AMS-NE Winter Chapter Meeting
Saturday, February 24th, 2018
Chestnut Hill, MA
|Photo Source: https://www.bc.edu/offices/its/support/mts/classroomsupport/classrooms/lyons.html|
8:45 - 9:15 a.m.
Refreshments and Registration
Morning Session: The politics of music’s transmission
"Hannibal Lokumbe’s One Land, One River, One People as Political Resistance”
Benjamin Safran (Temple University)
Hannibal Lokumbe’s identity markers and presentation make him the ultimate outsider within the classical music world. Born in the segregated south as Marvin Peterson and known mononymously as Hannibal, during a residency with the Philadelphia Orchestra he has so far created music for black churches, prisoners, and neuro-diverse communities. Unlike some of his other projects, his large-scale work One Land, One River, One People appears on the surface to function as a typical orchestral work and premiered in 2015 during a traditional subscription-series concert. I interpret this piece instead as a rare musical direct action within orchestral music. Hannibal’s performance practice, including cheering over soloists and inviting audience participation, prevents the work from being enjoyed as a typical piece of contemporary classical music.
I apply Robin James’ (2015) concept of Multiracial White Supremacy, or MRWaSP, to orchestral classical music. MRWaSP helps to explain the potential appeal to an orchestra of commissioning a composer such as Hannibal to compose such a piece under the guise of multiculturalism. Yet by exposing and subverting the traditions of the classical concert experience, Hannibal creates an unexpected sense of discomfort among the audience. I argue that in doing so, One Land, One River, One People exposes social boundaries within the genre of classical music itself. Rather than promoting a sense that—as one might expect from the title—we are all “one people,” I see the piece as revealing difference and as speaking truth to power. In doing so, Hannibal prevents his own tokenization as a rare black composer in the symphonic music community.
"A Chopin Film and Uneasy Reconciliations Under Socialist Realism in Poland"
Ewelina Boczkowska (Youngstown State University)
Aleksander Ford’s Młodość Chopina (The Youth of Chopin) was hailed by contemporaneous critics the artistic achievement of Socialist Realism when it came out in Poland in 1951. The expectations for the film were high: this was the first Polish biopic about Chopin and one intended to remedy foreign misrepresentations of the composer. The extent of Ford’s undertaking was imposing: the film had an epic scale and called for thousands of extras and over two-thousand costumes. Two streets were built in the city of Łódź for the scenes taking place in Warsaw, Vienna, and Paris. Most importantly, Ford devised a new Chopin for the new era: a socialist visionary from Poland’s northeastern region of Mazovia.
Ford’s relatable visionary Chopin was the filmmaker’s reimagining of the unrealized historical possibilities of the composer’s biography. Svetlana Boym calls this type of reimagining “restorative nostalgia.” Restorative nostalgia, which has to do with the preservation of rituals and “fixed” emblems of the past, characterizes the realm of national memory, which tends towards a teleological and inspiring narrative of collective identity from a shared history.
I build upon Boym’s work on nostalgia to understand Ford’s ideological interpretation in three key scenes from the film, including those in which Chopin draws inspiration from folk music and the politics of his time.
Socialist Realism (1949-1956) remains one of the least studied periods in Polish postwar history. Ford’s ideological film serves a case study in uneasy reconciliations between ideology and representations of musical creativity that eschew easy clichés.
“Padre Martini, Ugolino, and Late Medieval Music Theory in the Eighteenth Century”
Evan MacCarthy (West Virginia University)
As part of the far-reaching project to assemble a massive library of research materials for writing the Storia della musica, two manuscript copies containing significant selections from Ugolino of Orvieto’s Declaratio musicae disciplinae (ca. 1430) were commissioned by Padre Giovanni Battista Martini (1706–1784) in the second half of the eighteenth century. One of these manuscripts was copied in 1766 by Renaissance scholar Lorenzo Mehus (1717–1802) from a fifteenth-century manuscript housed in Florence, a source which also contains several texts by English theorist John Hothby. Despite earlier successes with copying theoretical texts of Johannes Ciconia and Girolamo Mei, surviving correspondence reveals a serious row between Mehus and Martini over payment for the copying as well as Martini’s great disappointment with Mehus’s negligent efforts, and the manuscript displays why–textual errors, sloppy reproductions of diagrams and musical examples, and drastically incomplete copying of Hothby’s treatises. The second commissioned manuscript was copied far more carefully in 1783, less than one year before Martini’s death, from a manuscript source borrowed from a cardinal’s substantial library in Rome. While it has been claimed that the source for copying is lost to us, it can now be demonstrated sufficiently from which manuscript it was copied, thereby adding additional important evidence toward the later provenance of that fifteenth-century source of Ugolino’s Declaratio. Martini was aware of Ugolino as a theorist, but both manuscript sources for Martini’s copies do not attribute the treatise to him. This paper explores the commissioning of these copies within the context of Martini’s collecting and copying of music theory treatises, the place of Ugolino’s writings in Martini’s larger history of music, and the oft overlooked value of later textual witnesses.
“Armide, Lyon, and Networks of Opera in 18th-Century France”
Natasha Roule (Harvard University)
Jean-Baptiste Lully’s tragédie en musique, Armide (1686), was hailed by its first audiences as the composer’s masterpiece. Indeed, the opera was performed at the Paris Opéra into the late 18th century, and has been revived to significant acclaim today. While the performance history of Armide at the Paris Opéra has received detailed scholarly attention, the opera’s fate in other French cities has undergone little exploration. A study of the modifications that Armide underwent beyond Paris, however, can reveal much about the circulation of operatic aesthetics in 18th-century France. In this paper, I discuss the performance history of Armide in Lyon, a city that rivaled Paris in economic importance and cultural vibrancy in the century before the French Revolution. Two Lyonnais institutions organized productions of Armide between 1698 and 1750: the Académie des Beaux-Arts, and the Académie de Musique de Lyon. My analysis of the performance scores, libretti, and performance personnel used by these institutions reveals how Lyon responded to changing performance approaches to Armide in Paris while developing a distinct version of the opera that represented local musical tastes. More broadly, I argue that the performance history of Armide in Lyon offers a case study for uncovering the networks of opera performance that crystallized in 18th-century France as provincial cities established opera companies that typically performed works that had originally premiered in the French capital. These networks of opera reflect how aesthetic values of opera and performance approaches to opera were circulated, emulated, or rejected across France. Ultimately, the networks demand a broader conceptualization of the early history of French opera that extends beyond the Paris Opéra to encompass the rest of the kingdom.
12:10 - 2:00 p.m. Lunch Break
2:00 - 2:20 p.m. Business Meeting
Afternoon Session: Sensations of performance
“Marino and Monteverdi’s Meraviglia: How the Sense of Touch Shaped the Book 7 Madrigals”
Martha Sullivan (Rutgers University)
In his seventh book of madrigals — Concerto — Monteverdi drastically increased the number of settings of Giambattista Marino's poetry, choosing fewer texts in the Petrarchan style of Guarini and Tasso. Marinism was marked by extremes and conceits, and scholars such as Carter and Giles have worked extensively on the rhetoric of meraviglia in Marino's writing. However, one particular feature of Marino's poetry that might have provoked new directions in Monteverdi's work has been overlooked: Marino, the “poet of the five senses,” writes constantly of touching and tasting, in contrast with the seeing and hearing that Tasso and others employed to describe human love. Marino's tactile imagery saturates even prose treatises like his monumental Dicerie Sacre. His preoccupation with touching and with tools may be a response to new modes of apprehending the world of the Early Modern Era, modes that Rebecca Cypess describes as instrumentality: Experimental science and other areas of intellectual inquiry demanded new technologies and procedures, and the hands, creating and wielding tools, became crucial to discovery.
In this paper, I demonstrate how very closely Monteverdi's fresh compositional procedures in Book 7—fragmentations, repetitions, and distortions of text, along with new juxtapositions of voice with instruments, and surprising overlays of voice on voice—mirror Marino's innovations and enact touch in music. The late madrigals demand a tactile response; for one thing, they require instruments. But juxtapositions in the score are also a kind of touching and exploration. A close analysis of works such as “A quest’ olmo” and “Tempro la cetra” reveals how both text and music exemplify meraviglia through the interplay of juxtapositions, metonymy, and touch. My analysis refutes the old assertions of Einstein and Tomlinson that Monteverdi's late madrigals are inferior; rather, I confirm that the composer used the provocations of Marino's meraviglia to spark significant innovation.
“Through the Fire of Imagination: The Keyboard Sketch as Mediator Between Improvisation and Composition”
Michael Goetjen (Rutgers University)
The role of keyboard improvisation in the creative process of late 18th-century composers has long been recognized. Anecdotal evidence shows that generating ideas by improvising [phantasiren] at a keyboard instrument was an integral part of the compositional process. Mozart stated that he preferred to have a keyboard instrument next to his writing desk, and the biography of Haydn by his friend Georg August Griesinger states unequivocally that “Haydn always devised his works at the keyboard.”
Still unexplored, however, is the role that composers’ sketches played in the transference of improvised ideas to compositions in their final forms. The eighteenth-century theorist Johann Georg Sulzer offered a window into this process by framing sketches as a liminal stage, mediating between what he called the “fire of imagination” in improvisation and the finished work. This creative fire, present in the act of improvisation, burns its mark onto the sketching page, and it awaits reigniting through the craft of composition.
Examining sketches of works by Haydn and Mozart in keyboard (two-staff) format, I argue that keyboard technique and the physical nature of the instrument may be discerned in sketches and traced through the act of each composition. I show, moreover, that the impact of improvising and keyboard sketching on composition was not limited to works by keyboard virtuosi such as Mozart. The keyboard sketch serves as a mediating device through which even non-keyboard works took shape.
“Sounds of Silence: Shostakovich’s Eleventh Symphony”
Justin Gregg (University of Hartford)
Dmitri Shostakovich’s Eleventh Symphony (op. 103, 1957) begins with a movement unlike any other in the symphonic repertory. For the majority of this movement, the string section plays long, muted, pianissimo chords that create an atmosphere described by listeners as “numbing,” “icy,” or even “haunting,” as other instruments play distant fanfares. This atmosphere returns in later movements of the symphony, slightly altered in each occurrence, and thus seems to serve a programmatic function. Due to the symphony’s subtitle of “The Year 1905,” its descriptive movement titles, and its incorporation of various Russian revolutionary songs, the work was described as a “film score without the film” shortly after its premiere. This paper aims to provide a framework for interpreting the first movement’s ‘frozen’ motive as an example of ‘sounding silence,’ and to analyze the programmatic function of this silence throughout the entire symphony.
Sounding silence is defined by Losseff and Doctor as “music evoking silence,” and typically serves as a backdrop to other musical events, having the ability to “activate an increased experience of almost anything else” occurring in the music. In the Shostakovich symphony under investigation, this ‘audible silence’ occupies the foreground of much of the piece, and the silence itself undergoes transformations in each movement to reflect the underlying narrative structure. In this paper, the silence motive will be examined in terms of its orchestration, harmony, and form, and its developments will be tracked through the course of the symphony. The abstract idea of silence will be discussed as it relates to the lack of artistic freedom in the Soviet Union, and brief comparisons will be made with preceding and contemporaneous examples of sounding silence.