Penn State College of Arts and Architecture
Center for the Performing Arts at Penn State
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Interdisciplinary Lecture Series

ABOUT THE SERIES

Afternoon Delights

Come hear fascinating lectures by Penn State faculty and invited guest presenters.

Each lecture, free and open to the public, begins at 2:30 p.m. and is about seventy-five minutes in length.

1Lectures

The Politics of Pleasure: French Court Dancing in the Time of Louis XIV and Louis XV

Eric McKee, associate professor of music theory at Penn State

2:30 p.m. Thursday, January 10
Palmer Museum of Art’s Palmer Lipcon Auditorium

French ballroom dancing of the seventeenth century became a model emulated by all of Europe. The formal court ball followed a strict protocol and was more of a spectacle than a participatory event. This talk focuses on the political and social roles of ballroom dancing in the time of Louis XIV and beyond.  After discussing the repertoire of French court dances and the gestures and conventions of the ballroom, McKee discusses how dance both defined one’s status and rank within the nobility and how it was used as a means to distract nobility from politically threatening activities.

Eric McKee joined the Penn State faculty in 1992 and teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in music theory. He received his doctorate from The University of Michigan, where he served as editor of the music theory journal In Theory Only. In addition to numerous presentations at national conferences in the United States, McKee has presented his research in England, Ireland, Germany, Poland, and Canada. His articles have appeared in various journals, including Music Theory SpectrumMusic AnalysisIn Theory Only, and Theory and Practice. McKee’s research projects have explored the musical depictions of death and spirituality in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century music, Schenkerian approaches to tonal form, phrase rhythm in the music of Mozart, and the minuets of Bach and Mozart. His current research, for which he was awarded a fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies, focuses on the influence of the dance in Chopin's music.

Beethoven in Hollywood

Michael Broyles, professor of musicology at Florida State University, and distinguished professor of music and professor of American history emeritus at Penn State

2:30 p.m. Tuesday, February 5
Palmer Museum of Art’s Palmer Lipcon Auditorium

As the role of classical music has moved from representing a transcendent moral standard toward a seeming irrelevancy for many Americans, Beethoven remains one of the most recognizable figures in American culture. Far beyond the concert hall, his music and image appear in TV programs, commercials, magazine ads, radio, films, and other media. His presence extends to literature, plays, paintings, and sculpture. Focusing on the visual arts and popular music, this talk addresses how and why a European musician born more than 240 years ago sustains such a powerful presence in a society with increasingly varied roots.

Michael Broyles has published seven books. The most recent, Beethoven in America (2011), examines the ways that Beethoven has been viewed, interpreted, and used in American culture far beyond the concert hall. In addition, he has contributed many articles and book chapters. His recent book, Leo Ornstein: Modernist Dilemmas, Personal Choices (2007), co-authored with Denise Von Glahn, won the Irving S. Lowens Prize for outstanding book on American music from the Society for American Music. He is writing an iconographic study of the relation between music and photography in the twentieth century. He is a member of the American Musicological Society and the Society for American Music, where he was a former president. He holds a doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin.

Mozart in the Ballroom

Eric McKee, associate professor of music theory at Penn State

2:30 p.m. Tuesday, February 12
Palmer Museum of Art’s Palmer Lipcon Auditorium

This talk examines the music, choreography, and habits of ballroom dancing in Vienna during the last quarter of the eighteenth century. McKee’s repertoire is the Redoutentänze that Mozart composed for the Imperial court balls during carnival season of the last three years of his life (1788–1791). This rich and diverse group of works includes the three most important and popular social dances of the Classical period: minuets, contredanses, and Deutsche. Mozart, who was a considerably more accomplished and enthusiastic dancer than Haydn or Beethoven, well understood the practical requirements of ballroom dancers and thus knew how to make his music beautifully useful for dancing. Moreover, his dance music contains elements of social and political commentary as rendered, for example, through the oppositional categories of artful simplicity and hidden control (minuets) versus artless simplicity and unbridled exuberance (Deutsche).

Eric McKee joined the Penn State faculty in 1992 and teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in music theory. He received his doctorate from The University of Michigan, where he served as editor of the music theory journal In Theory Only. In addition to numerous presentations at national conferences in the United States, McKee has presented his research in England, Ireland, Germany, Poland, and Canada. His articles have appeared in various journals, including Music Theory SpectrumMusic AnalysisIn Theory Only, and Theory and Practice. McKee’s research projects have explored the musical depictions of death and spirituality in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century music, Schenkerian approaches to tonal form, phrase rhythm in the music of Mozart, and the minuets of Bach and Mozart. His current research, for which he was awarded a fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies, focuses on the influence of the dance in Chopin's music.

Habits of the Viennese Ballroom

Marshall Pynkoski and Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg, founders and artistic directors of Opera Atelier

2:30 p.m. Tuesday, February 19
Palmer Museum of Art’s Palmer Lipcon Auditorium

Marshall Pynkoski speaks about Baroque dramaturgy and rhetorical gesture, while Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg talks about French theatrical dancing in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and its dissemination throughout Europe. The lecture includes information on presenting historically informed productions of opera and ballet to modern audiences throughout North America, Europe, and Asia.

Pynkoski’s fascination with the music, theatre, and dance of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries began in classes at the Royal Academy of Dancing in London. Early in his professional career he danced for one year at the Moulin Rouge in Paris. In Paris he learned about Baroque opera, ballet, and drama by studying original documents. He also studied with Baroque dramaturge Dene Barnett, Baroque dance expert Wendy Hilton, and Bournonville ballet specialist Sandra Caverly. Since co-founding Toronto’s Opera Atelier, Pynkoski has won numerous awards, including the distinction of Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from the Government of France and the Toronto Arts Award. Opera Atelier’s acclaimed production of Dido and Aeneas played at the Royal Theatre of the Château de Versailles, the BBC Proms, and throughout Europe. Opera Atelier has introduced Baroque opera to Asia, where productions of Lully, Purcell, and Mozart works have been enthusiastically received throughout Japan, Singapore, and South Korea. Pynkoski has collaborated on several films, including The Sorceress, Master Peter’s Puppet Show, and Inspired By Bach. A documentary about Opera Atelier’s production of Lully’s Persée aired on national TV in Canada in 2004, and the Persée production aired on BRAVO in 2005. In March 2003, Time recognized Pynkoski as one of Canada’s “best in music.”

Dancer and choreographer Zingg, who trained at The Royal Academy of Dancing in London and in Copenhagen, has performed internationally in classical ballet, modern dance, and national/historical dance. As a young dancer in Paris, she studied Baroque dance from original source material. During that time she also danced at the Moulin Rouge. She received a Chalmers Performing Arts Training Award to continue her studies of the historic Danish style with Sandra Caverly. As the co-founding director of Toronto’s Opera Atelier, she has introduced modern audiences to the beauty of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century dance forms. In her role as choreographer and dancer, she has created a body of work unique in its historical authenticity and detail. Career highlights include choreographing and dancing in all of Opera Atelier’s productions in Toronto, New York City, Cleveland, Houston, London, Versailles and on tour in Europe and Asia. She played the lead in Rhombus Media’s production of Manuel De Falla’s Master Peter’s Puppet Show. Also for Rhombus, she choreographed the dance ensembles for The Artists of Atelier Ballet, the Dutch National Ballet, and the Scapino Ballet of Rotterdam, and starred opposite Dame Kiri Te Kanawa in The Sorceress. She has revived important historical dance works by Handel, Mozart, Lully, and Rameau in collaboration with various conductors.

Mozart and the Brain

Craig M. Wright, the Henry L. and Lucy G. Moses Professor of Music at Yale University

2:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 19
Palmer Museum of Art’s Palmer Lipcon Auditorium

The great minds of Western cultural history have often been characterized as “geniuses” because of their extraordinary capacity for creativity. But how does creativity happen? Even neuroscientists have difficulty telling us. All we can do is observe the manifestations of creativity — works of genius — and examine the personal characteristics of the creators. Mozart provides a rich opportunity for a study of creativity. Surviving from Mozart’s pen are more than 700 musical works, about 200 pages of sketches and drafts, and more than 600 letters — both by and to him. Some of Mozart’s unusual patterns of thought surface across all three forms of expression. As this talk suggests, Mozart’s mind worked in unusual ways. The composer enjoyed enormous genetic gifts for processing sounds generally and for music in particular. He also benefited from a superb musical education provided by his father. Unconsciously drawing upon this unique combination of genetics and environment, Mozart was able to think in ways that changed the standards of an art, which is the very definition of creativity, and perhaps genius, as well.

Craig M. Wright earned his bachelor of music degree at the Eastman School of Music in 1966 and his doctorate in musicology from Harvard University in 1972. For the past forty years he has taught at Yale University. His teaching includes the perennially popular introductory course Listening to Music and the humanities course Exploring the Nature of Genius. He has written numerous scholarly books and articles on composers ranging from Leoninus to Bach. Wright has also been the recipient of many awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Einstein and Kinkeldey Award of the American Musicological Society, and the Dent Medal of the International Musicological Society. In 2004, the University of Chicago awarded him the honorary degree doctor of humane letters. In 2010, he was elected as a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is working on a volume titled Mozart’s Brain: Exploring the Nature of Genius.

The Persistence of Minuets
in the Music of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert

Neal Zaslaw, the Herbert Gussman Professor of Music at Cornell University

2:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 26
Palmer Museum of Art’s Palmer Lipcon Auditorium

At a time when the minuet was already more than a century old, it maintained a vigorous presence in musical pedagogy, composition, and performance, as well as in dance, literature, the visual arts, and certain socio-political arenas. This talk explores the nature of these peculiar survivals and investigates possible explanations for their persistence. 

Neal Zaslaw is author of more than seventy articles on eighteenth-century music, historical performance practice, and the early history of the orchestra. His books include Mozart’s Symphonies: Context, Performance Practice, Reception (1989); The Classical Era from the 1740s to the End of the Eighteenth Century (1989); W. A. Mozart: Portfolio of a Genius (1991); and Mozart’s Piano Concertos: Text, Context, Interpretation (1996). His new edition of the Köchelverzeichnis is scheduled to be published in 2013–2014 as a book in German and online in English. He has served as vice-president of the American Musicological Society and has received research grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Mellon Foundation, and the Martha Baird Rockefeller Fund for Music. A member of the Akademie für Mozart-Forschung of the Mozarteum and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Zaslaw also serves as general editor of A-R Editions’ Recent Researches in the Music of the Classical Era. Trained at Harvard, Columbia, and The Juilliard School, Zaslaw has taught at Cornell University since 1970.

Could Beethoven Dance? Does it Matter?

Eric McKee, associate professor of music theory at Penn State

2:30 p.m. Thursday, March 28
Palmer Museum of Art’s Palmer Lipcon Auditorium

All available evidence suggests that Beethoven never received instruction in dancing and, as a consequence, did not participate in social dancing. In other words, Beethoven did not know how to dance. Nonetheless, his music is rife with musical references to the ballroom. Such music evokes both the physicality of the dance and its broad expressive associations. This talk considers what effect Beethoven’s lack of first-hand experience in dance might have had on the effectiveness of his ballroom dance music. It also explores Beethoven’s use of dance music as a topic in other instrumental genres (piano sonatas and string quartets).

Eric McKee joined the Penn State faculty in 1992 and teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in music theory. He received his doctorate from The University of Michigan, where he served as editor of the music theory journal In Theory Only. In addition to numerous presentations at national conferences in the United States, McKee has presented his research in England, Ireland, Germany, Poland, and Canada. His articles have appeared in various journals, including Music Theory SpectrumMusic AnalysisIn Theory Only, and Theory and Practice. McKee’s research projects have explored the musical depictions of death and spirituality in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century music, Schenkerian approaches to tonal form, phrase rhythm in the music of Mozart, and the minuets of Bach and Mozart. His current research, for which he was awarded a fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies, focuses on the influence of the dance in Chopin's music.

Engaging the Spiritual in Beethoven

Robert S. Hatten, professor of music theory at the University of Texas

2:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 16
110 Music Building I

Is it possible to theorize about the spiritual in music that does not have a particular text or program? Or must music theorists content themselves with explaining structure alone and giving tools for analysis that merely dissect form and label harmonic progressions? This talk examines the themes from two of Beethoven’s slow movements, the famous Adagio Cantabile from his Piano Sonata No. 8 in C minor, Op. 13, familiarly known as Pathétique, and the less famous but equally profound Largo con gran espressione from his Piano Sonata No. 4 in E-flat Major, Op. 7. The aim is to demonstrate how one might build upon all the analytical tools of traditional theory and incorporate new theories of musical gesture, topics, and tropes in order to interpret a deeper kind of expressive meaning in music — namely, that which we might call the “spiritual.”

Robert S. Hatten joined the faculty of the Butler School of Music at the University of Texas at Austin in 2011. He previously taught at Indiana University, Penn State, and The University of Michigan. His first book, Musical Meaning in Beethoven: Markedness, Correlation, and Interpretation (1994), was co-recipient of the Wallace Berry Publication Award from the Society for Music Theory (North America). His second book, Interpreting Musical Gestures, Topics, and Tropes: Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert (2004), helped launch the book series “Musical Meaning and Interpretation,” for which Hatten serves as general editor. He has also published more than seventy-five articles, reviews, and review-articles. Hatten served as vice-president of the Society for Music Theory (2005–2007) and president of the Semiotic Society of America (2007–2008). He has written libretti for several operas and recently completed the lyrics and book for an operatic musical on the life of eighteenth-century playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan. Hatten has given invited papers, keynotes, and lectures across North America and Europe.

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