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Studio E • Thursday afternoon, 2:00–5:00

Russian Music

Inessa Bazayev (Louisiana State University), Chair

Kirill Zikanov (Yale University)

Glinka's Three Models of Instrumental Music

Matthew Bell (University of Missouri, Kansas City)

Danses Fantastiques: Metrical Dissonance in the Ballet Music of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Joel Mott (University of Texas at Austin)

Linearity and Compensatory Coherence in Prokofiev's War Symphonies

Scott C. Schumann (Central Michigan University)

Tropological Interactions and Expressive Interpretation in Stravinsky's Neoclassical Works

Abstracts

Glinka's Three Models of Instrumental Music

Kirill Zikanov (Yale University)

Glinka’s significance as a composer of instrumental music is typically ascribed to the ostinato-variation technique that he employed in Kamarinskaia (1848), where a short melody is repeated while the texture around it is varied. This technique was subsequently taken up by multiple generations of Russian composers, and has commonly been viewed as the antithesis to Germanic ideals of motivic development. Yet Kamarinskaia is not the only instrumental composition in which Glinka employed this technique; rather it also appears in his two Spanish fantasias, Jota Aragonesa (1845) and Souvenir d’une nuit d’été à Madrid (1851). Indeed, it was the Spanish fantasias that most strongly captured the attention of Russian composers and critics in the late nineteenth century. Not only did many Russian musicians privilege the Spanish fantasias over Kamarinskaia, but they also went to great lengths to interpret all three compositions as paragons of musical organicism, relying on decidedly Germanic conceptualizations of what such organicism entails.

In my talk, I investigate the organicist discourse surrounding Glinka’s three fantasias in the 1850s, focusing on the writings of Alexander Serov, Vladimir Stasov and Felix Draeseke. In particular, I demonstrate that these critics interpreted the fantasias through Adolf Bernhard Marx’s conception of musical organicism, which emphasizes an epigenetic relationship between the motivic material and its temporal development. Moreover, they noted that notwithstanding the three fantasias’ shared variational tendencies, each composition represents a distinct approach to musical form. These observations in turn serve as a foundation for my own analytical exploration of Glinka’s formal techniques.

Danses Fantastiques: Metrical Dissonance in the Ballet Music of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Matthew Bell (University of Missouri, Kansas City)

Tchaikovsky’s virtuosic play with what Harald Krebs (1999) calls metrical dissonance is especially pronounced in his music for Sleeping Beauty op. 66 and Nutcracker op. 71, both billed as ballets-féeries. Following the metaphorical language employed by Frank Samarotto (2000), Robert Hatten (2002), and Steve Larson (2012) in their responses to Krebs’s work, this paper uses the choreo-musical analysis of Tchaikovsky’s music and Marius Petipa’s late-nineteenth-century dances to explore how our experience of metrical dissonance meaningfully interacts with our perception of physical movement. This perspective brings to the fore an aspect of rhythm that is often implicit in analyses of metrical dissonance but rarely explicitly addressed: the orientation of interpretive layers (what Larson 2012 calls “flow”).

I demonstrate that Tchaikovsky’s manipulation of metrical dissonance serves to 1) develop the “characteristic” rhythmic gestures and latent dissonances (Mirka 2009) of established dance types, 2) designate the stylistic registers of theatrical dancing (serieux, demi-caractère, and comique), and 3) connect individual dances together in overarching metrical processes (intensification, diminution/augmentation, tightening/loosening, and submerging/surfacing). Excerpts to be examined include pantomimed scènes from both works, Nutcracker’s Act I valse des flocons de neige and Act II pas de deux (solo variations), and Sleeping Beauty’s six fairy variations (from the Prologue pas de six). In each case, our perception of rhythmic orientation in relation to metrical dissonance helps us to more vividly account for the structural, expressive, and embodied ramifications of this musical phenomenon.

Linearity and Compensatory Coherence in Prokofiev's War Symphonies

Joel Mott (University of Texas at Austin)

One exciting aspect of Prokofiev’s music is its ability to quickly navigate through various places along a broad harmonic spectrum between common-practice tonal norms and atonality, often within the same piece. Deborah Rifkin’s work on Prokofiev’s motivic parallelisms can already account for various degrees of tonal harmonic function. I build on Rifkin’s ideas by examining the role of audible, stepwise melodic lines in Prokofiev’s Fifth and Sixth Symphonies and proposing five categories of such lines based on their harmonic contexts.

My work with linearity borrows from Daniel Harrison’s “Hindemith-lines” (or H-lines), which are surface-level phenomena. H-lines may begin and end on the same triad or they may move between keys. They may allow for some embellishment between members, but they must ultimately move in only one direction.

I propose five categories of H-lines based on the relative harmonic stability of their beginning and endpoints. Two categories involve lines with an accompanying harmonic syntax that closely resembles the common-practice era, one shows little tonal coherence at all, and the remaining two transition between areas of tonal stability and instability.

I provide five examples that show how all H-lines provide a melodic coherence whose significance varies based on their overall stability as quasi-tonal phenomena. In moving from the most to least stable line-types, I also identify emerging patterns that point to Prokofiev’s lines becoming more obvious as audible, salient phenomena. These tendencies suggest that H-lines may function as a compensatory device for coherence as the role of tonality wanes.

Tropological Interactions and Expressive Interpretation in Stravinsky's Neoclassical Works

Scott C. Schumann (Central Michigan University)

Igor Stravinsky’s neoclassical works have frequently been discussed for their relation to earlier musical styles, though few scholars have used topic theory to explore the composer’s link with music of the past. While topic theory is most commonly used as an analytical approach for music of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, scholars like Kofi Agawu (2009) have begun to turn their attention to topics in twentieth-century music. One of the more striking ways in which Stravinsky uses topics throughout his neoclassical works is in combination with other topics. Robert S. Hatten (2014) has defined this process as “troping,” which involves four axes or “dimensions along which an imported topic and its potential tropological interaction may be marked with respect to its new environment,” defined as degrees of compatibility, dominance, creativity, and productivity.”

In this paper, I expand upon these four axes to examine some of the ways in which they interact on both local and global levels. I then build on these discussions through analyses and expressive interpretations of Stravinsky’s Sérénade en la, Mvt. I (1925) and Apollon musagète (1928). In both of these works, one topic is used most prominently throughout (hymn and French overture, respectively), while additional topics are troped with that characteristic figure in order to create a variety of expressive combinations. I will thus demonstrate how combining analytical insights from each axis and adapting them for a twentieth-century musical context can lead to more nuanced expressive interpretations in Stravinsky’s neoclassical works.