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Paper Session
Nov 12, 2021 05:00 PM - 05:50 PM(America/Chicago)
20211112T1700 20211112T1750 America/Chicago 20th-Century Compositional Poetics AMS 2021 ams@amsmusicology.org
"Non multa, sed multum": On the Category of Webern's "Miniatures"
Individual Paper 05:00 PM - 05:50 PM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/12 23:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/12 23:50:00 UTC

The Webern "miniatures": those familiar with the early modernist composer have undoubtedly heard this term used to describe a specific subset of his atonal instrumental works. The label pervades public understanding of the composer and his music. Further, many contemporary modernist composers cite the Webern miniatures as inspiration for their own aphoristic works; they've arguably spawned a compositional movement. But what exactly is a Webernian miniature? How did the terms "miniature" or, similarly, "aphorism," become so ubiquitous, and how do they influence our understanding of Webern's works and those that follow their example?


In this paper, I reconsider and reclaim the terms "miniature" and "aphorism" as they relate to Webern's oeuvre. Through musical analysis and careful examination of primary sources, I argue that the "miniatures" represent the beginning of a trend of modernist musical aphorisms. 


Webern's biographers casually singled out four works as "miniatures"-_Vier Stücke_ op.7(1910), _Sechs Bagatellen_ op.9(1911/13), _Fünf Stücke_ op.10(1911/13), _Drei Kleine Stücke_ op.11(1914)-and the label stuck. Kolneder (1968) perfunctorily called them "instrumental miniatures," Forte (1998) described them as _the_ "aphorisms," and Moldenhauer (1979) hailed them as "the consummation of striving for the utmost concentration of substance and form." Yet none of these authors define nor substantiate their use of these terms.


In revisiting these labels, I dispel the myth that "miniature" is a durational category-these are not markedly shorter than any of Webern's other, famously brief music. I reimagine how form relates to the category, showing that none share any formal pattern, and, further, that pieces from the same work share little inter-movement material or intra-work organization, establishing that they were conceived as collections of distinct pieces. Finally, bearing in mind accounts of Webern reordering/renumbering works for publication and his hesitance to assign them separate opus numbers due to their brevity, through careful sketch study, I assert that the four "miniatures" were once grouped under a single opus number (then Opus 7, 1–4). 


By reclaiming terminology surrounding Webern's "miniatures," this paper sheds light on these groundbreaking works and provides a foundation for analysis of later works following the paradigm I call the "modernist aphoristic aesthetic."


Presenters
AN
Anna Nelson
University Of Michigan
"A Work that Constantly Comments on the Roots of its Own Becoming": Luciano Berio's _Ekphrasis (Continuo II)_
Individual Paper 05:00 PM - 05:50 PM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/12 23:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/12 23:50:00 UTC

Paul Griffiths (2010, 369) described Luciano Berio's _Ekphrasis (Continuo II)_ (1996) as a revision of his earlier work _Continuo_ (1989–91). Reworking a piece into another is characteristic of Berio's style, yet his motivations for publishing this revision are perplexing. In containing a quotation of _Continuo_ within it, _Ekphrasis_ is similar to works such as _Sinfonia's_ (1969) third movement and the _Chemins_ series; _Continuo's_ form as being "music made of notes" becomes _Ekphrasis's_ "meta-form," or "music made of other music" (Griffiths, 185). However, _Sinfonia_ weaves a complex network of references to various musical and literary works, and the _Chemins_ transform some of the solo _Sequenzas_ into orchestral works; _Ekphrasis_, in contrast, contains no other quoted material and keeps _Continuo's_ orchestral setting. Projecting _Continuo_ in its instrumental, structural, textural, and formal aspects, _Ekphrasis_ thus suggests a Borgesian Pierre-Menard-like endeavor by Berio, however one in which the author re-enacts his past self to create a new work that would exist side-by-side with the earlier work. 

In this talk, I explore Berio's motivations for composing _Ekphrasis_ through his idiosyncratic conception of translation as a creative force inherent in human understanding (Pasticci 2012). I argue that _Ekphrasis_ transmutes Berio's understanding of artistic creativity in general as characterized by multiplicity and fluctuation; an understanding influenced by George Steiner's theory of translation (1975) and shared with Umberto Eco, who expressed it in his concept of the _open work_. While scholars (including Eco 1989, 1–2) tend to associate openness with certain performative freedoms, _Ekphrasis_ emphatically encourages listeners to focus on the openness inherent in every creative act. _Ekphrasis_ therefore transforms _Continuo_ from a singular expression of an idea into one in a multiplicity: Berio could hypothetically compose more "_Ekphraseis_" [_pl._], each of which expresses a different interpretation of _Continuo's_ musical idea, which Berio (1996) likens to a structure that is "open at any one time for alternative extensions by added new wings, rooms and windows." Furthermore, in its closeness to _Continuo_, _Ekphrasis_-perhaps more than any other of his works-directs listeners' attention to the creative impetus at the core of Berio's musical practice.

Presenters
OH
Orit Hilewicz
Eastman School Of Music, University Of Rochester
Markers of Time, Diegesis, and Ritualized Action in Britten's _Canticle IV, 'The Journey of the Magi'_
Individual Paper 05:00 PM - 05:50 PM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/12 23:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/12 23:50:00 UTC

T. S. Eliot's poem, 'The Journey of the Magi' presents an interesting array of narrative intricacies: a single narrator speaks as both an individual, lyric 'I' and a corporate 'we'; the story with which the poem begins is ultimately framed as a recollection from a distant past; and the final stanza is non-linear, interlacing present-day and retrospective reflection. In his 1971 setting of the poem, Benjamin Britten turns to multiple narrators and employs various musical devices to contend with these 'problems'. These devices, which include heterophony, diegetic sounds, quotation, word painting, and gestural return, locate the narrative and narrators in time and space by constructing a soundscape for the journey and by foregrounding memory. In particular, reiterations of three distinct gestures – products of 'distillation' (Whittall 1982) – are used as clear symbols in the narrative, while combinations and variations of these serve as connective devices between sections of text. In combination and in various iterations, including shifts in register, these three gestures signal points of musical structure as well as new segments or legs of the magi's journey, function as diegetic sounds or as imitations of atmospheric conditions for the journey, and aid in distinguishing between reflection and recollection. 


This organically conceived material ensures not only musical coherence but also establishes connections between sequences of events from the flashback and the narrators' subsequent non-linear reflection. Analysis reveals that by linking narrative to reflection, Britten solves the temporal issues inherent in the poem and draws attention to the main subject of the poem – the magi's spiritual transformation and subsequent alienation from society. His use of gestural return also contributes to a sense that the magi's transformation is rediscovered and relived with each retelling of the story of the journey in a sort of continual cycle. In other words, the retelling becomes ritualized action. Ultimately, this examination of Britten's use of marked materials to manipulate the temporal disparities in this poem can shed new light upon his shaping of narrative, his framing of memory and time, and the use of ritualistic elements across his vocal repertoire.

Presenters
VS
Vicki Stroeher
Marshall University
University of Michigan
Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester
Marshall University
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