Session|séance 3.2. "The Artist"

Session|séance 3.2. "The Artist"
Room 11-463. Chair: Jim Head.

Wednesday|mercredi 23 May|mai 2018. 2:00 - 4:00PM


3.2.1. La « Big Note » de Frank Zappa comme mise en scène d’un personnage

Natasia Ganon, Université Laval

Le concept de « Big Note » de Zappa (2000 : 140) désigne, selon l’artiste, l’ensemble de son œuvre, tant ses productions musicales que ce qui semble les relier : interviews, pochettes d’album, etc. Son « personnage », au sens de Frith (1996) et Auslander (2004), gravite autour et semble « indissociable de son œuvre » (Morand 2004 : 73). Pourtant, la littérature, qu’elle soit scientifique ou journalistique, présente le personnage Zappa et sa production artistique de manière dissociée. En quoi ce personnage peut-il incarner le modèle de son processus créateur? Nous procèderons à une analyse comparative entre les différentes strates identitaires de Zappa, soit personne, personas, personnage (Ganon et Stévance, 2017) et les différents éléments de son univers (musique, films, interviews, etc.). Notre objectif est de mieux comprendre le processus de création de Zappa en habit de « personnage protéiforme » (Côté 2004 : 91) en l’envisageant sous l’angle de la trilogie personne, personae, personnage qui, selon Lacasse (2006), permet d’envisager sous un angle inédit l’influence structurelle de l’artiste à l’intérieur de sa création. 


3.2.2. Hearing the Visionary: The Piano Virtuoso as Romantic Prophet

Amanda Lalonde, University of Saskatchewan.

Prophecy is a central concept in Romanticism, but how can music, which E. T. A. Hoffmann called “the most Romantic of all the arts,” be prophetic? While Romantic prophecy has been an active subject in other humanities fields, music has stayed out of this interdisciplinary conversation. Indeed, if the content or message of a musical work is so elusive, how can music be considered in relation to Romantic prophecy? This paper avoids paradoxically decoding supposedly ineffable music (Abbate, 2004) by desynonymizing prophecy from prediction (Balfour, 2002) and directing attention towards the performative element of prophecy.

Working comparatively with the recent literary scholarship of Romantic prophecy, and employing nineteenth-century sources on prophets and the prophetic from literature, philosophy, and music criticism, this paper develops a model of the musical prophetic mode and examines the role of the piano virtuoso as Romantic prophet. The paper argues that, due to the prophet’s limited powers of expression in the face of a vision of overwhelming magnitude, the prophetic mode is characterised by temporal instability, interruptions, extreme urgency, formlessness, and an abundance of fragmented ideas. I then demonstrate how these properties inform the nineteenth-century understanding of virtuosic pianists as prophet figures. This is particularly apparent in the reception of composer-pianists and those performers who integrate substantial portions of improvisation into their performances, such as Franz Liszt and Clara Schumann.


3.2.3. A “Scrim of Romantic Nationalism”: Audience Perceptions of Dvořák in Late 19th-Century Prague

Eva Branda, Western University 

With discernible scorn, one Czech critic declared in 1885 that “the Viennese audience...swears by the newspapers.” Indeed, as David Brodbeck observes, music critics in fin-de-siècle Vienna tended to have an uncommonly high degree of sway over popular opinion (Brodbeck, 2014). Using the example of Antonín Dvořák (1841–1904), this paper, in turn, investigates the relationships between audiences and critics in late nineteenth-century Prague. To a certain extent, critics in Prague – like their Viennese counterparts – undoubtedly moulded public views of Dvořák. In an environment where literacy rates were high and print culture was generally becoming a force to be reckoned with, Czech critics were positioned to
have considerable local reach. However, rather than acting merely as passive recipients, audiences in Prague did much of the shaping and manipulating themselves. Audience response was crucial in determining whether a performance could be characterized as a triumph in the press; accessibility to the public was considered by critics to be an important consideration in assessments of Dvořák’s works; and the prevailingly patriotic institutions at which Dvořák’s compositions were performed in Prague made audiences view everything through a “scrim of romantic nationalism,” as Michael Beckerman expresses it (Beckerman, 1993), leading critics to devote an inordinate amount of attention to the “Czechness” of Dvořák’s music. Even though the opinions of audiences, made up of individuals with varying tastes and musical skills, can never truly be gauged, this paper demonstrates that the Prague public played a significant role in constructing Dvořák’s image in the Czech lands.


3.2.4. Franz Liszt’s Mazeppa and the Aesthetics of Suffering

Jamie Meyers-Riczu, University of Alberta

In the Romantic period, Ukrainian folk hero, Ivan Mazeppa, became a symbol of heroic suffering. The legend of his torturous, three-day ride while bound naked to a wild horse was popularized by several visual artists, poets, and musicians. These artists fixated on Mazeppa’s passivity and vulnerability. Yet despite his suffering, Mazeppa also portrayed a versatile symbol of masculinity. His internal struggle to endure the breaking of his body provided a model that turned other inner battles, such as suffering to the whims of inspiration, into manly virtues. Mazeppa is a hero of epic proportions, but his passivity stands in direct contrast to archetypal heroes who won glory because of their will to act. 

Franz Liszt’s symphonic poem, Mazeppa (no. 6, 1851), encapsulates the passive heroic qualities of Mazeppa’s character. Drawing from Victor Hugo’s poetic reimagining of the Mazeppa legend, which serves as the accompanying programmatic text, this paper explores how Liszt conveys the aesthetics of suffering heroic masculinity. Through my engagement with the program, along with the broader implications of the Mazeppa legend, I argue that Liszt depicts the hero’s torturous ride as an extensive musical metaphor on the nature of artistic expression. I suggest that through his complicated treatment of form, his fixation on specific musical motives, and the expressive implications of thematic transformation, Liszt articulates a musical rendering of the hero’s passage from physical suffering to an inner, transcendental triumph. I will conclude by discussing how Liszt’s preoccupation with Mazeppa’s passive masculinity develops into a commentary on the aesthetics of suffering. 

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