Category: 1/2021

Hans Rott: Gustav Mahler’s Contemporary

Abstract: Hans Rott (1858–1884) was a contemporary and a friend of Gustav Mahler, his fellow student in the composition class, a brilliantly gifted musician. The year he graduated from the Vienna Conservatory (1878), he began work on his First Symphony in E Major, which suddenly made the author’s name famous more than 100 years after its completion. During Rott’s lifetime, his music was not publicly performed or published. The manuscript of the symphony had been in the archives for a century before it was discovered in the Austrian National Library in the late 1970s by the British musicologist Paul Banks. The premiere of the work in 1989 became a musical sensation: the opus by a young musician that appeared several years before Gustav Mahler’s first symphony had numerous “Mahler” elements, forerunning the symphonic style of the great Austrian composer. The musicological literature of the 1990s is engaged in the debate about Rott’s priority in the creation of a “new symphony”. The scholars even highlight the need to “write the history of music anew”. Over time, academic judgements lost their sensational relevance and acquired a more objective and balanced character. The article is a reminder about certain aspects of the 1990s debate. It examines the reasons for the dramatic fate of Rott’s symphony. It also discusses the hypothesis proposed by E. van den Hoogen about the hidden meaning of some Mahler’s allusions—fragments of his symphonies containing “quotations” from Rott’s works. They may be viewed as direct references, an emphasis on the similarity, apostrophized by Mahler as a manifestation of the spiritual “kinship” he himself noted with his dearly departed friend. The apostrophe—an appeal to an imaginary, invisibly “present” interlocutor —can turn citation into a special form of creative dialogue. Link to audio recording of H. Rott’s symphony Download the article  

J.M. Hauer: The phenomenon of Zwölftonspiel

Abstract: Josef Matthias Hauer (1883-1959) was an Austrian composer known for the development of twelve-tone music—the study of the tropes. His work and life, however, have been underscrutinised by Russian scholars. Hauer’s musical works are generally regarded as illustrations to his theory with little artistic value. Meanwhile, the significance of his legacy goes beyond the twelve-tone composition: Hauer paves the way for discoveries in music of the second half of the 20th century. The article focuses on Hauer’s later works which centre around the twelve-tone game (Zwölftonspiel). This name is used by almost all Hauer’s compositions created in the last two decades of his life for a variety of instruments. The concept of Zwölftonspiel is universal—it is a composition technique, an approach to music notation, a genre, a philosophy, a meditation, and didactics. The same broad meaning is given to the concept “game”, which is understood as a certain ontological category that eliminates the subject, the composer’s “Self” from the process of composing, making this process logical, predictable, almost automatic, and, at the same time, easy and relaxed, like a children’s play. Hauer resorts to a significant simplification of the previous technique of tropes, relying on a single twelve-tone series already containing harmony, rhythm and form. Zwölftonspiel does not fit into traditional ideas about an opus as a result of the composer’s work. All music—absolute, unchangeable, eternal—has already been created by God, and it remains for humans only to study and comprehend it using their intuition. This is what the twelve-tone game serves for. This position based on the Eastern principle of non-action makes us recall the idea of the “end of the time of composers”, the concept of “non-work”, and meditative music, which appeared later. Thus, the name of Hauer should stand next to the name of Schoenberg.  Hauer’s ideas make him part of the circle of composers of the second half of the 20th century: J. Cage, K. Stockhausen, G. Scelsi, and V. Martynov. Download the article  

Fugues for chorus and soloist ensemble in Joseph Haydn’s late masses

Abstract: Fugues from Haydn’s late masses are marked by similarity achieved through the repetition of techniques and musical material. Most of the fugues are built on a two-part thematic formula with a particular rhythmic and melodic pattern. Choral fugues in late masses are small in size and generally follow the rules of “strict style”. These rules are only violated in the ensemble cadenza of soloists before the final choral tutti, thus becoming the secret of the form. Ensemble cadenzas are characterized by the transparency and relief of the vocalized texture as well as lighter counterpoint with parallel thirds and sixths and the alternating solos of duets and trios. Musical syntax is homophonic. It repeats two-measure structural units or a period divided into two phrases, etc. Fugues with the ensemble cadenza of soloists are not limited to late masses only. They are also found in the end of Haydn’s “The Creation”. However, the attempts to find other examples of this form—in Haydn’s works or beyond—have so far been unsuccessful. Haydn’s choral fugues with the ensemble cadenza of soloists are quite in line with the 18th century Viennese concerted mass and the special role the mass played in the lavish annual autumn celebrations in Esterházy. Download the article  

An attempt to attribute the authorship of the treatises from the collection “The Modern Musick-Master” (London, 1730)

Abstract: In 1730, a collection of treatises on singing and playing various musical instruments was published in London. It included “A Brief History of Music” and a small musical dictionary. Neither on the title page nor elsewhere in the text do we find information about its author/authors. Today, both reference and encyclopedic literature as well as special scholarly works refer to Peter Prelleur as the author (very rarely the compiler) of the collection. However, when comparing the basic explanations of musical theory and the basic performing principles in each individual treatise, these explanations turn out to be contradictory. The article provides a comparative analysis of the materials in the collection itself and in the works published in England from the middle of the 17th century to 1730. Based on the results of the analysis and the data obtained from modern research, the authors come to the conclusion that all the sections of the collection in question represent a compilation of materials. The materials came from previously published manuals written by English, French and Italian musicians and were then supplemented by theoretical and performance guidelines relevant for those days. In general, the collection is a perfect example of pirate traditions of English book publishers of the 18th century. It is safe to say that “The Modern Musick-Master” was a collective effort and Peter Prelleur was not its only author or compiler. Download the article  

The Phantom of the Opera: Mozart’s Zaide on Stage

Abstract: Taking as a starting point Nicholas Cook’s idea of studying music in its “multiple cultural context, embracing production, performance, reception, and all the other activities by virtue of which music is constructed as a significant cultural practice” (Cook, 2008), the article explores the 19th-century multifaceted European history of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s fragmentary Singspiel Zaide, K344 (336b). Left unfinished (and even untitled) by the composer himself, this work has since become the ‘phantom of the opera’, doomed to fade into oblivion after the death of its creator. However, the phantom became a reality: in 1838, the German printer Johann André (in cooperation with Carl Gollmick) completed the incomplete score and published it, thus starting a massive campaign aimed at popularising his version. By doing so, he successfully integrated the newly born opera Zaide into the European musical life, turning it from the unknown fragment into one of the most oft-performed compositions ever written by Mozart. Drawing upon extensive data amassed from 1) handwritten copies and printed editions, and 2) concert programmes, journal announcements, critical essays, reviews, and commentaries, the present paper traces the European production, performance, and reception history of Mozart’s ‘phantom opera’ Zaide from 1838 up to the early 20th century. Looking beneath this factual surface, its ultimate aim consists in shedding more light on the reasons behind the successful integration of this fragment into the 19th-century musical life and its contextualisation within particular regional and national practices. Download the article