Music and Myths

“Music and Myths”

With such a title, do not expect anthropological references: Claude Lévi-Strauss and his followers will be, I hope, the focus of another issue of Musicology Today. For the time being, we will modestly limit ourselves to investigating the cyclical relationship – always present, in one hypostasis or another – between myths and music. Whether they choose an Ancient Greek mythological topic (it was natural that Orpheus should be top of the list here), whether they bring Far East myths into West-European culture or whether they themselves become myths of a national culture (with or without intention), composers always find connections to mythology. 

According to Claudio Monteverdi, there are in the history of European music many interpretations of the myth of Orpheus. Young musicologist Tatiana Oltean from Cluj focuses on its Romantic reinterpretations, looking at how Franz Liszt and Hector Berlioz relate to the ancient myth of Orpheus and mostly to Christoph Willibald Gluck’s opera Orpheus and Euridice.

The Romantic myth of George Enescu’s figure in Romanian bibliography is dutifully refashioned by Olguța Lupu. She bravely resumes themes that may no longer be “fashionable” – the ethical and the aesthetic in a composer’s attitude, truth and the absolute… yet her discourse is not out of fashion at all, it is rather well-documented and exciting, such as one can hardly encounter in today’s academic writings.

An already well-known guest of our journal, Reinhart Meyer-Kalkus, as usual, discusses  contemporary composer from a cultural (mostly literary-musical) perspective. Toshio Hosokawa is currently renowned for the fusion between Japanese tradition/ myths and that of the European West. His oratorium Sternlose Nacht is no exception from this subtle and refined combination: it equally commemorates the victims of the destruction of the cities Dresden and Hiroshima in World War II, it proposes shakuhachi sounds, but also allusions to Haydn, while always remaining Hosokawa.


Valentina Sandu-Dediu
(English translation by Maria-Sabina Draga Alexandru)

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