PSW AMS: Los Angeles

Earlier this month I went to an AMS chapter meeting. Unlike the last trek through Canada for the PNW meeting last year, this time we had only to go as far as Los Angeles, the two hours of which flew by whilst carpooling in the company of four fellow musicology graduate colleagues. Our host, Occidental College had a sumptuous breakfast awaiting us along with actual, printed name tags! It was excellent to interact with such a wide variety of fellow students and professors, benefiting from each other's mutual enthusiasm and interest. Plus there was an even more sumptuous lunch! While all the papers were very instructive, here are just a few of the ones that stood out to me:

Kuhnau’s Continuo: Virtue, Virtuosity, and Pedagogy at the Keyboard by Eric J. Wang (University of California, Los Angeles) – Very interesting look at the wide stylistic trends in continuo realization in the eighteenth century. Leipziger Johann Kuhnau wrote a satyrical novel about a con-man Konzertmeister (The Music Man?) in which he takes some time to denigrate the extravagances of Italian basso continuo realization while exalting the restrained German tradition.

The Bolero in Russia by Laura Stanfield Prichard (University of Massachusetts, Lowell) – Not so much a formal paper as a sort of research expo, this talk gave a detailed account of the birth and evolution of the bolero and its veneration by Russian composers like Dargomyzhsky. It feeds into a lot of the ideas I'm forming about the prelude genre and it was good to see an example of someone taking that forward.

Foreign Admirer or Alien Influence? Felix Mendelssohn in British Music Histories of the Mid-to-Late Nineteenth Century by our very own Linda Shaver-Gleason (University of California, Santa Barbara) – As a British scholar in the nineteenth century writing or translating a history of music text, what do you say about Mendelssohn? It's amazing how his scholarly reception shifted so drastically from inspirational super-star to all permutations to someone whose style British composers would do well to avoid. :(

Brahms's Ascending Circle: Hölderlin, Schicksalslied, and the Process of Recollection by Nicole Grimes (University of California, Irvine) – My personal favorite; I love the intersection between music and literature! A very interesting look at a choral piece by Brahms that I was not familiar with, but now know to hold awesome symbolism.

Simultaneous Chords, and Tonality, in Later Schoenberg by Roland Jackson (Emeritus, Claremont Graduate University) – It's great to see walker-pushing emeritus professors passionate about musicology. He espoused a very interesting theoretical interpretation of Schoenberg's "atonal" pieces by pointing out stacked tonal (polytonal?) implications of the tones. Think of a I and V happening at the same time, moving to a I and V stack in a different "key." Cool stuff.

Again, there were many very interesting papers and even more interesting people. But if I spend more time writing about them, the post will never see the light of cyber-day! Happy mid-October!

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