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Issue 33-34

(Spring 2019)

contents

abstracts

contributors

abstracts

 

Anastasia Siopsi: Stage action in Richard Wagner’s work in relation to his late theories

 

It is the purpose of this essay to explore a significant dimension of the relation between time and space in Wagner’s music dramas, which can be expressed as Wagner’s intention of a gradual transformation of space into time, aiming at their ideal identification and, finally, their obliteration. It is because of this dimension of thought that visual forms can be perceived as essentially related to music; such an idea is based on the term musicality, mainly analyzed in Wagner’s 1870 essay entitled Beethoven. A significant example is Der Ring’s ending: in this scene, stage action is presented at two levels, the one suggesting an existing society (so, there are historical references implied by the dramatically presented society of the Gibichungen, and, also, by Nuremberg in Wagner’s Die Meistersinger), the other counteracting by music in order to develop ideas and emotions which, finally, prevail (Valhalla’s destruction at the end of the Tetralogy, but also the archetypal / metaphysical union of the two lovers after their death in Tristan und Isolde). The idea expressed in this way is that of the gradual abandonment of phenomenal reality, or else, the gradual obliteration of space and time. All ideas that Wagner expressed during the last years of his life focus on this notion; in support of them, he preferred Bach than Beethoven because, as he believed, Bach’s music broke free from phenomenal reality, whereas Beethoven’s music never lost its dramatic character.

 

 

Iakovos Steinhauer: The concept of mimesis in T. W. Adorno

 

The focus of this article is the Adornian mimesis as a concept that redefines the traditional meaning of mimesis, acting now as a dialectical counterpart of rationality with an important critical function of the rational world. I attempt to pursue the implication of these ideas for a topic that has remained unexplored, namely the aesthetic dimension of the Adornian utopia of “musique informelle.

 

 

Alexandros Baltzis: Critical theory in the new conditions of cultural production

 

This article presents a brief account of the new conditions where the production, circulation, and consumption of cultural goods take place. New opportunities for creators, intermediaries, and the public emerged, as significant changes in the ways of producing culture have been brought about by several factors. These include the development of digital technologies and the internet; the new international division of labor in the realm of cultural industries of a globalized economy; the proliferation of networking and “inter-networking” of both the authors and the public. At the same time, these interdependent developments outline a context quite different from the one experienced and analyzed by Adorno in his critique of culture industry. This article focuses on these changes as it aims to raise several questions regarding Adorno’s critique in an attempt to explore and highlight what remains crucial and important from his point of view. In addition, it clarifies some of the widespread misrepresentations of his views that make his approach too superficial.

 

 

Irmgard Lerch-Kalavrytinos: Humour, irony and satire in medieval music

 

In this paper several aspects of humour and wit in medieval vocal music are presented, especially in polyphonic music of the 13th and 14th centuries. In the poetic texts, the element of humour is often present. In this respect, the motets of the second half of the 13th century are of special interest because the words of the tenor often comment in an ironic or humorous way on the texts of the upper voices – a topic up to now unexplored – whereas a musical manifestation of any humour present in the texts is extremely rare. In the 14th century, the “realistic” setting of texts, which describe scenes of hunting, fire, fishing, walking in the market place etc., can often be regarded as humorous and occurs mainly in caccie, chaces and the so-called “realistic” virelais. In several cases, a more subtle musical humour can be traced, where aspects of the meaning of the texts are symbolically represented through the musical means of form, for instance in Philippe de Vitry’s motet Cum statua / Hugo / Magister invidie, or of harmony, rhythm, and tessitura, as in the songs of the “Fumeux” towards the end of the 14th century, or of the way the music is notated, as in one of the two manuscript versions of Johannes Ciconia’s virelai Sus une fontayne.

 

 

George Fitsioris: 14th century: Ars Nova, the birth of a new art

 

Apart from the impressive novelties in musical notation, the 14th century is characterized by the appearance and establishment of the first powerful two-part cadential patterns, which will also remain dominant throughout the Renaissance. Insofar as chromatic alterations are required for the formation of exemplary cadential structures, this paper deals with the perennial thorny issue of musica ficta and stresses that, as Elizabeth Eva Leach maintains, as early as the 14th century the semitone became a fundamental contrapuntal resource. Finally, it points out the considerable differences in the “ending habits” of French and Italian composers of the period, arguing that the cadences of the French sound more intense, more decisive, and more “dramatic” than those of their Italian contemporaries.

 

 

Katy Romanou: Guillaume Du Fay’s “Byzantine motets”

 

This article is part of a research about the relations of the Greeks with the West and its music in the 15th and 16th centuries, and focuses on three motets written by the French-Flemish composer Guillaume Du Fay. The motets Vasilissa ergo gaude (1420) and Apostolo glorioso (1424) were written when the composer was at the service of the Italian aristocratic Malatesta family, members of which had a close relationship with the Peloponnese, at a time when the declining empire had created a new center in the area. The third motet, O tres piteulx, also known as Lamentatio sanctae matris ecclesiae Constantinopolitanae (1454 or 1455), is a lament for the Fall of Constantinople, in which Du Fay expresses his deep grief and his distress for the indifference shown by European rulers (and his own patrons) to the event. The article closes with an exposition of some remarkable coincidences regarding Du Fay’s lament with the one composed for the Fall by Manuel Doukas Chrysafis, one of the last Byzantine musicians. Furthermore, in the introduction of the article, an attempt is made to understand the reasons for the delays in the research of the relations between the Greeks and Western music.

 

 

Ioannis Fulias: Anton Reicha and the first systematisation of music forms in the 19th century

 

The present study focuses on two major theoretical treatises of Anton Reicha (Traité de mélodie, 1814; Traité de haute composition musicale, 1824-1826), and especially on those parts where a systematic classification of the diverse music forms is developed for the first time in the history of music theory. Main features of the earlier attempt of 1814 are the distinction of music forms into pairs, on the basis of both their extent (“small” and “large” forms) and their binary or ternary subdivision, as well as their immediate reference and application to the – mostly vocal – music repertoire of the late 18th century. In this way, the constitution of music forms by Reicha is here critically examined, revealing some inherent weaknesses but also the highly sophisticated nature of the central dualism between the “large binary form” and the “large ternary form”. On the other hand, the music forms that Reicha presents at the end of the second volume of his later treatise (1826) are primarily intended to serve the broader compositional process of “exposition” and “development” of thematic ideas. Their ideal scope is now the instrumental music, however not that of the past or even the present, but first and foremost that of the future, as it is revealed not only by Reicha’s few references to works from the repertoire (which, in addition, are almost exclusively limited to his own compositions), but also by the serious divergences noted between the proposed theoretical constructions (for the “large binary form” that is now equated in essence to the sonata form, for the “large ternary form” that is henceforth detached from all the other “rondeau and rondo forms”, for the “form of fantasy”, the “variation forms”, and also the “minuet forms”) and the compositional practice of the early 19th century.

 

 

Nikolaos Maliaras: Theophrastos Sakellaridis, Perouzé. The revival of an opera

 

Theophrastos Sakellaridis is the most prominent representative of the Greek light musical theatre; yet, he also composed some serious operas, the most important of which is Perouzé, a purely dramatic opera, written in 1910-1911 and first performed by Dionysios Lavrangas’ Hellenic Melodrama opera company. Since then, and until 1950, Perouzé had been tremendously successful within and outside Greece. However, after the death of its composer, the opera was almost forgotten. The present text refers to the history of the work and, mainly, to its stage performance at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus in Athens, in the context of the Greek Festival, in June 2018, by the Athens Philharmonia Orchestra and a crew of distinguished artists. Perouzé is not free from the conventions and the commonplaces of the late 19th century opera, with major influences from the verismo style and its contemporary French opera, while the linking of the text to its musical representation is very tight. The plot reflects archetypal issues, such as the incompatible, for most societies, love between people of different social and cultural background; therefore, it takes on diachronic dimensions and refers to situations that can occur in any place and any time. From a musical point of view, the work is full of magnificent melodic ideas, while the orchestration and, generally, the organisation of its musical material reveal a very gifted composer who could have produced a series of high quality serious operas and, thus, could redefine the course of opera in the 20th-century Greece, if, most likely for livelihood reasons but also because of the specific historical conditions in the second decade of the 20th century, he had not abandoned his career prematurely.

 

 

Theodore Karathodoros: Exploring the structural qualities of Legetos in Dimitri Terzakis’ Legetos for two violins

 

Dimitri Terzakis’ Legetos for two violins constitutes a special case in the composer’s creative work, as his influences, compositional starting points, and intentions, regarding the use of technical elements stemming from the Greek tradition, are disclosed ab initio by its title. Indeed, the challenging title of the piece refers to Legetos, a specific sound environment and a branch of the Fourth mode of Byzantine music, which creates powerful motives for exploring the utilisable structural qualities and features inherent in the traditional material. This article launches a debate between the work and the theory and praxis (performance) of Byzantine music in order to reveal some correspondences between them, as well as the transformation of elements of the Byzantine music culture through the contemporary compositional thinking. At the same time, a description and highlighting of the micro-interval functionality is attempted, which does not aim at enlarging the melodic scale steps, or their subsets, but serves the concept of tensioning forces, as they appear in the texture of Byzantine chant, as well as in the music of the eastern Mediterranean in general.

 

 

Sofia Kontossi: Genuinely Greek, inherently orientalist or a longing cosmopolitan? Exploring Emilios Riadis’ identities through the song cycle for voice and piano Neuf petites mélodies roumies

 

In Neuf petites mélodies roumies (terminus ante quem 1925), geographically remote areas of the South-Eastern Mediterranean – as parts of the broader Hellenic World – and diverse female figures – as representatives of various ethnic groups – converge into Riadis’ nostalgia for the lost atmosphere of his city of childhood: the oriental, multi-ethnic, cosmopolitan, and still under Ottoman sovereignty at the turn of the XXth century Thessaloniki, connected through the multifarious facets of the omnipresent woman’s love. A characteristic specimen of the composer’s last creative period, this work attests Riadis’ mature style: an authentic blend of oriental voluptuousness and careful elaboration following the Western music tradition, where inspiration from Greek folk music and impressionistic strokesmerge into an artful plot and balance. Concluding, I would say that Nine little romeic songs cycle expresses Riadis’ desire to reconstruct in the Eastern Mediterranean a piece of the Orient not as an idealised space of evasion – following the exoticism trends of his time – but as part of his rich inheritance of being a dreamy and cosmopolitan Romios.

 

 

Antonis I. Konstantinidis: “Some privileged ratio by itself, some privileged perception, and some a combination of the two. The depiction of music intervals as a timeless search in the theory of Greek music

 

Considering the reform of Chrysanthos (or that of the Three Masters) as a starting point, the theory of intervals in Byzantine Music is presumed on a new basis closely linked to the ultimate past of ancient Greek music theory.Ôhe terms and definitions of the new theory are sought in this theoretical background, from where extensive loans in music terms are being derived. This is a fertile influence that positively affects new theoretical thought and can be explained both in ideological terms and the self-evident, imperative need to fortify the melodic basis of music by a logically inductive theory. It is at this point that the art of music meets the numbers and through them the prestige and the logic of a systematic theory that must now be based on axioms, theorems, propositions, and proofs. During the research of music theory sources, we also note a diachronic search for an idealistic equilibrium between mathematical designation and musical performance, namely through the imaging with numbers and the musical interpretation itself. This path is proving to be a long one with multiple challenges, revisions, but also various versions and extensions that in itself constitutes a continuous and unremitting challenge. From this point of view, the original question of Ptolemais from Cyrene and the response that she proposes, i.e. the clear separation of the science of harmony between the mathematical-Pythagorean and the musical-Aristoxenian ones, as well as that of the theory of music in two schools of thought, “[that] of mathematics and [that] of hearing”, is reassigned by Chrysanthos in the new psaltic theory and, as is observed, especially in the third part of the response, regarding the concomitant theoretical dimension of music and mainly through his effort to depict the music intervals.

 

 

 
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