American Musicological Society

Capital Chapter

Adminstration Meetings Membership Awards

Spring 2006 Program

Program

9:30 Coffee and donuts

10-10:30 Jason Stell, Princeton University, The Flat-7th Scale Degree and the Rhetoric of Beginning

10:30-11:00 Beth Bullard, George Mason University, The Gralla–Barcelona's Shawm With Nationalistic Overtones

11 - 11:15 Coffee/Tea Break

11:15-11:45 Christina Taylor Gibson, University of Maryland, College Park, Ponce's Music in New York, 1925-1932

12-1:30 Lunch

Afternoon: Lowens Award Competition

1:30-2:00 Elizabeth Yackley, University of Maryland, College Par, Mrs. MacDowell and Financing the MacDowell Colony: ‘Concertizing' for a Purpose

2-2:30 Loren Ludwig, University of Virginia, Did Simeon Play the Viol?: Robert White, Music for Voices and Viols, and a New Look at the Music of the Chester Mystery Plays

2:45-3:15 Emily Robertson, The George Washington University, Missa Jouyssance vous donneray: An Unknown 16th-Century Mass

3:15-3:45 Elizabeth Titrington, University of Maryland, College Park, Jesus Christ Superstar: How Religious Controversy Shaped a Cultural Phenomenon

4-4:30 Business Meeting
Voting for the Lowens Award
Voting for Chapter Officers and Student Representative
Discussion and Vote on Revisions to the Constitution and By-Laws

Meeting Adjourned


 

Abstracts

Jason Stell, Princeton University, The Flat-7th Scale Degree and the Rhetoric of Beginning

Individual scale degrees are rarely singled out for attention, particularly when one is trying to address broad historical issues and style changes in music. The primary danger, it would seem, is that an overly narrow perspective will cause us to lose the forest for the sake of the trees. The flat-7th or subtonic scale degree has previously been studied for jazz, blues, and rock styles, but no one has yet come to terms with its pivotal role in the musical language of 18th and 19th-century Europe. (Indeed, the current picture situates the flat-7th as a marker of stylistic ‘otherness' in relation to the classical tradition of Mozart and Beethoven.)

A study of the subtonic degree illuminates numerous concepts which are central to an understanding of tonal music, ranging from a historical dialectic between flat-7th and natural 7th (the leading tone), the major-minor seventh chord, flatward key change and its effect, and the crucial relationship between non-diatonic pitches and form. In this paper I focus on beginning gestures that include flat-7, drawing on instrumental works from J.S. Bach to Chopin. I will introduce expressive categories that help to synthesize the flat-7th's impact on how a work gets started, and how a momentary inflection toward IV may affect the conventional tonic/dominant polarity.

Beth Bullard, George Mason University, The Gralla–Barcelona's Shawm With Nationalistic Overtones

Medieval-style shawms survive as folk instruments in many parts of Europe. The gralla, a shawm of Spanish Catalonia (with Barcelona as its urban center), has seen a resurgence during the last third of the twentieth century. Today, gralla bands, many of them comprised of school children, once again bolster regional pride and ethnic identity, especially at the festivals that reemerged in Catalonia after decades of repression by the government of Generalissimo Franco. In Barcelona, gralla music is essential to outdoor celebratory activities: for processions and parades, for dances, and for the competitive community "sport" of building human "castles." Like the historical instrument itself, some of the music at these festivities harkens back stylistically to the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, while music that features modernized, keyed grallas is kin to European band music of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Both kinds of instruments and the genres of music played by them foster dreams of retrieving an idealized past nationhood.

Christina Taylor Gibson, University of Maryland, College Park, Ponce's Music in New York, 1925-1932


A typical review of Manuel M. Ponce's March 27, 1916 solo piano recital held in New York's Aeolian Hall called his music "pointless and inconsequential" (Musical America , April 1, 1916). The review referred to a program of post-Romantic works, several based on Mexican folksongs. Similar concerts in Havana and Mexico City had established Ponce's career in those metropolises. Did New York critics react differently because anti-Mexican sentiment created an unreceptive New York public.

The remarkable contrast found in reviews of Ponce's music from the late 1920s, suggests that the political environment might have influenced the reception of Ponce's solo concert. While the 1916 recital occurred at the height of U.S. dissatisfaction with the Mexican Revolution, by 1925, New York was undergoing what scholars have called the "Mexico Vogue." Others have established the remarkable influence of the Vogue on the U.S. reception of Mexican visual art and folk culture, yet the affect of the Vogue on musical life in the U.S. remains little explored.
Through Clarita Sanchez and Andrés Segovia, two recitalists performing Ponce's music in the late 1920s and early 1930s, we may begin to trace the influence of the Vogue in the New York music community. While Sanchez capitalized on the Vogue through performances of Ponce's folk songs, Segovia performed Ponce's music without reference to nationality. Using their performances as case studies, this paper examines the affect of the Mexico Vogue on Ponce's New York reception from 1925 to 1932.

Elizabeth Yackley, University of Maryland, College Park, Mrs. MacDowell and Financing the MacDowell Colony: ‘Concertizing' for a Purpose


The MacDowell Colony, an artists' community established in Peterboro, New Hampshire, has hosted well over 5,500 composers, architects, painters, sculptors, writers, poets, and film makers from its founding in 1907 to the present day. Although the Colony receives a significant amount of publicity on these artists and the creative work they accomplish while residents, the invaluable work its founder, Marian Nevins MacDowell did to support and sustain the Colony is greatly overlooked. Without her persistence in raising funds for all aspects of the MacDowell Colony, from its expansion and buildings, to fellowships and operating costs, the Colony would not be successful and thriving like it is in 2005. The members of MacDowell Clubs her husband, Edward MacDowell started, provided the main financial support for the Colony.
Mrs. MacDowell toured around the United States, "concertizing" (a term she coined) at these clubs, playing her husband's piano music and informing audiences about the Colony, the philosophy behind it, and the support it needed to continue to prosper. Mrs. MacDowell spread the word to many, and in turn, raised more money than any one donor gave to the Colony in a lifetime. During her forty years of "concertizing," she visited clubs of all sizes in cities like Boston, Oklahoma City, Janesville, Wisconsin, and New York. In her memoirs, Mrs. MacDowell wrote every cabin or house on the Colony property could not have been built or bought without the money she made "concertizing." This aspect of the MacDowell Colony history is extremely important and even more significant due to the fact that a woman accomplished these feats in the early 20th century, a time when women seldom left their private, domestic sphere.

Using primary sources in the Edward and Marion MacDowell Collection at the Library of Congress (annual reports of the Edward MacDowell Memorial Association, records and papers of the MacDowell Clubs, and Marian MacDowell's correspondence and memoirs), I plan to document Marian Nevins MacDowell's relationships with the MacDowell Clubs and other music clubs. This study will add to our knowledge of women patrons in the first half of the twentieth century. I will illuminate the crucial role Marion Nevins Macdowell played in establishing and strengthening an enduring American artistic institution.

Loren Ludwig, University of Virginia, Did Simeon Play the Viol?: Robert White, Music for Voices and Viols, and a New Look at the Music of the Chester Mystery Plays

Evidence is slim concerning the music that played an integral role in the Chester mystery plays, spectacular pageants presented annually by Chester's trade guilds until 1575. Though the texts of the plays have kept literary scholars busy for generations, music's role in the productions must be inferred from a handful of stage directions, a few marginal notes in surviving manuscripts, and the guilds' spotty expense accounts. What repertory was played, and on what combination of voices and instruments, in the sixteenth-century performances of the cycle? How did music help shape the reception of this large-scale paraliturgical spectacle? How did the musical practices associated with the plays relate to contemporary and later dramatic and musical traditions?

This paper seeks answers to these questions by drawing on a new body of research on the contemporary development of a tradition of polyphonic music for voices and viols. This little-known repertory was a central part of the musical training of choristers in cathedral schools and was performed in the "choirboy plays" fashionable in and around London during the 1550s and 60s. An important connection between this tradition and Chester's paraliturgical drama is composer and singer Robert White, who served as the Master of the Choristers of Chester Cathedral during the 1560s and was hired to provide music for the mystery play performances of 1567 and 1568. Significantly, White is also known for a surviving handful of polyphonic compositions for voices and viols. This project combines research on the Chester mystery plays and sixteenth-century polyphony for voices and viols to suggest some answers about music's role in the cycle as well as shed some light on the origins of England's vibrant consort tradition.

Emily Robertson, The George Washington University, Missa Jouyssance vous donneray: An Unknown 16th-Century Mass


The National Institutes of Health's Library of Medicine houses many intriguing documents. Among the most unusual in its History of Medicine Division is the "Bathtub Collection," an assortment of fragments retrieved by the former curator, Dr. Dorothy Schullian, from bookbindings. Among its many varied fragments are four music pages extracted from Giovanni Andrea della Croce's Chururgiae … liber septem (Venice, 1573), three of which contain musical notation with much of their contents still legible. Based on watermark dating, these pages appear to have been copied in Bavaria in the 1560s and early 1570s. The music consists of Latin-texted bicinia, including a Crucifixus, Et resurrexit, and Agnus Dei II of a Missa Jouyssance vous donneray , ascribed in the margin to Joannes Sarton.

Sarton left only this one piece, which was printed by Jacques Moderne in his Liber decem missarum (RISM 15328 and 15401). It is based upon Claudin de Sermisy's Jouyssance vous donneray, deservedly one of the most popular chansons of the sixteenth century. Motivic analysis of Sarton's parody mass reveals that his use of motives from his famous model does not necessarily follow expectations. For example, he uses the second phrase of the chanson almost three times as often as the opening phrase. Chanson motives are quoted, inverted, and expanded, as one would expect, but there are also examples of retrograde inversion and chained sequences. These compositional techniques are remarkable in a piece of music composed c.1530 and contribute significantly to the value of Sarton's unique parody mass.

Elizabeth Titrington, University of Maryland, College Park, Jesus Christ Superstar: How Religious Controversy Shaped a Cultural Phenomenon

Jesus Christ Superstar, first a rock opera concept album, then a Broadway production, then a film, captured the public's attention with its controversial treatment of a religious topic. "Jesus Christ, who are you?" the lyrics asked, stating the theme of this work which examined Jesus and the other characters of the Passion as human beings rather than as saints, villains, and the Messiah. Jesus Christ Superstar received almost constant media attention from 1970, when the concept album was released, to 1973, the year of the film's premier, and it was enormously popular with the public. While the music and lyrics of the Jesus Christ Superstar original recording are excellent, they alone cannot explain the overwhelming popularity of the album and the resulting show and film.

This paper examines the abundant and varied reactions to Jesus Christ Superstar by critics, audiences, and religious communities, chronicling the religious and artistic debate over the work against the background of America at the turn of the 1970s. The findings demonstrate that the controversial religious themes of Jesus Christ Superstar and the unorthodox treatment of those themes helped make it such a significant cultural phenomenon of its time. Critical examination of the religious and historical factors affecting the reception of Jesus Christ Superstar has greater implications for how societal forces influence our assessment of art.


 

 

 

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