October 2014

AMS Allegheny Spring Meeting

West Liberty University West Liberty, West Virginia

October 24, 2014


9:00 a.m. MORNING PRESENTATIONS I: Music, Metaphysics, and Mystery: Of Waldhorns and Bells

Amanda Lalonde, University of Guelph

“The Waldhorn and Metaphysical Distance.”

This paper examines the twin thematisation of the forest and music as bearing the ability to manifest the infinite inGerman Romantic literature, devoting particular attention to the primary symbol of this fusion: the Waldhorn. I suggest that in Waldromantik literature the horn carries not only the established connotations of distance and a personal reaction to that distance (spatial or temporal), but also the closing of metaphysical distance and the immanent merging of the finite and infinite or supernatural realms. I then turn to musical works which develop the theme of joint musical-woodland uncanniness through the use of the horn.

Stephen Armstrong, Michigan State University

“Dorothy L. Sayers on Murder, Music, and Noise: Interpreting Death and Depersonalization in The Nine Tailors.”

In her detective fiction, Dorothy L. Sayers often includes music as a humanizing influence, but she sets The Nine Tailors in the context of English change-ringing and portrays it as an impersonal, mathematical practice. The devolution of the detective-story into a meaningless puzzle mirrors the collapse of music into noise; because the “murder” victim is literally killed by noise, the intellectual structures built around the assumption of human agency fall apart in the novel’s shattering conclusion.

10:15 a.m. COFFEE

10: 45 a.m. MORNING PRESENTATIONS II: Music, Ivy League Schools, the Search for a National Style, and the United States in the Nineteenth Century

Evan A. MacCarthy, West Virginia University

Oedipus Modernized: John Knowles Paine and America’s First Greek Tragedy”

In May of 1881, four highly anticipated performances of Oedipus Tyrannus of Sophocles in the original language took place in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Early on in the production’s planning, the composer and professor of music John Knowles Paine (1839-1906) was invited to compose the play’s six choruses and orchestral prelude (Op. 35). Examining Paine’s score and its setting of ancient Greek, as well as the work’s performance history, I will show how this modern musical translation of Greek music and tragedy embodied a never-before-seen spirit of ancient Greece in late nineteenth-century New England.

Kelly Fallon, Marshall University and Indiana State University

“Antonín Dvořák and the Politicization of the American National Sound”

As recognized by Michael Pisani, the discourse surrounding the American musical sources of Antonín Dvořák’s (1841-1904) American works has been informed by inaccurate information. This is due in large part to the circumstances of his position as the Director of the National Conservatory of Music in America. Dvořák is inculpated as having selected music of indigenous people as source materials to create so-called Americanisms in his music. In this paper, I will argue he was influenced by members of the Abolitionist and Indianist movements for the inclusion of these indigenous sources to create American art music.


2:00 p.m. AFTERNOON PRESENTATIONS I: Music, Displacement, Immigration and the United States in the Twentieth Century

Vicki P. Stroeher, Marshall University

“Britten’s ‘American’ Problem”

Coming to America in 1939, Britten landed right in the middle of American confusion over what “American music” or “American-ness” in music truly meant. Unwittingly perhaps, in a pair of articles (“An English Composer Sees America” and “England and the Folk-Art Problem”), Britten fanned the flames of this debate. With Paul Bunyan, he and Auden threw fuel on the fire, despite Britten’s attempts to fulfill the requirements of American-ness with subject matter and music that captured an American character. I assert that with a lack of consensus among American composers and critics regarding what American-ness entailed, Britten’s American soundscape had no fertile soil in which to develop.

Randall Goldberg, Youngstown State University

“’I’m Going Home’: Ethnic Records and the Jewish Immigrant Experience”

Although conceived as a revenue stream for record labels, Jewish “ethnic” records offer an important view into the American-immigrant experience. Of particular note are the recordings of David Meyerowitz’s “Ikh for aheym” (I’m Going Home), which was released on major labels near the time of its first publication in 1926 and appears several more times in the 1930s and 1940s. The most notable version, sung by Irving Grossman for Seymour Rechtzeit’s Banner label, replaces Meyerowitz’s “wandering Jew” with an assimilated American who has broken with tradition. This update of Meyerowitz’s lyrics exhorted Jews to support the new state of Israel.


3:45 p.m. AFTERNOON PRESENTATIONS II: Music, Pedagogy, Advertisement, Hollywood and the United States in the Late Twentieth and Early Twenty-First Century

Mariana Whitmer, University of Pittsburgh

“Elmer Bernstein’s The Magnificent Seven: Defining an American Soundscape for the Sixties”

Elmer Bernstein’s music for The Magnificent Seven has become one of the most widely recognized Western soundtracks. Its musical delineation of the heroes and villains strengthens the political commentary of the film, while the main theme’s subsequent association with the Marlboro advertising campaign broadcast the score to a wider audience.  My presentation will discuss the music of The Magnificent Seven focusing on how it fortifies the film’s political message as it epitomizes the American sound, and how its dissemination separate from the film into the world of advertising provided a soundtrack for the country heading into the war in Vietnam.

Matthew Baumer, Indiana University of Pennsylvania

“A Snapshot of Music History Teaching to Undergraduate Music Majors, 2011-2012: Curricular Design, Teaching Methods, and Assessment”

In 2012 I surveyed music history teachers to collect descriptive data on undergraduate music history curricula. The survey addressed these questions: 1) How much music history does a typical undergraduate music curriculum require; 2) what are the most common components of an undergraduate music history curriculum; 3) what methods do teachers use when teaching different types of courses; and 4) what methods do teachers use to evaluate students in those courses. For each question, I will discuss the challenges in trying to elicit the data, explain what the survey revealed, and posit some conclusions.


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