Session/Séance 1g: MusCan Panel 2a. Thursday/jeudi 25 May 2017. 10:30 – 11:30 am, EJB 224.Into the Woods
Chair: COLETTE SIMONOT (Brandon University)
1. Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel’s Romanticism of the Woods
Amanda Lalonde, Mount Allison University
Describing the setting of the Sunday musicales in the Mendelssohn residence, Sebastian Hensel remarked that there, although “no more than 100 yards away from the noisy street, you lived as in the deepest loneliness of a forest.” This reimagining of the Gartensaal as ensconced in the wilderness is a fitting counterpart to the confluence of the domestic and the wild, the diminutive and the expansive in Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel’s Lieder on Waldromantik (woods-romanticism) themes. While scholarship on Hensel has begun to flourish, few studies have offered in-depth analyses of her Lieder. Waldromantik literature presents a romanticized notion of the forest: natural sounds and art music intermingle, the distance between the natural and the transcendent dissolves. The larger body of writings by Eichendorff and Tieck elucidate Hensel’s compositional choices. In these works, representations of music emphasize its function as signal of the interpenetration of the natural and fantastical or infinite, and the possession or ecstasy that accompanies that experience. Accordingly, in her cycle Anklänge (Eichendorff), Hensel avoids mimesis of natural sounds in favour of strategies that emphasize experience beyond the natural world. Extending the compass of her Lieder through techniques such as harmonic adventurousness, dramatic ascents, and allusion, Hensel recreates the experience of two realms merged. In performance, Hensel’s Lieder cloud the domesticity of the genre; indeed, her “Morgenständchen” (Eichendorff) reflects on how the act of singing can invite a wilderness into the home.
2. An Analysis of Jocelyn Morlock’s The Jack Pine Through Registral Colours, Motives, and Harmony
Roxane Prevost, University of Ottawa
Canadian composer Jocelyn Morlock (b. 1969) has increasingly gained international acclaim for her use of subtle harmonic colours and lyricism. Her work The Jack Pine for solo piano (2010) was inspired by Tom Thomson’s 1916-17 painting of the same title. The painting depicts a jack pine on the edge of water with mountains and the sky in the background. In her programme notes, Morlock explains that she was influenced by the “delicate and majestic” aspects of the northern Ontario tree in the painting. Subtle changes in harmonic and registral colours allow the composer to project the “stillness of the water and sky” and the “endless gradations of colour within them”. The gradual shift in colours in the painting is reflected by the gradual shift in the changing chords in the music and the use of the full range of the piano to gently highlight some of these changes. Although the music captures well the essence of the painting, Julian Beecroft also posted a short film of the Algonquin Park, accompanied by Morlock’s work, as part of his trans-Canada blog (2011). This paper examines some of the intersections between the transition of colours in the painting and the harmonic colours of the music, and some of the ways in which the music depicts well the different scenic snapshots of the short film. The three works interact with each other by drawing attention to the subtleties and stunning landscape of the northern Ontario wilderness.
Session 1g: MusCan Panel 2b: Bartók and the Feminine. Thursday/jeudi 25 May 2017. 10:30 – 11:30 am, EJB 224.
Chair: VIRGINIA ACUÑA (University of Victoria)
1. Ditta and Béla: Bartók’s 3rd Piano Concerto and Modernist Subjectivity
Christina Gier, University of Alberta
Composed as a gift for his wife Ditta, Bartók’s Third Piano Concerto stands as a stylistically unique work in his oeuvre. Scholars have called it a “‘female’ concerto, with softer characters” than the other two concerti; one writes that this piece is essentially a “feminine concerto.” The use of “feminine” as an adjective likely points to character- istics that made the concerto perfect for his pianist wife to perform. However, it certainly also carries multiple mean- ings and would be unacceptable by today’s academic standards. But rather than be dismissed, the term needs to be interrogated. What key features designate this concerto as “feminine”? How can we truly understand what the idea of the feminine meant to Bartók? This paper investigates these questions about the problematic label of feminine and opens up new ideas about the significance of this work and its meaning in Bartók’s oeuvre. I begin by a tracing his personal experiences of women he loved (such as, his first love Steffi Geyer) and explore how the ideas of femininity can be understood in relation to his two major stage works, Duke Bluebeards Castle (1911) and The Wooden Prince (1917). In a Lacanian lens on subjectivity, the subject always strives towards a feeling of “oneness” with the Other, and the subject imagines the object of love to be the ‘all,’ the answer to existential loneliness. These works reveal the deeper, subjective reasons for the composition of this concerto for his last wife Ditta to perform.
2. Béla Bartók’s Canadian Legacy: Violet Archer and Jean Coulthard
Virginia Georgallas, University of Toronto
A naturally shy and reserved man, Béla Bartók was reluctant to teach composition throughout his career. His teaching activities, particularly in North America, have received little scholarly attention, a notable absence given that he spent the last five years of his life in New York. This paper explores Bartók’s legacy in North America, more specifically in Canada, focusing on his direct pedagogical contact with two Canadian composers in New York between 1940 and 1945: Violet Archer and Jean Coulthard. Bartók had only five students while he lived in the United States, three for composition lessons and two for piano. Of these five, four were women, and three were Canadian, an intriguing demographic given the musical landscape during the mid-twentieth century. Bartók was certainly not unknown in North America; indeed, he was still actively performing, lecturing, composing, and conducting research. Why then, did so few composers and musicians seek him out for private lessons? The individual musical paths of Archer and Coulthard offer many similarities for comparison that illuminate their respective desires to study with the eminent Hungarian. Their lessons with Bartók offer a new perspective with which to view his aspirations as a musician and pedagogue. Furthermore, Archer and Coulthard’s compositions afford specific instances of the influence that resulted from their studies with Bartók, providing a uniquely Canadian sample of Bartók’s greater legacy in North America.