explicitly tracing listening in psychoanalysis, this history confirms the relationship between musicology and recent philosophical work on music (Zizek and Dolar, 2001, Nancy, 2007, Szendy, 2008).


Clara Latham is a Boston based composer and musicologist. She recently completed her PhD in music at New York University, where she received the NYU Dean's Dissertation Award and the Woodrow Wilson Women's Studies Dissertation Fellowship for her dissertation, titled "Listening to the Talking Cure: Sound and Voice in Psychoanalysis”. She has a chapter in the edited volume Sound, Music, Affect: Theorizing Sonic Experience, and an essay in the forthcoming issue of Women and Music. Clara is also active as a composer and performer. Her works explore the relationship between voice and identity, and have been performed by groups such as the International Contemporary Ensemble, the Argento Ensemble, Ensemble mise-en, and Kammerensemble Neue Musik Berlin. She is also the singer and guitarist in a number of experimental rock bands.


5:10     Refreshments

1 comment:

  1. I attended a few company events here and I must say that I was impressed every time. The DC venues were aesthetically pleasing with very good decorations and seats. The place had a great layout overall, and was at a comfortable temperature.

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