You are on page 1of 7

RMA STUDY DAY ENVISIONING MODERNITY UNIVERSITY OF DURHAM, 11 March 2014 PROGRAMME

REGISTRATION 9.30-10.00, Senate Suite, University College, Palace Green

SESSION I: RE-ENVISIONING BRITISH MUSICAL MODERNISM 10.00-11.30, Senate Suite, University College, Palace Green The Modern Problem: the BBC lectures of Herbert Howells and their influence upon constructs of British musical modernism Jonathan Clinch (University of Durham) Music has reached Atonality. And that forces you and me, for a few moments to-night, to sit upon the ground and tell sad stories of the death of Tonics, Dominants, and Subdominants. By 1937 Herbert Howellss position within the British cultural establishment was secure, having achieved success as a composer, teacher, writer, and broadcaster: it is therefore not surprising that he was asked to give a series of lectures for the BBC. What is of considerable interest is the manner in which he covers Music and the Ordinary Listener: The Modern Problem in the course of six lectures. From the continental experiments of Schoenberg and Berg to home-grown moderns such as Vaughan Williams and Walton, Howells explores his central question of What is modern music?. This paper examines Howellss attempt at the institutionalisation of a British modernism whilst also seeking a broader context within the framework of Alexandra Harriss Romantic Moderns, demonstrating the fruitful ways in which British musical modernism reconciled the apparent aesthetic paradox of continental modernism and the British creative imagination. Walking the Tightrope: A Case for British Musical Modernism Annika Forkert (Royal Holloway, University of London) In recent years, British musical modernism has become the musicological equivalent of certain streams in the New Modernist Studies in Literature which seek to expand the field temporally (to include what had been marginalized), spatially (to include transnational arenas and other fields like economics), and vertically (to redo conventional mandarin categories), as the New Modernist Studies opponent Charles Altieri described it (in Afterword. How the New Modernist Studies fails the Old Modernism, Textual Practice, 26 (2012), 76382). With a beginning backlash by believers in those mandarin categories at hand in musicology as in literary studies, it seems the right moment to propose a peace treaty, as it were, between expansionists in favour of British modernism and hardliners 1

excluding anything but Continental modernism. To this end, this paper suggests a model based on the understanding of political revolutions in the work of contemporary philosopher Alain Badiou: if modernism is a revolutionary Platonic idea, pieces of music will respond to this idea in different, yet equally valid, ways. Tonality as well as atonality can thus be accounted for in the history of modernism, while a tight core notion of modernism is retained in the idea; the polemic question if a piece is modernist or not changes into the question how it responds to modernism. I make the case for this new model by outlining its features and by showing it in action in a brief analysis of Ralph Vaughan Williams Fourth Symphony. Re-envisioning British musical modernism James Winkley (University of Durham) In recent years, scholarship on British music has increasingly sought to reconceptualise notions of musical modernism in order to accommodate the work of figures such as Elgar and Walton who had previously tended to be excluded from this stylistic categorythe work of J. P. E. Harper-Scott furnishing a particularly notable case in point. In the present paper, I attempt to analyse some of the reasons why much British composers of the earlier twentieth century often pursued a stylistic trajectory which, on the surface at least, seemed to have little in common with modernist tendencies cultivated elsewhere, particularly in its eschewal of atonal or serial idioms. Drawing on the writings by a number of key British composers of the period, including Holst and Vaughan Williams, I identify a number of shared concerns, such as the desirability of pursuing a quest for musical beauty, the comparative lack of any impulse towards the violent repudiation of tradition, and the necessity to communicate in a manner that the musical public would find accessible. Based on an analysis of these standpoints, I argue that the stylistic contrast between much British music and other manifestations of musical modernism at the period can be attributed in part to the fact that they were influenced by a very different set of philosophical and artistic influences than prevailed on the Continent, such as French symbolism.

SESSION II: ALTERNATIVE MODERNITIES 11.45-1.15, Concert Room, Music Department, Palace Green Symphonic scandal: Khachaturians Third Symphony Joseph Schultz (University of Durham) Amongst the works commissioned from high-profile Soviet composers to mark the thirtieth anniversary of the October Revolution in 1947 was Aram Khachaturians Third Symphony. In marked contrast to his Second Symphony of 1944, which was acclaimed as a major contribution to Soviet wartime symphonism, the Third met with a deeply hostile reception and was quickly consigned to oblivion, despite being one of Khachaturians most strikingly original scores. This critical debacle played no small part in precipitating the composers humiliating fall from grace in 1948, when he incurred official censure for the vice of formalism and was sacked from the leadership of the Composers Union. The present paper seeks to analyse the underlying causes of the works condemnation, chief amongst which were the perceptions that Khachaturian had failed to do justice to the great 2

theme of the Revolution, and that the symphony evinced decadent modernist traits. In spite of the composers claim that he had intended to express the Soviet people's joy and pride in their great and mighty country, there was a glaring disparity between the turbulent, frequently highly dissonant nature of the music, which transgressed acceptable Socialist Realist stylistic boundaries, and the ostensible ideological content. As I shall show, the criticisms of the work marked the commencement of a clampdown on the employment of phantom programmes to avert official suspicion of non-text-based instrumental music, and the more stringent enforcement of Socialist Realism for the remainder of the late Stalinist period. The spectrality effect in two modernist works of Enrique Granados Luisa Balaguer (University of Valladolid) Traditionally, the notion of the emancipation of the dissonance has dominated discussions of musical modernism, and the work of Schoenberg has been accorded a place of central importance. However, according to J. P. E. Harper-Scott, this view has led to an underestimation of figures such as Elgar, who is regarded as a conservative and thus excluded from historical narratives of modernism. Enrique Granados has been viewed in a similar way: he has been categorised as a Romantic by W. Aaron Clark, despite being a contemporary of Schoenberg, because his principal concern was not the emancipation of the dissonance. The aim of this paper is to re-consider Granadoss position and to arrive at a conceptualization of modernism within which he can be accommodated. Modernisms crisis of representation is observed in different spheres of thought. Henri Bergson and Edmund Husserl contended that the intellectual construction of science is an unreal realm of artificial abstractions and proposed new forms of representationBergsons being based on his notion of the immediate data of consciousness, and Husserls on the concept of things themselves. The analysis offered here of Granadoss The Angel of the Cloisters and Apparitions is based on the spectrality effect proposed by David Glover with reference to early modernist narratives by May Sinclair and Joseph Conrad, with the aim of demonstrating that the image of the spectre reveals the complex relationship between modernity and temporality.

Darius Milhaud as modernist Jonathan Penny (University of Durham) Identifying unifying traits of the various compositional idioms that have been termed modernist has always been a problematic endeavour, given the protean nature of musical modernism and the wide, sometimes seemingly irreconcilable divergences in aesthetic outlooks held by composers. In this paper, I consider the problematic applicability of the term to Darius Milhaud, who has widely been considered one of the foremost modernist figures in French music of his period. I shall examine the writings that Milhaud contributed to periodicals such as the Courrier musical, seeking to elucidate his understanding of the term modern in relation to musical composition and the specific traits that he regarded as modernist. I argue that, unlike composers such as Schoenberg or Debussy, Milhauds conception of the musically modern was not primarily underpinned by a coherent set of philosophical and artistic concerns arising from a reflection on the state of modernity itself, 3

and which had extensive implications for their compositional praxis in regard of such things as the nature of the musical material employed and their approaches to formal organisation. Instead, his aesthetic position often appears to be informed by questionable personal prejudices and subjective convictionssuch as his appeal to vaguely defined Latin musical values in opposition to German ones. I conclude by considering the extent to which Milhaud can legitimately be regarded as a modernist, if at all.

SESSION III: THE ORIGINS AND DEATH OF MODERNISM; ROMANTICISM AND MODERNISM 11.45-13.15, Senate Suite, University College, Palace Green (Early) Modern Works in Progress (c.1595-1728) David Lee (University of Glasgow) The seventeenth century saw a number of seminal developments across European cultural centres, as economists, philosophers, and artists active in diverse media began to consolidate ideas now described together in the period widely regarded as Early Modern. As cosmic order was displaced by pluralist secular influences, musicians and composers felt compelled to begin to illustrate conceptions exploring to subjectivity, playing off tensions between individualist concerns and their shifting roles in newly emerging collective identities. The period saw the beginnings of new genres, with an emphasis placed on the individual explicitly expressed through forms such as opera. However, scholars including Lydia Goehr have rightly identified problems in using a nineteenth-century conception of musical works in tracing these developments as part of an unbroken trajectory, posing a number of salient questions. Why did nineteenth and twentieth-century Austro-German musicians begin to look to the seventeenth century? What necessitates the early before modernity? How did it influence and/or develop into an adjunct modern consciousness? Following on from John Butts exploration of J.S. Bachs passions in Bachs Dialogue with Modernity (2010), I would like to locate earlier contexts for modernity, back to seventeenth-century Italy, and show how it was exchanged with many of the German musicians who studied there. Seventeenth-century Italian musical culture is portrayed problematically, as a sort of dormiveglia. In this paper, I would like to show how Venetian conceptions of the musical work directly influenced the birth of German modernity, providing the basis for what eventually became our conception of the modern composer. Berios Sinfonia and the death of modernism William Drummond (University of Durham) Luciano Berios Sinfonia (1968) is often regarded as a seminal work that repudiates many of the characteristics commonly associated with musical modernism of the earlier twentieth century. My paper suggests that this view cannot be accepted without significant reservations, and may fundamentally misrepresent Berios aesthetic position. Taking as my starting point the composers own insistence that his employment of quotation in the third movement is not a collage, but rather a creative exploration of the Mahler scherzo upon which it is based, I argue that Sinfonia is less akin to the other works of the roughly contemporary collage wave and postmodernist styles than is commonly assumed. Instead, 4

it can be construed as a reflection on the perceived crisis of direction within modernism after the possibilities of post-war serialism had been exhausted. Far from representing a simple repudiation, Sinfonia engages with many of Modernisms central concernsmost importantly, a Bloomian anxiety of influence. Much recent scholarship has sought to broaden conceptualisations of modernism, and Sinfonia can be persuasively accommodated within these. The work reflects concerns that have been central to modernism since its inception: disillusionment with nineteenth-century notions of progress, the struggle to come to terms with a past that is experienced as burdensome, and the fractured condition of modernity itself. Instead of signalling the death of modernism, as has often been claimed, Berios Sinfonia re-discovers it. The Divided Self: The Romantic-Modernist Polarity in the Thought and Practices of Glenn Gould Alasdair Campbell (University of Oxford) An avowed structuralist, experimentalist and techno-enthusiast, Canadian pianist Glenn Gould was, in the words of Colin Eatock, all about modernity, yet a consideration of Goulds views on musical aesthetics and the art of performance reveals the extent to which his artistic philosophy is also grounded in nineteenth-century assumptions about the ontological character of the musical work and the role of the musical performer. This seeming inconsistency in the constitution of Goulds thought compels us to reflect upon the core values that underlie our understanding of the Romantic-Modernist polarity and to engage critically with the hermeneutic processes that have informed historical debate on the subject. Drawing upon Goulds published writings, and foregrounding the example of his String Quartet, Op. 1, I examine the unique and compelling ways in which the pianist negotiates the complex politics of musical modernism, situating his thought and practices within the wider cultural-intellectual context of post-World War II Canada and identifying the theoretical dissonances, both latent and explicit, that underwrite Goulds relationship to contemporary modernist discourse. Specifically, I consider the following: i) the influence of Viennese and Canadian modernism on Goulds aesthetics of analysis, compositional approach, and performance practices; ii) Goulds critique of Zeitgeist, progress and the historical imperative; iii) Goulds Platonism and critique of musical authenticity. In so doing, I aim to provide a more nuanced and sophisticated understanding of the pianist, clarifying the nature of his contribution to the intellectual history of musical modernism, and advancing a robust theoretical framework for the furtherance of contemporary Gould scholarship.

KEYNOTE LECTURE 14:00-15:30, Concert Hall, Music Department, Palace Green All the arts aspire to the condition of music, except the art of music Prof Lydia Goehr (Columbia University)

SESSION IV: THE SECOND VIENNESE SCHOOL; ADORNO 16.00-18.00, Senate Suite, University College, Palace Green Schoenbergs self-representation as artiste maudit in Die Glckliche Hand Daniel Tooke (University of Durham) Die Glckliche Hand is one of a number of works by Schoenberg with strong autobiographical resonances. Commentators have traditionally emphasised the parallels between the central protagonists betrayal in love and Schoenbergs own experiences when his wife Mathilde briefly left him in 1908 for the painter Richard Gerstl. However, interpretations along these lines were not only disavowed by the composer himself, but arguably overlook the works more significant autobiographical dimensions. In this paper, I suggest that the connections between life and work can be more adequately understood if Die Glckliche Hand is viewed as a Knstleroper embodying Schoenbergs self-envisioning as modernist artistan artiste maudit of superhuman creative power who is fated to endure indifference, misunderstanding, and hostility. The paper will present an analysis of the operas symbolism and of its portrayal of the central protagonist, elucidating the various literary and philosophical influences that informed thesemost importantly, perhaps, Stefan Georges idealised self-portrayals as artist in his collection Der siebente Ring (1907). Adorno, Eisler, and the Modern Lyric Challenge to Non-Identity James Archer (University of Durham) This paper proceeds from Detlev Claussens claim in Adorno: One Last Genius that the American experience of Adorno and his exiled contemporaries, particularly Hanns Eisler, was characterised by non-identity: both in Adorno's thought and the more pervasive cultural politics of the alienated subject. I begin by suggesting that the 1930s and 1940s represent a transitional stage in Adorno's non-identity thinking. At this point, we must consider not the fully formed 'postmetaphysics' of the Negative Dialectics but an earlier, less concrete form. The reformulation of the relationship between Being and Concept from the transparency of Kant and the consonance of Hegela pre-modern state of identityto the dissonance of Adorno's dialectic encapsulates the modern experience. This finds a parallel articulation for Eisler in the texts of the Lieder tradition, whose world of Heimweh and uncanny (unheimlich) experience resonates with the 'non-identical' condition of exile. The Hollywood Liederbuch, steeped in this prehistory, presents an immanent critique of the unrepresentability of the social (Gourgouris, 2004) quite distinct from what Goehr (1994) calls the encoded social criticism of Eisler's serial music. The compositional history of the six short Hlderlin Fragmente completed in 1943 reveals just such a reflection on alienated subjectivity. Calico (2008) describes an extensive dialogue between Eisler and Bertolt Brecht in the summer of 1943 on the subject of a projected David and Goliath opera, which would integrate choruses based on the Fragmente with contemporary twelve-tone writing and Eislers explicitly social Tendenzmusik in order to model the conditions in which the individual subject could eventually overcome its alienation. I conclude by examining Eislers return to a divided Germany in 1948, and suggesting that traces of the lyric artists resistance to social order persisted in the DDR, even for the composer of Auferstanden aus Ruinen. 6

The Tonal Webern Defended Against His Later Path to the New Music Sebastian Wedler (University of Oxford) [A]bout 1911 I wrote the Bagatelles for String Quartet (Op. 9) []. Here I had the feeling, When all twelve notes have gone by, the piece is over. Much later I discovered that all this was a part of the necessary development. These famous remarks, spoken by Webern in 1932 during one of his lectures on The Path to the New Music, precisely epitomise the axiomatic difficulties which I see the main strands of early Webern scholarship pervaded, and against which I shall develop my paper. Suggesting that he had already intuitively applied elementary aspects of the twelve-tone technique in the Six Bagatelles, Webern, on the basis of his pitch-organisation, reads this later development back into his earlier work, in an attempt to corroborate a coherent self-historiographic narrative. Although from a contemporary point of view this narrativeinformed by the idea of history as organism, and clearly teleological in constructioncan be debunked as a violent act of historical ironing out, nevertheless Webern scholarship seems to have had severe difficulties in finding an appropriate distance to Weberns self-proclaimed path to the new music. With high price: Weberns tonal repertoire still remains something of a huge terra incognita. Proposing a critique of the ideological contents of the scholarship that has failed to methodological distance itself from musical modernism as a historical category, in my paper I will make the case that we should attempt to understand Weberns tonal repertoire in its own right. Musique informelle: towards a re-conceptualisation Joris de Henau (University of Durham) My paper will present a reconsideration of musique informelle which builds on Gianmario Borios critique of Adornos influential concept which he expounded in his celebrated essay of 1963, Vers une musique informelle. The examination of contemporary compositional praxis in his book Musikalische Avantgarde um 1960, Borio noted a shift away from an overriding preoccupation with pitch towards a new concern with texture, which led him to develop the concept of the sound-object. I argue that Borios re-conceptualisation can be fruitfully extended by drawing on Adornos late thinking on time in which he revisited key concepts evolved by Walter Benjamin, as Susan Buck-Morss and others have shown, and which led him to substantially modify his theory of the artwork. I attempt to pursue the implication of these ideas for the temporal dimension of the modernist artwork, additionally drawing on Benjamins concept of the dialectical image. On this basis, I propose a new understanding of the sound-object which enables us to amplify the notion of musique informelle, showing how it can illuminate the treatment of temporality in the work of Morton Feldman. I will additionally draw on Feldmans concept of the instrumental image as an example of the object-as-image, demonstrating the potential of the concept of the dialectal image as a critical form of reading of musical works of art.