Monday, November 22, 2010

This Could Be Fun

From the American Musicological Society announcement mailing list:

Call for Papers

“After the End of Music History”
An international conference in honor of Richard Taruskin

10-12 February 2012

Princeton University

After the End of Music History is a three-day international conference assessing the state
of musical research, with three central concerns of Richard Taruskin’s scholarship as
points of departure: musical censorship and canon formation; nationalism, neoclassicism,
and serialism in the twentieth century; and modernism in the early music movement.
Additional issues such as the purported demise of the notated tradition, the rise of
vernacular and world musics as subjects of academic study, and the transformative
effects of digital technologies will be addressed by keynote speakers and invited

The conference will feature three related performances. First will be a stage adaptation
of Alexander Pushkin’s novel-in-verse Eugene Onegin by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky
with incidental music by Sergey Prokofiev, banned by the Soviets in 1936 and never
subsequently performed. A chamber music concert will reconsider the phenomenon
of “PhD music” and the broader legacy of serial composition in America, including a
world premiere piece by Steve Mackey. There will also be an informal cabaret night of
remixed music from classical repertoire to global pop.

The conference organizers invite the submission of individual papers on the themes of
the conference and its performances or the general state of music research. Graduate
students and scholars in the early stages of their careers are especially encouraged to
apply. Presenters will receive an honorarium and travel expenses.

Please email abstracts in PDF or Word format to aemh2012 at gmail.com. Abstracts
should not exceed 300 words and must be received by February 28, 2011. Notification of
accepted papers will be sent by March 31, 2011.

My only question: will there be fisticuffs? I mean, "the end of music history"?? But I'm putting it on my calendar now!


Joe Barron said...

I've always thought of Taruskin as the Rush Limbaugh of the music world.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Say more about why, please, because he is a lot smarter than Limbaugh.

Joe Barron said...
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Joe Barron said...
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Joe Barron said...

Well, Limbaugh is shrewd, if nothing else, and Taruskin is of the same ilk – a (musically) right wing bully with a gift for invective, a tendency to project his own faults onto his enemies, and an unwillingness to let facts stand in the way of a good argument. I remember back in the 1990s, when Elliott Carter pulled out of his NYPO commission for the Allegro scorrevole, Taruskin wrote this screwy letter to the Times defending the orchestra, saying that atonal composers had been terrorizing orchestras and audiences for years, and that finally someone – i.e., Masur and the Philharmonic – had the courage to stand up to them and strike a blow for freedom. And I remember thinking, yeah, right, Carter is 88 years old, and he’s attempting to intimidate a symphony orchestra. That’s certainly a fair assessment.

BTW, there’s a page at Facebook titled “Richard Taruskin is a bitch,” which I have joined.

And damn, I wish I could type.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Taruskin is a smart guy, and yet...

I really want to see a LIST of all the atonal music performances that terrorized the audiences at major orchestras. I mean, I looked through Boulez's programs at the NYPO a while back and even he was not particularly extreme.

Daniel Wolf at Renewable Music started reading the 20th c. volume of Taruskin's Oxford History and posted about the errors he was finding. Oops.

Joe Barron said...

The letter to the Times may be seen here (I hope): http://nyti.ms/fSSk4R

As it happens, I was wrong. The word he used was "tyrannize," not "terrorize." My humblest apologies. It's still pretty Limbaugh-esque, though, with all the BS about claques and coteries. I assume he was reading the C section of the dictionary that week.

With sincerest self-congratulations,


Lisa Hirsch said...

That letter is eye-rollingly odd.

Joe Barron said...


Joe Barron said...

Daniel Wolf at Renewable Music started reading the 20th c. volume of Taruskin's Oxford History and posted about the errors he was finding.

Charles Rosen's two-part review at the NY Review of Books is also worth reading. He's polite, but he does present a few insightful criticisms, esp. apropos of the the 20th century.

Henry Holland said...

Re: Taruskin's letter. It's of a piece with the whole "Oh, woe is us tonal composers!" thing, isn't it?

La Cieca had a nice bit of snark about it (in a post about John Corigliano's Ghosts of Versailles):

It always struck me as the height of something or other that a classical musician who was the son of the concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic, an assistant to Leonard Bernstein, and a recipient of Guggenheim and National Endowment grants would harp on his struggle against discrimination. [snip]

Plus La Cieca has never had much sympathy with the “poor persecuted tonalists” school: it’s not enough that these fellows’ work was performed widely, they received commissions from the most major orchestras and foundations, they grew wealthy working in their chosen field and writing precisely the music they wanted to write; no, besides that they have to claim victim status because of a slight case of butthurt due to exclusion from the Darmstadt reindeer games.

“Yes, my opera is being performed at the Met, and I’m handsome and rich and I have an Academy Award, a house in the country, and a clever, adorable boyfriend twenty years my junior, but Milton Babbitt is over there in the corner with his friends, and they’re all laughing at me!”

Hahaha, "Darmstadt reindeer games". As a huge fan of Schreker and Korngold and Rachmaninov and other super-lush tonal composers, I get why the barbs that the Boulezians dished out stung, a person doesn't usually like having their artistic creations being called a living museum or dead on arrival or utterly irrelevant.

However, I think it's clear in retrospect that by ca. 1970 that the post-war avant-garde weren't going to succeed in erasing Samuel Barber's wonderful music from history and now all the ranting and raving from the Darmstadt crowd strikes me as an extension of the Cold War mindset, very much an Us v. Them thing.

Joe Barron said...

The article that occasioned the outburst is here.