Aaron S. Allen presents on “Musical Trees,” April 27

Aaron S. Allen

Aaron S. Allen is director of the Environmental and Sustainability Studies Program and Associate Professor of Music at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where he also served as the institution’s first Academic Sustainability Coordinator. A fellow of the American Academy in Rome, he earned his Ph.D. from Harvard in 2006 with a dissertation on the nineteenth-century Italian reception of Beethoven. His B.A. in music and B.S. in environmental studies are from Tulane University. Aaron has published on campus sustainability, Beethoven reception, and ecomusicology. He is co-editor with Kevin Dawe of the collection Current Directions in Ecomusicology (Routledge 2016).

“Musical Trees”

Fundamental to the sound of Western art music, the violin family forms the backbone of most ensembles from chamber to stage. Professional violins depend on at least two endemic natural resources: Italian spruce for the soundboards, and Brazilian pernambuco for the bows. The highest quality bows are made of only wild-grown pernambuco (pau brasil) from Brazil’s Atlantic Coastal Forest. Pau brasil was so important that European colonial powers warred over it with each other and with indigenous peoples; eventually, the country Brazil was named after the wood. Today, the tree is nearly extinct: 8% of the original forest is extant, and only 5% of pernambuco habitat remains. But Italian red spruce has fared better in the unusual Alpine microclimate of the Val di Fiemme’s Paneveggio Forest. The species is widely distributed, but Paneveggian spruce makes excellent resonance wood for soundboards, which has contributed to the renown of this “forest of violins.” Despite various threats during the past millennium, Fiemmesi traditions have preserved the forest; today, more trees grow than loggers harvest, and musicians regularly make pilgrimages to their sacred groves in the Paneveggio. The values accorded to musical traditions and the instruments necessary for them can reverberate through individual tree species to particular forests. Western art music, an endangered (if elite) tradition that might need preservation, contributes both to threatening and to protecting the unique resources on which it depends. In other words, our aesthetic choices have ethical ramifications that impact the world in negative and positive ways.


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.

Anne of Green Gables and the Lost Art of Recitation

Marian Wilson Kimber has recently written about the role of poetic recitation in concert life at Musicology Now, the blog of the American Musicological Society.  Wilson Kimber has also been posting materials from the history of elocution on her tumblr, Elocutionary Arts. Follow her on Twitter: @MWilsonKimber.

Nathan Platte to lead film music workshop

In late October Nathan Platte will join forces with Colin Roust (Roosevelt University) at the College Music Society in Cambridge, Mass., where they will lead a pre-conference pedagogy workshop on film music. From there Nathan will travel to Syracuse University to participate in the “Belfer Audio Archive at 50” Symposium. The weekend includes performances, screenings, lectures, and guest appearances by the Kronos Quartet and music writer Alex Ross (The New Yorker). Nathan will give introductory remarks before a double feature of Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca (1940) and Spellbound (1945). He will also present a paper that explores the use of preview scores or “temp tracks” in both films.



Jennifer Iverson recently presents at the 2013 Ligeti Symposium and Festival

Jennifer Iverson recently presented “Ligeti and the Evolution of Klangfarbenmelodie” at the 2013 Ligeti Symposium and Festival. The paper traces the dual lineages for the reception history of “sound-color-melody”, from Schoenberg and Webern through Adorno to Ligeti. A notable scholar and analyst in his own right, Ligeti both received and advanced the discourse around Klangfarbenmelodie in his scholarship and in his compositions. Iverson’s analysis shows that Ligeti used a rather Schoenbergian notion of Klangfarbenmelodie in Lontano (1967) while he developed ideas from the mid-century discourse around Webern’s music in the opening of the Cello Concerto (1966). Celebrating the 90th year of Ligeti’s birth, the festival brought together leading scholars, performers, and enthusiasts of his music.

Marian Wilson Kimber gives talk for opening meeting of the Beethoven Club

On October 3, musicologist Marian Wilson Kimber gave a talk on the siblings Felix and Fanny Mendelssohn for the opening meeting of the Beethoven Club in Cedar Rapids.  The club’s theme for the year is “Musical Families.”

Wilson Kimber has also published an article about Carl Davis’s score for the 1995 BBC adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice in the Journal of Adaptation in Film and Performance. [http://www.intellectbooks.co.uk/journals/view-Article,id=16232/].  In September she attended the Minneapolis general meeting of the Jane Austen Society of North America, which celebrated the two-hundredth anniversary of the publication of Austen’s novel.

Marian Wilson Kimber travels doing research for book in progress

Supported by a University of Iowa Arts and Humanities Initiative grant, musicologist Marian Wilson Kimber traveled to several archives over the summer, doing research for her book in progress, Feminine Entertainments: Women, Music, and the Spoken Word.  The book explores the contributions of American women to melodrama, and the intersection of poetry and music in performance from the Progressive era to World War II.  Wilson Kimber worked with elocution books and ephemera at the Jerry Tarver Elocution, Rhetoric and Oratory Collection at Ohio State University [http://library.osu.edu/find/collections/rarebooks/RBMScollections/TarverCollection/].   While in Columbus, she examined the programs of African American poet Paul Lawrence Dunbar, whose works were frequently performed with music, at the Ohio Historical Society [http://www.ohiohistorycentral.org/w/Paul_L._Dunbar].  Wilson Kimber also traveled to the Tennessee State Library and Archives in Nashville to see the papers of Kitty Cheatham (1865-1946), a performer known for her children’s concerts and renditions of spirituals.

In July, Wilson Kimber also presented “Music on the Rappahannock: Women, Accompanied Recitation, and Sentimentality on the Battlefield,” at the Third Biennial North American Conference on Nineteenth-Century Music, held at TCU in Fort Worth, Texas.  Her paper explored female elocutionists’ addition of sentimental musical accompaniments to poetry about soldiers and battle, making these texts appropriate for women on the platform.

Iowans at Society for American Music

The University of Iowa was well represented at the annual conference of the Society for American Music, held in Charlotte, North Carolina, March 14-18, 2012.  Two faculty, one current student, and one former student presented papers.  At the business meeting, Professor Nathan Platte was awarded the Wiley Housewright Dissertation award for his work, “Musical Collaboration in the Films of David O. Selznick, 1932-1957.”

Kery Lawson (master’s student), “’I’m Going to Raise My Boy to be a Soldier:’ The Strong Mother in WWI Popular Song”

Prof. Nathan Platte, “Before King Kong was King: Competing Strategies in Hollywood Symphonic Scores, 1931–33”

Prof. Marian Wilson Kimber, “Jane Manner’s “Readings with Music” and the Creation of Melodramatic Performance, ca. 1890–1935”

Michael Accinno (Iowa alum, doctoral student, University of California, Davis), “Disabled Bodies, Disabled Instruments: Civil War Veterans as Organ Grinders”

(Photo: Michael Accinno and Kery Lawson at SAM, after the bus to Davidson College had broken down.)