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Compilers and editors of hymnals and scholars of hymnology have often lacked suitable tools for identifying the earliest sources of spirituals, or even key sources that serve as models for later arrangements. In the twenty-first century, the development of internet-based repositories of digital books has enabled the ability to search for publications of spirituals using strings of lyrics or keywords, but more importantly, these repositories allow researchers to examine the relevant sources and glean contextual information about those spirituals beyond what might exist in any list or index. Although African slaves had been present in North America since 1619, this unique musical artform was not considered a national treasure worth preserving and publishing until the onset of the Civil War, thus any study of sources of antebellum plantation spirituals really begins at the end of that era and moves forward from there. In order to understand the problem and the digital solution to tracing these songs, a brief overview of the longstanding publishing standard will be presented, followed by an overview of older research materials, then a detailed examination of three existing repositories (HathiTrust, Google, Internet Archive), and one forthcoming repository (Sounding Spirit). The publications located in these repositories have been tied together through a pair of web-based bibliographies at Hymnology Archive, covering the years 1862–1900 and 1901–1942.
The two recently recorded CD sets of Hrabina (The Countess) and Straszny dwór (The Haunted Manor) in complete concert versions with eighteenth-century instruments add enormously to the Polish operatic repertoire in the nineteenth century, and offer a fresh listening experience for those who have long wished for first-rate recordings of lesser-known, yet brilliantly executed, works of the hitherto neglected composer, Stanisław Moniuszko (1819–1872). Born in the Minsk district of modern Belarus, Monisuzko was gentry, and his nostalgia for the customs, the fields and forest, and the rural community that shaped his childhood years, fuelled his enthusiasm for modern operas set in the eighteenth century. These stellar concert versions of The Countess and The Haunted Manor provide a fascinating glimpse into the provocative and glittering salons of the eighteenth-century Warsaw nobility, whose inhabitants stand firmly in contrast to the more modest and self-effacing life of the peasants and the country gentry. In both operas Moniuszko successfully provides a romanticized portrayal of pre-Partition courtly life in Poland. While these two operas were highly regarded as national treasures in Poland, they were not particularly well known outside of the country. Polish opera at that time was largely overshadowed by Italian, French, and German composers, and the nation's subjugation to the Hapsburgs, Prussians, and Russians throughout the nineteenth century contributed mightily to the neglect of staged works by Polish composers. Additionally, singers needed to be trained in the nuances and inflections of the language. Prior recordings were either incomplete or were not available with English translations of the librettos. With the Biondi and Nowak recordings, Moniuszko's vision of expanding his art to a global audience has finally been achieved. These recordings are accessible to all opera enthusiasts on an international playing field.
The longstanding practice of building opera librettos on stories from classical antiquity (especially Greece and Rome, and, to a lesser extent, Egypt, Persia and Babylonia) waned in the early 1800s, as impresarios began to favour plots with more obvious current-day resonance (though sometimes set a few centuries in the past, to skirt objections from government censors and, in some lands, church authorities). Still, imaginative librettists and composers found ways of rejuvenating an ancient setting and producing an opera that spoke to the day's audiences instead of feeling stuffy or academic. One of the biggest successes in French serious opera of the 1850s was Félicien David's Herculanum, set to a text primarily by the renowned playwright and poet Joseph Méry. Widely hailed, not least by composer-critics Hector Berlioz and Ernest Reyer, the work freshened the ‘ancient Rome’ conventions by locating the action far to the south, near what is today Naples, and by including, as the main characters, two powerful aristocrats from the Euphrates valley, and two young adepts of the nascent Christian movement – and a fifth character, Satan himself, come to wreak havoc in the world. All of this would seem a stewpot of a librettist's wild imaginings were it not for the quality and impressive variety of David's music – and the opportunities that libretto and music together give to imaginative performers, as has been demonstrated in the work's three major revivals beginning in 2014 (in Belgium/France, Ireland and Hungary).
Discussing music in Portugal in the nineteenth century, and the digital resources that the country makes available for musicological research on this historical period, requires, first of all, a clarification about the chronological boundaries that limit this temporal unit. One can naturally understand that the periodization to be adopted should be the most obvious, that is, the one that determines the dates 1801 and 1900 as the beginning and end of the century in question. But it is worth asking whether it would not be more appropriate to define a periodization based on the events that unequivocally determined the panorama of music in Portugal in that century.
This study of Camille Saint-Saëns's opéra comique Phryné (1893), representing the famous Greek courtesan in the title role, outlines how the composer made the case for the continued viability of the opéra comique genre in a context where lighter opérettes by Jacques Offenbach on classical subjects were much celebrated on French stages. Saint-Saëns's efforts are seen through both his dislike of Offenbach's music and the flexible use of generic name markers in musical comedies of the period. In marking out an aesthetic space for new musical comedy that was not Offenbach's, Saint-Saëns and his librettist Lucien Augé de Lassus conjoined their Hellenic subject matter not only with a canon of painting and sculpture but also with musical qualities deemed classical in the fin-de-siècle environment.
This article is in essence a study of intertextuality in two musico-dramatic genres in Paris of the 1850s: the comédie-vaudeville and straight plays with incidental music. The ‘texts’ that are considered here are interpolated songs in the comédie-vaudeville and purely instrumental interpolations in plays. Their intertextuality depends on the age-old process of contrafactum. Yet a problem arises when the listener cannot recognize the original source of the contrafactum and cannot perceive the intertext.
The article traces such an intertextual problem. It illustrates how the attempt to answer what would appear to be a minor question regarding music in a comédie-vaudeville led to consideration of an aspect of Jacques Offenbach's output that has received very little attention and which in turn poses some problems of its own. I begin by discussing how intertextuality and musical memory were exploited in the nineteenth-century Parisian comédie-vaudeville. I then discuss how my inability to identify a ‘text’, in this case a particular tune used in a production in a Parisian theatre was so bothersome that it caused it to stick in my memory, which in turn allowed me to recognize it in a work by Offenbach. This in turn led to consideration of a short story and a play in which intertextual musical memory plays a large role, and to the music that Offenbach composed for the performance of that play which surprisingly led to the solution of the problem, the identification of the tune. I end with further comments.
In the course of the last two hundred years, different facets of Clara Schumann's artistic, creative and performative persona have been highlighted and different narratives have been produced. As the articles to follow demonstrate, these facets include Clara Schumann as a performer, an improviser, a virtuoso, a priestess, a prophetess, a celebrity, a composer and a curator of flowers and photographs. The Introduction and four research articles in this issue devoted to Schumann suggest in multifaceted ways that her creative identities and legacies are open to new ways of being contextualized in both historical and contemporary contexts. This journal issue initiates important conversations and provides some constructive starting points for considering the nature of Clara Schumann's identities and their legacies, and for pondering how Clara Schumann can help us to think afresh about identity and legacy as concepts.
Grappling with a range of sources in both German and English, this Introduction to the issue embraces the fluid intersections in Clara Schumann's creative world between the visual and the tactile, the sonic and the corporeal. It explores the changing images of Schumann from her lifetime to the present day and reconsiders her creativity from our current perspective.