Friday 7 June 2019. 9-10am, Roy Barnett Hall.
Chair: David Gramit, University of Alberta
The Failure of Cyclic Memory in Mahler’s First Symphony
Emma Soldaat, University of Toronto
Repetition, and thus memory, is necessary for the constitution of musical form; what happens to form, then, when music’s memory fails? I argue here that the distortions in Mahler’s cyclic formal design may be seen as an aesthetic process of failed musical memory.
My analysis of Mahler’s First Symphony incorporates Bergson’s habit memory and Proust’s involuntary memory with current scholarship on cyclical form to provide a fruitful framework for discussing misremembrance in music. Three central points of memory form the body of my analysis: the first movement’s exposition and recapitulation, and the finale’ recapitulation. These zones interact with previous musical material by misremembering or involuntarily reenacting their own pasts.
Musical memory addresses how events in Mahler’s music are modified as they recur and how they affect the form of the entire work, while situating Mahler’s works within modernist perspectives on dysfunctional memory and problematized time.
Since its publication in 1915, John McCrae’s “In Flanders Fields” has remained a poignant commentary on war – and a rich source for musical inspiration. Yet, while the text has remained unchanged since McCrae’s lifetime, a century of diverse musical treatments reveals the poem’s nebulous interpretation. While the earliest settings were composed for solo voice and piano, “In Flanders Fields” today is most commonly adapted as a choral text, emphasizing the poem’s status as a collective remembrance text. Surveying international settings composed from 1915 to the present day, this paper explores the many musical guises “In Flanders Fields” has assumed, asking how the urgency to remember has impacted the way we sing. In turn, how do such settings provide an interpretative framework for the way we understand this living and malleable text, whose imagery and rhetoric remains powerful as generations continue to grapple with the weight of war?