Paper Session
Nov 20, 2021 03:00 PM - 03:50 PM(America/Chicago)
20211120T1500 20211120T1550 America/Chicago Events and Audiences AMS 2021
Maurice Schlesinger and the Artificial Media Event
Individual Paper 03:00 PM - 03:50 PM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/20 21:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/20 21:50:00 UTC

Maurice Schlesinger (1798–1871), music publisher and founder of the _Gazette musicale_, is a shadowy figure in the history of nineteenth-century French music. He is in some ways the "man behind the curtain" of more familiar history: he was the French publisher of not only Beethoven's late string quartets but also grand operas such as _Robert le Diable_ and _La Juive_, he was an early promoter of Chopin, and he introduced Harriet Smithson to Berlioz. Modern scholarship on Schlesinger to date has focused on his bellicose personality, his feuds with Liszt, and his publishing business. But Schlesinger was more than a "hot-headed" editor; he was a natural savant in the ways of media manipulation, able to retain power despite his often failing business. Understanding his craft as the _Gazette_'s manager is more than a tour through nineteenth-century shenanigans: it offers a crucial insight into the methods of early publicity and the means by which musical careers were established, managed, and destroyed.

This paper investigates Schlesinger as a master of the "artificial media event," a term used in media and celebrity studies to denote a preplanned non- or pseudo-event designed to capture and sustain the public's attention. Media events as historical phenomena -- as well as other publicity strategies like them -- provide new frameworks to decouple historical reception from historical publicity and enrich our understanding of the processes and products of nineteenth-century music journalism. Focusing both on well-known artificial events, such as the Liszt/Thalberg piano duel, and lesser-known ones, such as Schlesinger's campaign against Henri Herz, this paper will analyze Schlesinger's tactics in managing a nascent economy of attention, offering new insight into the risks and rewards of scandal. Drawing on recent research in celebrity (Sharon Marcus 2019) and media studies (Marshall Soules 2015), this paper situates Schlesinger and the work of his journal, the _Gazette musicale_, in an emergent media discourse, illuminating nineteenth-century publicity tactics and providing a new avenue for understanding music reception more broadly.   

Shaena Weitz
University Of Bristol
Survival and Subversion: Making Music in the Cafés of Occupied Warsaw and its Ghetto, 1939-1942
Individual Paper 03:00 PM - 03:50 PM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/20 21:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/20 21:50:00 UTC

After Nazi Germany occupied Warsaw in 1939 and banned public concerts, hundreds of unemployed musicians turned to the city's cafés, transforming these venues into makeshift performance spaces. Both in the ghetto and in so-called "Aryan" Warsaw, these intimate venues featured daily performances by stars of the prewar classical, popular, and cabaret music scenes who audaciously tested the limits of Nazi censorship for a war-wearied audience. 

To date, musicologists have placed Warsaw's musical cafés into two distinct historical narratives, one Jewish and the other Polish. Scholars of the Holocaust examine the ghetto cafés as an instance of Jewish cultural production during internment, while scholars of Polish music view the cafés in "Aryan" Warsaw as a testing ground for young composers, such as Witold Lutosławski and Andrzej Panufnik. This historiographical division has obfuscated the shared roots of both the ghetto and non-ghetto cafés in prewar Warsaw's urban musical culture, as well as the fact that musicians separated by the ghetto wall had worked together only weeks earlier. 

To explore how the dynamic, urban milieu of prewar Warsaw lived on in the wartime musical cafés, I draw on rarely considered sources that shed new light on the repertoires, economics, and reception of the cafés. Using documents from the clandestine archive of the Warsaw ghetto and the Polish underground state, I show how cafés, both in the ghetto and outside it, catered to distinct audience tastes, forming a heterogeneous sonic map of the city. Café ephemera further evince the complex decisions that went into crafting concerts that blended popular and classical works to appeal to a wide audience. Memoirs reveal that listeners saw the musical café in an ambiguous light, both exalting it as a space uniquely able to interrogate the dark realities of quotidian life under occupation, but also raising questions about the value of entertainment in times of trauma. Ultimately, I argue, viewing the cafés as part of a longer arc of urban music-making in Warsaw brings into focus the resilience of the city's musicians despite Nazi racial rule, ghettoization, and terror in the years before the Holocaust. 

Mackenzie Pierce
University Of Michigan, Ann Arbor
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
University of Bristol
No attendee has checked-in to this session!
Upcoming Sessions (Local time)