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Paper Session
Nov 21, 2021 03:00 PM - 03:50 PM(America/Chicago)
20211121T1500 20211121T1550 America/Chicago Mediation and Craft in the 20th Century AMS 2021 ams@amsmusicology.org
Affective Voices in the Wilderness of Mirrors: Utilizing Tableau to Examine Gender in the Office of Strategic Services Clandestine Recordings
Individual Paper 03:00 PM - 03:50 PM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/21 21:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/21 21:50:00 UTC

On December 12th of 1941, as the United States prepared for entry into the Second World War, Kurt Weill, the Jewish-German émigré composer, wrote to the playwright and future director of the Office of War Information, Robert Sherwood, about the possibility of employing the talents of German and Austrian émigré artists in a series of "cultural attacks"-administered through the radio-against Germany. United States psychological operations would indeed take this form of transnational aggression against the Germans in the years following Weill's impassioned plea as the Office of Strategic Services employed numerous German and Austrian artists for clandestine recordings. One of the shrouded operations, The Musac Project, initiated in 1944 by the Office of Strategic Services, had the sole purpose of crafting and broadcasting manipulated popular standards with weaponized intent via the allied clandestine station, _Soldatensender Calais_, to German soldiers and citizens. Utilizing Weill's compositions and arrangements-and the familiar voices of Lotte Lenya, Marlene Dietrich, and other exiled artists-the OSS's Musac Project delivered strategic messages and arrangements to targeted listeners with the intent to demoralize and sow discord.

           

A black operations project of this scale has left a considerable amount of material splintered across multiple national archives and presents a series of challenges for analysis. This paper utilizes the data analysis program, Tableau, and the synthesis of over 1000 declassified documents into an archival dataset for the Musac Project to elucidate how the Office of Strategic Services and émigré-artists utilized gendered performance and nostalgia as psychological weapon during World War II. Weill's envisioning and advocacy of a psychological warfare-which mobilized the talents of German-Jewish émigrés in a "cultural attack" against the German people-provided the OSS, and ultimately the CIA, with a template for future propaganda (Musac Project debriefing reports were incorporated into CIA planning). An analysis of recently declassified documents from the National Archive, CIA, and National Army Heritage Archive reveals trends in how the OSS paired and utilized gender, voice types, musical selections, and propaganda content during the Second World War, while inviting a reconsideration of Weill's role in the Allied war effort. 

Presenters
DS
Danielle Stein
UCLA
Benjamin Britten’s Assistants and the Crafting of his Legacy: Imogen Holst, Rosamund Strode, and Colin Matthews
Individual Paper 03:00 PM - 03:50 PM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/21 21:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/21 21:50:00 UTC

The role of musical assistants, or amanuenses, in British music since 1900 has yet to be considered. There are many reasons for this: the relative lack of information on these 'minor' figures, the perception that they are uninteresting (especially compared to their employers), and a general tendency to treat them as ciphers for the composer. However, such presumptions are challenged when the focus shifts from 'composer as genius' narratives to a more nuanced treatment of the culture in which musicians worked. Such an approach, when applied to those who worked with Benjamin Britten, especially Imogen Holst, Rosamund Strode, and Colin Matthews, uncovers a rich tapestry of interconnections underscoring the collaborative nature of Britten's achievements while also revealing the role these figures played in shaping the composer's legacy and reception after his death.


            Imogen Holst was hired as Britten's assistant in 1951. A student of hers, Rosamund Strode came to Aldeburgh as Holst's assistant shortly thereafter and would eventually become Britten's secretary and later the first keeper of manuscripts at the Britten-Pears Library. Colin Matthews was trained to work with Britten by both women and also served as Holst's assistant on projects related to her father Gustav. The interwoven lives of this trio, all in some part dedicated to Britten's career and legacy, demonstrates the professionalization of the assistant role from one of close personal friendship with the composer, in the case of Holst, to something more formal when considering Strode and Matthews. As Britten became increasingly infirm in the 1970s, Strode especially became involved in shaping the composer's reception and legacy. Understanding the relationship between these individuals alongside their contributions to the culture which surrounded Britten and his music at Aldeburgh illustrates how the tradition of musical assistantship laid down by Imogen Holst came to help shape the rules of access for archival materials and the very scholarship about Britten and his music in the decade following his death in 1976.


Presenters
CS
Christopher Scheer
Utah State University
Proximity and Distance in Steve Reich's WTC 9/11
Individual Paper 03:00 PM - 03:50 PM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/21 21:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/21 21:50:00 UTC

Like his 1988 work Different Trains, Steve Reich's WTC 9/11 (2011) approaches a traumatic event by using documentary recordings and interviews set to minimalist string quartet music. And like Different Trains, critics have praised its ability to "bear witness" to that trauma, citing visceral reactions that "completely eliminat[e] any distinction between" the work and its subject. Reich, however, asserts his distance, insisting he does not aim to "elicit emotion." Amy Wlodarski has effectively critiqued Different Trains's purported objectivity; this essay similarly examines WTC 9/11 by illuminating the tension between proximity and distance as means of managing trauma in commemorative art. Drawing on press coverage and Reich's archival materials, I explore this tension in three ways. First, the text promises first-hand proximity to the events, drawn from source recordings of first responders and interviews Reich conducted. Reich's musical setting, though, alternates between immediacy that evokes traumatic affect and distant reflection that gestures toward (but ultimately denies) closure. Second, I consider Reich's personal experiences of 9/11. While Reich was not in Manhattan on 9/11, his friend, composer David Lang, was. Reich relied on Lang not only for personal accounts through interviews, but enlisted him to re-record others' accounts with Reich's coaching, and sketched musical ideas borrowed from Lang. This reliance demonstrates a need for a more proximate surrogate while allowing Reich personal distance. Third, Reich's initial album cover, a graphic photograph of the second plane about to strike the tower, sparked controversy and was replaced by a detail of the original that suggests clouds rather than smoke. The two images invoke levels of proximity and distance-to the towers, to the emotions, and to the literal photograph-that resonate with Reich's other aesthetic choices. Ultimately, I consider more broadly the various forms of proximity and distance that witness and memory take within the piece. I situate this tension between proximity and distance within broader debates over 9/11, where arguments about critical distance, emotion, and personal investment have been deployed at Ground Zero to shape public memory.

Presenters
DB
Dan Blim
Denison University
Denison University
Utah State University
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