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You are here:  Home  >  Journal of Music Criticism 4 (2020)

Journal of Music Criticism 4 (2020)

Registered Tribunale di Lucca – RG n. 1323/2017 | ISSN 2532-9995 | © Centro Studi Opera Omnia Luigi Boccherini. All rights reserved.
  • Between Englishness and Modernism: The Critical Reception of Tippett’s Operas

Ivan Hewett (Royal College of Music) | ivan.hewett@rcm.ac.uk

Abstract
This article is rooted in two large areas of debate, both of particular relevance at this culturally fraught moment. One is the way the work of many twentieth-century composers reveals an interesting and complex interaction between modern (or modernist) elements, and national (or nationalist) elements. The second is the contested nature of Englishness in the decades since the Second World War. Both themes come together in a peculiarly telling and fascinating way in the operas of Michael Tippett. The status of Tippett as an essentially English composer is itself contested, with some preferring to align him with European modernist trends. His operas can be read as revivals of English archetypes such as the masque and the pastoral but are also self-consciously universalist in their projection of ‘archetypal’ figures. The tension between these aspects is to a degree obscured in the works themselves, but it comes into sharp focus in the responses of critics, which are as fascinating as the works themselves. This article focuses on the critical response to Tippett’s operas during the decades of the 1950s, 60s and 70s, mostly in the British broadsheet press but with side-glances at continental (particularly German) responses, and at special-interest (but not academic) journals. Its conclusion is that English writers were caught in the toils of an irreconcilable tension. They wanted to put forward a specifically English riposte to continental modernism, and seized on Michael Tippett’s operas as the answer to that powerful need. His ecstatic lyricism and appeal to undefinable archetypes promised a different route to the objectivity and universalism that were modernism’s defining features. This manoeuvre now seems very much of its time. It is a response to a tension within English intellectual and cultural life, as were the operas themselves.

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  • La recepción de Manuel de Falla en los Estados Unidos de América: El estreno de La vida breve en el MET

Pablo Martínez Pegalajar (Rowan University, NJ) | pablopegalajar@gmail.com

Abstract
This article compiles reviews and documents conserved at the Metropolitan Opera House Archives to analyze the critics after the premiere of Falla’s La Vida Breve in the United States of America. This event, one of the scarce representations of Spanish opera in the US, was produced at the MET in New York in May 1926. Although it did not have the same impact as other Falla’s pieces, its critics in this specific operatic context become a relevant source to demonstrate the assimilation of Falla’s music and Spanish culture in America. The interpretation of those sources and their references requires an understanding of the opera structure, its gypsy ambiance, and its stylistic influences of Italian, German and French traditions. The temporal gap until the American premiere of La Vida Breve and the evolution of the piece between its creation in 1903 and the world premiere in 1913 set certain essential conditions for the critic as well. Finally, the good reception in France and Spain, not only explains the international popularity of the opera but also establishes a comparative frame to be used together with American critics. As a result of the analysis, the text concludes significant differences between European and American criticism regarding the virtues of the piece and the weight of other operatic references. This could be due to the imperfections of the piece, to the partiality of MET critics, or to the misconceptions about Spanish culture and its reflection in the opera.

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Polish Musicians in the Concert Life of Interwar Paris: Short Press Overview and Extensive Bibliographic Guide

Renata Suchowiejko (Jagiellonian University, Kraków) | renata.suchowiejko@uj.edu.pl

Abstract
Polish musicians made Paris the preferred destination of their travels from the time of Chopin onwards, but in the interwar years it became virtually the second musical capital of Poland. Artists travelled there en masse, in search of knowledge, work and inspiration. They were drawn by the city’s cosmopolitan atmosphere and unlimited possibilities of artistic development. The activities of the Poles (composers, instrumentalists, singers) left numerous traces in the French press. They testify to the Poles’ vigorous participation in concert life, and at the same time reveal a wider social-cultural context. Press materials throw a new light on Polish musicians, their performative art and stage image. They also allow us to estimate how numerous that group was and to judge the scale of the phenomenon. They give us the basic tool for research into the reception of the Polish contribution, providing information about the audiences’ reactions, their aesthetic preferences, tastes and habits. A full search was carried out of the most important music periodicals from the years 1919-1939: Le Ménestrel, Le Courrier musical, La Revue musicale and Le Monde musical, as well as other journals and newspapers, namely: Le Figaro, Le Temps, L’IntransigeantLa Liberté, L’Écho de Paris, Le Matin, Le Petit ParisienJournal des débats, Candide, Comœdia and Excelsior. An important source of information is the periodical La Pologne: politique, économique, littéraire et artistique, published by the Association France-Pologne. This article sums up the results of the press’ materials analyses, demonstrating the active participation of Polish artists in the concert life of Paris. In addition, an extensive bibliographic guide is given in the appendix, containing a full database of information. This may be useful in comparative research, drawing attention to the Polish element in the rich multicoloured musical life of Paris in the interwar years.

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North-South, South-South, a Glance at Production, Research and Music Criticism in Latin America

Marita Fornaro Bordolli (Universidad de la República, Uruguay) | maritafornaro@gmail.com

Mónica Vermes (Universidade Federal do Espirito Santo – UFES, Brasil) | mvermes@gmail.com

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La evolución discursiva del Grupo de Renovación Musical de Cuba en las revistas Conservatorio (1943-1947) y La Música (1948): hacia la superación de neoclasicismo e hispanismo

Belén Vega Pichaco (Universidad de La Rioja) | belen.vega@unirioja.es

Abstract
Between 1943 and 1947, the journal Conservatorio (Havana) was the voice of the Grupo de Renovación Musical (GRM), led by the Spanish composer José Ardévol, chair of Composition at the Conservatory of the Cuban capital. As of January 1948, the journal ceased to be a platform of Ardévol’s and his students’ ideology to become the institutional journal of the Havana Conservatory of Music, under Raúl G. Anckermann leading. From this moment on, the journal La Música (Havana), published by the Society of Cuban Music Editions, came to life, and assumed that role. Through the analysis of both journals during this period (1943-1948), this article examines the split of the GRM and the evolution of the aesthetic and identity discourses by Ardévol and some of the GRM members towards overcoming Neoclassicism and Hispanism.

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The Internationalization of Brazilian Contemporary Music through the Festivals of Rio de Janeiro

Danilo Ávila (UNESP – Universidade Estadual Paulista ‘Júlio de Mesquita Filho’) | danilo.avila@gmail.com

Abstract
This article intends to reconstruct some international historical landmarks of the Brazilian contemporary music and to expose the accumulation of institutional efforts that conducted this music abroad, as well as to oxygenate the national scene with the exposition of present relevant aesthetics. For this purpose, it will analyse three events: the so-called «dodecaphonic embassy», led by German-Brazilian composer and professor Hans Joachim Koellreutter to the Biennale di Venezia in 1948; the I Avant-Garde Music Week organised by conductor Eleazar de Carvalho together with pianist and composer Jocy de Oliveira in 1961; and the and Guanabara festival, projected by Edino Krieger (1969-70). All three events established the innovation criteria which have been progressively introduced in Rio de Janeiro’s contemporary music scenario. The historic established by these three events helped create the conditions for the productions of the Contemporary Music Biennales, starting on 1977 and still in progress (in 2019 the 23rd edition took place), an institutional landmark reached by the agents of Rio de Janeiro’s concert life.

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Para una topología de la crítica: ¿qué se ha dicho sobre la ópera producida en Montevideo entre 2016 y 2018?

Sergio Marcelo de los Santos (Universidad de la República, Uruguay) | sermadelos@gmail.com

Abstract
This article, through the analysis of recent examples, gives an account of the imbalance between the activity on the stages of Montevideo and the opinion generated from the associated local music criticism. Research involves participant observation and discourse analysis in selected journalistic stories and in hand-held programs. Methodologically, it also implies the figure of the artist-researcher as a necessary strategy, since the author is involved in the creative processes of the shows whose criticisms are analyzed. The cut established for this study is focused on The Magic Flute (2016) and Dido and Eneas (2017) — achieved with an independent mode of production —, and The Consul (2017) and Bluebeard’s Castle (2018), that were part of the Lyrical Seasons at the Teatro Solís (one of the two official theaters where opera is produced in Uruguay, inaugurated in 1856 and installed in the national imagination as an “opera temple”). The different possibilities of managing resources (human, material and financial) are included as elements that influence the renewal and permanence of opera in Uruguay. The conditions of existence of music criticism in the country have also varied, being very limited at present; both in their quantity of media and in their style (pedagogical, advertising, opinion). It is concluded that the difficulty in departing from a platform of values forged in the consideration of an idealized past can be accrued in criticism, which reveals a misunderstanding of the circumstances related to the contemporary production conditions or contemporary realities of creation.

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