One of the best students of the National University of Music in Bucharest has recently asked me in a stylistics course why music, throughout its history as we’ve known it for hundreds of years, has never launched a trend or a concept which the other arts should then follow. Why is it always the other way round? Why do we keep referring to the ways in which the musical composition of different times applies notions that first appeared in the visual arts, literature and philosophy, such as the classical or the romantic, impressionism or expressionism? I don’t know if my answer was convincing (as I had just felt the sudden pang of a pride of precedence…) and there is no point in my expanding on it here. But the taste for the interdisciplinary notions we actually come across every day came back to me, so I propose an issue of Musicology Today dedicated to one of them.
The one to tell you about the ways in which Claude Debussy’s music responds to impressionism and symbolism in the other contemporary arts is Anamaria Călin, author of a book on the opera and ballet creation of the French composer since whose birth we are celebrating 150 years in 2012. A few decades after Debussy’s death, Aurel Stroe will explore all kinds of interferences between music and the sciences, between musical ideas and computer science, morphogenesis, catastrophe theory and others, of which you will find out from the essays signed by Octavian Nemescu and Alexandru Leahu. Finally, another Romanian avant-garde composer of the recent decades, Nicolae Brânduș, borrows the concept of ”valence” from the sciences, to discover the implications of new music as ritual, as a free improvisational practice.
Musicologists write about composers, composers write about other composers or about themselves (even Debussy did so in his famous essay collection Monsieur Croche…). Different points of view are thus born, and the ones gathered here outline some thought models in contemporary Romanian musicology.
(English translation by Maria-Sabina Draga Alexandru)