Kaija Saariaho: Visions, Narratives, Dialogues
Kaija Saariaho is internationally recognized as a leading figure in contemporary music, enjoying a well-deserved reputation for works that are both creatively original and of considerable appeal. Her music communicates with a refreshingly broad audience, and this special achievement deserves careful consideration. In the first symposium book in English to be dedicated exclusively to this single figure, scholars from both the UK and Saariaho's native Finland bring a range of perspectives to her richly varied output. Uncovering the compositional, historical, cultural and sociological issues that have resulted in such critical acclaim lies at the heart of this collection of essays. Saariaho's approach to composition is an interdisciplinary one; it embraces a number of art forms - visual, literary and musical - in works that explore a creative dialogue between image, continuity and time. While such diversity is readily accommodated in a multi-authored collection, the consistency of an underlying compositional identity and integrity is also an important trait.
The grouping of these essays into three strands - 'visions', 'narratives' and 'dialogues' - reflects the wide range of Saariaho's creative preoccupations while subscribing to a carefully structured succession of commentaries.
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Voice of the Living Light
Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) would have been an extraordinary person in any age. But for a woman of the twelfth century her achievements were so exceptional that posterity has found it hard to take her measure. Barbara Newman, a premier Hildegard authority, brings major scholars together to present an accurate portrait of the Benedictine nun and her many contributions to twelfth-century religious, cultural, and intellectual life. Written by specialists in fields ranging from medieval theology to medicine to music, these essays offer an understanding of how one woman could transform so many of the traditions of the world in which she lived. Hildegard of Bingen was the only woman of her age accepted as an authoritative voice on Christian doctrine as well as the first woman permitted by the pope to write theological books. She was the author of the first known morality play; an artist of unusual talents; the most prolific chant composer of her era; and the first woman to write extensively on natural science and medicine, including sexuality as seen from a female perspective.
She was the only woman of her time to preach openly to mixed audiences of clergy and laity, and the first saint whose biography includes a first-person memoir. Adding to the significance of this volume is the fact that Hildegard's oeuvre reflects the entire sweep of twelfth-century culture and society. Scholars and lay readers alike will find this collection a rich introduction to a remarkable figure and to her tumultuous world. With the commemoration of the 900th anniversary of Hildegard's birth in September 1998, the publication of Voice of the Living Light is especially welcome.
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Francesca Caccini at the Medici Court
A contemporary of Shakespeare and Monteverdi, and a colleague of Galileo and Artemisia Gentileschi at the Medici court, Francesca Caccini was a dominant musical figure there for thirty years. Dazzling listeners with the transformative power of her performances and the sparkling wit of the music she composed for more than a dozen court theatricals, Caccini is best remembered today as the first woman to have composed opera. Francesca Caccini at the Medici Court reveals for the first time how this multitalented composer established a fully professional musical career at a time when virtually no other women were able to achieve comparable success. Suzanne Cusick argues that Caccini's career depended on the usefulness of her talents to the political agenda of Grand Duchess Christine de Lorraine, Tuscany's de facto regent from 1606 to 1636. Drawing on Classical and feminist theory, Cusick shows how the music Caccini made for the Medici court sustained the culture that enabled Christine's power, thereby also supporting the sexual and political aims of its women.
In bringing Caccini's surprising story so vividly to life, Cusick ultimately illuminates how music making functioned in early modern Italy as a significant medium for the circulation of power.
Amy Beach, Passionate Victorian
Amy Marcy Cheney Beach (1867-1944), the most widely performed composer of her generation, was the first American woman to succeed as a creator of large-scale art music. Her "Gaelic" Symphony, given its premiere by the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1896, was the first work of its kind by an American woman to be performed by an American orchestra. Almost all of her more than 300 works were published soon after they were composed and performed, and today her music is finding new advocates and audiences for its energy, intensity, and sheer beauty. Yet, until now, no full-length critical biography of Beach's life or comprehensive critical overview of her music existed. This biography admirably fills that gap, fully examining the connections between Beach's life and work in light of social currents and dominant ideologies. Born into a musical family in Victorian times, Amy Beach started composing as a child of four and was equally gifted as a pianist. Her talent was recognized early by Boston's leading musicians, who gave her unqualified support.
Although Beach believed that the life of a professional musician was the only life for her, her parents had raised her for marriage and a career of amateur music-making. Her response to this parental (and later spousal) opposition was to find creative ways of reaching her goal without direct confrontation. Discouraged from a full-scale concert career, she instead found her metier in composition. Success as a composer of art songs came early for Beach: indeed, her songs outsold those of her contemporaries. Nevertheless, she was determined to separate her work from the genteel parlor music women were writing in her day by creating large-scale works-a Mass, a symphony, and chamber music-that challenged the accepted notion that women were incapable of creating high art. She won the respect of colleagues and the allegiance of audiences. Many who praised her work, however, considered her an exception among women. Beach's reaction to this was to join with other women composers of serious music by promoting their works along with her own.
Adrienne Fried Block has written a biography that takes full account of issues of gender and musical modernism, considering Beach in the contexts of her time and of her composer contemporaries, both male and female. Amy Beach, Passionate Victorian will be of great interest to students and scholars of American music, and to music lovers in general.
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Germaine tailleferre ; la dame des six
Oeuvre de femme, de femme modeste et discrète : faut-il voir là une cause de la curieuse disparition de Tailleferre de nos programmes ? Précisions - des programmes français. Car les étrangers semblent redécouvrir pour cette musique, jugée très française, l'émerveillement dont ont témoigné ses contemporains.
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Nadia and Lili Boulanger
Pioneers in their fields and two of the best-known women in music in the twentieth century, Nadia and Lili Boulanger have previously been considered in isolation from one another. Yet, as Caroline Potter's new book demonstrates, their careers were closely linked during Lili Boulanger's short life (1893-1918) and there are several intriguing connections between their musical works. This biography also provides the first full analysis of the Boulanger sisters' musical styles, placing them within the context of French musical history. Their lives are also a case study in the issues of gender which surround music making even to the present day. Despite an unusually privileged upbringing, Nadia and Lili Boulanger exemplify the struggle women experienced when attempting to enter the professional music world. Lili became the first woman to win the Prix de Rome in 1913, and Nadia gained second place in 1908. Yet in spite of this initial success, Nadia Boulanger was to give up composing in her thirties and devoted the remainder of her long life to teaching. Her pupils included several of the great composers of the century, including Aaron Copland and Elliott Carter.
This book, focusing on their musical careers, is essential reading for anyone interested in French music of the twentieth century.
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Russian composer Sofia Gubaidulina (1931- ) has achieved international acclaim for her unique musical oeuvre which draws on Eastern and Western musical traditions and reflects a deep-rooted belief in the mystical and religious qualities of music. Kurtz's biography of Gubaidulina is the first in any language. Based on her papers and extensive interviews with Gubaidulina, her colleagues, and family, the book places her life and the evolution of her work within the broader cultural and political context of the post-Stalin Soviet Union. For the English edition, the text has been revised and updated and a chronology of Gubaidulina's life and a complete list of her works have been added.
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Mel bonis ; femme et compositeur 1858-1937
Après soixante ans d'oubli, l'oeuvre de Mel Bonis éveille aujourd'hui l'intérêt des musiciens et du public qui redécouvrent les talents français de la lignée de César Franck et qui s'intéressent aux femmes pionnières qui ont excellé dans les disciplines traditionnellement réservées aux hommes. La biographie de Mel Bonis relate la vie d'une femme et la genèse d'une oeuvre. On assiste à la transfiguration de la douleur par la création musicale et l'on voit se construire l'oeuvre d'un grand compositeur.
The Choral Music of Twentieth-Century Women Composers
This book brings to light the choral works of three contemporary British women composers: Elisabeth Lutyens (1906-1983), Elizabeth Maconchy (1907-1994), and Thea Musgrave (1928- ). Earning solid reputations in Britain through their varying compositional styles, their music has revealed them to be substantial, prolific composers who are representative of major trends in twentieth-century British choral composition. Lutyens, often described as a musical pioneer, incorporates a highly personal and imaginative style in her use of twelve-tone technique, and her departures from the strict practice of serial writing are always highly personal and imaginative. Maconchy describes her own technique as 'impassioned argument,' using compositional tools such as contrapuntal textures in both her instrumental and choral works, resulting in a high degree of chromatic color. Musgrave encompasses many modes of expression, from her early choral works featuring tonal diatonic writing, to a free chromatic style with imprecise tonality at times.
Complete with historical perspective, musical examples, and reproductions of choral texts, this resource of important and little known contemporary choral works demonstrates the diverse approaches used by these and other contemporary composers, and contributes to the growing literature on women in music.
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