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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“A Finely Prepared Musician of Very Unusual Ability”

Pianist Clipper Erickson and the Music of R. Nathaniel Dett

Wednesday, February 7, 2018 | 12:00–12:50 PM | Paley Library Lecture Hall

Light refreshments served. Boyer recital credit given.

 


 

In 1926, historian Carter G. Woodson—sometimes referred to as the “father of black history”—declared the second week of February as “Negro History Week,” a nod to the customary celebrations within African-American communities for Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass that marked their respective birthdays on February 12 and February 14. Later that same month, the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra performed a transcription of Nathaniel Dett’s Juba, the concluding movement of his 1912 piano suite In the Bottoms. Accompanying program notes lauded Dett as “the foremost among living composers of Negro music, and the first American to utilize Negro folk tunes for classical development.”

R. Nathaniel Dett, 1882–1943, in an undated photograph, ca. 1920, from the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. Public Domain.

This projection of Dett as figurative musical alchemist synthesizing folk and classic elements followed him throughout his career as a pianist, composer, and choral conductor. As we celebrate Black History Month in February 2018—an expansion of “Negro History Week” first proposed in 1969—it is fitting that we are treated to a recital of Dett’s piano music by Clipper Erickson, whose 2015 release My Cup Runneth Over: The Complete Piano Works of R. Nathaniel Dett was recently featured as an Editor’s Choice album by Gramophone UK.

In a richly-detailed study of Dett’s life and works, Anne Key Simpson describes the composer’s birthplace of Drummondville, Ontario, as “a slave-founded town … largely populated by former slaves and their families, many of whom had arrived there via the Underground Railroad.” Dett first learned to play by ear, but was soon compelled—sometimes by his mother’s peach tree switch—to read notation when it was found that he had been mimicking his teacher’s playing. From 1903 to 1908, Dett studied at Oberlin where he won the admiration of the faculty. In a sterling letter of recommendation, one professor wrote:

As a pianist he is very brilliant, his public performances always creating enthusiasm. His finger technique is finished and his natural musical ability is guided by the spirit of genius. He is a hard worker and a person of the highest character … a finely prepared musician of very unusual ability.

Dett’s meticulous preparation and impeccable character served him well in his pursuit of musical excellence—he later studied at Columbia, Harvard, Eastman, and with Nadia Boulanger—but conversely marked him in some circles as restrained and scholarly. For much of his career, his critical reception bore traces of tension between acculturation and enculturation. In his 2012 book Racial Uplift and American Music, 1878–1943, musicologist Lawrence Schenbeck summarizes the aesthetic approach of Dett and many contemporary artists:

Within the cultural sphere, black elites often resorted to an aesthetic based on European models as a vehicle for cultural vindication. Their response to white America’s pervasive minstrelsy-based constructions of blackness was to champion African American art that, while safely grounded in forms and styles derived from Shakespeare or Dvořák, was morally positive and politically inoffensive.

The cover of Dett’s Magnolia suite published in 1912 by the Clayton F. Summy Company of Chicago. Public Domain.

In Dett’s hands, melodies and images of African American folk songs and spirituals were grafted onto Western European forms. Though his piano suites carry characteristic titles—Magnolia, In the Bottoms, Cinnamon Grove—they brim with characteristics of predecessor composer-pianists such as Chopin’s expansive lyricism, Gottschalk’s programmatic virtuosity, and Debussy’s colorful harmonies. Mammy, the fourth movement of Magnolia, takes shape as the most nostalgic of nocturnes while the second movement of Cinnamon Grove, an arresting “Adagio cantabile” in D-flat major, can easily hold its own among any number of nineteenth-century compositions known as religious adagios.

photo of Clipper Erickson“Finely prepared musician” is also a fitting (and severely understated) description for Clipper Erickson. Following his debut at age nineteen as soloist with the Young Musicians Foundation Orchestra, the Los Angeles Times wrote: “he played with extraordinary dash and power and never let flamboyance obscure art.” Erickson studied at The Juilliard School, Yale University, and Indiana University, and has won top prizes at international competitions such as the Busoni and William Kapell. He performs as soloist with orchestras throughout the United States in venues including the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., Carnegie Hall, and Symphony Space in New York, and serves on the faculties of Westminster Conservatory in Princeton, Temple University, and Rutgers University.

The February 7 performance by Erickson begins at 12:00 PM in the Paley Library lecture hall, 1210 West Berks Street. The program is free and open to the public. And lest you cannot attend, know that Dett was also a poet—his works can be both read and heard!

 

“The Rubinstein Staccato Etude”

Nathaniel Dett

 

Staccato! Staccato!

Leggier agitato.

In and out does the melody twist;

Unique proposition,

in this composition.

Alas! For the player who hasn’t the wrist!

 

References and Further Reading

Brooks, Tim. Lost Sounds: Blacks and the Birth of the Recording Industry, 1890–1919. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2004.

“Robert Nathaniel Dett” [Obituary]. Negro History Bulletin 7.2 (1943): 45, 47.

Schenbeck, Lawrence. Racial Uplift and American Music, 1878–1943. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2012.

Simpson, Anne Key. Follow Me: The Life and Music of R. Nathaniel Dett. Metuchen, New Jersey, and London: Scarecrow Press, 1993.

 


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. He may be reached at chad.fothergill@temple.edu.


 

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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She Persisted: Women in Music, Then and Now

Emiko Edwards, Olena Havyuk-Sheremet, and Benjamin Katz contributed to this post.

On December 6, 2017, Paley Library will host “She Persisted: Women in Music Then and Now,” a symposium celebrating women’s contributions to music. Despite women’s deep engagement in music from antiquity to the present day, their accomplishments have too often been neglected or glossed over in received narratives of music history. This conference aspires to counter this trend by giving serious consideration to the women musicians whose work will be featured—and not just as women-composers or women-performers, but as individual artists in their own right. Paley Library music librarian Anne Harlow will host the event, and Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies liaison Caitlin Shanley will lead a workshop on contributing to Wikipedia on underrepresented topics (i.e. women in music).

This one-day conference is an outgrowth of “Female Keyboard Composers,” a doctoral keyboard literature seminar created and taught by Professor Joyce Lindorff. Speakers will include the conveners, doctoral students Emiko Edwards, Olena Havyuk-Sheremet, and Benjamin Katz, and professors from Temple University and the greater Philadelphia area. The day’s events will conclude in Rock Hall with a 7.30 PM concert given by students, faculty, and guest artists.

Invited local scholars include:

  • Julianne Baird, an internationally renowned soprano, scholar and, Distinguished Professor of Music at Rutgers–Camden;
  • Rebecca Cypess, harpsichordist, fortepianist, and Associate Professor of Musicology at the Mason Gross School of the Arts (Rutgers), who is presently “engaged in long-term publication, performance, and recording projects related to the German-Jewish patron and keyboardist Sara Levy (1761–1854) and her place in Enlightenment culture”;
  • and Martha Schleifer, retired Boyer College faculty member and co-editor of the multivolume anthology Women Composers: Music through the Ages.

Participating Temple faculty include:

  • Sara Davis Buechner, a critically acclaimed concert pianist whose album “Jazz Nocturne: The Collected Piano music of Dana Suesse” is the only recording fully dedicated to this twentieth-century composer’s works;
  • Cynthia Folio, composer and Professor of Music Theory, who traveled to Cuba in November 2017 for the premiere of a new work for women’s chorus;
  • Steven Zohn, the Laura H. Carnell Professor of Music History, is a Baroque flautist, scholar of eighteenth-century music, and leading expert on the music of Georg Philipp Telemann;
  • and Joyce Lindorff, scholar of historical keyboards and their repertoires whose playing has been lauded by the Philadelphia Inquirer for her “sterling clarity, insight, and dazzling technical mastery.” She has recorded both early and contemporary harpsichord music for the Titanic, Centaur, CRI, Serenus, Digitech, and Paladino labels. Her most recent album, “Music from the Harpsichord Miscellany,” was recorded on the 1758 Jacob Kirckman harpsichord at Colonial Williamsburg.
Sara Levy portrait

Portrait of Sara Levy, daughter of Daniel Itzig (1723–1799), from Otto Waser’s “Anton Graff von Winterthur: Bildnisse des Meisters,” Winterthur Kunstverein, 1903. Public domain.

The symposium, which begins at 10:00 AM and ending at 5:00 PM, will feature the following presentations:

  • “Agency and Authorship in the Late Eighteenth-Century Salon: Two Case Studies (Sara Levy and Anne-Louise Brillon)” | Dr. Rebecca Cypess
  • “Nelly Custis at the Keyboard: The Musical World of George Washington’s Living Room” | Dr. Joyce Lindorff
  • “Dana Suesse: Female Gershwin” | Emiko Edwards, DMA candidate
  • “The Sociability of Salon Culture and Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach’s Quartets” | Dr. Steven Zohn
  • “Introducing Two Living Ukrainian Composers: Bohdana Frolyak and Lyubava Sydorenko” | Olena Havyuk-Sheremet, DMA candidate
  • “L’audacieuse: Keyboard works of Madame Ravissa of Turin” | Benjamin Katz, DMA candidate
  • “Sacred Music by Women in the Middle Ages and Renaissance” | Dr. Martha Schleifer
  • “Contributing to Wikipedia on Underrepresented Topics” | Caitlin Shanley, Instruction Librarian

All presentations will be given in the Paley Library lecture hall, 1210 West Berks Street. The program is free and open to the public.

 

Further Reading

Blackburn, Bonnie J. “Professional Women Singers in the Fifteenth Century: A Tale of Two Annas.” In The Cambridge History of Fifteenth-Century Music, edited by Anna Maria Busse Berger and Jesse Rodin, 476–485. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015.

Bowers, Jane, and Judith Tick, eds. Women Making Music: The Western Art Tradition, 1150–1950. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1987.

Cyrus, Cynthia J., and Olivia Carter Mather. “Rereading Absence: Women in Medieval and Renaissance Music.” College Music Symposium 38 (1998): 101–117.

Dunbar, Julie C. Women, Music, Culture: An Introduction. New York: Routledge, 2011.

Haemig, Mary Jane. “Elisabeth Cruciger (1500?–1535): The Case of the Disappearing Hymn Writer.” The Sixteenth-Century Journal 32.1 (Spring 2001): 21–44.

Hayes, Eileen M., and Linda F. Williams, eds. Black Women and Music: More than the Blues. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2007.

Jezic, Diana Peacock, and Elizabeth Wood. Women Composers: The Lost Tradition Found, Second Edition. New York: The Feminist Press, 1994.

Marshall, Kimberly, ed. Rediscovering the Muses: Women’s Musical Traditions. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1993.

Pendle, Karin. Women and Music: A History, Second Edition. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2001.

Solie, Ruth A., ed. Musicology and Difference: Gender and Sexuality in Music Scholarship. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1993.

Walton, Janet. “Women’s Ritual Music.” In Music in American Religious Experience, edited by Philip V. Bohlman, Edith Blumhofer, and Maria Chow, 255–268. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.

 


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


 

Posted in Beyond the Notes, Performing Arts News | Tagged , , , | 1 Response

Music for One, Two, Four, Six Hands

Charles Abramovic and students play music for piano by Scriabin, Schubert, Mozart, Brahms, Dvořák, Schnittke, and Abramovic

Wednesday, November 15, 2017 | 12:00–12:50 PM | Paley Library Lecture Hall

Light refreshments served. Boyer recital credit given.


A Guidonian hand from late fifteenth-century Italian manuscript, courtesy of Oxford’s Bodleian Library.

The hand: physiologists have supplied names for its many muscles—flexor digiti minimi, adductor pollicis, and lumbricals, among others—and pedagogues have assigned numbers to its digits—1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. We use it to make gestures associated with body language and sign language. It’s used in figures of speech and idioms: situations can get out of hand, we can try our hands at a new task, hand over hand-me-downs to a secondhand store, and take matters into our own hands. An eleventh-century monk named Guido used it to teach sight-singing with solfège syllables. Frustrated with a music theorist? Tell her or him to speak to the “Guidonian Hand”!

Even though hands are essential to virtually all forms of musicking (singers communicate through both voice and gesture), their musical prowess is often instinctively associated with those who play keyboard instruments. The hands of pianists have, in particular, received special scrutiny. Recalling his first encounter with Beethoven, Carl Czerny wrote of the elder composer’s hands “overgrown with hair,” and the son of pianist Ignaz Moscheles marveled at Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy’s “long, chord-grasping fingers.” When Chopin died in October 1849, the French painter and sculptor Auguste Clésinger made a death mask as well as cast of the composer’s hands. But not even death could stem the power of some hands: in the 1946 mystery horror film, The Beast with Five Fingers, a recently deceased pianist’s hand escapes from his mausoleum and terrorizes those who had wronged him!

Though it is natural to think of the piano as a two-handed instrument, its vast repertoire includes solo compositions, chamber works, and concertos for a single hand, two players with four hands, and three players with six hands. In case you were wondering, the detached left hand in The Beast with Five Fingers was fond of playing Brahms’s transcription of J. S. Bach’s chaconne from the second violin partita in D minor, BWV 1004. Some of these pieces—Scriabin’s Prelude and Nocturne, Op. 9, for left hand—certainly sound as if they are rendered with two hands, that is, until one actually experiences them in live performance such as Yuja Wang’s characteristically exquisite playing of the Prelude. Others are more poignant, such as this solo left-hand work composed for Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer after a stroke rendered him unable to use his right hand (Tranströmer himself plays while his poem “Allegro” is read by a narrator; this was recorded only a few weeks before his death in March 2015).

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1841–1919, Jeunes filles au piano (Young Girls at the Piano) of 1892. Oil on canvas, 45.7 in. × 35.4 in. Courtesy of Musée d’Orsay, Paris, and the Google Art Project.

For musical connoisseurs of the nineteenth century, four-handed playing was especially popular both in real life and throughout literature. In Four-Handed Monsters: Four-Hand Piano Playing and Nineteenth-Century Culture, author Adrian Daub describes the literary mechanics thus: “two people, two bodies on one piano that they are forced to share—it’s a scene that often presents itself as anything but innocent, half pas de deux, half poker game.” Though eighteenth-century composers such as Haydn and Mozart helped popularize domestic four-hand playing, the movement reached its zenith in the nineteenth century before yielding to concert-oriented works for two pianos in the twentieth century such as concertos by Poulenc, Stravinsky, and Vaughan Williams. In the absence of recordings, podcasts, and Spotify, nineteenth-century audiences (and many reviewers, too) became familiar with symphonies, opera overtures, and other pieces through these four-handed transcriptions. According to Daub, Mozart’s symphonies were issued in four-hand versions more than six times between 1852 and 1859. Reger transcribed some of Bach’s organ music for two pianos, Brahms himself transcribed his own symphonic movements, and Dvořák originally wrote his Slavonic Dances, Op. 46, for two pianos in 1878. Orchestral and four-hand versions often appeared simultaneously or in close succession, a common nineteenth-century practice.

Works for six (and occasionally eight) hands began to appear more frequently in the twentieth century even though Czerny had already laid the groundwork with his Fantaisie, Op. 17, and three more “brilliant” fantasies in his Les trois amateurs, Op. 741. Rachmaninoff penned a Waltz and a Romance—both in A major—for this trio of thirty fingers, but perhaps the most well-known work in this category is Alfred Schnittke’s Homage to Stravinsky, Prokofiev, and Shostakovich of 1979. Here, Schnittke—a musical alchemist fond of polystylism—develops a tripartite formula that fuses Shostakovich’s musical signature (the pitches D, E-flat, C, and B-natural), Prokofiev’s sense of propulsion, and Stravinsky’s penchant for polytonal clusters. According to one reviewer, the result is at once “humorous” and “diabolical”!

Charles Abramovic, courtesy of Boyer College of Music and Dance, Temple University.

The creative juxtaposition of varied performance forces for a single instrument goes, so to speak, hand-in-hand with the creative inclinations and wide-ranging activities of Charles Abramovic, who has won critical acclaim for his international performances as a soloist, chamber musician, and collaborator with leading instrumentalists and singers. He has performed a vast repertoire not only on the piano, but also the harpsichord and fortepiano. And actively involved with contemporary music, he has also recorded works of Milton Babbitt, Joseph Schwantner, Gunther Schuller and others for Albany Records, CRI, Bridge, and Naxos.

Abramovic has taught at Temple since 1988 and is a fixture of Philadelphia’s musical life, performing with numerous organizations in the city. He is a core member of the Dolce Suono Ensemble, and performs often with Network for New Music and Orchestra 2001. In 1997 he received the Career Development Grant from the Philadelphia Musical Fund Society, and in 2003 received the Creative Achievement Award from Temple University. His teachers have included Natalie Phillips, Eleanor Sokoloff, Leon Fleisher, and Harvey Wedeen.

The November 15 performance by Abramovic and his students begins at 12:00 PM in the Paley Library lecture hall, 1210 West Berks Street. The program is free and open to the public.

 

References and Further Reading

Bozarth, George S., and Stephen H. Brady. “The Pianos of Johannes Brahms.” In Brahms and His World, Revised Edition, edited by Walter Frisch and Kevin C. Karnes, 73–93. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2009.

Daub, Adrian. Four-Handed Monsters: Four-Hand Piano Playing and Nineteenth-Century Culture. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.

Edel, Theodore. Piano Music for One Hand. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994.

Ferguson, Howard. Keyboard Duets. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995.

Hamilton, Kenneth. After the Golden Age: Romantic Pianism and Modern Performance. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.

Kinderman, William. “Schubert’s Piano Music: Probing the Human Condition.” In The Cambridge Companion to Schubert, edited by Christopher H. Gibbs, 155–173. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997.

Loesser, Arthur. Men, Women, and Pianos: A Social History. New York: Dover, 1990.

Lubin, Ernst. The Piano Duet. New York: Grossman, 1970.

Roberge, Marc-André. “From Orchestra to Piano: Major Composers as Authors of Piano Reductions of Other Composers’ Works.” Notes 49.3 (March 1993): 925–936.

Rowland, David, ed. The Cambridge Companion to the Piano. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

Small, Christopher. Musicking: The Meanings of Performing and Listening. Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, 1998.

Todd, R. Larry, ed. Nineteenth-Century Piano Music. New York: Schirmer, 1990.

 

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. He may be reached at chad.fothergill@temple.edu.

 


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


 

Posted in Beyond the Notes, Performing Arts News | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Response