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News & Press: AMS Chapter News

AMS Greater New York Chapter: Fall Meeting

Tuesday, September 8, 2020  
Regarding the upcoming meeting of the Greater New York Chapter of the American Musicological Society, our Fall Meeting will take place on Saturday, September 12th, beginning at 10 AM.
The Zoom code is  
Feel free to share this information with friends, colleagues, and students. Anyone may join in; membership is not required. Additional details may be found on our website:

10-10:30          Paper 1, presentation and questions
10:30-11          Paper 2, presentation and questions
11-11:30          Discussion about upcoming chapter schedule and activities
11:30-12          Paper 3, presentation and questions

From 11 to 11:30, the Chapter President will lead a conversation about how to go forward with several activities, including how to structure the discussion about the controversy about the Journal of Schenkerian Studies; whether to hold additional roundtable discussions; and the meeting schedule for 2020/2021, especially if it will need to be completely online.

Paper 1--The Musician’s Art and Oratory
Beverly Jerold

To writers in the long 18th century, the “highest goal” in music performance was beyond the power of words to describe, but it distinguishes the true artist from the ordinary musician. This vital element is expression, which requires a “sensitive soul.” In 1753, scores of years before the metronome’s invention, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach criticized those musicians, including skilled “technicians,” who play in a “merely machine-like” (blos maschienenmässig) manner.  Curiously, his critique seems to apply also to a sizable portion of today’s performance. Although voices have called attention to the lack of genuine musicality when technical proficiency is valued more than expression, the effect has been minimal. During the German Enlightenment (to narrow an expansive topic), virtually all major commentators objected to mechanical execution. Of particular interest are passages from C.P.E. Bach, J.J. Quantz, J.A.P. Schulz, D.G. Türk, and F. Guthmann, who advised musicians to follow the same techniques as an eloquent orator in order to achieve meaningful expression, an analogy that occurs both before and after this period. Describing the characteristics of fine oratory, they clarify how the musician can apply them. Especially noteworthy is their emphasis on inflections and timing. Just as the orator varies the pace of his delivery, so too does the musician, according to the changing feelings being expressed. This directly contradicts the prevailing modern practice of beat regularity throughout—which often converts a fine composition into an exercise.

Paper 2--A “London” Connection? A Possible Allusion to Haydn’s London Symphony in Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 15
Elizabeth Noelle Marcinkiewicz

It is widely known that found within Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 15 are references to works by composers such as Rossini and Wagner. This paper discusses whether in the fourth movement (Adagio-Allegretto) of Shostakovich’s last symphony there is also an allusion to the first movement of Franz Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 104 in D Major, also known as the “London” Symphony. Through theoretical analysis of the two works in question, with a focus on the opening bars of Haydn’s Symphony No. 104 and the latter part of the fourth movement of Shostakovich’s symphony, I will examine whether this can be considered a true allusion to what is referred to in this paper as the “London Motive.”

This paper explores, in light of numerous other references throughout Symphony No. 15, other factors that might contribute to the likelihood that Shostakovich intended a connection between the two works, including the fact that both are the last symphonies written by their respective composers. Additionally, there is the placement of the “London Motive” at the end of the work, in the last half of the last movement, whereas this motive appears as the introduction of Haydn’s final symphony. That Shostakovich’s 15th symphony is so abundant with allusions to other works, specifically more tragic ones, lends itself to the possibility that Shostakovich might have included this as an almost grotesque alteration to the “London Motive” as a way of expressing it in his own style, as opposed to the more direct quotation of Rossini’s William Tell Overture in the first movement. Given that this motive may easily be found in some way in other works as well, by chance and not as references, I welcome input and discussion from others.

Paper 3--‘Pompously oblivious’: Schizophrenic Casella and the Semantic Axes of Fascist Racist Rhetoric in Music Criticism in the 1930s.
Luca Sala

Debates and polemics published between around 1926 and 1927 in Critica fascista (1923-1943), the fortnightly journal founded and directed by Giuseppe Bottai, were crucial in helping define the way in which Fascist intelligentsia tried to establish new aesthetic standards for both Fascist art and culture. During the early 1930s the regime did not explicitly address and ratify formal directives regarding musical press and barely intervened in repressing musical polemics and debates hosted in specialized journals and magazines. This left the door open for various elements of music criticism to forge their own open interdisciplinary interpretations and debates and to endorse political narratives. Despite the lack of explicit pressure, the writings and polemics of various critics would often go above and beyond what was required in order to conform with the rigid rules of state politics, sometimes providing an ideological or aesthetic basis for even more violent and well-organized cultural cleansing. A gradual but solid transformation of the tools of the language became mandatory so as to push elitist semantic formulations into line with official propaganda. The role of the press, as highlighted by Bardi on the Annuario della stampa, in 1931, became crucial in “recording” and spreading the rhetoric of the nationalistic lexicography, with the aim of better driving “vigilant polemics […] in structuring the Mussolinian thought.” Some scholars have tried to see Casella and his late output as a paradigm of Fascist propaganda, others polemically still justify his writings at the light of a political opportunistic behavior. This paper aims to sketch a clearer context about Casella’s writings at the light of his political compliance.