Saturday, August 12, 2017

CFP: Fall 2017 Chapter Meeting: 23 September (University of New Hampshire)

The Fall 2017 meeting of the New England Chapter of the American Musicological Society will be held on Saturday, 23 September 2017 at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, NH.

The Program Committee invites proposals of up to 300 words for 40-minute papers (30-minute presentation, 10 minutes for question-and-answer) and for roundtable sessions. All abstracts are subject to blind review, and submissions from faculty, independent scholars, and graduate students are all encouraged and welcome. Abstracts should be submitted by Sunday, 27 August 2017 via email to or by mail to Joel Schwindt, AMS-NE Program Chair, Boston Conservatory at Berklee, 8 The Fenway, Boston, MA 02215.

Please refer to the AMS abstract guidelines: “Proposals should represent the presentation as fully as possible. A successful proposal typically articulates the main aspects of the argument or research findings clearly, positions the author’s contribution with respect to previous scholarship, and suggests the paper’s significance for the musicological community, in language that is accessible to scholars with a variety of specializations.” Applicants may submit only one proposal per meeting; figures and examples should not be included with your submission.

Presenters must be members of the American Musicological Society. Those who are not currently dues-paying members of the New England Chapter will be asked to kindly remit the modest Chapter dues ($10).

Paul Creative Arts Center, UNH (Photo credit:

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Other events this weekend in the 5 college area

For those of you attending the AMS-NE Spring meeting this Saturday or NECMT, you may be interested in a number of opportunities taking place in the 5-college area.

Friday, April 7 - 7:30-9:00pm
Mount Holyoke College Glee Club and Chamber Singers - “Journeys”
Abbey Chapel, Mount Holyoke College

Saturday, April 8 - 5:00-6:30pm
Mount Holyoke College Faculty Baroque: “April in Paris"
McCulloch Auditorium, Mount Holyoke College
Court airs by Bataille and Sebastien le Camus, a cantata by Clérambeault, instrumental music by Leclair, Couperin and others. Robert Eisenstein directs.

Saturday, April 8 - 7:30-9:30pm
Springfield Symphony Orchestra - “Nights in the Gardens of Spain”

Sunday, April 9 - 4:00-6:00pm
Guest Artist Eric Trudel, pianist
McCulloch Auditorium, Pratt Music Hall - Mount Holyoke College

Sunday, April 9
 - 2-5pm and 7:30-9:30pm
Old Chapel, UMass Amherst - “Interpreting Shakespeare”
2-5 - panel, roundtable, and performance of selected sonnets
7:30 - The Shakespeare Concerts - Shakespeare settings by Brahms, Schumann, Summer, and Pesetsky

Monday, March 27, 2017

Spring Chapter Meeting (Mount Holyoke College, April 8, 2017)

AMS-NE Spring Chapter Meeting
Saturday, April 8th, 2017
Mount Holyoke College
South Hadley, MA
Pratt Music Hall, Rm. 109
Parking and Accommodations info here.
Abstracts and bios are posted as they become available.

9:30-10:00       Refreshments and Registration

Morning Session
10:00               Welcome

Ferruccio Busoni and the Liceo musicale di Bologna: Transnationalism and Italian Musical Culture
Erinn Knyt (University of Massachusetts-Amherst)

When Busoni accepted the directorship of the Liceo Musical di Bologna in the spring of 1913, he assumed leadership of a well-respected music institution in Italy. Yet, his goal was not simply to direct the prestigious conservatory—he also wanted to revitalize the entire Bolognese musical scene, and with it, lay the grounds for an Italian music revival.   While the year was disappointing, as many of his ideas could not be implemented due to bureaucratic red tape, budget constraints, longstanding traditions, and changes in government, it was pivotal in Busoni’s development as a thinker and composer. It represents a time of turning from nationalism to the transnationalism. At the same time, it was an important point in the history of Italy, which, through political turmoil and transition, began experiencing a reawakening of musical culture.
Although Busoni’s time at other institutions has been discussed in some detail, his year at the Liceo musicale di Bologna is hardly mentioned in scholarly sources.  Based on archival material in conjunction with student memoirs, letters, and other documents, this article provides the first detailed account of Busoni’s activities at the Liceo and their significance for his career as well as for musical life in Bologna and Italy. In the process the article contributes to ongoing scholarship about transnational musical influences in the early 20th century and a little researched period in Italian musical and political development.

Erinn Knyt is assistant professor of music history at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She received her B.A. in Music (Music History and Piano Performance) with highest honors from the University of California, Davis in 2003, an M.M. in Music from Stanford University in 2007, and Ph.D. in Music and Humanities from Stanford University in 2010. 
Knyt specializes in 19th and 20th century music, aesthetics, and performance studies and has written extensively about Ferruccio Busoni. She has articles in the Journal of the Royal Musical AssociationAmerican Music, the Journal of Musicology, the Journal of Music History Pedagogy, the Journal of Musicological Research, and Twentieth Century Music, and has presented papers at conferences throughout the U.S. and abroadHer book, which is scheduled to appear in 2017 with Indiana University Press, explores Busoni’s relationship with early and mid-career composition mentees, including Jean Sibelius, Edgard Varèse, Otto Luening, Louis Gruenberg, and Philipp Jarnach.  Her book was awarded an AMS 75 Pays Endowment Book Subvention Grant.

Identifying the Unknown Source of a pre-Rameau Harmonic Theorist:        Who was  Alexander Malcolm’s Mysterious Ghostwriter?
Paula Telesco (University of Massachusetts-Lowell)

      Alexander Malcolm (1685-1763) published his Treatise of Musick in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1721, one year before Rameau published his Traité de l’harmonie. This was the first important work on music theory published in Scotland, and established Malcolm’s musical reputation. Sir John Hawkins considered it "one of the most valuable treatises on the subject of theoretical and practical music to be found in any of the modern languages."
      Malcolm’s treatise includes some of the earliest published English discussions of triadic inversion, and the inappropriateness of a 6/4 inversion substituting for a root position triad.
Malcolm's chp.13, in particular, is often cited by current music theorists, and anticipates the writings of Rameau. For example, Joel Lester states that while Malcolm’s “may not be a fully developed theory of melodic-harmonic structure. . . . its invocation of harmonic norms combined with well-considered voice-leading recommendations . . . sounds strikingly modern.” And, in discussing modulation with respect to eighteenth century theorists, Thomas Christensen states: “Malcolm offered a description of modulation similar to that of Rameau.” However, Malcolm’s Introduction states: “Justice demands [that I] inform you that the 13 Ch. of the following Book was communicated to me by a Friend [emphasis mine], whose Modesty forbids me to name.”
     Who was this friend? To determine that, one must first determine the author(s) of two rare anonymous contemporaneous treatises, remarkably similar to each other, and one nearly identical to Malcolm’s Chp. 13. Several writers have speculated on possible authors, two in particular, but none have provided actual evidence. I have identified the author of these two hitherto-anonymous treatises, and he is none other than the “modest” friend of Malcolm’s. But where did this friend get his theoretical training? I will identify the likely (and surprising) theorist with whom this author studied.

Dr. Paula Telesco is an Associate Professor of Music Theory and Aural Skills at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, where she is pursuing research on Alexander Malcolm, Music Perception, the Effects of Music on Early Learning, Music Theory and Aural Skills Pedagogy, and 18th-Century Analysis, with a focus on Enharmonicism.

Bach’s Thumbs: Paired Fingering, Continuo Playing, and the Advent of Modern Keyboard Technique
John McKean (Boston, MA)

It is common knowledge within performance practice circles that paired fingering—the stepwise alternation of adjacent fingers—was a mainstay of early keyboard technique. When and how did this seemingly unintuitive (if not outright bizarre) practice give way to the now-ubiquitous thumb-under technique? A long-standing anecdote claims that it was none other than J. S. Bach who devised “a much more complete way of using the fingers”. But can one keyboardist (Bach or otherwise) really be credited with single-handedly precipitating the advent of modern keyboard technique? This paper addresses these questions while tracing the technical developments that emerged around the turn of the eighteenth century. Although factors as varied as instrument technology, circulating temperaments, expanded tonal palettes, and aesthetic trends in keyboard composition played a decisive role in shaping the kinaesthetics of keyboard performance, I will argue that the art of continuo playing, in particular, served as a catalyst for many of the dramatic developments in keyboard technique that came to fruition during the first half of the eighteenth century. By constructing an understanding of these technical developments in corporeal, embodied terms, we gain insight into how and why the keyboard works by Bach and his contemporaries are as much concrete artifacts of their authors’ keyboard-playing bodies as they are abstract products of their musical minds.
John McKean is a Boston-based harpsichordist and musicologist. Frequently in demand as a continuo player, he regularly performs with numerous leading American and European early music chamber ensembles, including the Catacoustic Consort, Camerata Vocale Freiburg, and Habsburger Camerata; has appeared with the Jacksonville, Naples, Portland (Maine), and Pittsburg symphony orchestras (among others); and has performed extensively and recorded with Apollo’s Fire—the Cleveland Baroque Orchestra. He counts among his live radio broadcasts performances on NPR, BBC Radio 3, and Deutschlandradio Berlin.
In the academic realm, he holds degrees in German Studies and Harpsichord Performance from Oberlin College/Conservatory, an advanced performance diploma from the Hochschule für Musik Freiburg (Germany), as well as an M.Phil. and a Ph.D. in historical musicology from the University of Cambridge (U.K). His master’s thesis unearthed new details concerning the life and works of French harpsichord composer Gaspard Le Roux, while his doctoral dissertation examined the development of keyboard technique during the German Baroque. For several years he served as an assistant editor of the Oxford University Press journal Early Music. Beyond his musicological work and performing career, John also maintains an active interest in instrument building (he regularly performs on his own reconstruction of a 17th-century Flemish harpsichord), music publishing, and typography.

12:05-1:50       Lunch Break

1:50-2:10         Business Meeting

Afternoon Session
Keynote address: "Rameau's Principle of Nature vs. Rousseau's State of Nature"
James Parakilas (Bates College)

Jim Parakilas is the James L. Moody, Jr. Family Professor of Performing Arts at Bates College.  His scholarly work includes Ballads without Words: Chopin and the Tradition of the Instrumental Ballade (1992) and other writings on Chopin, most recently the chapter “The Barcarolle and the Barcarolle: Topic and Genre in Chopin” (to appear this summer in Halina Goldberg and Jonathan Bellman eds., Chopin and His World); The Story of Opera and other writings on opera, including the “The Operatic Canon” in Helen Greenwald, ed., The Oxford Handbook of Opera (2014); and Piano Roles: 300 Years of Life with the Piano (2000).  His latest project is a study of the histories of competing concepts of music in Western philosophy; his talk for AMS-NE comes from the portion of that study dealing with the paradox that music is both art and nature.

"From Rameau to Riemann: Giorgio Antoniotti's L'Arte Armonica as a Missing Link from Fundamental Bass to the Tonnetz"
Deborah Burton (Boston University)
      Giorgio Antoniotto published his 1760 treatise L’arte armonica, with subscribers including Burney, Arne, Hawkins and Dr. Johnson. Bringing attention to Antoniotto helps fill a lacuna in the study of Italian music theory, and sheds light on his contemporaries in the British Isles, including Malcolm (1721) and Smith (1749). Antoniotto’s treatise is presented here as a link between Rameau and Riemann.
            Using Rameau’s fundamental bass, Antoniotto generates scales from sequential perfect fifths. He posits two systems: Natural (diatonic) and General (chromatic). In the latter, he explores the complete chromatic, whole-tone scales, and major- and minor-third cycles. His grid of the General moves by perfect fifths horizontally and vertically, with one diagonal a whole-tone scale, and the other unisons. Another example shows whole-tone lines in the soprano, tenor and bass parts, with a chromatic line in the alto. He demonstrates a major-third cycle (C-E-G#-C) in yet another example, and in a fourth, a minor-third cycle passes through the major keys of C, A, F# and Eb, before returning to C major.
            Euler’s 1739 “genus diatonicum chromaticum” and 1774 “Speculum Musicum” have been deemed forerunners of the Riemannian Tonnetz, and Antoniotto has no grid precisely equivalent to Euler’s discoveries.  However, he does create one in which the horizontal and vertical axes consist of Natural (diatonic) thirds, with one diagonal perfect fifths, and the other unisons.
            In addition to exploring Antoniotto’s concepts, I place them in the context of contemporary geometric representations of musical structures, like Euler’s lattices. Hartung (1749), for example, demonstrates tonality in the form of a circle. The mystic Mace (1676), who believed that consonance and dissonance were related to Good and Evil, creates a spiral in which the octave represents the “source, cause, and conclusion in God.” I also show other geometric examples from Butler (1636) and Smith (1759).

Deborah Burton, Associate Professor of Music at Boston University, has taught at the University of Rome, Harvard University, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Florida International University, Fordham, University of Michigan and Adrian College. Her research concerns the history of music theory (emphasizing Italian sources) opera analysis, and counterpoint. Her recent monograph, entitled Recondite Harmony: Essays on Puccini’s Operas, is published by Pendragon Press. Along with Giorgio Sanguinetti (University of Rome, Tor Vergata), Dr. Burton edits the scholarly series, also for Pendragon, Italian Theoretical Treatises as part of the Harmonologia: Studies in Music Theory series.   Dr. Burton collaborated with Gregory Harwood to write a prize-winning annotated translation of Francesco Galeazzi’s 1796 Elementi Teorico-Practici, volume II, entitled The Theoretical-Practical Elements of Music in the Studies in the History of Music Theory and Literature of the University of Illinois Press (2012). Professor Burton was president of the New England Conference for Music Theory from 2006-2008.  She has published articles and reviews in Music Theory and Analysis, Music Theory Spectrum, Rivista di Analisi e Teoria Musicale, Studi Musicali, Nuova Rivista Musicale Italiana, Opera Quarterly, and she was a Visiting Scholar at the American Academy in Rome in 2004, 2009, and 2014.
3:50                 Refreshments

Saturday, February 11, 2017

CFP: Spring Chapter Meeting, Mount Holyoke College (April 8, 2017)

The Spring 2017 meeting of the New England Chapter of the American Musicological Society will be held on Saturday, April 8, 2017 at the Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, MA.
The Program Committee invites proposals of up to 300 words for 30-minute papers and for roundtable sessions. All abstracts are subject to blind review, and submissions from faculty, independent scholars, and graduate students are all welcome. Abstracts should be submitted by Saturday, March 4, 2017 via email to or by mail to Joel Schwindt, AMS-NE Program Chair, Boston Conservatory at Berklee, 8 The Fenway, Boston, MA 02215.

Please refer to the AMS abstract guidelines: “Proposals should represent the presentation as fully as possible. A successful proposal typically articulates the main aspects of the argument or research findings clearly, positions the author’s contribution with respect to previous scholarship, and suggests the paper’s significance for the musicological community, in language that is accessible to scholars with a variety of specializations.”

Presenters must be members of the American Musicological Society. Those who are not currently dues-paying members of the New England Chapter will be asked to kindly remit the modest Chapter dues ($10).

Friday, January 6, 2017

Winter Chapter Meeting: Brandeis University (Feb 4, 2017)

AMS-NE Winter Chapter Meeting
Saturday, February 4th, 2017
Slosberg Recital Hall
Brandeis University
Waltham, MA

9:30-10:00       Refreshments and Registration

Morning Session: Gateways to Perception
10:00               Welcome

John Klaess (Yale University), Music and Race in the Emergence of the "Urban Contemporary" Format, 1977-1987

In the early 1980s, radio industry commentators noted the arrival of a new station format, suggestively titled "Urban Contemporary." Stations employing this format--a mix of classic and new R & B, disco, and funk, book-ended by weekend rap programs--rose to prominence in several major markets.  By 1982, two Urban Contemporary stations competed for highest-rated station in New York City. Yet commentators could not agree on a definition of Urban Contemporary, nor on what criteria should be used to articulate such a definition. Some understood it a style of musical programming. Others, as demographic composition of the audition.  Still others argued it represented  little more than a clever rebranding of the existing "Black" format.  Nonetheless, Urban Contemporary stations attracted a signficant and heterogeneous listenership throughout the 1980s.

In this paper, I track the emergence of the Urban Contemporary format in execution and reception.  Centered around case studies of New York City stations WBLS and WRKS, I cue into the ways commentators and broadcasters deployed categories of race, sound, and marketability in their definitions.  Drawing on discussions of the format in trade publications, oral historical interviews and hits charts, I demonstrate the ways in which broadcasters produced and responded to the increasing demand for Black music, participating in what Mark Anthony Neal has described as the re-racialization of American music. Broadcasters sought to retain the broadest listenership while attracting maximal advertising dollars. These delicate negotiations balanced service to a core Black audience while attempting to maximize appeal to other constituencies.  I ask what role musical sound and its advertising played in these negotiations.  Engaging recent work on genre and style, I suggest attention to radio format as a complementary category, one revealing the resonances of race and musical sound in the 1980s.

John Klaess is a PhD candidate at Yale University. His dissertation, titled "Breaks in the Air: Rap on the Radio in New York, 1979-1989," examines the economies, techologies, and auditory cultures bearing on the adaptation of rap music to broadcast media. He has presented work at the national meetings of the American Musicological Society and the Society for Ethnomusicology. 

Roberta Montemorra Marvin (University of Massachusetts-Amherst), Notions of Verdi in Victorian England
The music of Verdi rapidly became integrated into the repertory of London’s theaters following the premiere (March 1845) of Ernani, the first of the composer’s operas staged in the British capital. London was an important location for dissemination of Verdi’s works: the first commission Verdi received from outside Italy—I masnadieri, 1847—came from Benjamin Lumley at Her Majesty’s Theatre; Don Carlos received its first performance following its Parisian premiere in London; the Messa da Requiem was successfully performed multiple times under the composer’s baton; adaptations of Verdi’s operas reached a broad, mixed-class audience outside the opera house as burlesques and farces and via “Englished” sheet music. Other, unpleasant, events made London loom large in Verdi’s career; these culminated in a scandal played out in the international press, precipitated by the refusal of organizers for 1862 London International Exhibition to perform Verdi’s commissioned work to represent the newly independent Italian nation.

No doubt Verdi and his works were well known and widely disseminated in Victorian Britain. But to date little has been said about what British audiences and critics knew and thought about the man Verdi, or what effect those perceptions may have had on the reception of his music. To address these issues, I focus on verbal accounts in the English press concerning Verdi’s behavior and appearance, and on visual images of Verdi’s person, engravings and photographs published in newspapers, scores, and books. Against perceptions and images of Verdi’s music, conceptions of Victorian decorum; ideas about physiognomy and phrenology; and prescribed techniques and conventions of portraiture for depicting character traits, I unpack messages conveyed to readers/viewers about Verdi the man. My study of these Victorian notions of Verdi furnishes insights into British sensibilities and culture, especially the possible intertwining of societal expectations and aesthetic perceptions.

 Roberta Montemorra Marvin is Professor and Chair in the Department of Music and Dance at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She has served on the faculty of Tufts University, Boston University, the University of Alabama, and the University of Iowa where she also served as Associate Dean of International Programs and as founding Director of the Opera Studies Forum. Author of The Politics of Verdi’s “Cantica” (2014) and Verdi the Student – Verdi the Teacher (2010, winner of the Premio Internazionale Giuseppe Verdi), she has been the recipient of numerous fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Philosophical Society, the Fulbright program, the Bogliasco Foundation, and the Howard Foundation. Marvin is also co-editor of seven books, most recently The Idea of Art Music in a Commercial World, 1800-1930 (2016) and Music in Print and Beyond: Hildegard von Bingen to The Beatles (2013, Eastman Studies in Music). An earlier publication, Operatic Migrations: Transforming Works and Crossing Boundaries was short-listed for the American Musicological Society’s Ruth L. Solie Award. She has edited two volumes in The Works of Giuseppe Verdi (Casa Ricordi and University of Chicago Press) and has served as Associate General Editor for that series. She is also the sole editor of the Cambridge Verdi Encyclopedia (2013), Editor-in-Chief of the journal Verdi Forum, and founding book series editor for Ashgate Interdisciplinary Studies in Opera.

Gabrielle Cornish (Eastman School of Music), Sounding the Gulag: Toward a Sonic History of the Soviet Labor Camps
In recent years, historians of the Soviet Union have emphasized the “spatial regime” of the Gulag—one in which the movement of bodies and borders was heavily regulated. Kate Brown, for example, has provocatively suggested that within the geographies of Soviet socialism, the Gulag lay at one extreme of a spatial spectrum that connected it with broader totalitarian structures within the Soviet Union (Brown 2007). This work, however, has focused on the tangible elements—walls, fences, borders—of mass incarceration in the Soviet Union. As a result, a more complete sensory history of everyday life in the labor camps has been largely overlooked. 

Building on recent studies of music, torture, and war by Suzanne Cusick and J. Martin Daughtry, my paper seeks to remedy this oversight by attempting to reconstruct the sonic landscape of the Gulag. Using memoir accounts of prisoners and camp guards, I argue that aural experience was an essential means of constructing life and identity in the Gulag, which was as much a sonic regime—with bells, barks, whistles, and shouts—as it was a spatial one. Moreover, I position musical performance as a means of asserting personal sovereignty and individual agency within this sonic regime. To this end, I trace the many appearances of a single patriotic mass song, Isaak Dunayevsky’s “Wide Is My Motherland” (1936), as an authoritative discourse that convicts questioned through performance and parody in various settings. As an acoustic community, the Gulag created, absorbed, cultivated, organized, and refracted the lived sonic experience of its prisoners. Deeply intertwined with its aural surroundings, the Gulag participated in a discursive network of people, objects, sounds, and vibrations. Through performance of the song, prisoners in the Gulag subversively questioned the official authority of “Wide Is My Motherland” and self-fashioned new, incarcerated identities through song.

Gabrielle Cornish is a PhD student in musicology at the Eastman School of Music. Her research broadly considers the role music played in everyday life during late socialism. In particular, her dissertation examines the intersections between music, technology, and politics in the Soviet Union from 1960-1991. She received a B.A. in music and Russian studies from the University of Rochester, after which she was awarded a Fulbright grant to Russia. Gabrielle has presented her work at national and international conferences throughout the United States, UK, and Russia.

12:05-1:50       Lunch Break

1:50-2:10         Business Meeting

Afternoon Session: Dynamic Perceptions           
Matthew Timmermans (McGill University), Kálmán’s Die Herzogin von Chicago: a Transnational Vision for Inter-war Central Europe

During its first run in Vienna, Emmerich Kálmán’s (1882–1953) Die Herzogin von Chicago (1928) had 301 consecutive performances and then toured internationally, yet it remains relatively unrecognized in operetta scholarship today.  With this story of a rich American woman who falls in love with a Hungarian prince, Kálmán treats the American-European encounter as a clash of American jazz and Charleston rhythms with Central European classical music such as the Viennese waltz and stylized Hungarian folk idioms. Unlike contemporaneous experimental works such as Ernest Krenek’s (1900–91) Jonny spielt auf (1926), where the contrast of jazz with European “high art” might be understood as a modernist critique of inadequacies in German society, I argue that Herzogin has been neglected because it combines two popular music genres excluded from the precincts of high art, that is, jazz and operetta.  Nonetheless, this conflation suggests a more covert, but no less radical, construction of German identity after World War I.  

To uncover this subtle communication of identity, I draw on Rebecca Walkowitz’s post-modern methodology “critical cosmopolitanism” to explore the alternative socio-political meanings that exist between the boundaries of different cultural vernaculars and are neglected by the dominant Western bias. Although from the perspective of Western “high art” jazz was seen as a degenerate musical genre in inter-war Central Europe, composers such as Kálmán saw it as a symbol of America’s cultural freedom. Furthermore, I argue that Kálmán’s Jewish identity functioned as a survival strategy enabling him to explore the porousness between the vernaculars of American jazz and the Viennese waltz because he did not identify with the Austrian majority. By combining jazz and the waltz in Herzogin, Kálmán offers an alternative national identity to the growing hegemonic doctrine of National Socialism in the form of a culturally inclusive (transnational) vision of Central Europe.

Matthew Timmermans is completing his second year in a master’s of musicology at McGill University in Montréal, Canada. His research focuses mainly on 19th century opera within the context of philosophy, aesthetics, and performing practice. This year, he received a SSHRC (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada) research grant to complete his master’s thesis. His thesis explores how we perceive ageing in opera, specifically the reception of performers who have aged. He has presented his research at several conferences, such as those hosted by University College Dublin, the University of Ottawa, and Carleton University.  

Monica A. Hershberger (Harvard University), Two Stages in the Operatic Life of Susan B. Anthony: Virgil Thomson and Gertrude Stein’s The Mother of Us All at Columbia University (1947) and the Santa Fe Opera (1976)
In 1947, Virgil Thomson and Gertrude Stein’s The Mother of Us All premiered at Columbia University. The Santa Fe Opera revived The Mother in 1976, celebrating simultaneously the company’s twentieth anniversary and the American bicentennial. I argue that the university premiere and the professional revival – separated by 29 years and almost 2,000 miles – illuminate how the meaning of one American opera evolved through the progress of the Cold War and the modern feminist movement. 

Commissioned by the Alice M. Ditson Fund at Columbia University, The Mother of Us All loosely chronicles the life and work of Susan B. Anthony. Initially, the opera appeared a rather esoteric work, with a seemingly unconventional operatic heroine, fragmented libretto, and retrospective musical score. I show how in the context of 1947, The Mother may be read as an ironic commentary on the achievements of the women's suffrage movement, particularly as many women during the immediate post-war era endured pressure to leave the workforce and return to the home. 

Santa Fe's lavish revival, with its onstage parades and brightly colored, larger-than-life sets by pop artist Robert Indiana, proposed a different interpretation. Moreover, the company repeatedly boasted that British conductor Raymond Leppard was in the process of becoming an American citizen, forging a link between his desire to be an American and his first experience conducting an American opera about a great American woman. Using archival materials from Columbia University, Yale University, and the Santa Fe Opera, including never-released documentary footage of the 1976 season, I show how during the bicentennial year, Santa Fe revived not only The Mother of Us All, but also nationalism and feminism, grafting them together as if to submerge the opera’s initial satire or skepticism.

 Monica A. Hershberger is a PhD candidate in historical musicology at Harvard University where she is completing her dissertation “American Operatic Heroines: Staging National and Feminist Identities during the Cold War.” Monica has presented her research at various conferences, including those of the American Musicological Society, Society for American Music, College Music Society, and American Comparative Literature Association. She recently published an article on Douglas Moore’s 1966 opera about Kansas temperance crusader Carry A. Nation (1846-1911) in The Opera Journal, as well as a digital lecture on Jack Beeson’s 1965 opera about New England axe-murderess Lizzie Borden (1860-1927) through the Society for American Music’s new Digital Lectures in American Music Series. Prior to beginning her PhD, Monica earned a BM and MM in piano performance; she maintains a small private piano studio in Somerville, Massachusetts. 

Gui Hwan Lee (College-Conservatory of Music at the University of  Cincinnati), The Heroic Journey of Musical Persona: Two-Layered Narrative in Joe Hisaishi’s  Film Scores for Spirited Away
Film music scholarship has often interpreted non-diegetic sound in association with film’s story and image, rather than considering multiple layers of narratives the sound implies: one that supports filmic narrative through techniques such as Mickey mousing or thematic association, and the other that unfolds its own narrative as if abstract instrumental music. 

The latter is not always apparent, but if both exist in a film score, they can interact with each other, weaving a rich fabric of musical meaning. Joe Hisaishi’s score for Hayao Miyazaki’s internationally acclaimed anime Spirited Away (2001) invites us to two interacting layers of narrative, that is, the one on the surface layer (the film’s narrative), and the other on the deeper layer (abstract musical narrative). Scholars have discussed the score by focusing on its eclectic styles (Koizumi 2010) and American influence (Roedder 2013), but no study yet has analyzed it in terms of two-layered narratives.  

Drawing on the existing scholarship on film music regarding semiotics (Schneller 2013), musical agency (Reyland 2012), and tonal design (Neumeyer 1998), this paper proposes two layers of narrative and their interaction from four pieces accompanying the film’s key moments: “One Summer’s Day,” “The River of the Day,” “The Sixth Stop,” and “Reprise.”  On the surface layer, these pieces realize an effective mimesis of the narrative that an ordinary girl saves her enchanted parents and friend through her journey in the liminal world of Japanese deities. On the deeper layer, they draw another narrative that an insecure and uncertain musical persona finally makes its tonal/harmonic resolution through three-key stages in third relationship: C major–E minor–G major. Thus, this paper not only sheds light on narratives in Hisaishi’s film scores, but also proposes a model to apply for future studies of musical narratives in non-diegetic sounds. 

After completing the bachelor’s degree in violin performance in South Korea, Gui-Hwan Lee began the Master’s program in musicology at Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) in 2013, then added in 2015 the M.M. in music theory at the same institution. In the summer of 2016, Lee finished his master’s thesis about Luciano Berio’s string quartet and orchestral music for the musicology degree, and will complete both degrees by the spring of 2017. Recently, Lee has applied for PhD programs in musicology, while refining two research topics which he will be pursuing during his doctoral study: aesthetics of post-1945 western chamber music, and global/local qualities of East-Asian popular songs as well as film music.
4:10                 Refreshments