The Classical Guitar: its Evolution and Appreciation by Italian Greats

Guitar Studio of Allen Krantz

Wednesday, February 27th, Noon

Temple University Paley Library Lecture Hall

Free and open to the public

Light refreshments served. Boyer recital credit given.

photo courtesy Beverley Goodwin

The guitar, currently a mainstay of popular music, has a long history and wealth of literature preceding its use in rock bands and college dorm rooms. The type of guitar that Allen Krantz and his students will be using is called the classical guitar (also known as the nylon-string guitar or the Spanish guitar). The main difference between classical and acoustic/electric guitars is the material of the strings. On a classical guitar the strings are made from either gut or nylon, whereas the acoustic or electric guitar have metal strings. Another difference would be the way that the guitar is held while being played. (For right-handed players) Classical is propped up by the left leg and the modern steel string guitar is played off of the hip.

Sometimes the term “classical guitar” isn’t even describing the instrument itself, but instead one of two concepts:

– The playing technique where individual strings are plucked with the fingernails
– The instrument’s literature

Music written specifically for this instrument dates back to the addition of the sixth string (the baroque guitar originally had five strings) in the late 18th century. In addition to these works written for the instrument, a classical guitar might play pieces originally written for lute, vihuela or the cello. The most well-known composer who did not write for the guitar is J.S. Bach; his baroque lute works are a mainstay in classical guitar literature.

Not many concertos were written specially for the guitar, however in present times there are numerous concertos that are quite well-known. Antonio Vivaldi and Mauro Giuliani are Italian composers who wrote famous concertos for the guitar. Allen Krantz and his students will be performing literature from the classical guitar’s extensive repertoire with a focus on a few of these great Italian composers.

A third Italian composer Nicolo Paganini, was also a guitarist. He once said “I love the guitar for its harmony; it is my constant companion in all my travels.” Paganini’s relationship with the guitar ha s only recently come to light – only a few of his compositions for the instrument have been published. The reason for this is disputed among scholars, but it appears to have something to do with the popularity of his violin works. Paganini’s work for violin seems to have overshadowed his guitar works during the time of his publications, when in fact Paganini work with technique was just as extensive on the guitar as it was with the violin.

The classical guitar has been cultivated over centuries, building its repertoire and technique as various schools utilized this flexible and well-rounded instrument. Allen Krantz and his students will be presenting many fine examples of this unique instrument and we hope to see you Wednesday February 27th at noon for our Beyond the Notes concert series.

For more information see:

The Classical Guitar: A Complete History. London, England: Balafon Books, 1997. Paley Library ML1015.G9 C547x 1997

Dobney, Jayson Kerr, and Wendy Powers. “The Guitar.” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/guit/hd_guit.htm (September 2007).

Heck, Thomas F., Harvey Turnbull, Paul Sparks, James Tyler, Tony Bacon, Oleg V. Timofeyev, and Gerhard Kubik. “Guitar.” Grove Music Online.  January 01, 2001. Oxford University Press.

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Stephanie George is a second-year masters study in Music Theory at Boyer College of Music & Dance. Stephanie completed a B.S. in Music Education and a B.A. in Music (concentrations in clarinet and music theory) from Lebanon Valley College in 2015, after which she secured a placement with Harford County Public Schools as a music teacher for Havre de Grace Elementary. Her master’s thesis applies narrative theory to Chopin’s second piano sonata using a variety of analysis techniques. Her research interests include Sonata Form, Narrative Theory, Schenkerian Analysis, and Pedagogy. After completing her masters, Stephanie plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Music Theory.

 

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William Bolcom: Wide-Ranging Influences, Theatricality, and Fun

Beyond the Notes logo

Cabaret Songs and Piano Rags

by William Bolcom

Featuring faculty artists Charles Abramovic, Lawrence Indik, and Cara Latham

Wednesday, February 6th

12:00-12:50pm

Paley Library Lecture Hall

Light refreshments served. Boyer recital credit given.


 

William Bolcom

Like many other American composers who studied composition in universities in the middle of the 20th century, William Bolcom began his career composing serial music, the musical style most commonly associated with “atonality.” At that time, serialism was often seen as necessary tool to help composers avoid a tendency to recreate familiar patterns that represented a failed, oppressive system (Brindle 2003). Yet Bolcom gradually shifted toward employing a wider variety of compositional styles, often influenced by popular music. Today, composers and “new music” listeners and performers may see being forced into an academic, atonal style of writing as oppressive.  As a result, many of today’s younger composers have followed Bolcom’s lead into music that incorporates a wide variety of stylistic influences. Bolcom’s music, influenced by other forms of music, became the music for which he is known.  In this concert, we will hear some of his cabaret songs along with rags for piano performed by Boyer faculty.

In this 21st century, his work is still described as “running the gamut” of popular and classical musical styles (Lister 2006, 37). In an interview in The Opera Quarterly, Bolcom shares some fascinating details of his views on music:

“I’ve always been interested in character. I think pure voice is something that compels a certain sort of opera buff, along with the admiration of singers as athletes. And that’s okay; but I’ve always been interested in opera as theater.” (Horowitz 2006)

Bolcom could be seen as a rejection of the typical 20th century conservatory ethos, of music as an end in and of itself. Even today, many of those of us who are music students have been told at some point in our lives that to be a good musician means to engross ourselves in “pure” music and to ignore the “extra-musical” aspects of our lives, as well as to see popular music as inherently artistically inferior. One could trace this back to the 19th century German debate over so-called “absolute music,” essentially the idea that music should transcend life and exist only for its own, purely aesthetic pleasure. To be fair, vocal music was not usually framed as “absolute music;” it typically has text which suggests something “extramusical.” But in recent decades, musicologists and ethnomusicologists have noted that “absolute music” was never really a thing at all. For example, Henry Kingsbury’s influential 1988 work—which was published by Temple University Press—shows how the very idea of classical music is itself always part of the construction of a social and cultural system. Bolcom’s embrace of the theatrical rather than holding on to some idea of sanctity of “pure” academic music is one of the things that makes his music especially fun.

The rags, too, of course, reflect influences beyond the world of classical music. Ragtime music is characterized in particular by its distinctive syncopated rhythmic structure. A 1992 review by Barry Hannigan, then a professor at Bucknell University, writes that “care and craft distinguish the [Bolcom] ragtime pieces, giving evidence of Bolcom’s classical training” compared to other ragtime composers. Hannigan’s attitude seems remarkably condescending toward the earlier ragtime composers, and I am inclined to wonder if there is a racial dynamic here, since ragtime is a historically African American musical form, and Bolcom appears to be white[1] and trained as a composer in a historically predominantly-white musical genre. Nevertheless, while I would argue that ragtime’s traditional “care and craft” should not be measured by its adherence to contemporary classical music values, it is noteworthy that Bolcom incorporates traditional rhythmic ideas of ragtime, and uses them in more classically notated ways. For example, Hannigan notes that there is a higher precision in the way expressive directions are notated on the page than in traditional ragtime music. While I would not argue that this makes the music automatically superior—after all, as I argued in the case of Couperin in my blogpost for the first concert of last semester, level of notational detail in keyboard reflects social and cultural factors—it does give us something else to listen for. As in most music of the 20th and 21st century, there is clearly a lot to consider. Yet behind this all is a concert sure to be accessible and fun!

References:

Berlin, Edward A. 2001. “Ragtime.” Grove Music Online. 10 Dec. 2018. https://doi-org.libproxy.temple.edu/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.22825.

Brindle, Reginald Smith (1987) 2003. The New Music: The Avant‐garde since 1945. London: Oxford University Press.

Hannigan, Barry. 1992. “William Bolcom, ‘Piano Rags’.” Notes 49, no. 1 (September): 369.

Herwitz, Daniel. 2006. “Writing American Opera: William Bolcom on Music, Language, and Theater,” The Opera Quarterly 22, 3-4 (July), 521–533. https://doi-org.libproxy.temple.edu/10.1093/oq/kbn001

Johnson, Steven, and Lars Helgert. 2013. “Bolcom, William.” Grove Music Online. 7 Dec. 2018. https://doi-org.libproxy.temple.edu/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.A2248409.

Kingsbury, Henry. 1988. Music, Talent, and Performance: A Conservatory Cultural System, Temple University Press.

Lister, Rodney. 2006. “Review: William Bolcom’s Songs of Innocence and Experience.” Tempo 60, no. 35 (January), 37-39.

[1]To be clear, I cannot actually find any explicit mention of his race, and am saying this based on photos of him.

Ben Safran is a Ph.D. candidate in music at Temple University, where his dissertation focuses on contemporary classical composers’ uses of social justice and political themes within concert music. His compositions have been performed by various ensembles and musicians across the United States.

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Temple University Percussion Ensemble: watch, consider, enjoy!

Temple University Percussion Ensemble

Phillip O’Banion, Director

Wednesday, December 5th

12:00pm – 12:50pm

Paley Library Lecture Hall

Light refreshments served. Boyer recital credit given.

photo of xylophoneWatching a percussion ensemble can be unlike watching any other type of concert! For one thing, there is the physicality of seeing musicians move around between instruments. While we often think of music in more abstract terms, there is increased interest in the twenty-first century among music scholars in thinking about the physical relationship with a musical instrument (Abbate 2004; Le Guin 2006). The visual element of seeing musicians move around among elaborate set-ups of instruments contributes to the fun of the performance. Another exciting difference is that while most Western music tends to prioritize thinking about pitch over other aspects of music, percussion music celebrates and can help us listen more carefully to other elements of sound, such as rhythm, timbre, and volume. Of course, there is plenty of pitch in percussion music as well.

The composers represented in the program are Jason Treuting, Ivan Trevino, John Cage, Bob Becker, and Minoru Miki. Of these, John Cage is probably the most well-known. Cage is especially appreciated for his aleatoric works, compositions in which elements are left up to chance. He is also known for prepared piano music, in which performers place objects inside the piano before the concert to alter the sound. This concert will include music for prepared piano. While Cage is sometimes credited as the inventor of the technique, Liang Deng argues that the practice of preparing a piano actually dates to early keyboard music of the 17th century (2015).

photo of percussion performanceAll four of the other composers on the program are known for founding or co-founding their own percussion ensembles. Treuting is a percussionist and member of percussion ensemble Sō Percussion. The ensemble is known for performances of Cage and of Steve Reich, and their original music is described as influenced by those composers but also very distinct (DelCiampo 2015). Trevino is also a percussionist and member of Break with Reality, a cello and percussion quartet, and also a founder of The Big Trouble, which he describes on his website as “a songwriting collective focused on creating music for percussion and vocals in an indie-rock aesthetic.” Miki was a composer known for uses of traditional East Asian percussion instruments. In 2008 he published a book on composing for Japanese instruments [available at Paley]; he died in 2011. Miki too was an organizer of an ensemble; the Ensemble Nipponia was founded in 1964 and played music for traditional Japanese instruments (Kanazawa 2001). He composed a large body of works including a number of operas plus works for orchestra, chorus, chamber ensembles. Finally, Becker co-founded the ensemble NEXUS in 1971 (Beck and Strain 2012).

All told, this concert features composers with roots from Japan [Miki] to Mexico [Trevino], while Cage and Becker were both heavily influenced by East Asian and South Asian sounds (Ruby 2017; Brett 2009). This makes sense. While the origins of most instruments in the orchestra may be fascinating and complex but are most commonly Eurocentric, the origins of instruments in the percussion section are especially diverse. There exist commonly used percussion instruments in modern and contemporary classical music from most populated corners of the world.

photo of xylophone and drum performanceSuch intercultural borrowing deserves close examination. Neil Ruby critiques Cage specifically as Ruby argues that “contemporary music often perpetuates pervasive attitudes and assumptions regarding the relationship between spirituality, Asia, and artistry that are historically amnesiac, culturally reductionistic, and perversely antithetical to the progressive egalitarian values typically associated with musical interculturalism” (2017). On the other hand, Philip Brett speculates how alternative instrumentations, tuning systems, and Orientalism itself might have held a special allure for gay American composers of the 20th century, including Cage. While noting that Orientalism is still problematic, Brett sees it as a potential strategy used by queer composers for escaping the traps of western cultures. This building of musical “alternate worlds” that Brett suggests—perhaps friendlier to those on the margins of society—through reference to non-Western culture can also be done through instrumentation, specifically the construction of less familiar, more adventurous ensembles.

This brings us back to the question of how percussion ensembles are different from others that perform “classical” music. The best way to find out will be to experience the concert firsthand, and to focus on the aspects of music that we normally think about less, from timbre to rhythm to the visual of performers’ movements on stage.

 

References:

Abbate, Carolyn. 2004. “Music—Drastic or Gnostic?,” Critical Inquiry 30: 505-36.

Beck, John H., and James A. Strain. 2012. “Percussion music.” Grove Music Online. Accessed November 7, 2018. http:////www.oxfordmusiconline.com/grovemusic/view/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.001.0001/omo-9781561592630-e-1002225030.

Brett, Philip. 2009. “Queer Musical Orientalism.” Echo: A Music Centered Journal 9 (1).

DelCiampo, Matthew. 2015. “So Percussion and Grey Mcmurray, Where (we) Live. Cantaloupe CA21087, 2012, CD.” Journal of the Society for American Music 9 (4): 515-517. doi:http://dx.doi.org.libproxy.temple.edu/10.1017/S1752196315000462.

Deng, Liang. 2015. “On the Debate over Whether ‘Prepared Piano’ was the Invention of John Cage.” College Music Symposium 55.

Le Guin, Elisabeth. 2006. “‘Cello-and-Bow Thinking’: The First Movement of Boccherini’s Cello Sonata in E-flat Major, Fuori Catalogo,” Boccherini’s Body: An Essay in Carnal Musicology. Berkeley: University of California Press, 14-37.

Kanazawa, Masakata. 2001. “Miki, Minoru.” Grove Music Online. Accessed 7 November 2018. http:////www.oxfordmusiconline.com/grovemusic/view/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.001.0001/omo-9781561592630-e-0000018649.

Miki, Minoru, and Marty Regan. 2008. Composing for Japanese Instruments. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press.

Ruby, Neil. 2017. “Spirituality and Orientalism in Contemporary Classical Music.” M.A. thesis, University of California, San Diego.

Sō Percussion. Accessed 7 November 2018. https://sopercussion.com/people/jason-treuting/

Trevino, Ivan. “Bio.” Accessed 7 November 2018. https://ivandrums.com/biography/

Ben Safran is a Ph.D. candidate in music at Temple University, where his dissertation focuses on contemporary classical composers’ uses of social justice and political themes within concert music. His compositions have been performed by various ensembles and musicians across the United States

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Shannon Merlino, Baroque Violin, and Music from our Childhoods

Music of Bach and Vivaldi

Led by Shannon Merlino

Wednesday, November 14th

12:00pm – 12:50pm

Paley Library Lecture Hall

Light refreshments served. Boyer recital credit given.

 

Photo of Merlino playing viola

Shannon Merlino

Violinist and violist Shannon Merlino, a Philadelphia native, describes the theme of this recital as revisiting Baroque violin music that is most often used for pedagogical purposes for students first learning to play violin. Merlino references Itzhak Perlman’s album Concertos from my Childhood. That album consists of the famous virtuoso violinist’s performances of didactic pieces composed for violin students.

There are many pieces that were originally composed to be teaching tools or most commonly used as such, but that still can be captivating as concert pieces. I have my own experience of this, having taken my first piano lessons as a college student, in which I learned to play several of J.S. Bach’s 2-part inventions and Bartok’s Mikrokosmos, works written for students. Having already studied music theory certainly made my interpretation of these pieces different than they would have been if I had learned them as a child. Still, my interpretations were limited by my technical skill. These pieces have all been recorded by esteemed professionals, who bring new interpretations. While originally for pedagogical purposes, these works continue to attract the attention of scholars in the 21st century for non-pedagogical reasons (see, for example, Väisälä 2009; Hajdu 2008).

1870 painting of Bach and his family

Johann Sebastian Bach accompanies his family at the harpsichord. Toby Edward Rosenthal , 1870.

None of this is to belittle the joy that children and their families and friends can feel from learning these pieces their own way, even if their interpretations are often less nuanced. On some level, one can argue that these pieces should not require such nuance. Unlike a typical classical concert, a youth recital is more about celebrating the performer than it is about the composer. And much music written for students is not intended for performance at all, but rather as a means for one to practice a specific skill.

But it is another matter the repertoire for this recital, which will consist of Baroque music which was intended to have specific performance practice that is not often followed when students learn the music today. Merlino notes that “beginning players learn Baroque music, and without performance practice – ornamentation, continuo, and the like – the repertoire is relegated to “didactic” status.” In the Baroque era, musicians were often expected to add their own embellishments, such as trills or other flourishes (Although some, such as Couperin who was featured in a Beyond the Notes concert earlier this season, did provide their own.) So when children learn to play violin by using these pieces without such embellishments, not only is there less complex interpretation, there are fewer notes. In this program, we can expect to hear these pieces performed with a more historically informed practice, which should make them especially exciting.

Revisiting music from our childhood is not just for musicians. Most of us have music that was meaningful to us as children, that we feel as if we have grown out of, but is still part of who we are. There is some Baroque music, such as Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, which most likely many listeners would have grown up hearing, if only from commercials or soundtracks, whether or not they learned to play an instrument. There is still much to gained from taking it seriously the soundtracks of our childhoods and listening in more closely.

Children’s music itself has so far received somewhat limited attention from musicologists and music theorists. This may be changing, however. In fact, there is an effort is currently underway to start a Childhood and Youth Studies Study Group within the American Musicological Society. It seems then, that this concert is coming at the perfect time!

Bios:

Born and raised in the greater Philadelphia area, Shannon Merlino began violin studies at the age of nine, earning her Bachelor of Music degree in Violin Performance at Rutgers University as a student of Matthew Reichert and Lenuta Ciulei. She continued her violin studies as a scholarship student at Mannes College, earning a Master of Music degree while studying with Lewis Kaplan. Finally she completed doctoral coursework under Mikhail Kopelman at Rutgers University. After making the decision to focus primarily on viola, she began private studies with Kerri Ryan and is now in doctoral studies at Temple University. Her competition awards include second place in both the Miami String Quartet and South Orange Symphony competitions, and her solo credits include several appearances with the Lustig Dance Company. She has appeared in recitals as both soloist and chamber musician throughout the New York City metropolitan area, and maintains an active freelance performance career in the Philadelphia area as both modern and Baroque violist. Ms. Merlino has also given pre-concert talks on viola technique and pedagogy, most notably at the Library of Congress. Ms. Merlino performs on a viola by Clifford Hoing and a bow by Malcolm Taylor of W. E. Hill and Sons.

References:

Hajdu, Andre. “A Galaxy Called ‘Mikrokosmos’: A Composer’s View.” Tempo 62, no. 243 (2008): 16-35. http://www.jstor.org/stable/40072752.

Väisälä, Olli. “Bach’s Inventions: Figuration, Register, Structure, and the “Clear Way to Develop Inventions Properly”.” Music Theory Spectrum 31, no. 1 (2009): 101-52. doi:10.1525/mts.2009.31.1.101.

 

Ben Safran is a Ph.D. candidate in music at Temple University, where his dissertation focuses on contemporary classical composers’ uses of social justice and political themes within concert music. His compositions have been performed by various ensembles and musicians across the United States

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Zach Brock, Jazz Violin, and Genre

Photo of Zach Brock.

Zach Brock, jazz violinist

Beyond the Notes Presents:

Boyer Artist-in-Residence Zach Brock, Jazz Violinist

Tuesday, October 23rd, 12:00pm – 12:50pm

Paley Library Lecture Hall

 

While a fixture of the classical concert hall, violins have also been used in Jazz since the 1930’s. In addition to amplification and a tendency toward bowing over plucking, jazz violin playing can also include extended techniques, strategies to alter or distort the violin sound that are not part of typical playing conventions. These have unique sounds that are often not at all traditionally “violin-like.”

Grammy-award-winning Zach Brock, who studied violin performance at Northwestern University, is regarded as among the top jazz violinists of our time. Yet Brock also incorporates musical ideas and techniques that may sound less like Jazz than like “classical” composers such as Bartok, with minimalist and post-minimalist sonic gestures as well. Some of Brock’s particular performance practices are uncommon among jazz violinists. For example, jazz violin often requires electronic amplification for purposes of balance with other instruments, but videos of Brock most often showing him playing without any amplification. In addition, note that jazz violin has traditionally been played with the bow [arco] rather than plucked with fingers [pizzicato] (Glaser et al. 2003), but a number of Brock’s performances do make use of pizzicato.

The ability to “cross over” between genres is not to be taken for granted. While jazzy sounds have been incorporated into American classical music since the early 20th century, and the tradition of improvisation within classical music stretches back many centuries, typical classical musicians who have not had experience playing Jazz would most likely find the transition to playing jazz difficult. Playing jazz requires a distinct skill set and technique. There are now a large number of teaching materials specifically dedicated to students learning jazz strings (Alibrio-Curran 2005). There are also sociocultural and especially racial implications to crossing over stylistic boundaries, which are increasingly attracting the attention of music scholars (James 2017).

But genre lines are already fuzzy. What is “Jazz” as a genre? German philosopher Theodor Adorno clumped Jazz in with popular music ([1941] 2002); strangely, even though he acknowledged that Jazz is more complex in some ways—such as rhythm—than classical music, he nevertheless maintained that all pop music is nevertheless rigid and mechanical. Scott DeVeaux notes that Jazz has also been referred to as “America’s classical music,” and is sometimes seen, like classical music, as a dying art form ([1991] 1998). What gets to count as Jazz has always been up for debate. The modernist tradition of “free Jazz” is sometimes not thought of as Jazz at all (DeVeaux [1991] 1998), but why not? DeVeaux argues that Jazz’s present struggles and decline in popularity should not be thought of as a musical or aesthetic problem, but rather one of historical framing.

So how about Jazz violin? Jazz in textbooks is sometimes given a clear, linear history, in which it is oriented more toward African American than European culture (DeVeaux [1991] 1998). This is not wrong, but—like the related notion of seeing Jazz as synonymous with “Black art music”—it is too simplistic. Violin, of course, can be thought of as one of the most quintessential European instruments. So if we know that Jazz violin has been around since the 1930’s, that could be a clue to help us to revisit the history of Jazz as more complex than we would often acknowledge. Once we do that, instead of finding a clear way forward for the genre to proceed, we can accept that its future will be as divergent and multi-layered as its past.

 

References:

Adorno, Theodor. ([1941] 2002). “On Popular Music,” reprinted in Essays on Music, Richard Leppert, ed., 437-479. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Alibrio-Curran, Frances. 2005. “From Whence They Came: A Tribute to Early String Improvisational Materials.” American String Teacher 55, 1 (February): 68-70. https://doi-org.libproxy.temple.edu/10.1177/000313130505500110

DeVeaux, Scott. ([1991] 1998), “Constructing the Jazz Tradition: Jazz Historiography,” Black American Literature Forum 25, no. 3 (Fall): 525-60, reprinted in The Jazz Cadence of American Culture, New York: Columbia University Press, 484-514.

Glaser, Matt, Alyn Shipton, and Anthony Barnett. 2003. “Violin, jazz.” Grove Music Online. Accessed 15 Sep. 2018. http:////www.oxfordmusiconline.com/grovemusic/view/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.001.0001/omo-9781561592630-e-2000468100.

James, Robin. 2017. “Is the post- in post-identity the post- in post-genre?” Popular Music 36 (1): 21-32.

Zack Brock. n.d. “Home – Zack Brock.” Accessed 18 September 2018. https://www.zachbrock.com/home

 

Ben Safran is a Ph.D. candidate in music at Temple University, where his dissertation focuses on contemporary classical composers’ uses of social justice and political themes within concert music. His compositions have been performed by various ensembles and musicians across the United States.

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Start the Music! Let the Party Begin!

Joyce Lindorff at the harpsichord

Dr. Joyce Lindorff, Professor of Keyboard

 

Couperin Birthday Celebration!

Wednesday, September 26th, 2018

12:00pm – 12:50pm

Paley Library Lecture Hall

Light refreshments served. Boyer recital credit given.

 

 

 

The opening concert of the 2018-19 Beyond the Notes concert series, features Dr. Joyce Lindorff, Boyer Professor of Keyboard, leading a birthday celebration for François Couperin, marking 350 years since his birth.  François Couperin, like Johann Sebastian Bach, was part of a large family of music-makers. For example, Couperin’s uncle was also a noted composer, and his cousin Armand-Louis was especially noted as an organist, but François was sometimes referred to as “Couperin Le Grand” to set him apart from the rest of his family. Recognized as a leading French composer of the 17th century, Couperin’s musical textures have continued to inspire musicians and composers in the centuries since his death. For example, Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin, a solo piano with an orchestral version, is a concert staple, and is likely more familiar to the typical concertgoer than any piece of Couperin himself. Nevertheless, music like the Pièces de Clavecin features a palette that is distinctive, lush, sometimes witty, and sometimes harmonically adventurous.

Picture of harpsichord

1742 Louis Bellot harpsichord, Paris. Photo courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Couperin is especially known for his music for harpsichord. Unlike its most famous successor the piano, the harpsichord is a keyboard instrument in which the strings are plucked rather than hit. In addition to an altogether different sound quality, a major difference is that when a musician presses a key with more or less force, it will not change the dynamic [volume] of the note as it does on the piano. This means that the composer and performer must control the feel of each section of music without having a direct means to control how loud or soft each note is. Instead, our overall experience of the music will be shaped by other means, such as texture and tempo (speed). The density of writing will shape our experience of the intensity of the music rather than volume.

 

CD Cover ArtDr. Joyce Lindorff, professor of keyboard at Boyer, released a CD earlier this year of her performances of Couperin’s L’Art de Toucher le Clavecin. Lindorff’s CD-liner notes offer information about Couperin’s attitude toward pedagogy and performance:

“Couperin is a commanding presence, providing precise fingering for difficult passages in his first book of Pièces de clavecin, keyboard exercises, and a detailed table of ornaments, which he insisted be executed exactly as he wrote them. Rather than trusting players of his unmeasured preludes to interpret the customary minimalist French notation, Couperin instead provides richly detailed templates to be played with freedom. And in marked contrast to modern teaching methods, he advises that young students never practice in the teacher’s absence.”

At that time, music students would have been trained in improvisation far more than now. The level of detail that a composer would notate would be far less, and the musician would be expected to know how to embellish and interpret the music that was written. Rather than playing merely the notes on the page, musicians would add ornaments, or musical flourishes, such as rapid alterations between adjacent notes. In today’s world, with so many styles of classical music in circulation and a lack of a common set of conventions in the music being written by contemporary composers, leaving so much up to the interpretation of the performer may not be practical. However, it is unusual that in the 17th century Couperin would have written out the ornaments that he wanted the players to include.

The extent to which a composer ought to exert influence over performers has been a subject of much debate in recent decades. For example, Christopher Small (1998) sees a hierarchical system of power within orchestral music with the composer at the top. This privileging of the composer allows for a sometimes-oppressive musical canon to emerge, from which composers with less privileged identities, such as most female and non-white composers, would be excluded (Citron 1992). In December, Dr. Lindorff hosted a symposium at the library on such issues, which are becoming an increasingly large part of the historical study of music.

What would this mean in the 17th century? A prevailing view is that the modern idea of the “master composer” is a product of 19th century German Romanticism (Chua 1999). While this may be true, listening to the music of Couperin gives us a chance to see how such issues and differences of opinion would have played out even in earlier centuries. While his attitude suggests an unusual degree of control for his time, when listening to [the CD of] Lindorff’s performance, the listener is struck by the sense of freedom, and often leisure, that manages to prevail. Could the effects of each piece have been achieved with less specificity from the composer? Would that have been better or worse? Dr. Lindorff notes: “the French baroque music has a very paradoxical combination of seeming prescriptive, such as the ornament signs, but also there were extra freedoms, such as the unmeasured preludes and other liberties that could and should be taken.”

For sure, the identity dynamics I mentioned above are also worth considering for Couperin’s time as they are in later centuries: could a female composer at the time provide a table of ornaments and insist her pieces be executed exactly as she notated them, as he did? There is never a simple answer to the question of who gets to control art, but listening to Couperin can invite us to keep asking the question in different ways. Dr. Lindorff offers the following comment: “actually there was one particular female composer at the turn of the 18th century–Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre, who was very well received by Louis XIV and influential to other musicians, and whose music was extremely detailed. She was unusual, though.”

To some who have learned a musical instrument, the idea that one must not practice without the teacher present may be hard to fathom. Whether evidence of his desire for control, or perhaps his enormous generosity of time and patience toward his students, it seems that Couperin hoped that his work be played as he intended. No matter the rigidity or flexibility of the composer, Couperin likely did not envision his music being performed in a twenty-first century library lecture hall with a birthday cake in his honor. This performance invites us to experience his music in new and different manners.  So start the music! Let the party begin!

 

References and Further Information:

Denis Arnold & Julie Anne Sadie, “Couperin,” Oxford Companion to Music, Allison Latham, ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011).

Daniel K. L. Chua, Absolute Music and the Construction of Meaning (Cambridge University Press,
1999), 1-28.

David Chung, “French Harpsichord Vitality,” Early Music, 41, no. 3 (August 2013), 525–527.
Marcia J. Citron, “The Canon in Practice,” Gender and the Musical Canon (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 190-232.
François Couperin, Art de toucher le clavecin (L’) / Pieces de clavecin, Book 2 – 6th, 8th Ordres (La Raphaèle). Joyce Lindorff, harpsichord. Affetto Recordings, Naxos Music Library, 2018.

Harpsichord [Fr. clavecin; Ger. Cembalo, Kielflügel, Clavicimbel; It. clavicembalo; Sp. clavicémbalo, clavecín].” The Harvard Dictionary of Music, edited by Don Michael Randel, Harvard University Press, 4th edition, 2003. Credo Reference, Accessed 04 Sep. 2018.

Christopher Small, Musicking: The Meanings of Performing and Listening, (Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, 1998), 1-29.

Richard Taruskin, “The Pastness of the Present and the Presence of the Past,” Text & Act: Essays on Music and Performance (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), 90-154.

Ben Safran is a Ph.D. candidate in music at Temple University, where his dissertation focuses on contemporary classical composers’ uses of social justice and political themes within concert music. His compositions have been performed by various ensembles and musicians across the United States.

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Beyond the Notes Announces 2018-2019 Season!

Temple University Library’s award-winning noontime concert series, Beyond the Notes, proudly announces its fifth season!
All concerts are held in Paley Library Lecture Hall.
Light refreshments served. Boyer recital credit given.
Mark your calendars!


Joyce Lindorff at the harpsichord

Joyce Lindorff, Professor of Keyboard

Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Couperin Birthday Celebration!
12:00pm – 12:50pm

Usher in the new school year with a celebration!  What kind of celebration?  A 350th birthday celebration for François Couperin!  Early keyboard professor, scholar, and harpsichord artist Joyce Lindorff will lead us in a birthday celebration with beautiful music by this eminent composer.  Birthday cake will be provided.


Zach Brock, violinist

Zach Brock, Artist in Residence, Jazz Violinist

Zach Brock, Boyer Artist in Residence Jazz Violin
Tuesday, October 23rd, 2018
12:00pm – 12:50pm

Grammy award winner, Boyer Artist in Residence, Zach Brock, “the pre-eminent improvising violinist of his generation”, evokes the spirit of John Coltrane, Bela Bartok, and Jimi Hendrix. Experience the creativity of this amazing musician!


Shannon Merlino, viola

Shannon Merlino, Boyer doctoral candidate

Early Music led by Shannon Merlino
Wednesday, November 14, 2018
12:00pm – 12:50pm

Be transported to another place and time while doctoral student Shannon Merlino leads a group of fellow musicians and colleagues
in presenting early music at the library.


Philip O'Banion

Philip O’Banion, Director, Temple University Percussion Ensemble

Temple University Percussion Ensemble, Philip O’Banion, director
Wednesday, December 5, 2018
12:00pm – 12:50pm

Need to chill for an hour during finals? The Temple Percussion Ensemble will rock the library, guaranteed!


Charles Abramovic at the piano

Charles Abramovic, Chair of Keyboard Studies

Piano Studio of Charles Abramovic
Wednesday, February 6th, 2019
12:00pm – 12:50pm

Always a favorite, as Charles Abramovic joins his students in performing for the library audiences. Come to see and hear these amazing students perform!


Allen Krantz, guitar

Allen Krantz, guitar

Guitar Studio of Allen Krantz
Wednesday, February 27th, 2019
12:00pm – 12:50pm

What can be more beautiful than the music of a guitar?  How about two or three guitars playing together! Join us as the talented guitar students of Allen Krantz share their beautiful music!


Beyond the Notes thanks Temple University Libraries and the Boyer College of Music and Dance for their support of this series.

Relax. Refresh. Renew. Enjoy!

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Musical Theater @ Temple Library!

Musical Theater banner

Wednesday, April 18th
11AM – 2PM

Wednesday, April 25th
12PM – 2PM

Paley Library Lecture Hall

In 2016 Temple University’s School of Theater, Film and Media Arts inaugurated a new Master of Arts degree program in Musical Theater Studies. Under the leadership of Associate Professor Peter Reynolds (Artistic Director of Mauckingbird Theater Company, Philadelphia), the one-year program prepares candidates for commercial, nonprofit, or educational positions in the musical theater industry. Its students—actors, musicians, and dancers alike—gain valuable experience in aspects of performance, production, and administration. The five graduating students whose work is featured in this installment of Beyond the Notes together represent an impressive array of professional experiences and interests, an early testament to the program’s vitality and commitment to community engagement.

 


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

11 AM–2 PM

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Alexandra Garcia

An Exploration of the Musical Theater Ingénue: Roles that Challenge the Historical Stereotypes – Alexandra Garcia 

Alexandra Garcia received a BM in vocal performance from Florida Atlantic University. A trained soprano and an experienced presenter of ingénue roles—more than a mere “damsel in distress”—her thesis examines a collection of ingénue characters whose roles not only present more than meets the eye, but also challenge established historical stereotypes.

Further Reading:

Kern, Jerome and Oscar Hammerstein II. Showboat. Milwaukee, WI : Hal Leonard Corp. 1995.
Rodgers, Richard, and Oscar Hammerstein II. Carousel, New York : Williamson Music, 1956.
Loewe, Frederick and Alan Jay Lerner. My Fair Lady,  (Based on Pygmalion, George Bernard Shaw). New York, Chappell, 1969.
Bernstein, Leonard and Jerome Robbins and Arthur Laurents. West Side Story. New York:  Boosey & Hawkes2000.
Rodgers, Richard, and Oscar Hammerstein II. The Sound of Music. New York : Williamson Music,1960
Lucas, Craig, and Elizabeth Spencer. The Light in the Piazza. Milwaukee, WI : Hal Leonard 2005
Other books:
Green, Stanley. Broadway Musicals: show by show. Milwaukee, WI : Applause Theatre & Cinema Books 2011.
Kenrick, John. Musical Theatre: A History.  New York : Continuum 2008.

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Ana Belén Croston

Latinos y Broadway: Nuestras Raíces, Representación y Legado  (Latinos and Broadway: Our Roots, Representation and Legacy) – Ana Belén Croston

Born and raised in Panama City, Panama, Ana Belén Croston holds a BS in Management from Florida State University. She has performed professionally in Panama, including in the Original Panamanian Company production of Hairspray. As an artist, she strives to give voice to those who have been silenced, and leads audiences to explore aspects of acceptance and community. Her MA thesis explores the role of the Latinx community, specifically Latinas, in Broadway musicals. Beginning with Operetta and traveling to the peak of Latinx involvement on Broadway with In The Heights and On Your Feet, her presentation will focus on Latinx characters in musical theater, Latinx performers and their accomplishments, and well as the misinterpretation of the Hispanic and Latinx culture in Broadway musicals.

Further reading:

Dominguez, Robert. “Journal Entry: Hispanics on Broadway,”  Hispanic; Miami Vol. 11, Iss. 1/2, (Jan/Feb 1998): 80-86.

Hoffman, Warren. The Great White Way Race and the Broadway Musical. Piscataway : Rutgers University Press, 2014.

Sandoval-Sanchez, Alberto . José, Can You See?: Latinos On And Off Broadway . U. Wisconsin Press, 1999.

Sandoval Sanchez, Alberto . “West Side Story: A Puerto Rican reading of “America” ” Jump Cut, no. 39, June 1994, pp. 59-66.

Paige, Elaine. Musicals: The Definitive Illustrated Story. New York :  DK Publishing, 2015

Telgen, Diane. Notable Hispanic American Women. Detroit: Gale Research, 1993.


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Ashleigh Summers

The African American Actor has Seen the Greatest and Most Consistent Development in the History of Musical Theater – Ashleigh Summers

Throughout the history of Broadway and musical theater, the African American actor has seen the greatest and the most consistent development. However, initial roles constituted an extremely demeaning history, namely in the form of minstrelsy. Her her thesis presentation, Summers examines the historical timeline of the black performer on Broadway, especially how this development has itself been represented in scholarship and reception history.

Summers received her baccalaureate degree in Integrated Studies with concentrations in music and theater from Delaware State University, and aspires to a varied career as a musical theater performer, voice-over artist for children’s cartoons and commercials, as well as a professional singer.

Further reading:

Elam, Harry Justin and Daviid Krasner. African-American performance and theater history.  New York : Oxford University Press 2001

Hill, Errol and James V. Hatch. A History of African American Theater.  New York : Cambridge University Press 2003.

Jackson, Ronald L. Encyclopedia of Identity.  Los Angeles : Sage, 2010

Lane, Stuart. Black Broadway: African Americans on the great white way. Garden City Park, NY : Square One Publishers, 2015.


Wednesday, April 25, 2018

12–2 PM

 

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Jackie Leibowitz

Now You Know: How the Dissolve of the Sondheim-Prince Dynasty Shaped Musical Theater – Jackie Leibowitz

In a combination lecture-cabaret, Leibowitz will discuss how the flop of the musical Merrily We Roll Along and subsequent deterioration of Stephen Sondheim and Hal Prince’s legendary collaboration actually led to their respective masterpieces—Sunday in the Park With George and Into the Woods for Sondheim, and Phantom of the Opera and Parade for Prince. Central to her presentation—under the musical direction of Patrick Tice-Carroll—are some of the big hits that “made” their respective careers after they parted ways, as well as some of the small works that flopped financially, but soared artistically. Leibowitz received her BA in theater from Temple University in 2016, and enjoys an active career as a performer, stage manager, and musical theater historian.

Further reading:

Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened, a film by Lonny Price.  (documentary)

Prince, Harold. Sense of Occasion. Applause Theatre & Cinema Books, 2017.

Prince, Harold. Contradictions: Notes on Twenty-Six Years in the Theater. New York : Dodd, Mead, 1974.

Six By Sondheim, a film by James Lapine (documentary)

Sondheim, Stephen. Finishing the Hat: Collected Lyrics (1954-1981) with Attendant Comments, Principals, Heresies, Grudges, Whines, and Anecdotes. New York : Knopf, 2010.

Sondheim, Stephen. Look I Made a Hat: Collected Lyrics (1981-2011) with Attendant Comments, Amplifications, Dogmas, Harangues, Digressions, Anecdotes, and Miscellany. London : Virgin Books, 2011.


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Mary Fishburne

Rumspringa: Excerpts from an Original Musical about Searching for Love, Meaning, and Community – Mary Fishburne

Closing this year’s Beyond the Notes series is Mary Fishburne and her excerpts from her original work Rumspinga, referring to the Amish right of passage before the Amish (primarily) teenagers elect to either join the church or be shunned from the community. Set nearly a decade after the West Nickel Mines school shooting that took place in Lancaster County in 2006, Fishburne’s work explores topics of forgiveness, simplicity, community, and the Divine—however and whatever it may be. Fishburne received a BM in vocal performance and BA in organizational development from Vanderbilt University and has participated in workshops and productions at, among others, Manhattan School of Music, Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, Broadway Dance Center, several companies in New York City and South Carolina.


Anne Harlow is research librarian for music, dance, and theater at Temple University Libraries. 

Chad Fothergill is a doctoral student in musicology at Temple University’s Boyer College of Music and Dance, and is the graduate assistant for the concert series, Beyond the Notes, at Temple University Libraries. 

The series Beyond the Notes is supported by Temple University Libraries and Temple University’s Boyer College of Music and Dance.

 

 

 

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Authentic Bach, Adaptable Bach

The Guitar Studio of Allen Krantz presents Music of Bach and Vivaldi

Rescheduled!

Thursday, March 29th, 2018 | 12:00–12:50 PM | Paley Library Lecture Hall

Light refreshments served. Boyer recital credit given.


Program

Johann Sebastian Bach, 1685–1750 | Cello Suite No. 2 in D minor, BWV 1008 (selected movements) • Invention No. 1 in C major, BWV 772 • Cello Suite No. 3 in C major, BWV 1009 (selected movements) • Invention No. 4 in D minor, BWV 775 • Lute Suite No. 3 in G minor, BWV 995 (selected movements)

Antonio Vivaldi, 1678–1741 | Trio Sonata in C major, RV 82

Performers | David D’Arville • Peter Deleplane • Andrew DiGiandomenico • Corin Duey • Andrew Evans • Emanuel Lozada-Mendez


Authenticity. In our time, both the word and its web of meanings have risen to exalted and desirous status. Social media accounts should reflect the quintessence of one’s genuine self, and corporations have seized upon authenticity as a modus operandi for branding and selling. Though their individual audiences and aims differ, this chorus of digital and commercial voices sings roughly the same refrain: be honest, be transparent, be original, be innovative, be unique.

Even before it became a contemporary cultural rubric, authenticity served as a touchstone for performances and recordings of Western classical music. In the late twentieth century, a steady supply of scholarship about centuries-old performance practices—what the British cleverly call HIP, or historically-informed performance—fed a growing appetite for authentic recordings that utilized, among others, authentic editions and authentic early instruments (in the form of meticulous copies of surviving artifacts) playing in authentic spaces with authentic pitch standards and temperaments.

While the movement opened our collective imagination to long-forgotten sounds, it also formed skirmish lines that drew zealous scholars, practitioners, and consumers into conflict. These battlefield remnants are preserved in books and articles that emerged as authenticity fever spiked. Raymond Leppard’s Authenticity in Music (1988), Authenticity and Early Music: A Symposium (1988), Peter le Huray’s Authenticity in Performance (1990), and Peter Kivy’s Authenticities: Philosophical Reflections on Music (1995) are a small sampling of many that come to mind. Though these remain informative and influential publications, the tenor of performance practice scholarship has moved in a more nuanced direction: debates about what a musical work was or is have yielded to contextual considerations about what it meant or means. Readers of books such as Bruce Haynes’s The End of Early Music: A Period Performer’s History of Music for the Twenty-First Century (2007) and The Pathetick Musician: Moving an Audience in the Age of Eloquence (2016) by Haynes and Geoffrey Burgess are presented with an assortment of ideas and options rather than a set of prix fixe, “purist” directives.

Ironically, the most unreliable facet of the authenticity movement was the retrospective projection of its values onto musicians who thought in terms of flexibility, adaptation, and repurposing. This was the world of the Baroque musician: keyboardists were expected to improvise accompaniments from figured bass lines; singers and instrumentalists were expected to embellish their parts with ornaments; a cantata movement could be refitted with a new text for a different occasion, or even be rearranged as a stand-alone instrumental work. All of these were customary practices for J. S. Bach who, in the words of musicologist Werner Breig, found delight in exploring “the possibilities inherent in a finished work.” Breig further observes that “at every period of his creative life Bach may be found altering, arranging, and continuing to develop his own and other composers’ works” (the American Bach Society will take up this topic at its April 2018 gathering in New Haven, Connecticut, under the banner “Bach Re-Worked—Parody, Transcription, Adaptation”).

The concepts of fixed, finished, or authentic were largely unknown to Bach. And even if he did know them, his working methods suggest—quite assertively, in fact—that he would have ignored their conceptual and impractical limitations. Moreover, Bach was required to perform concerto transcriptions at the keyboard during his tenure as Weimar court organist, a function that resulted in the production of at least twenty such works between 1713 and 1714 alone! Writing about authenticity and Bach, musicologist Thomas Forrest Kelly reminds us that even “if we really did it Bach’s way, there would be nothing of ourselves in the matter,” adding: “the thing that mattered most of Bach, and probably to almost anybody else, is the presence of a musician.”

Undated, handwritten manuscript of J. S. Bach’s “Pièces pour la Luth à Monsieur Schouster,” BWV 995, an adaptation of his own fifth solo cello suite in C minor. Public domain.

The six guitarists from the studio of Allen Krantz who will offer this Bach birthday program—he was born March 21, 1685—not only embody the Baroque spirit of adaptation by playing keyboard and cello works on the modern guitar, but also continue Bach’s own explorations in adapting his music for new contexts. Particularly noteworthy is the inclusion of movements from his lute suite, BWV 995, itself an adaptation of his own fifth solo cello suite, BWV 1011. Like its counterparts in the cello suites, the lute suite offers listeners an aural tour of various dances including a prélude in the French overture style, a fugue, an allemande, courante, a monodic yet highly expressive sarabande, two gavottes (the so-called galanterie movements), and a pleasantly lilting gigue.

Though Bach was not a lutenist—partially evidenced by his writing in staff notation rather than customary lute tablature—he was familiar with the instrument, its repertoire, and the virtuoso lutenists of his day. Lutes played at the first performance of the St. John Passion, BWV 245, in 1724, and Bach wrote at least three lute works after meeting the famed lutenist Sylvius Leopold Weiss in 1739. Among the many instruments cataloged in the estate inventory after Bach’s death was a single lute whose assessed value was roughly equivalent to three months’ wages for a carpenter living in 1725.

Vermeer, 1632–75, “Young Woman Playing a Guitar” of ca. 1670–72, oil on canvas, 53.0 × 46.3 cm, courtesy of the online catalogue from the National Gallery, London. Public domain.

Throughout the eighteenth century, the guitar surpassed the lute as the plucked string instrument of choice. Though Michael Praetorius had once dismissed the guitar as an instrument of “charlatans and saltimbanques,” during the seventeenth century it gradually passed from the hands of street entertainers to the hands of courtiers and royalty, and even found its way into respectable domestic scenes such as the one shown here by Vermeer. The Baroque guitar’s lighter sonority—less resonant than its modern counterpart—and limited range made it a more ideal choice for accompanying songs and playing as part of an ensemble. Technological developments throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries increased the guitar’s facility for rendering the polyphonic stylings of Baroque music, allowing Bach’s solo instrumental works to become staples of the classical guitar repertoire.

As Bruce Haynes noted in the concluding chapter of The Pathetick Musician, Bach and his contemporaries provided musicians with adaptable scripts: performers were expected to take over from there. As these talented guitarists will demonstrate, to adapt this repertoire for new times and places is to engage in historically accurate—honest, faithful, and even authentic—practice. “And as our tastes change,” wrote Haynes, and as “Bach’s music and his world continue to speak to future generations, the journey will continue.”

So pause, pull up a chair, and enjoy some fine music—and birthday cake!—with us on Wednesday, March 21, or what would have been Bach’s 333rd birthday. The program begins at 12 PM and is free and open to the public.


References and Further Reading

Breig, Werner. “Composition as Arrangement and Adaptation.” In The Cambridge Companion to Bach, edited by John Butt, 154–170. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997.

David, Hans T. and Arthur Mendel, eds. The New Bach Reader: A Life of Johann Sebastian Bach in Letters and Documents. Revised and expanded by Christoph Wolff. New York and London: W. W. Norton, 1998.

Dolata, David. Meantone Temperaments on Lutes and Viols. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2016.

Haynes, Bruce. The End of Early Music: A Period Performer’s History of Music for the Twenty-First Century. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.

Haynes, Bruce, and Geoffrey Burgess. The Pathetick Musician: Moving an Audience in the Age of Eloquence. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016.

Heck, Thomas F., Harvey Turnbull, Paul Sparks, James Tyler, Tony Bacon, Oleg V. Timofeyev, and Gerhard Kubik. “Guitar.” Grove Music Online, accessed 7 March 2018.

Kelly, Thomas Forrest. Early Music: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

Kenyon, Nicholas, ed. Authenticity and Early Music: A Symposium. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.

Kivy, Peter. Authenticities: Philosophical Reflections on Musical Performance. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1995.

Le Huray, Peter. Authenticity in Performance: Eighteenth-Century Case Studies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990.

Ledbetter, David. Unaccompanied Bach: Performing the Solo Works. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2010.

Leppard, Raymond. Authenticity in Music. Portland, Oregon: Amadeus Press, 1988.

Moore, J. Kenneth, Jayson Kerr Dobney, and E. Bradley Strauchen-Scherer. Musical Instruments: Highlights of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2015.

Russell, Craig H. “Radical Innovations, Social Revolution, and the Baroque Guitar.” In The Cambridge Companion to the Guitar, edited by Victor Anand Coelho, 153–181. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

Tanenbaum, David. “Perspectives on the Classical Guitar in the Twentieth Century.” In The Cambridge Companion to the Guitar, edited by Victor Anand Coelho, 182–206. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.


Chad Fothergill is a doctoral student in musicology at Temple University’s Boyer College of Music and Dance, and is the graduate assistant for the concert series, Beyond the Notes, at Temple University Libraries. He is also the editorial assistant for the journal Eighteenth-Century Music (Cambridge University Press). In addition to research and teaching, he remains active as an organist in solo, collaborative, and liturgical settings in the Philadelphia and New York City areas.

The series Beyond the Notes is supported by Temple University Libraries and Temple University’s Boyer College of Music and Dance.

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C-Minor Moods: Chamber Music of Strauss and Fauré

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

12:00–12:50 PM | Paley Library Lecture Hall

Celine Jeong Kim, violin

Shannon Merlino, viola

Chen Chen, cello

Nam Hoang Nguyen, piano


Program

Richard Strauss, 1864–1949

Piano Quartet in C minor, Op. 13 (excerpts)

  • Allegro
  • Andante

 

Gabriel Fauré, 1845–1924

Piano Quartet No. 1 in C minor, Op. 15

  • Allegro molto moderato
  • Scherzo (Allegro vivo)
  • Adagio
  • Finale (Allegro molto)

Light refreshments served. Boyer recital credit given.


Nineteenth-century composers, Beethoven in particular, had a complex relationship with the key of C minor. In his monumental, five-volume Oxford History of Western Music, eminent music historian Richard Taruskin observes that Beethoven’s “C-minor mood” (a term coined by the late Joseph Kerman) has remained “a touchstone of music’s full potential within the European fine-art tradition.” The key is well-known for its mood swings, from abject moments of Beethoven’s “Pathétique” piano sonata, Op. 13, to ecstatic heights in the finale of his fifth symphony, Op. 67, where doom and gloom are irrevocably dispersed by electrifying jolts of C-major fanfares, scales, and batteries of thickly-textured chords. The influence of Beethoven’s C-minor symphony was so pronounced that few nineteenth-century composers dared approach this hallowed terrain in their symphonic works. Brahms bravely took up the task with his first symphony, his Op. 68, though pressure to follow in Beethoven’s footsteps drove him to labor on its movements for two decades: while the first known sketches date from 1854, it was not premiered until 1876.

Richard Strauss in a photo dated October 20, October 1886, almost a year after the premiere of his piano quartet, Op. 13. Public Domain.

The music of Brahms held enormous sway over a young Richard Strauss, who later characterized his early works as products of his Brahmsschwärmerei, his infatuation with Brahms. Many of the younger Strauss’s works were cast in a Brahmsian mold and bear influences of the elder composer’s penchant for dense textures and contrapuntal devices. And yet, they were far from derivative. Movements of the quartet heard on today’s program were penned in 1884 only a few years before Strauss embarked upon a new stylistic path with his celebrated tone poem Don Juan, Op. 20. His aptitude for constructing dramatic tension through manipulations of texture and harmony is evident from the first page of the Op. 13 quartet which begins in media res, dropping listeners into what seems like the middle or end of an idea rather than the beginning of one. This brief and understated reverie is upended, almost immediately, with an eruption of texture—marked fortissimo and appassionato—that propels the movement into its main idea and main key, C minor.

But Strauss’s C minor is restless: a cadence in the relative E-flat major (relative because the key signature of three flats “looks like” C minor) veers toward G-flat major without warning (a mediant relationship in theory-speak), which is then re-spelled enharmonically (the equivalent of a musical homonym) as F-sharp major. As before, this luminous moment is short-lived and storms back into minor—C-sharp minor, that is—with a violin melody fitted over galloping piano accompaniment. The angst is briefly dispelled in the latter half of the movement by rays of C major, but the minor mood generally prevails—one could easily mistake this for Brahms! Yet for all the resemblances to Strauss’s formative models, there is an emotional and impassioned intensity in both this and the third movement, a richly expressive “Andante,” that mark Strauss as a distinct voice. However, the most striking contrast between Strauss’s C minor and C major would have to wait another decade until he penned the opening of Also sprach Zarathustra, Op. 30, immortalized in Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Gabriel Fauré photographed by Emile Tourtin in 1875, around the time he began drafting his piano quartet, Op. 15. Public Domain, courtesy of the Bibliothèque nationale de France.

As evidenced by the opening measures of his piano quartet, Op. 15, the “C-minor moods” of Gabriel Fauré were shaped by his exposure to the colors of modal harmonies gleaned from years of improvising plainchant accompaniments as an organist. His fondness for deft modulations and long, singing lines—one would expect nothing less from a respected composer of mélodie—once compelled Marcel Proust to characterize Fauré’s style as “dangerous intoxication”! The first movement of Op. 15, marked “Allegro molto moderato,” opens with a folklike melody played by the strings with a sturdy piano backbeat which makes for a rather jaunty effect; later, there are even a few jazzy episodes that seem to foreshadow Gershwin. The rhythmic energy of the first movement is carried into the second movement, a scherzo, whose nimble melody and pizzicato accompaniment are contrasted with expansive melodic arcs.

The third movement, marked by the increasing complexity of the piano part, begins with the same harmonic richness of the first two movements. These colors gradually fade, leaving the movement’s conclusion covered by a thick pall of C-minor. The effect is at once tragic, yet hauntingly beautiful. The fourth and final movement begins in the same low range where the previous movement left off, though now with a running C-minor arpeggiation reminiscent of the final movement of Beethoven’s “Pathétique” sonata. Like the trajectories of Beethoven’s fifth and Brahms’s first symphonies, the final movement of Fauré’s quintet offers a narrative progression of tragedy to triumph, of darkness to light that finally breaks through in the last few minutes with soaring strings buoyed by cascading arpeggiations in the piano part.

Though there is no direct evidence to suggest that Strauss and Fauré were as apprehensive about C minor as Brahms, their essays in this particular key nevertheless offer ways of hearing this nineteenth-century topos in their own respective ways. The relative ease with which they depart from the period’s formal and harmonic conventions also serve as markers of the new paths they would later explore, as well as the new directions and styles that appeared in this liminal space between the dusk of Romanticism and dawn of modernism.


Ensemble

Violinist Celine Jeong Kim graduated from Seoul National University of Music in Korea and has received awards in numerous competitions including the Busan Munhwa Broadcasting Music Competition, Mozart International Competition, and the Osaka International Music Competition. She has also appeared as a soloist with an international roster of orchestras including the Yongin Philharmonic Orchestra, Russian Symphony Orchestra, and Hankook Symphony Orchestra. Additionally, she participates frequently in the Moritzburg Festival (Germany) and Seoul International Music Festivals. While at Seoul National University, she was active in leading the Agnus Dei Ensemble in an effort to raise awareness for pediatric cancers. In 2013, she performed as Concertmaster of the World Bridge Symphony Orchestra with Deutsche Oper Berlin. Ms. Kim currently studies with Dr. Eduard Schmieder at Temple University’s Boyer College of Music and Dance.

Born and raised in the greater Philadelphia area, Shannon Merlino began violin studies at the age of nine, earning her Bachelor of Music degree in Violin Performance at Rutgers University as a student of Matthew Reichert and Lenuta Ciulei. She continued her violin studies as a scholarship student at Mannes College, earning a Master of Music degree while studying with Lewis Kaplan. Finally she completed doctoral coursework under Mikhail Kopelman at Rutgers University. After making the decision to focus primarily on viola, she began private studies with Kerri Ryan and is now in her second year of doctoral studies at Temple University. Her competition awards include second place in both the Miami String Quartet and South Orange Symphony competitions, and her solo credits include several appearances with the Lustig Dance Company. She has appeared in recitals as both soloist and chamber musician throughout the New York City metropolitan area, and maintains an active freelance performance career in the Philadelphia area as both modern and Baroque violist. Ms. Merlino has also given pre-concert talks on viola technique and pedagogy, most notably at the Library of Congress. Ms. Merlino performs on a viola by Clifford Hoing and a bow by Malcolm Taylor of W. E. Hill and Sons.

Chen Chen is a doctoral cello student of Professor Jeffrey Solow at Temple University. She previously studied with Mark Kosower at the Cleveland Institute of Music where she received a Professional Studies Certificate and a Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees in performance. Past teachers include Merry Peckham, Richard Weiss, Natalia Pavlutskaya, Alexander Ivashkin, and Jin Zhang. Additionally, Chen has a foothold in the world of journalism: her interview  with cellist Yo-Yo Ma was published in the spring 2014 issue of Mandarin Quarterly, Chicago edition. Chen has participated in many prestigious music programs with fellowships and scholarships, including the National Symphony Orchestra’s Summer Music Institute, the International Holland Music Sessions, Banff Music Centre for the Arts, and the Perlman Music Program Chamber Music Workshop. Chen has also participated in  masterclasses with Itzhak Perlman, Steven Isserlis, Colin Carr, Raphael Wallfisch, Joel Krosnick, Andres Diaz, Reinhard Latzko, Lluis Claret, Maria Kliegel, Peter Wiley, and Alisa Weilerstein, as well as  the Tokyo, Takács, Jupiter, Miró, St. John’s, London, Haydn and Chilingirian String Quartets. As cellist, chamber musician, Baroque cellist, and dancer, Chen has appeared in numerous renowned venues: Buckingham Palace, Wigmore Hall, LSO St. Luke’s, Windsor Castle, The Kennedy Center, Severance Hall, Verizon Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, the Banff Centre, Cleveland Museum of Art, and the Cleveland Museum of Contemporary Art. Beyond her musical activities, she enjoys community engagement, hiking, reading, and writing. She is a frequent contributor to Mandarin Quarterly.

Born in Hanoi, Vietnam, Nam Hoang Nguyen studied piano at Vietnam Academy of Music before matriculating at Temple University’s Boyer College of Music and Dance where he is presently a doctoral student in Piano Performance. His principal teachers have included Ha Thu Tran, Harvey Wedeen, and Ching-Yun Hu; he also studied collaborative piano with Lambert Orkis. Besides playing traditional piano repertoire, Nguyen enjoys playing chamber music, participating in different ensembles of various sizes, as well as studying early keyboard music. He also has interest in music research, and has lectured on Vietnamese music for piano.


References and Further Reading

Caballero, Carlo. Fauré and French Musical Aesthetics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

Frisch, Walter. German Modernism: Music and the Arts. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2005.

Keller, James M. Chamber Music: A Listener’s Guide. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

Kerman, Joseph. “Beethoven’s Minority.” In Write All These Down: Essays on Music, 217–237. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1994.

Radice, Mark A. Chamber Music: An Essential History. Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press, 2012.

Smith, Peter H. “Intertextual Resonances: Tragic Expression, Dimensional Counterpoint, and the Great C-Minor Tradition.” In Expressive Forms in Brahms’s Instrumental Music: Structure and Meaning in His Werther Quartet, 234–284. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2005.

Taruskin, Richard. Music in the Nineteenth Century. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.

Trezise, Simon, ed. The Cambridge Companion to French Music. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015.

Youmans, Charles, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Richard Strauss. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

 

Chad Fothergill is a doctoral student in musicology at Temple University’s Boyer College of Music and Dance, and is the graduate assistant for the concert series, Beyond the Notes, at Temple University Libraries. He is also the editorial assistant for the journal Eighteenth-Century Music (Cambridge University Press). In addition to research and teaching, he remains active as an organist in solo, collaborative, and liturgical settings in the Philadelphia and New York City areas.

The series Beyond the Notes is supported by Temple University Libraries and Temple University’s Boyer College of Music and Dance.

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