Category Archives: 20th- and 21st-century music

Isang Yun: Composer and freedom fighter

Isang Yun’s youth was dominated by his involvement with resistance movements against the Japanese occupation of Korea, which began in 1910. His political activities deeply affected his development as a musician, which was characterized by the constant conflict between his artistic interests and the political commitment that he felt was necessary. Nevertheless, at the age of 17, Yun traveled to Japan, despite his father’s warning, to embark on a college education focused on the study of Western music. After two years, he returned to Korea to continue his studies and his involvement in the Korean liberation struggle. Yun was arrested by Japanese occupation forces in 1943, and it was not until 1948 that he returned to music, this time as a music teacher at an all-girls high school in his hometown. He later began lecturing at a university in Seoul where he received several awards for his compositions.  

These awards enabled Yun to continue studying music in Europe at the Berliner Hochschule für Musik (Berlin University of Music). His frequent participation in Darmstadt’s summer courses for new music led to his acceptance by the European avant-garde, within which he remained an outsider, albeit a respected one. Yun settled in Berlin in 1964 as a Ford Foundation scholarship recipient but the political conflict in his now divided homeland was never far from his thoughts. He was especially critical of South Korea’s leadership and refused several invitations to perform there. Yun hoped for the reunification of Korea, and to make this happen, he made a daring visit communist North Korea in 1963.

The brazen visit concerned South Korean officials, who had Yun kidnapped from Berlin in 1967 in a spectacular operation by the South Korean secret service. He was charged with treason and sent to prison where he endured torture, attempted suicide, and was forced to confess to espionage. After a trial, Yun was sentenced to life imprisonment, a charge that was later revised after massive protests internationally. Subsequently, Yun left Korea in 1969 and returned to Berlin and later became a German citizen. From 1970 onward, he worked as a professor and taught composition while lecturing on various occasions throughout Europe and North America. In 1972, Yun composed the piece Sim Tjong based on a popular Korean fairytale specially for the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. When asked in a 1987 interview whether he was consciously trying to combine Asian and Western elements in his music, Yun replied,

“No, that would be too artificial.  The inner truth is, in actuality, a music of the cosmos. Realistically seen, I’ve had two experiences, and I know the practice of both Asian music and European. I am equally at home in both fields. I’m a man living today, and within me is the Asia of the past combined with the Europe of today. My purpose is not an artificial connection, but I’m naturally convinced of the unity of these two elements. For that reason, it’s impossible to categorize my music as either European or Asian.”

Celebrate Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month by reading the entry on Isang Yun (also spelled Yoon) in MGG Online. Listen to Yun’s composition Muak dance fantasy below.

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Filed under 20th- and 21st-century music, Asia, Musicologists, Politics

Kaija Saariaho’s sound worlds

From 1972 to 1974, the Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho studied at the University of Industrial Art and Design in Helsinki. Although she had played violin since childhood, she initially did not pursue her interests in music and composition because she saw no professional prospects in music as a woman. By 1976, however, Saariaho had enrolled at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki where she studied with Paavo Heininen until 1981. After completing a degree in composition, she continued her studies at the Hochschule für Musik Freiburg (Freiburg University of Music), where she studied with Brian Ferneyhough and Klaus Huber before moving to Paris in 1982.

Saariahobegan her career with short compositions using serial techniques. Generally, her music was considered rather avant-garde for Finland in the 1980s, a period when she was began composing with computers and other digital technology. After moving to Paris, Saariaho further developed her techniques for computer-assisted composition in the music studios of IRCAM (Institut de recherche musicale et coordination acoustic et musique) and GRM (Groupe de recherches musicales). Throughout the 1980s, her compositions (particularly her electroacoustic compositions) increasingly gained international recognition, and some were performed in Europe, Japan, and the United States.

Besides her training in serial composition techniques, Saariaho’s musical thinking was deeply influenced by the performing arts and above all, by the color theory of Goethe and Wassily Kandinsky. They inspired her to experiment with the transition between vowels and consonants and to generate transition processes between sound and the human voice. In a 2014 interview, she discussed her use of the human voice as an instrument and a vehicle for text, including poetry and literature. According to Saariaho,

“I have such an affinity for the human voice–and a personal predilection for texts! In a sense, it’s the richest form of expression because the instrument is inside a human being and there are many things that cannot be falsified when using your voice. Whether or not a work for voice originates from a text, it’s necessarily a different mode of communication than instrumental music. Of course, using a text adds another layer of richness and meaning. I really love using voice, but it was difficult for me to write for it at first, probably because the historical context was difficult. I’ve always loved Berio, for instance, and what he did with voice, but I don’t like music that imitates Berio–and at some point, it felt as though you could only write for voice in that way, you had to write that way. So, it took time for me to find a certain freedom and my own way of writing for voice–and to accept it.”

Read the full entry on Kaija Saariaho in MGG Online.

Below is Saariaho’s Verblendungen (1984), a piece commissioned by the Finnish Broadcasting Company that sees her experimenting with electroacoustic music by manipulating pre-recorded sounds on a tape to create eerie textures.

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Filed under 20th- and 21st-century music, Performers, Voice

Le Corbusier, architecture, and sound

The Swiss-French architect and designer Le Corbusier’s (Charles-Édouard Jeanneret) work on the Chapel of Notre-Dame-du-Haut in Ronchamp, France (pictured below) has been touted as iconic of the international style. Built between 1950 and 1955, the chapel has a tower reminiscent of a grain silo, a sweeping roof that resembles a floppy hat and curved walls with rectangular apertures of various shapes and sizes. These characteristics all reflect Le Corbusier’s taste for articulated light and reinforced concrete, as well as his distinct penchant for sparse and ascetic design. Due to one wall of the chapel being set several feet inside the edge of the roof, it is possible to be both under the roof and open to the elements. Le Corbusier used the east wall of the chapel as a cyclorama against which the public and private altars were set, incorporating a swiveling statue of the Virgin Mary to accommodate both. The building’s architecture also reminds of Le Corbusier’s past as a Cubist painter and that he continued to produce two-dimensional visual art throughout his career.

Le Corbusier also is well-known for his work on Edgard Varése’s Poéme électronique for the Philips Pavilion at the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair. The work was performed in an elaborate installation of sound routes which circled the performance space in a building designed by Iannis Xenakis. Le Corbusier designed a spectacle of colored lights and images to accompany Varèse’s piece, which was a self-sufficient musical work, part of a larger composition of architecture, sound, light, and image. Unpublished correspondence between Varèse and Le Corbusier suggests that they originally intended to conceptually coordinate sound and image. At the very least, Le Corbusier’s script influenced the form and sound material of Varèse’s piece.

Learn more in the entry on Le Corbusier in A dictionary of the avant-gardes (2001). Find it in RILM Music Encylopedias.

Below is a performance of Varése’s Poéme électronique by the Tufts University Electronic Music Ensemble, followed by a video featuring a walk-through of Le Corbusier’s Notre-Dame-du-Haut chapel in Ronchamp.

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Filed under 20th- and 21st-century music, Architecture, Europe, Performers, Sound

Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in blue” premieres

At its premiere 100 years ago, on 12 February 1924, George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in blue was received with a standing ovation after it was performed. At the time, the conductor Paul Whitehead requested that Gershwin write a “jazz concerto” for an event to be held at the Aeolian Hall, a renowned Manhattan concert venue located in the Aeolian Building–coincidentally, this building was also RILM’s original home before the CUNY Graduate Center. Given the centennial of Rhapsody’s premiere in 2024, it is likely to be heard in many different settings and contexts.

Since the piece premiered in early 1924, however, debates have arisen about how much Gershwin knew about writing music. Because his musical language was an unconventional blend of U.S. popular music and European art music, some of his critics assumed that he knew little about writing serious music. This premise has been confirmed somewhat by statements made in early Gershwin biographies, which alleged that he was self-taught.

The inherent complexity of Rhapsody in blue and other subsequent concert works written by Gershwin, however, suggest he knew a great deal about writing music. It is also known that Gershwin received training from the versatile composer and musician Charles Hambitzer as early as 1912, where he discovered the music of Irving Berlin and J.D. Kern, and later received special theory lessons from the composer and conductor Edward Kilenyi. Rhapsody was composed in only five weeks, in spare moments while Gershwin was otherwise occupied with the premiere of a Broadway show. On that time schedule, he had no alternative other than to put what he already knew about writing music into that work.

Celebrate the centennial of the premiere of Rhapsody in blue today by reading the entry on George Gershwin in MGG Online and “Rhapsody in blue: A culmination of George Gershwin’s early musical education”, a dissertation by Susan E. Neimoyer (2003, University of Washington, Seattle); find it in RILM Abstracts.

Below is the classic scene of the Rhapsody in blue premiere in the 1945 Gershwin biopic starring Robert Alda.

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Filed under 20th- and 21st-century music, North America, Performers

Gloria Coates, maverick composer

Gloria Coates was born in 1933 in Wausau, Wisconsin and later studied composition with Alexander Tcherepnin and Otto Luening, as well as singing, musicology, acting, and painting, receiving degrees from Columbia University and Louisiana State University. Coates initially worked as a composer, singer, actress, author, and painter. In 1969, she settled in Munich and focused on composing. This period of her life yielded 17 symphonies and ten string quartets, as well as other instrumental chamber music, vocal works, and electroacoustic music. In 2014, the Los Angeles Times music critic Mark Swed referred to Coates as “our last maverick”.

Coates used microtonality, scordatura, and glissandi on string instruments, and experimented with multiphonic vocal techniques, yet without ever entirely abandoning tonality. In a 2010 interview, she described her distinct approach to composition and use of glissandi. As Coates described, “I would say that my initial work with glissandi had to do with the fact that I’m also a visual artist. I’ve never really analyzed it, but, in a way, I was building structures visually that could also exist in sound. I think that’s how it all began.”

The premiere of her first symphony Music on Open Strings at the Warsaw Autumn Festival in 1978 brought her international fame. The symphony was included in the Bayerischer Rundfunk’s 1980 Musica Viva concert series, becoming the first orchestral composition by a woman in the 35-year history of the series. Coates became involved in Munich’s musical life by directing a series on U.S. contemporary music there from 1971 to 1984. Invitations to concerts and lectures in the early 1980s took her to Moscow (1981), India (1982), and Harvard University (1984).

Coates, who shared her time between the United States and Germany, died in Munich on 19 August 2023. Read the full obituary on MGG Online.

Listen to Gloria Coates’ composition Time advances to no destiny (performed by Lavinia Mallegni) below.

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Jenő Jandó, prolific pianist and Naxos Records founder

The British newspaper The Independent once described Jenő Jandó as “the most prolific recording pianist alive”. Born in Pécs, southern Hungary in 1952, he founded the Naxos record label in 1987 and became the label’s house pianist over the next 15 years, during which he recorded more CDs than any other pianist in the world. He produced complete recordings of the piano sonatas of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert, Bach’s Wohltemperirtes Clavier and Goldberg variations, and recordings of all Bartók’s piano works and large parts of Liszt’s piano oeuvre. On one occasion, Jandó was asked once what he would inquire of Liszt if he were alive. He replied, “I wouldn’t ask Liszt a question, but would instead point to the piano and ask him to play me something! I could ask him about the tempo, for example, but what for? I’m sure he never played anything twice the same way. If he were sitting here with us, I would be watching and listening to him attentively from the corner of the room to observe how he makes tones sound, to what extent he feels aware of himself, and what sounds he would get from the piano in this small room.”

Jandó also recorded the complete piano concertos by Mozart and Bartók as well as the better-known concertos by Schumann, Brahms, Grieg, Dvořák, and Rachmaninov. He also recorded all of Mozart’s and Grieg’s violin sonatas with the violinist Takako Nishizaki. As a result of his outstanding playing technique, quick comprehension, and a straightforward, objective, and clarity-oriented approach to interpretation, Jandó was able to record one CD every month on average. He received his training at the Budapest University of Music from Bartók’s student Katalin Nemes and later Pál Kadosa. Jandó won prizes in piano competitions in Hungary, France, Italy, and Australia; he taught at the Budapest University of Music from 1975 onward and was appointed professor there in 2003.

Jenő Jandó passed away at the age of 71 in Budapest on 4 July 2023. Read his obituary in MGG Online.

Below is a video of Jandó performing Béla Bartók’s “Allegro barbaro” with the Muzsikás Hungarian folk music ensemble.

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Filed under 20th- and 21st-century music, Europe, Performers

Violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman

Itzhak Perlman contracted poliomyelitis at the age of four after he first started playing the violin, which left him disabled throughout his life. Perlman studied at the Academy in Tel Aviv with Rivka Goldgart and gave his first solo recital at the age of 10. After a tour of the United States and two live shows on U.S. television in 1958, he decided to stay in the U.S. and study at the Juilliard School of Music. He made his Carnegie Hall debut in 1963 and won the Leventritt Memorial Award the following year. In 1965 he embarked on a concert tour to Israel, in 1965-66 and 1966-67 he toured North America, and in 1967-68 he made debuts in various European cities, including London and Paris, which led to his final breakthrough as one of the greatest violinists since World War II.

Perlman also made debuts with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra in Warsaw and Budapest (1987), the Soviet Union (1991), and China and India (1994). For many years, he was associated with the Aspen Music Festival in Colorado and taught at Brooklyn College in New York. Perlman has received numerous prizes and awards for his recordings and music films, including 1996 gold medal from the London Royal Philharmonic Society and the National Medal of Arts der USA (2000). Perlman has also performed on the children’s television show Sesame Street, at Madison Square Garden with Billy Joel, and the theme to the film Schindler’s List.

Happy birthday to Itzhak Perlman who turned 78 on August 31! Read more about him in MGG Online.

Here is one of Perlman’s appearances on Sesame Street.

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Filed under 20th- and 21st-century music, Performers

E-Journal of Music Research (EJOMUR)

The E-Journal of Music Research (EJOMUR) is an open-access journal from Ghana that publishes academic articles, conference papers, dissertation and thesis chapters, and book reviews in music. EJOMUR was first published in August 2020 and since then, their readership has grown to include academics, musicologists, composers, historians, musicians, and those interested in music research. All research articles submitted to the journal undergo a double-blind peer-review process, and issues are subsequently published online monthly.

EJOMUR publishes original articles on a wide range of topics in historical musicology, ethnomusicology, systematic musicology, music education, and music literature.

Find this journal in RILM Abstracts. Listen to Kwesi Gyan, a 21st-century chamber orchestra piece that combines Apatampa rhythms and folk music with contemporary compositional techniques. The piece is featured in an article in the July 2023 issue of the journal.

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Filed under 20th- and 21st-century music, Africa, New periodicals

The sonic space of Ahmad Jamal

Ahmad Jamal’s laid-back, accessible style of jazz featuring dense chords, a wide dynamic range, and use of silence initially drew criticism from the jazz press early in his career. This style, however, soon became ingrained in the jazz soundscape. The critic Stanley Crouch wrote that bebop’s founding father, Charlie Parker, was the only musician “more important to the development of fresh form in jazz than Ahmad Jamal”. Miles Davis declared, “[Jamal] knocked me out with his concept of space, his lightness of touch, his understatement, and the way he [phrased] notes and chords and passages.” Jamal’s unmistakable style consisting of an economical and relaxed manner of playing encompassing pauses, distinctive rhythmic accents, a distinctive sense of melody, and a soft intonation. It befitted the intimate instrumentation of the piano trio, which formed the focus of his work. Clint Eastwood borrowed two tracks from the album At the Pershing for his 1995 romance film The Bridges of Madison County. Jamal also inspired hip hop musicians, including Nas, De La Soul, Gang Starr, and Common, all of whom sampled his 1970s work.

Jamal began playing piano when he was three years old and began piano study with Mary Cardwell Dawson at the age of seven. He competed successfully in piano competitions by the time he was eleven and performed publicly in recitals. In his early years, Jamal listened not only to jazz, which he referred to as “American classical music”, but also to Western music. “We didn’t separate the two schools,” he told The New York Times in 2001. “We studied Bach and Ellington, Mozart and Art Tatum.”  

In the early 1950s, he converted to the Islamic faith, changed his name to Ahmad Jamal, and used that name for his trio. Jamal recorded extensively, toured widely in the United States, Europe, Central, and South America, and played long residencies in nightclubs of New York and Chicago, among other cities. He also was active in television and films and played on film soundtracks, including the M*A*S*H soundtrack (1969). He also toured as a soloist, and is best-known for his album But Not for Me. He played in the avant-garde style and exerted wide influence upon trios of the 1960s and 1970s.

Ahmad Jamal passed away on 16 April 2023.

Read more about Ahmad Jamal’s life and jazz career in the Biographical dictionary of Afro-American and African musicians (1982). Find it in RILM Music Encyclopedias (RME). Also find the obituary on Jamal in MGG Online.

Below is a performance by Ahmad Jamal in 2012 also featuring Yusuf Lateef.

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Filed under 20th- and 21st-century music, Black studies, Jazz and blues, North America

Instant Classics: RILM’s Top 8 Reviewed Texts, 2020–21

Once again, the reviews are in! Another installment has arrived of RILM’s Instant Classics series, which chronicles and collects the books indexed in RILM Abstracts of Music Literature that have received the most reviews in academic literature. This most recent list collects publications covering a wide range of musical topics that were released between 2020 and 2021, listed in order from least to most reviewed.

As always, this list should be viewed as a living document that will become outdated as reviews continue to be written. Despite the inherent limitations, collecting these texts in this way generates a valuable archive of the topics, methodologies, and perspectives that earned the attention of music scholars during a brief period in time. As we zoom out, patterns may emerge that provide insight into the topical trends that have contributed to music discourse in the early decades of the 21st century.

We may also pause over which voices are being heard in music research, the interests of the publishers who are amplifying them, and the types of audiences being targeted. Although this list may inevitably serve as means of promotion, it is not meant to be viewed uncritically. We can appreciate these texts’ contributions to musical knowledge while simultaneously being aware of the powers held and challenges faced by the publishing firms and university presses that sell them.

And finally, do keep in mind that RILM can only disseminate the writings on music to which it has access. You are invited to help make RILM Abstracts be as complete as it can be by visiting our website and submitting your review! We thank you in advance and wish you a happy summer of reading!

– Written, compiled, and edited by Michael Lupo, Assistant Editor/Marketing & Media, RILM

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#8. Osborne, Richard and Dave Laing, eds. Music by numbers: The use and abuse of statistics in the music industry (Bristol: Intellect, 2021). [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2020-99384]

Abstract: Examines statistics within the music industry. Its aim is to expose the historical and contemporary use and abuse of these numbers, both nationally and internationally. It addresses their impact on consumers’ choices, upon the careers of musicians and upon the policies that governments and legislators make.

#7. Slominski, Tes. Trad nation: Gender, sexuality, and race in Irish traditional music. Music/culture (Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, 2020). [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2020-54789]

Abstract: Just how “Irish” is traditional Irish music? This book combines ethnography, oral history, and archival research to challenge the longstanding practice of using ethnic nationalism as a framework for understanding vernacular music traditions. The author argues that ethnic nationalism hinders this music’s development today in an increasingly multiethnic Ireland and in the transnational Irish traditional music scene. She discusses early 21st-century women whose musical lives were shaped by Ireland’s struggles to become a nation; follows the career of Julia Clifford, a fiddler who lived much of her life in England, and explores the experiences of women, LGBTQ+ musicians, and musicians of color in the early 21st century.

#6. Lockwood, Lewis. Beethoven’s lives: The biographical tradition (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2020). [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2020-11238]

Abstract: When Beethoven died in March 1827, the world of music felt an intense loss. The composer’s funeral procession was one of the largest Vienna had ever witnessed, and the poet Franz Grillparzer’s eulogy brought the tensions between the composer’s life and music into sharp focus: the deaf and aloof genius, the alienated and eccentric artist, unable to form a lasting relationship with a woman but reaching out to mankind. These apparent contradictions were to attract many Beethoven biographers yet to come. The story of Beethoven biography is traced, from the earliest attempts made directly after the composer’s death to the present day. It casts a wide net, tracing the story of Beethoven biography from Anton Schindler as biographer and falsifier, through the authoritative Alexander Wheelock Thayer and down to the present. The list includes Gustav Nottebohm, the first scholar to study Beethoven’s sketchbooks. With his work, biography could begin to reflect on the inner life of the artist as expressed in his music, and in this sense, sketchbooks could be seen as artistic diaries. Even Richard Wagner thought of writing a Beethoven biography, and the late 19th and early 20th century saw the emergence of French and English traditions of Beethoven biography. In the tumultuous 20th century, with world wars and fractured politics, the writing of Beethoven biography was sometimes caught up in the storm. By bringing the story down to our time, it identifies traditions of Beethoven biography that today’s scholars and writers need to be aware of. Each biography reflects not only on the individual writer’s knowledge and interests, but also his inner sense of purpose as each writer works within the intellectual framework of his time.

#5. Brennan, Matt. Kick it: A social history of the drum kit (New York: Oxford University Press, 2020). [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2020-11043]

Abstract: The drum kit has provided the pulse of popular music from before the dawn of jazz up to the present day pop charts. This provocative social history of the instrument looks closely at key innovators in the development of the drum kit: inventors and manufacturers like the Ludwig and Zildjian dynasties, jazz icons like Gene Krupa and Max Roach, rock stars from Ringo Starr to Keith Moon, and popular artists who haven’t always got their dues as drummers, such as Karen Carpenter and J Dilla. Tackling the history of race relations, global migration, and the changing tension between high and low culture, the author makes the case for the drum kit’s role as one of the most transformative musical inventions of the modern era. He shows how the drum kit and drummers helped change modern music—and society as a whole—from the bottom up.

#4. Austern, Linda Phyllis. Both from the ears & mind: Thinking about music in early modern England (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2020). [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2020-8218]

Abstract: Offers a bold new understanding of the intellectual and cultural position of music in Tudor and Stuart England. The author brings to life the kinds of educated writings and debates that surrounded musical performance, and the remarkable ways in which English people understood music to inform other endeavors, from astrology and self-care to divinity and poetics. Music was considered both art and science, and discussions of music and musical terminology provided points of contact between otherwise discrete fields of human learning. This book demonstrates how knowledge of music permitted individuals to both reveal and conceal membership in specific social, intellectual, and ideological communities. Attending to materials that go beyond music’s conventional limits, these chapters probe the role of music in commonplace books, health-maintenance and marriage manuals, rhetorical and theological treatises, and mathematical dictionaries. Ultimately, the author illustrates how music was an indispensable frame of reference that became central to the fabric of life during a time of tremendous intellectual, social, and technological change.

#3. Frühauf, Tina. Transcending dystopia: Music, mobility, and the Jewish community in Germany, 1945–1989 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2021). [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2021-1]

Abstract: Discusses the role music played in its various connections to and contexts of Jewish communal life and cultural activity in Germany from 1945 to 1989. This history of the Jewish communities’ musical practices during the postwar and Cold War eras tells the story of how the traumatic experience of the Holocaust led to transitions and transformations, and the significance of music in these processes. As such, it relies on music to draw together three areas of inquiry: the Jewish community, the postwar Germanys and their politics after the Holocaust (occupied Germany, the Federal Republic, the Democratic Republic, and divided Berlin), and the concept of cultural mobility. Indeed, the musical practices of the Jewish communities in the postwar Germanys cannot be divorced from politics, as can be observed in their relations to Israel and U.S. On the grounds of these conceptual concerns, selective communities serve as case studies to provide a kaleidoscopic panorama of musical practices in worship and in social life. Within these pillars, a wide spectrum of topics is covered, from music during commemorations, on the radio and in Jewish newspapers, to synagogue concerts and community events; from the absence and presence of cantor and organ to the resurgence of choral music. What binds these topics tightly together is the specific theoretical inquiry of mobility.

#2. Robinson, Dylan. Hungry listening: Resonant theory for Indigenous sound studies. Indigenous Americas (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2020). [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2020-4582]

Abstract: Listening is considered from both Indigenous and settler colonial perspectives. In a critical response to what has been called the “whiteness of sound studies”, how decolonial practices of listening emerge from increasing awareness of our listening positionality are evaluated. This involves identifying habits of settler colonial perception and contending with settler colonialism’s “tin ear” that renders silent the epistemic foundations of Indigenous song as history, law, and medicine. With case studies on Indigenous participation in classical music, musicals, and popular music, structures of inclusion that reinforce Western musical values are examined. Alongside this inquiry on the unmarked terms of inclusion in performing arts organizations and compositional practice, examples of “doing sovereignty” in Indigenous performance art, museum exhibitions, and gatherings that support an Indigenous listening resurgence are offered. It is shown how decolonial and resurgent forms of listening might be affirmed by writing otherwise about musical experience. Through event scores, dialogic improvisation, and forms of poetic response and refusal, a reorientation is demanded toward the act of reading as a way of listening. Indigenous relationships to the life of song are sustained in writing that finds resonance in the intersubjective experience between listener, sound, and space.

#1. Ross, Alex. Wagnerism: Art and politics in the shadow of music (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2020). [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2020-4721]

Abstract: For better or worse, Wagner is the most widely influential figure in the history of music. Around 1900, the phenomenon known as Wagnerism saturated European and U.S. culture. Such colossal creations as Der Ring des Nibelungen, Tristan und Isolde, and Parsifal were models of formal daring, mythmaking, erotic freedom, and mystical speculation. A mighty procession of artists, including Virginia Woolf, Thomas Mann, Paul Cézanne, Isadora Duncan, and Luis Buñuel, felt his impact. Anarchists, occultists, feminists, and gay-rights pioneers saw him as a kindred spirit. Then Adolf Hitler incorporated Wagner into the soundtrack of Nazi Germany, and the composer came to be defined by his ferocious antisemitism. For many, his name is now almost synonymous with artistic evil. An artist who might have rivaled Shakespeare in universal reach is undone by an ideology of hate. Still, his shadow lingers over 21st-century culture, his mythic motifs coursing through superhero films and fantasy fiction. A German translation is cited as RILM 2020-61241.

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Filed under 20th- and 21st-century music, Analysis, Classic era, Ethnomusicology, Jazz and blues, Mass media, Musicology, Opera, Opera, Politics, Popular music, Religious music, Romantic era, World music