The Musicology Department sponsors two series of presentations:
- The Colloquium series offers talks by current faculty and graduate students.
- The Symposium series presents prominent guest speakers from other institutions.
Both series are open to the Eastman community. All events take place on Thursdays at 4:30 p.m. in NSL 404 (Sibley Library seminar room) unless otherwise noted.
MUY Symposium Speakers Spring 2018
1 March 2018
Olivia Bloechl, University of Pittsburgh
“The Politics of Glory: Angelic Citizenship and Contemplative Choruses in Old Regime Opera”
What can opera’s choral groups tell us about how artists imagined publicness in non-democratic societies? In this talk I broach this question in the context of Old Regime France and its premier opera form, the tragédie en musique. Choruses in praise of authority figures are very common in this genre, and scholars have rightly taken such choruses as evidence for the genre’s ideological nature. However, ideological explanations can’t account for some these choruses’ most salient features or their striking longevity in serious French opera (from the 1670s through the Revolutionary period). In this talk, I’ll draw on Giorgio Agamben’s archaeology of glory as a basis for a new understanding of what I label “contemplative choruses” of praise, celebration, and acclamation, as elaborating a doxological myth of citizenship modeled on the angels. Looking at examples from across the repertory, I propose contemplative singing as the particular vocation of the chorus in Old Regime opera, and an unexpected source of its politicality. While the tragédie’s creators regularly used choruses in support of the Bourbon monarchy, I argue that this political utility represents the genre’s capture of an “inoperativity” proper to contemplative song. Inoperativity, I conclude, is the political core of opera’s contemplative choruses, in which singing with others—and enjoying singing—opens a human potentiality beyond any governing purpose.
29 March 2018
Ryan Dohoney, Northwestern University
“Wandelweiser; or, Friendship’s Silence”
My presentation offers reflections on an ongoing ethnographic project with the Wandelweiser experimental music community. I conducted preliminary research in Düsseldorf, Germany in the summer of 2017 where I attended the Klangraum events at a small art gallery. Antoine Beuger—manager of the publishing and recording outlets of Wandelweiser—curated a week-long gathering of musicians and theater artists affiliated with the collective who presented new work.
5 April 2018
Anna Zayaruznaya, Yale University
MUY Symposium Speakers Fall 2017
18 September 2017, 3:00 pm, Hatch Recital Hall
21 September 2017
Dan Blim, University of Rochester Humanities Center
“Some Issues with Reissues: The Case of Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music”
Reissues of older recordings are a mainstay of the music industry, sometimes elaborately produced for fans, sometimes available at a budget price for new listeners. While much scholarship has examined the process of recording music, relatively little attention has been given to the act of reissuing recordings. To shed light on this process, I consider a single album: the Anthology of American Folk Music, released by Folkways Records in 1952. The Anthology was itself a reissuing of older recordings—one of the first—assembled by avant-garde artist Harry Smith from his enormous record collection. Forty-five years later, the Smithsonian reissued the landmark Anthology on CD. Drawing on Smith’s comments about the album and on archival records at the Smithsonian that detail their process of reissuing it, I consider how these twin reissues demonstrate how the act of reissuing does not merely mechanically reproduce, but instead actively edits, revises, and constructs new meanings within the music
5 October 2017
Joan Rubin, Director, University of Rochester Humanities Center
“The Popularization of Classical Music and the Universe of Print in Mid-Twentieth-Century America”
This paper, based on my keynote at the “Music and the Middlebrow” conference last June in London, explores the ways in which the technologies of the phonograph record and the radio intersected with institutions and practices of print culture to shape the terms on which middlebrow mediators popularized classical music in mid-twentieth-century America. Examples include the efforts of the National Committee for Music Appreciation to support the distribution of recordings by public libraries; the creation of Music Appreciation records by the Book-of-the-Month Club; and the activities of Sigmund Spaeth, David Randolph, and other radio commentators who brought out books on how to listen to classical music. The paper addresses the inadequacy of the “sacralization of culture” model as a description of these phenomena and suggests that musicologists and cultural historians need to take the universe of print into account in constructing a complete picture of the dissemination of classical music in modern America.
19 October 2017
Danielle Fosler-Lussier, Ohio State University
“Transnationalism Comes Home: UNESCO, USIA, and Women’s Advocacy for Music”
When we think about the musical cold war, we tend to think about powerful institutions. The 1950s and 60s saw the development of conspicuous music programs sponsored by government programs, like the United States Information Agency—and non-governmental organizations, like UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Yet these institutions had limited means. The USIA had a tiny music budget, and its operations were hemmed in by regulations and Congressional investigations. UNESCO made lots of recommendations, but had no regulatory force. Most importantly, these institutions were composed of individual actors and constituent groups, who held different (and often competing) agendas. To a striking extent, the ability of UNESCO and the USIA to enact musical transnationalism depended on people working outside those institutions. The scholarly literature on the “state-private network” has focused on ways in which the US government gained legitimacy by using citizen groups as front organizations. This presentation demonstrates that several non-governmental organizations, operated principally by a network of volunteer women, not only amplified the power of cold war institutions but also shaped the agendas of those institutions.