Serial and Aleatoric Music in the Discussion of “National and Universal” in Post-War Romania: The Solutions of Miriam Marbe and Dan Constantinescu
I have often spoken and written about the Romanian post-war landscape, more precisely about the period between 1950 and 1989, which was strongly influenced by socialist realism, communist nationalism, but also by synchronisation with the Western avant-garde. Romanian composition took off like never before thanks to the musicians born around 1930, who gave birth to a unique generation of Romanian composition. Among them, the voices of Miriam Marbe and Dan Constantinescu make themselves felt with discretion and elegance in two already established directions of new music: serialism and aleatorism, both proposing new and convincing solutions to these techniques. In this paper, I will discuss how these two avant-garde composers, who grappled with the spirit of their times, used intelligence, tact and an inclusive culture to try to overcome the ideological ills of the regime in which they lived and wrote music. For them, openness to the universal, to themes that circulated beyond the Iron Curtain, was vital, because they knew that the sealing off of borders led to a provincial mentality that was completely alien to them.
Music Nationalism in a Non-Communist Country: The Canonization of National Martyrs in Greek Orthodox Church and Its Impact on Ecclesiastical Hymnography
This paper deals with an important aspect of nationalism in south-eastern Europe in the 20th century: the inclusion of several national figures into the list of recognized saints of the Church of Greece. That practice began to take momentum after 1921, when the Church of Greece decided to canonize Patriarch Gregorios V of Constantinople, who was hung by the sultan for his inability to supress the Greek uprising (1821). The canonization coincided with the Greek army expedition to Asia Minor following the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire and its partition by the Great Powers. The Patriarch’s body was eventually interred in the Athens Cathedral and is still commemorated as national martyr (ethnomartyr). In the same year (1921), Gregorios’ service was published containing various hymns with several nationalistic overtones. Another example discussed is the canonization of Bishop Chrysostom of Smyrna (1992), who was lynched and dragged around the city following the defeat and retreat of the Greek Army from Asia Minor (1922). The paper will also examine other related issues, such as the Church’s involvement in politics, the identity of the hymnographers and composers of the services, their reception by the press and the public, etc.
Musical Thinking and Aesthetic Reception during Modernity: Between the Project of Searching after the Origins of Art and the Project of Transgressing Art Itself
My study is an attempt to philosophically account for the competing influence in the 20th century musical understanding and practice of two radical and opposed aesthetics: the ideal of transgressive art (defined by Anthony Julius) associated with the avant-garde and the ideal of recovering the original and authentic art associated with extreme nationalism. My thesis is that these perspectives, under their extreme formulations, are, in fact, kindred sides of the broader philosophy of Modernity as developed since the Enlightenment. Also, as a consequence, by deconstructing the historical meaning and justification of these aesthetic forms of radicalism, one can reinterpret the artistic profiles of personalities such as Arnold Schönberg, thought of either as a revolutionary who totally rebelled against the musical past (as Theodor W. Adorno considered), or as not revolutionary enough (as Pierre Boulez thought). My historical methodology is based on using the two key-terms, “originality” and “transgression”, as regulative concepts within the constellation (a concept proposed by Theodor Adorno in Negative Dialectics) of musical modernism. Thereby, I will show how these key-terms are connected to a network of other romantic concepts: organism, authenticity, aura (Walter Benjamin’s sense), integrity, folklore, and contemplation, in order to reveal how the structural and social meaning ascribed to this set of concepts greatly influenced the process of redefining musical thinking and musical reception. The main philosophies I will use as conceptual landmarks to clarify these interconnections are Martin Heidegger’s remarks about the work of art and Theodor Adorno’s critique of Heideggerian terminology and presuppositions. My overall conclusion will point towards the necessity of going beyond such radical modern oppositions with the aim of finding new types of theoretical principles and perspectives, more adequate as conceptual tools for dealing with contemporary artistic realities.
The topic of this paper is the result of my over 20 years as a pianist. Although my repertoire comprises a wide variety of concertos, from Bach to Rachmaninoff and passing through Mozart, Beethoven, Schumann, and Brahms, my specific affinities are directed towards a less-known piece, Richard Strauss’ Burleske. In this paper I attempted to share some of my personal experience regarding the way to approach it, with emphasis on Strauss’ novel attitude towards the solo piano, namely, an equal partner of the orchestra.
After a brief analysis of the term “light” music, some of the most important characteristics of the genre are highlighted: popularity, accessibility, melody, sincerity, simplicity, freshness, spontaneity, “the ease of free expression” (Anton Șuteu), all of which outline a “specific form” (D. C. Fotea) of musical art. The sources and influences that have contributed to the emergence of the genre in our country are then listed: Romanian romance, Romanian folklore, but also foreign influences such as jazz music, Dixieland, Latin American music, waltz. The fusion genres are also discussed (pop-symphonic, pop-opera) and the importance of orchestrators/arrangers is highlighted. After a brief presentation of the specific form of the light (pop) music song, the essential contribution of the text in this musical genre is underlined and the names of some important Romanian text writers are mentioned. Professional orchestras, revue theatres and the most important festivals that promoted the creation of Romanian composers are highlighted. Finally, some of the Romanian pop music songs or creations of Romanian composers who have crossed the borders of the country are recalled.
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