Tonality as a Family Affair

I wrote a few lines on Johanna Kinkel’s imaginative description of sonata form, as comprised in her Acht Briefe an eine Freundin über Clavier-Unterricht (1852). Kinkel creates a tongue-in-cheek analogy between harmonic regions and family members, assigning masculine and feminine properties to the primary and secondary theme zones of a sonata exposition, which prompted me to make some observations on the sociological and political dimensions of her writings. The resulting paper is, as it seems, my first contribution to musical gender studies—in German, though, but I might consider preparing an English translation in the future. Hope you enjoy the read.

» Tonality as a Family Affair

Scriabin and the Sonata

This semester I am teaching a music analysis seminar on Alexander Scriabin‘s sonata conceptions at TU Dortmund University. The covered repertoire will range from the early sonatas of the 1880s to the Poème de l’extase, Op. 54, including solo piano music, the three symphonies, and the piano concerto. Since the group of participants is a bit smaller than expected, I will gladly accept some guests—please let me know in case you would like to join. The seminar is taking place every Thursday, in alternating on-site and remote sessions.

GMTH Conference in Salzburg

Tomorrow I will be off to Universität Mozarteum Salzburg again for this year’s conference of the Gesellschaft für Musiktheorie. Not going to present an individual paper this time (which feels sort of comfortable), but looking forward to chairing a session, to leading a professional development workshop together with my colleague Sigrun Heinzelmann, and to lots of encounters and fascinating exchanges of thoughts with peers, audiences, and my colleagues on the board. Hope to see you there! #gmth2022 #musictheory

Scriabin Conference in Reading

Happy to be participating in the Scriabin @ 150 conference and celebration, taking place the following weekend at Queen Anne’s School, Caversham, Reading, UK. Alongside an illustrious line-up of scholars and musicians sharing their thoughts, interpretations, and approaches towards Scriabin’s music, I will contribute my bit on the relationship and latent intercommunities between Scriabin and his Muscovite contemporary Nikolai Medtner. Thank you, Kenneth Smith, Marina Frolova-Walker, and everybody else involved, for making this happen!

NB. I am super excited about this event for two particular reasons:
  • It is the prime candidate for the Sexiest Conference of the Year award.
  • It is probably the only conference that offers a free DIY Scriabin facemask for downloading, printing, and colouring (according to the composer’s synaesthetic preferences, I would suggest).

Lysenko’s Soviet Legacy?

Recently I was made aware of the claim that the Soviet national anthem, written by Aleksandr Vasilyevich Aleksandrov in 1943 and adopted as the anthem of the Russian Federation in 2000, might have been inspired by a piano work by the Ukrainian composer Mykola Vitaliyovych Lysenko, Fragment épique of 1876. Indeed, the hymn’s beginning sounds very similar to a passage near the ending of Lysenko’s composition. Is this creative appropriation, as one source argues, or even plagiarism (provided that Aleksandrov knew Lysenko’s work, which might be hard to substantiate)? Or is it just a random resemblance, with the melody and harmonic progression of both examples being derived from the common Romanesca schema, also known as major-minor parallelism? What do you think?