Drs. Bowring and Monahan appointed to YSM’s academic faculty

Drs. Lynette Bowring and Seth Monahan have been appointed Assistant Professor Adjunct of Music History and Visiting Associate Professor Adjunct of Music Analysis and Musicianship, respectively, at the Yale School of Music. Both will begin teaching at YSM in the fall.

Bowring, who will teach survey courses and electives in music history at YSM, has been serving as an adjunct faculty member at The Juilliard School, teaching courses in Renaissance and Baroque music history. She has also taught at Westminster Choir College and in the Music Department at Rutgers University. Bowring specializes in the instrumental repertoire of the Italian Baroque, with secondary interests that include 20th-century music. She has contributed to a number of scholarly journals and has recently written an article on the implications of musical literacy for 17th-century instrumentalists for a forthcoming issue of Early Music. She has also co-edited an essay collection titled Music and Jewish Culture in Early Modern Italy. Bowring earned a Ph.D. in musicology from Rutgers University, a master of music degree in musicology from the University of Manchester (UK), and a bachelor of music degree from the Royal Northern College of Music (UK), where she studied violin. She continues to perform as a Baroque violinist.

Monahan will teach core courses and electives in musicianship and analysis at YSM. He previously served as Associate Professor of Music Theory and Chair of the Music Theory Department at the University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music. Monahan has earned widespread acclaim for his publications, lectures, and conference presentations. His research focuses on the relationships among form, narrative meaning, and interpretation, particularly in the symphonies of Gustav Mahler, the late compositional style of Richard Wagner, and other Romantic and Classical instrumental works. Monahan’s Mahler’s Symphonic Sonatas, published in 2015 by Oxford University Press, won the Society of Music Theory’s Emerging Scholar Award. He earned a bachelor of music degree in composition from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, where he also studied guitar, a master of music degree in music theory from Temple University, and a Ph.D. from Yale University.

Published July 24, 2019
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Professor Paul Berry on scholarship, performance, and Brahms

Paul Berry

Paul Berry

On Sunday, tenor Paul Berry, Associate Professor (adjunct) of Music History at the School of Music and the author of Brahms Among Friends: Listening, Performance, and the Rhetoric of Allusion (Oxford University Press), and Boris Berman, the Sylvia and Leonard Marx Professor in the Practice of Piano, will present “Of Love, Death, and Reconciliation: Songs and Intermezzi of Johannes Brahms.” Prof. Berry has shared a few thoughts about scholarship and performance, conceiving and preparing with Prof. Berman for Sunday’s recital, and “the value of live music-making.” 

Like many music scholars, I had been performing for years before discovering the academic disciplines devoted to the study of music. When I selected 19th century Austro-German song as an academic specialty in the early 2000s, I thought I was doing so because the subject allowed me to pursue a long-standing interest in German-language literature, but in retrospect a deeper reason was surely that my youthful instruments were voice and piano. As my scholarly interests have grown to include instrumental chamber music, the concerns of practicing musicians have remained central to my work: how the music feels in the hand or the voice, how the composer engages those feelings toward expressive ends, and how the act of musical performance can open up interpretive arenas for players and listeners alike. Brahms’ songs and piano pieces offer the historian particularly rich opportunities to investigate these questions, in part because he and his contemporaries left behind a vast array of documentary evidence that speaks to their own engagement with performance. To fully appreciate that evidence, I find I have to keep one foot in the world of the practicing musician, singing and playing the music I study rather than simply listening to it. This is one reason I love teaching at the School of Music: I learn as much from my students and their music-making as they do from me.

It was a wonderful privilege to prepare for this recital with Boris, who combines formidable knowledge of the repertoire with decades of experience playing Brahms’ music at a superb level. All told, we spent an average of more than an hour on each song we’ll perform, considering how Brahms’ compositional structures project his interpretation of each text and how the different musical choices we might make in realizing those structures could affect the listener’s understanding of that interpretation. Perhaps the most exciting part for me, however, was selecting the songs we would perform and placing them into a coherent order. The Four Serious Songs, Brahms’s last opus, are unusual in many ways, including their texts, which are not poems but passages concerning death from Luther’s translation of the Bible. These songs are usually performed continuously as a set, but, following Brahms’ own practice of creating flexible “bouquets” of songs, we decided to take them apart and use them as primary colors, emotional focal points around which other songs and short piano pieces could be grouped in provocative ways.

The piano pieces come from the collections of short works, Opp. 116-119, completed in the 1890s, that together comprise Brahms’ crowning achievement as a composer for the instrument. The songs span his entire output as a composer—from his first maturity in the early 1860s to the pinnacle of his public career in the 1870s and 1880s—and his life-long involvement with artfully arranged folksong. Some of them are quite dark, a few playful, many rich and autumnal, others light and fresh. Heard interspersed among the Four Serious Songs, the music on this program may facilitate for the audience some reflection about love, death, and the process of change—hence the title of the recital. But any such reflection will be individual, meaningful to each listener for herself alone. This, I think, is the value of live music-making in a time of pervasive distractions and pre-packaged playlists: to provide an unexpected space, an unpredictable collision of impulses, within which the self can find renewal and out of which conversation can begin again.

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Published February 27, 2019
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Masaaki Suzuki honored by American Bach Society

Masaaki Suzuki. Photo by Marco Borggreve

During its biennial meeting and conference, which was held at Yale University in late April, the American Bach Society awarded Masaaki Suzuki, an artist-in-residence at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music and principal guest conductor of the Yale Schola Cantorum, an honorary membership “for his accomplishments as a performer and champion of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach,” society President Markus Rathey said.

“Masaaki Suzuki has had an impact on the performance of Baroque music not only in this country but all over the world,” Rathey, the Robert S. Tangeman Professor in the Practice of Music History at the Yale School of Music, said. “As a conductor, harpsichordist, and organist, Suzuki has been one of the most prolific performers of Bach’s music for more than two decades.”

During the conference, Suzuki led Yale alumni in a performance of Bach’s B-minor Mass.

 

Published May 7, 2018
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YSM professor and Brahms expert Paul Berry, on faculty pianist Boris Berman’s Sept. 27 recital program

Boris Berman, left, and Paul Berry

School of Music faculty pianist Boris Berman kicks off the 2017-2018 Horowitz Piano Series on Wednesday, Sept. 27, with an all-Brahms program featuring the composer’s late piano works, Opp. 116-119. We spoke with YSM Associate Professor of Music History Paul Berry, the author of Brahms Among Friends: Listening, Performance, and the Rhetoric of Allusion (Oxford University Press, 2014), about the works that Professor Berman will perform, what the music tells us about the composer and his environment, and what the late piano works demand of a performer.

Q: Brahms’ piano pieces, Opp. 116-119, were composed during the last decade of his life. What does that lateness mean in terms of the character of these pieces, and in the context of his career and his personal life? According to our program notes, Lionel Salter said, of Op. 116, “It is as if the composer at the end of his life had compressed the essence of his musical and emotional thoughts into these miniatures.” And Brahms himself described the Op. 117 set as “lullabies of my sorrow.” What, if anything, did Brahms’ friend Clara Schumann say about these pieces?

A: Well, the idea of lateness can inform our hearing of these piano pieces in several productive ways. The most obvious is their placement in the composer’s output. In the early 1890s, Brahms was not yet 60, and all his friends constantly commented on his fitness and robust health; he had no idea that this would turn out to be his last decade. But he did know that he would soon retire from public life as a composer. Indeed, he had already retired once, only to return to composition when he encountered the clarinet playing of Richard Muehlfeld. The late piano miniatures are the most abundant fruit of what he planned to be his final harvest. Especially with the example of late Beethoven in the ears of the musical public, a composer would naturally understand that his final works were likely to be interpreted as summations of his craft and emotional range, and compose them with the judgment of posterity in mind. Certainly Brahms did so with these piano pieces.

At the same time, the late piano pieces first surfaced not in published form, but in manuscript copies made for Clara Schumann, one of the great pianists and musicians of the century and Brahms’ oldest and firmest friend. Throughout the summers of 1892 and 1893, he sent her packages containing individual miniatures, some of which were so dramatic in effect that she took them to be the building blocks of a larger piano sonata (a genre Brahms had avoided since his youth). Though she had retired from the concert stage by now, these pieces soon became a dominant focus of her private music-making. In fact, we have accounts from her daughters and grandchildren concerning her renditions of them and, in some cases, the poetic significance she attached to them (Op. 118, No. 5, for instance, seemed to her to represent the emotional landscape of an elderly couple reminiscing about their lives together while their grandchildren play nearby). So from both a professional and a personal standpoint, Brahms’ late works lend themselves to interpretation as late works.

Q: In what historical and political contexts were these pieces composed, and how did Brahms’ immediate environment and the changing world around him inform the music he composed toward the end of his life? What do the pieces of Opp. 116-119 tells us about where composition had been and where it was headed?   

A: Brahms’ political environment was challenging for him and his fellow liberals, who found their longstanding commitment to education, religious tolerance, and upper-middle-class values under assault from populist and overtly religious parties, whose members preferred the more direct musical styles of composers like Wagner or Bruckner. Brahms’ primary musical market was under attack, and these pieces can be understood as speaking to the alternately nostalgic and grumpy impulses of a soon-to-be minority party. Those elements of this music that seem to us now the most forward-looking (daring modulations, hazy tonality, complex interweaving of multiple melodies) may actually have been designed to summon up appreciation for the learned elements of a craft that many already perceived to be outdated and in decline.

Q: Talk if you would about the form, structure, and styles of these pieces and how Brahms might’ve intended them to be performed and presented.

A: Most of these pieces present some variant of ternary, or three-part, form, in which the main material is presented at the beginning, cedes its place to contrasting material in the middle, and then returns to close the work near the end. Brahms’ craft emerges in the seemingly infinite variety of approaches that this ancient musical form elicits from him in each individual context, from the straightforward, almost folk-like simplicity of Op. 118, No. 5, to the complex twists and turns of Op. 117, No. 2. It’s always worth listening for moments of return, when familiar material reappears, and comparing them to one’s memory of that material from earlier in the piece; so many of these works create subtle but remarkable transformations in mood when one encounters the same material in new contexts.

Although these pieces are rightly seen as intimate, private ruminations, this is also virtuosic music, though it usually wears its virtuosity in an understated way. Most of the pieces were premiered in public by the best pianists then performing, and reviewers consistently noted the difficulties that they posed to a pianist’s technique, especially in the faster pieces. The final work on the recital, Op. 119, No. 4, is a good example, with its whirl of gypsy-style rhythms. But the slower works, too, present real technical challenges involving the thickening of texture, and these challenges are often aligned with pivotal moments in the unfolding of the piece: the return of familiar material after a long absence, for instance, is often much harder to play than the initial presentation of the tune. Even the famous lullaby, Op. 117, No. 1, is almost overwhelmed near the end when its fragile voices multiply under the pianist’s hands.

Q: What should audiences listen for in these works as they think about Brahms and his world and the culture in which we live today?

A: Some elements of our current political scene (the rise of populist ideologies in the United States and abroad, increasingly overt intolerance and suspicion of “elite” attitudes, a pervasive sense of loss and frustration) mirror aspects of Brahms’ own environment in the 1890s. The variety of moods explored in these short piano pieces, from resignation and nostalgia to brooding anger and firm resilience, therefore resonate productively in the present moment.

Q: What, in your opinion, does Professor Berman bring to these works? And what do these pieces require of a pianist, both technically and with regard to scholarship?

A: These works require of a pianist a deep immersion in the intricacies of the composer’s craft and a deep commitment to the emotional world projected in each piece. Professor Berman brings both immersion and commitment to his playing. He also brings a firm sense of clarity with respect to large-scale structure. He does not “lose” his listeners, but guides them through the unfolding of each piece.

Faculty pianist and Horowitz Piano Series Artistic Director Boris Berman performs an all-Brahms program featuring the composer’s late piano works, Opp. 116-119, on Wednesday, Sept. 27, at 7:30 pm, in Morse Recital Hall. Associate Professor of Music History Paul Berry will give a pre-concert talk at 6:30 pm in the Blocker Room. Learn more and purchase tickets

Published September 25, 2017
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Paul Hawkshaw awarded Fulbright for Bruckner research, residency in Vienna

Paul Hawkshaw

Professor of Musicology Paul Hawkshaw will be a Fulbright Visiting Scholar in Vienna in the spring of 2018. During his residency, he will teach classes at the University of Vienna’s Institute of Musicology and at the city’s University of Music and Performing Arts, in addition working at the Austrian National Library on a project titled A Bequest and a Complex Legacy: Untangling Anton Bruckner’s Revisions in Later Times, which aims to sort out the many different revisions of Bruckner’s music that have resulted from, in Hawkshaw’s words, “unauthorized tampering in Bruckner’s scores by well-meaning students and friends of his.”

According to Hawkshaw, the International Bruckner Society recently began a new Collected Works Edition under the auspices of the Austrian National Library and the Vienna Philharmonic. The New Anton Bruckner Collected Edition will eventually include new definitive scores of Bruckner’s complete works. Hawkshaw, who serves on the society’s editorial board, will work on three of the symphonies: numbers Seven, Eight, and Nine.

“In some cases,” Hawkshaw said, “previous editions had errors as a result of misreading the sources. For others, new, more reliable manuscript sources have surfaced since the older printed scores appeared.” MORE

Published April 5, 2017
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Markus Rathey publishes book on Bach’s major vocal works

Markus RatheyYSM Associate Professor of Music History and renowned Bach scholar Markus Rathey has published a new book via Yale University Press, focusing on Johann Sebastian Bach’s major vocal works. Titled Bach’s Major Vocal Works: Music, Drama, Liturgy, the book provides an introduction to the music and cultural contexts of the composer’s most beloved masterpieces, including the Magnificat, Christmas Oratorio, and St. John Passion.

In addition to providing historical information, each chapter highlights significant aspects — such as the theology of love — of a particular piece. This volume is the first to treat the vocal works as a whole, showing how the compositions were embedded in their original performative context within the liturgy as well as discussing Bach’s musical style, from the detailed level of individual movements to the overarching aspects of each work.

To purchase and read more about the book, visit the book’s page on Yale University Press’s website.

Published March 1, 2016
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Mario Aschauer lectures on equal temperament April 24

mario aschauerOn April 24, 2013 at 4 pm, Mario Aschauer will present a lecture called, “Has Equal Temperament Really Ruined Harmony?” The event takes place in Hendrie Hall, Room 205. Aschauer is a postdoctoral fellow at the Yale School of Music pursuing research for a book on Anton Bruckner’s compositional procedures.

Has equal temperament really ruined harmony, as R. Duffin’s Book of 2007 suggests? And if yes: how? This lecture will provide the theoretical and acoustical basics necessary to understand the fundamental problem of keyboard tuning and the manifold solutions theorists and musicians have come up with throughout the last four centuries of music history. There will also be a chance to listen to a harpsichord piece played in several historical temperaments.

Austrian scholar-performer Mario Aschauer has concertized extensively as a harpsichordist throughout Europe. His dissertation on German Keyboard Treatises in the Second Half of the 18th Century was published by Bärenreiter Verlag, Kassel, in 2011. For recent new editions of Schubert’s Moments Musicaux, Impromptus, and Late Piano Pieces, Mario developed fingerings and provided notes on performance practice. He received his training as a conductor, musicologist, and harpsichordist from conservatories and universities in Linz, Salzburg and Vienna.

This event is presented by the piano department of the Yale School of Music.

Published April 24, 2013
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Bruckner Society of America to award Joseph Kilenyi Medal of Honor to Paul Hawkshaw

The Bruckner Society of America announced this week that Paul Hawkshaw will be awarded the Joseph Kilenyi Medal of Honor.  This honor is given to individuals whose work exemplifies the understanding and appreciation of the life and music of Anton Bruckner.

Paul Hawkshaw is Deputy Dean of the Yale School of Music as well as Professor in the Practice of Musicology and the director of the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival.

The Board of Directors of the Bruckner Society noted Hawkshaw’s “strong advocacy of Bruckner’s work as seen in the many articles, essays, editions, and addresses [he has] prepared in [his] illustrious career.”  In particular, the organization wrote, “His research on the Mass in F Minor and the Eighth Symphony are milestones in our understanding of Bruckner’s music.”

The Bruckner Society of America was established in 1931, and Medals of Honor have been given to such musical luminaries as Otto Klemperer, Bruno Walter, Arturo Toscanini, and Paul Hindemith. The medal will be presented to Paul at Yale’s Commencement this spring.

Dean Robert Blocker extended his heartiest congratulations to Hawkshaw, saying, “That he has served the School with extraordinary leadership while continuing his scholarly work with critical distinction is in itself a remarkable achievement.  Most importantly, Paul extends to our community a quiet sense of humanity that enriches us all.”

Professor Hawkshaw’s publications include seven volumes of Bruckner’s collected works (Vienna), which are performed by major orchestras and choruses throughout the world. His articles have appeared in The Musical Quarterly, Nineteenth-Century Music, and the Oesterreichische Musikzeitschrift, and he wrote the Bruckner biography for Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians. In 1996 he was invited by the Austrian National Library in Vienna, to give the commemorative address marking the centenary of the composer’s death.

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Published March 3, 2011
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Markus Rathey receives Scheide Research Grant

Markus Rathey, an associate professor of music history at the School of Music and the Institute of Sacred Music as well as the Music Department, is the recipient of the William H. Scheide Research Grant for 2011.

The William H. Scheide Research Grant, awarded once every two years to a member of the American Bach Society, provides support for a research project on Bach or figures in his circle. The grant will enable Rathey to spend a month in Germany this summer to continue his research on Bach’s Christmas Oratorio. Rathey will examine Bach’s autograph score of the oratorio in the German National Library in Berlin as well as further sources in Leipzig.

Rathey studied musicology, Protestant theology, and German philology in Bethel and Münster. He taught at the University of Mainz and the University of Leipzig and was a research fellow at the Bach-Archiv, Leipzig, before joining the Yale faculty in 2003. His research interests are music of the seventeenth, eighteenth, and early nineteenth centuries, Johann Sebastian Bach, and the relationship among music, religion, and politics during the Enlightenment. Recent publications include the books Johann Rudolph Ahle (1625–1673): Lebensweg und Schaffen (Eisenach, 1999), an edition of Johann Georg Ahle’s Music Theoretical Writings (Hildesheim, 2007, 2nd edition 2008), and Kommunikation und Diskurs: Die Bürgerkapitänsmusiken Carl Philipp Emanuel Bachs (Hildesheim, 2009). He was guest editor of a volume of the German journal Musik und Kirche (2005) on church music in the United States. He has contributed numerous articles to Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, the Laaber Lexikon der Kirchenmusik, and to the handbook for the new German Hymnal (Liederkunde zum Evangelischen Gesangbuch). Professor Rathey is president of the Forum on Music and Christian Scholarship and serves on the editorial board of the Bach Journal of the Riemenschneider Bach Society. Ph.D., Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität, Münster.

Published January 6, 2011
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Voices of American Music concert pays tribute to the Oral History of American Music project on its 40th anniversary

“…The world’s definitive archive of historical material on American music.”
– The New York Times

Vivian Perlis interviews Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein in Copland’s home.

The Yale School of Music presents Voices of American Music, a concert tribute to the legendary Oral History of American Music (OHAM) project at Yale. The concert will take place on Tuesday, April 6 at 8 pm in Sprague Hall (470 College Street, New Haven) as part of the Chamber Music Society at Yale.

The works of some of America’s most important composers will be heard in a rare program that joins music with footage from OHAM’s archives. Founded by Vivian Perlis, one of the foremost historians of American music, OHAM is dedicated to collecting and preserving audio and video memoirs of notable figures in American music. The musicologist H. Wiley Hitchcock called OHAM “an incomparable resource, the most extensive ongoing oral history project in America.”

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Published March 10, 2010
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