Anne Leonard to Speak on Romantic Iconography

Wednesday, March 21, 4 pm, in Vox 2. In cooperation with the European Studies program of the University of Iowa, the Musicology and Music Theory Colloquium will present a special lecture by Anna Leonard, Lecturer and curator Curator of European Art at the Smart Museum of Art of the University of Chicago. Leonard specializes in 19th-century European art, particularly that of France and Belgium. Her research interests include Symbolism and Wagnerism, attention and modes of aesthetic experience, time in painting, and nationalism and internationalism. A primary area of scholarly focus has been the relations between visual art and music, which are the subject of a book she co-edited with musicologist Tim Shephard, The Routledge Companion to Music and Visual Culture (2014), the first comprehensive reference work in this field. She has published six exhibition catalogues at the Smart Museum, chapters in several edited volumes, and an article in the Art Bulletin.  Leonard’s presentation is entitled “Present at the Creation: The Romantic Iconography of the Turned Canvas,” and the abstract follows.

Abstract: This paper addresses the motif of the turned canvas or canvas seen from the back, found in certain portraits of artists at work c. 1810–25, as a manifestation of Romantic theories of the work of art. The turned canvas invited beholders to complete the concealed work of art in their imaginations, just as artistic creation itself was viewed at the time as a largely internal process rather than a physical or manual one. My presentation explores the implications of these ideas for Romantic representations of artists at work. It pays special consideration to what were perceived to be the raw materials of creative inspiration, not just for painters but for composers as well. Evidence shows that the conception of painting as an imitation of nature—prevalent in classical aesthetics from the Renaissance onward, and particularly the seventeenth century—underwent significant revision in the Romantic period, drawing closer to non-mimetic processes of musical creation. The phenomenon of Beethoven portraiture is brought in to show how understandings of his compositional process not only influenced the representation of pictorial artists but also encouraged a redefinition of the work of art, following musical paradigms, as something essentially immaterial and even invisible.


Musicology takes road trip to SAM


Andrew Tubbs, Arthur Scoleri, C. A. Norling, Dr. Sarah Suhadolnik, and Lisa Mumme, ready to hit the road for SAM

Musicology students and faculty attended the annual meeting of the Society for American Music, held in Kansas City, February 28 through March 4.  Professor Sarah Suhadolnik appeared as a speaker for a workshop, organized by the Committee on the Conference, entitled “Strategies for Designing, Doing, and Discussing Digital Humanities Projects.”  Professor Marian Wilson Kimber, along with doctoral piano student Natalie Landowski, presented a  lecture-recital, “In a Woman’s Voice: Spoken-Word Compositions by American Women.”  The recital highlighted compositions discussed in her recent book, The Elocutionists: Women, Music, and the Spoken Word (University of Illinois Press, 2017).  At the student lunch and business meeting, master’s student Andrew Tubbs was elected co-chair of SAM’s student forum for the upcoming year.  Congratulations Andrew! 

Alumna Now Music Librarian at Alabama

Katherine E. Ramsey, MA in Musicology (2015), has taken a position as the Research and Instructional Librarian for Music, the Arts, and the Performing Arts at Amelia Gayle Gorgas Library at the University of Alabama. Ms. Ramsey recently received a Master of Science degree in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She also holds bachelor’s degrees in flute and English. Ms. Ramsey has a special interest in fostering information literacy in the digital age.


Winter updates: a job, an article, a podcast, and a book

Photograph of the South West corner of the State Historical Society of Iowa, Iowa City Offices, 402 Iowa Ave., Iowa City, IA 52240 - 319-335-3935

Hang Nguyen, a Ph.D. candidate in Musicology, was recently hired to work as an assistant librarian at the State Historical Society in Iowa City. Thus far, Hang’s duties have included working with an author to acquire materials for a forthcoming book, helping colleagues prepare for the Archives Crawl event on February 24th, 2018, assisting patrons with genealogy and Iowa history queries, and compiling finding aids and inventories for special collections materials. She is also writing her dissertation on the use of Twitter and Facebook Live in contemporary classical music events.


Katheryn Lawson’s article, “Girl Scout Contrafacta and Symbolic Soldiering in the Great War,” is featured in the most recent issue of American Music (Fall 2017). The research draws from her 2013 MA thesis in Musicology, “Little soldiers and orphans: musical childhoods lived and constructed in World War I.” Katheryn is now a Ph.D. student in American History and Museum Studies at the University of Delaware.


Dr. Trevor Harvey recently released his seventh episode for Ethnomusicology Today, a podcast that he hosts and produces for the Society of Ethnomusicology. In this episode, he interviews Dr. Maríe Abe on the mingling of Japanese chindon-ya (a musical advertising practice) and anti-nuclear power protests in the wake of the Fukushima disaster. You can listen to this episode and others from the series here.



Dr. Nathan Platte’s book Making Music in Selznick’s Hollywood was recently published by Oxford University Press. With the release, Nathan contributed a piece to the Oxford University Press blog: “Unanswered Questions in Gone With the Wind’s Main Title.” Special thanks to music librarian Katie Buehner, Dr. Sarah Suhadolnik, masters student Lisa Mumme, PhD student Megan Small, and Diane Platte, who offered editorial guidance.

Warren Sherk, Manager of Special
Collections for the research library of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, has posted a review and author interview. Copies of the book are available at Prairie Lights.


Fall Conference Highlights


With Thanksgiving break just around the corner, it’s a good time to acknowledge the many contributions of our students and faculty at recent conferences.

In mid-October, music librarian Katie Buehner hosted Midwest MLA (Music Library Association) in the UI’s Voxman building.

mla midwest 2017 splash image

Music librarians from across the region turned out en masse to see the new music library and share presentations. Katie Buehner and her predecessor, Ruthann McTyre (now at Yale University), offered a vivid account of the music library’s tribulations and ultimate triumph following the destructive flood of 2008. In her talk, “The Rare and the Ordinary: Teaching Music History with Archives and Special Collections,” Dr. Marian Wilson Kimber reflected on different student-directed projects she has devised for graduate seminars. MA student Cody Norling served as “posterchild” for Wilson Kimber’s presentation by sharing (via poster) research he had developed under Wilson Kimber’s mentorship: “The Boston Glee Book in Iowa City: A Primary-Source Case Study Midwestern Musical Uplift.”

In addition to hosting visitors at home, faculty also journeyed abroad. Dr. Christine Getz presented on “The Last Years of the Tini Press” at the Società Italiana di Musicologia meeting in Lucca, Italy. Dr. Daniel Thompson went to Puebla, Mexico, to present a paper titled “A Reassessment of Nattiez’s Musical Semiology” at the annual Semiotic Society for America conference. In his presentation, Thompson offered a rereading of Jean-Jacques Nattiez’s musical semiology through Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, thereby exploring the ideological preconditions for the existence of “music.”

That same weekend, Dr. Trevor Harvey and MA student Andrew Tubbs attended the Society for Ethnomusicology conference in Denver. Drawing from recent ethnographic research, Andrew gave a paper on a Denver-based theatrical group: “A Phamaly Affair: Advocacy and Cultural Participation through a Disabled Repositioning of Cabaret.” Dr. Harvey attended the Publications Advisory Committee, where he represents the SEM podcast series (currently at six episodes, with a seventh forthcoming).

At the American Musicological Society meeting this November, PhD student Kelsey McGinnis presented a paper titled, “‘Americanism is to be plugged!’: Music, POW Reeducation, and the United States’s ‘Intellectual Diversion Program’ during World War II.” Dr. Wilson Kimber gave another presentation titled “Women Composers at the White House: Phyllis Fergus and the Concerts of the National League of American Pen Women.” Dr. Christine Getz served as a panelist on a special session titled “Musicology and Digital Technologies: Access, Sustainability, Education, and Scholarly Communication.” Drs. Sarah Suhadolnik and Nathan Platte served on the AMS Committee on the Publication of American Music, which functions as an advisory board for the Music of the United States of America (MUSA) series.

These are (it bears emphasizing) only a selection of recent activities. Congratulations and many thanks for everyone’s efforts and accomplishments!

Young People’s Guides to the Orchestra

When 1400 fourth graders arrived at the UI School of Music for an orchestra concert in October, they met an ensemble with whom they had already been introduced. That introduction was made by PhD student Megan Small and UI music librarian Katie Buehner, who produced two short videos specially tailored for the program and its fourth-grade audience. Working with a very tight schedule, Megan and Katie filmed members of the orchestra, presented commentary on the featured composers and compositions, and gathered orchestral recordings from the University of Iowa’s audio archive. Teachers shared the videos with their classes before the concert, thereby giving students a personalized and engaging encounter with their local orchestra. Megan and Katie’s contributions to the event served a key role within an exciting partnership between area public schools and UI’s School of Music.


Welcoming new faculty

The Music Theory and Musicology areas recently welcomed two new faculty members: Dr. Daniel J. Thompson and Dr. Sarah Suhadolnik. Among their wide-ranging teaching and research initiatives, both share interests in jazz history and contemporary performance. We are thrilled to have them join the UI community, and we look forward to sharing updates on their work in the future.


Sarah Suhadolnik joins the faculty at the University of Iowa as a scholar and teacher of American music, with special interests in jazz and popular music. She has presented papers at national and international conferences, including the American Musicological Society, the Society for American Music, the American Studies Association, and the International Musicological Society. Her publications include articles in The Grove Dictionary of American Music, 2nd Edition, and a study of the contemporary singer-songwriter Adele featured in the 2016 Cambridge Companion to the Singer-Songwriter. She has also served as a member of the editorial staff for both the Music of the United States of America series and the University of Michigan Gershwin Initiative, and acted as the managing editorial assistant for the Journal of Historical Research in Music Education (2015-2017). Suhadolnik’s teaching has been recognized by the University of Michigan (Glenn McGeoch Memorial Scholarship in Musicology), and includes extensive experience as a teaching consultant.

Suhadolnik received her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, where her dissertation, Navigating Jazz: Music, Place, and New Orleans, was supported in part by the Lillian A. Ives Graduate Student Fellowship at the University of Michigan Institute for the Humanities, and is currently under contract with University of Michigan Press. Before joining the faculty at the University of Iowa in 2011, she taught at Michigan and Western Michigan University.


Daniel J. Thompson joined the University of Iowa School of Music in August of 2017 as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Music Theory. He teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in music theory and analysis—including courses in the undergraduate musicianship sequence, tonal analysis (Caplin), atonal theory, and fundamentals of music for non-majors.

Daniel received the Ph.D. in Music Theory and Composition from Florida State University in 2017 with a dissertation that recontextualizes the semiotic theories associated with musical “topics” (inferred style references taken as symbols of cultural themes) within hard bop—a widely celebrated Afro-modernist movement in American jazz (c. 1954–65). As a graduate assistant in both music theory and jazz studies at Florida State, Daniel taught undergraduate courses in music theory, aural skills, and jazz piano. He studied composition with Ladislav Kubík, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, and Robert Mueller; digital music and computation with Mark Wingate and Clifton Callender; and jazz piano with Bill Peterson.

As a scholar, Daniel’s eclectic theoretical interests largely intersect with semiotics (sign systems), psychoanalytic theory, and cultural criticism. He has given talks at the national meetings of the Society for Music Theory (SMT) and the Semiotic Society of America (SSA), as well as several regional and graduate-student music conferences. His review of William Echard’s Psychedelic Popular Music: A History through Musical Topic Theory is forthcoming in Popular Music, and an article related to his dissertation is currently in peer review.

As a composer, Daniel’s work has been performed at the Dimenna Center for Classical Music and Spectrum (both in New York City) and at the Secret Theatre in Long Island City, NY. His miniature summoning a skeleton specter was performed by clarinetist Thomas Piercy and pianist Yusuke Satoh in the “Tokyo to New York” concert series (Tokyo, 2014); remnants—a work for clarinet and live electronics—premiered in 2017 at Florida State University’s Eighteenth Biennial Festival of New Music. Daniel’s ongoing creative work largely consists of electronic music (typically a blend of real-time synthesis, live processing, and sample manipulation in SuperCollider or Max/MSP)—taking the form of sound installations, works with live choreography, improvisations, and fixed media. Outside of the digital realm, Daniel also remains active as a jazz-piano soloist.


The Musical Thought and Spiritual Lives of Heinrich Schenker and Arnold Schoenberg by Matthew Arndt now published

The Musical Thought and Spiritual Lives of Heinrich Schenker and Arnold Schoenberg by Matthew Arndt, Associate Professor of Music Theory at the University of Iowa School of Music, has just been published by Routledge, the world’s leading academic publisher in the humanities and social sciences. The book is one of the first volumes of the series Ashgate Studies in Music After 1900. Daniel K. L. Chua, Professor and Chairperson of the Department of Music at The University of Hong Kong and President of the International Musicological Society, writes of the book: “Schenker and Schoenberg – often regarded as polar opposites who embody a fissure in the history of Western music and the collapse of a common language – are brilliantly reevaluated in Matthew Arndt’s scholarly debut. Through a meticulous analysis of notated and written sources and a virtuosic interplay of disciplines and methods, Arndt delves beneath the surface of the usual narrative to sound out the musical thought and spiritual beliefs that shape the theory and music of both thinkers. As a result, what modern scholarship has divided is reintegrated, not only by melding the technical and metaphysical elements to illumine each other, but by drawing Schoenberg and Schenker so tightly together that, like repellent magnets held in tension, their proximity reveals the secret of the other’s meaning. This is a bold, brave, brilliant book.” To order a copy, click here.


Wilson Kimber in Washington Post


Amy Beach (Courtesy of UNH Library, Dimond Special Collections)

Professor of Musicology Marian Wilson Kimber was interviewed by the Associated Press about the 150th anniversary of the birthday of composer Amy Beach, and her  comments appeared in an article in the Washington Post. Wilson Kimber was one of multiple scholars from American, Mexico, Chile, and Venezuela, who spoke at the American Women Pianist-Composers conference celebrating Amy Beach and Teresa Carreño, hosted by the University of New Hampshire on September 15-16. The University’s Milne Library and Dimond Special Collections houses the papers of Amy Beach and presented an exhibition of rare Beach materials in conjunction with the conference. Beach was the first American female composer to be successful in composing large forms, including her Gaelic Symphony. Wilson Kimber presented her research into Beach’s appearances at the White House in 1934 and 1936 in recitals for First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, along with other women composers from the National League of American Pen Women.

Summer Highlights

In the spring, Jessica Kizzire and Greg Newbold successfully defended their graduate documents. Greg’s master’s thesis explores serial procedures in Benjamin Frankel’s music for the Hammer cult film, Curse of the Werewolf (1961). In her doctoral dissertation, Jessica Kizzire contemplates musical adaptations of Lewis Carroll’s Alice novels, with special emphasis placed on film and ballet. Congratulations to both on these major accomplishments!

Cody Norling spent time at the State Historical Society of Iowa researching the cultivation of music in Iowa City in the nineteenth century, specifically the efforts of early Iowa settler Robert Hutchinson. This topic is the subject of a paper to be given at the American Musicological Society Midwest Chapter meeting in September. He also wrote a book review for The Annals of Iowa.

This summer, Andrew Tubbs traveled to Denver and Washington, D.C., to conduct research in preparation for two conference papers. While in Washington, he visited the Library of Congress to work with the Aaron Copland collection for a project about Copland’s music for the film Of Mice and Men. Additionally, he was named Artistic Director for Combined Efforts, an all-ability artist group in Iowa City.

Nathan Platte presented on the symphonic score to The Wizard of Oz at the “Music and the Moving Image” conference, hosted annually at NYU. From there, he hopped the pond to the University of Huddersfield, where he participated in the international symposium “Sources and Archives in Screen Sound Studies.” Nathan served on the program committee and also contributed a presentation titled “Resonant Spaces or Echo Chambers? Listening to Hollywood’s Music Through Its Archives.”

Marian Wilson Kimber visited the FDR Presidential Library and Museum to examine the music sent by American citizens to First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt during the Great Depression.  In June she appeared with pianist Natalie Landowski, performing spoken-word compositions by Phyllis Fergus at the 120th anniversary celebration of the founding of the National League of American Pen Women in Washington, D.C. Wilson Kimber’s article about Fergus, who became the first musician president of the Pen Women in 1936, was published in their magazine.

With assistance from the University of Iowa School of Music and International Programs, Matthew Arndt presented a paper on modernism and organicism in Alban Berg’s Piano Sonata, op. 1, at the Music Theory Midwest Twenty-Eighth Annual Conference in Iowa City and at the Ninth European Music Analysis Conference in Strasbourg, France. He also corrected proofs for his book, The Musical Thought and Spiritual Lives of Heinrich Schenker and Arnold Schoenberg, coming out next month.


Village of Obernai, France