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Cornell Remembers Karel Husa

| Mon Dec 19, 2016

Cornell and the Department of Music mourn the loss of Karel Husa, Kappa Alpha Professor Emeritus, who passed away at his home in Apex, North Carolina, December 14, 2016, at the age of 95.

Composer and conductor Karel Husa served on the Cornell University faculty from 1954 until his retirement in 1992. An American citizen since 1959, Husa was born in Prague on August 7, 1921. He studied at the Prague Conservatory and Academy of Music, and later at the National Conservatory and Ecole Normale de Musique in Paris. Among his teachers were Arthur Honegger, Nadia Boulanger, Jaroslav Ridky, and conductor André Cluytens.

Professor Husa was widely acclaimed during his career, and his stature in the composition world was international in scope. He was the recipient of several honors, including the Pulitzer Prize (1969), the Grawemeyer Award (1993) and, in 1995, the Czech Republic’s highest civilian recognition, the State Medal of Merit, First Class. He also received nine honorary doctoral degrees and numerous other composition prizes and fellowships. Commissions came from some of the major arts organizations in the country, including the Koussevitzky Music Foundation, the New York Philharmonic (twice), the Chicago Symphony, and many others. As a conductor he worked with major orchestras throughout Europe, Asia, and America, and as a guest conductor on many college campuses. Several of his works have entered the modern repertoire, led by Music for Prague 1968 (commissioned for wind ensemble by Ithaca College and later transcribed by the composer for symphony orchestra), with over 7,000 performances to date. Husa’s music has been frequently recorded on major classical music record labels.

Composer Roberto Sierra, Old Dominion Foundation Professor in the Humanities, notes that Husa was “one of the most distinguished and admired composers of the second half of the 20th century. At Cornell he taught generations of composers who became important figures in the American musical landscape.” Mark Davis Scatterday, Professor of Conducting and Chair of the Conducting and Ensembles Department at the University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music, and Husa’s former colleague and mentee, remembers breaking down emotionally at a first performance of one of Husa’s iconic works – Apotheosis of This Earth – in a new arrangement that the composer also conducted. “I was not embarrassed by this moment,” Scatterday reveals, recalling it instead as a “changing point in my career.” Since that life-altering event, Scatterday has “always strived to experience this kind of true emotion” in his own musical work. Sierra adds that Husa “will be remembered for his great music and unique compositional voice.”

The Department of Music sends its best wishes to Professor Husa’s family and his many admirers.

The Cornell Chronicle Obituary

Assistant Professor Andrew Hicks announces the publication of his book Composing the World: Harmony in the Medieval Platonic Cosmos, the first release in Oxford University Press’ series Critical Conjunctures in Music and Sound.

In it, Professor Hicks illuminates how a cosmological aesthetics based on the “music of the spheres” both governed the moral, physical, and psychic equilibrium of the human, and assured the coherence of the universe as a whole. With a rare convergence of musicological, philosophical, and philological rigor, Hicks presents a narrative tour through medieval cosmology with reflections on important philosophical movements along the way, raising connections to Cartesian dualism, Uexküll’s theoretical biology, and Deleuze and Guattari’s musically inspired language of milieus and (de)territorialization. Hicks ultimately suggests that the models of musical cosmology popular in late antiquity and the twelfth century are relevant to our modern philosophical and scientific undertakings. Impeccably researched and beautifully written, Composing the World will resonate with a variety of readers, and it encourages us to rethink the role of music and sound within our greater understanding of the universe.

Composing the World can be ordered from the Oxford University Press website.

 

Professor Rebecca Harris-Warrick announces the release of Dance and Drama in French Baroque Opera: A History, part of Cambridge University Press’ Studies in Opera.

Since its inception, French opera has embraced dance, yet all too often operatic dancing is treated as mere decoration. Dance and Drama in French Baroque Opera exposes the multiple and meaningful roles that dance has played, starting from Jean-Baptiste Lully’s first opera in 1672. It counters prevailing notions in operatic historiography that dance was parenthetical and presents compelling evidence that the divertissement – present in every act of every opera – is essential to understanding the work. The book considers the operas of Lully – his lighter works as well as his tragedies – and the 46-year period between the death of Lully and the arrival of Rameau, when influences from the commedia dell’arte and other theatres began to inflect French operatic practices. It explores the intersections of musical, textual, choreographic and staging practices at a complex institution – the Académie Royale de Musique – which upheld as a fundamental aesthetic principle the integration of dance into opera.

The book can be purchased from the CUP website.

Professor Roberto Sierra’s Concierto Virtual for Disklavier and Chamber Orchestra will be premiered by the New Juilliard Ensemble on January 20th at NYC Lincoln Center as part of the Focus Festival. More at the Julliard website.

An article by Associate Professor Benjamin Piekut is the subject of a recent episode of the podcast Talking Musicology. The essay, “Indeterminacy, Free Improvisation, and the Mixed Avant-garde,” appeared in the Journal of the American Musicological Society in December 2014, and analyzes the mixing and mingling of musical discourses in London between 1965 and 1975. The podcast hosts praise the article for its method, tone, and quality of research. Produced by Stephen Graham and Liam Cagney, Talking Musicology can be found at talkingmusicology.wordpress.com.

Associate Professor Alejandro L. Madrid’s most recent book, In Search of Julián Carrillo and Sonido 13 (Oxford University Press, 2015), has won the 2016 Robert M. Stevenson Award from the American Musicological Society. The prize is awarded annually in recognition of outstanding scholarship in Iberian music. This is the second time professor Madrid receives this prestigious award and is this book’s second major prize, having received the Mexico Humanities Book Award from the Latin American Studies Association earlier this year.

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Assistant Professor Roger Moseley’s new book, Keys to Play: Music as a Ludic Medium from Apollo to Nintendo, is now available as a free download from the University of California Press’s open-access publishing platform, Luminos. It can download it as a PDF, ePub (for Apple iBooks), or mobi (for Amazon Kindle) file here:

http://www.luminosoa.org/site/books/detail/16/keys-to-play/

One exciting aspect of the Luminos platform is its capacity to incorporate audio and video materials, which are best integrated in the downloadable ePub version of the book. The multimedia content of Keys to Play includes music by Louis Couperin, d’Anglebert, Mozart, Beethoven, Bizet, and others recorded by Cornell faculty Malcolm Bilson, Ariana Kim, and Moseley himself, as well as graduate students Matthew Hall and Shin Hwang.

The book is also available to purchase from Amazon.com

Click here for the Cornell Chronicle article.

The Oxford Handbook of Critical Improvisation Studies has been published by Oxford University Press. Co-edited by Associate Professor Benjamin Piekut and George E. Lewis (Columbia University), the two-volume collection includes 57 chapters and 64 authors; the project has been in preparation for nearly a decade. Featuring distinguished senior and emerging scholars from across the human, social, and natural sciences, the publication illuminates the processes through which the study of improvisation already informs a vast array of fields of inquiry and areas of practice. Contributing authors represent a dizzying range of academic disciplines, including architecture, American studies, anthropology, art history, computer science, cognitive science, comparative literature, cultural studies, dance, economics, education, English, ethnomusicology, film, gender studies, linguistics, literary theory, musicology, neuroscience, new media, organizational science, performance studies, philosophy, popular music studies, psychology, sociology, theatre studies, theology, and urban planning.

Critical Improvisation

Roberto Sierra’s composition “Beyond the Silence of Sorrow” has been nominated for a 2016 Latin Grammy. The recording features Maximiano Valdés conducting the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra, with soprano Martha Guth, and is on the Naxos recording Roberto Sierra: Sinfonía No. 3 “La Salsa”, Borikén, El Baile & Beyond The Silence Of Sorrow.

More at latingrammy.com.

The inaugural Historical Notation Bootcamp, co-taught by Andrew Hicks (Assistant Professor in the Department of Music and Program for Medieval Studies at Cornell) and Anna Zayaruznaya (Assistant Professor in the Department of Music at Yale), took over the ground floor of Yale’s Department of Music on August 8–12. Over the course of the intensive three-day workshop students explored a range of Western notational systems, from early neumatic notation to the complex “ars subtilior” of the late fourteenth century. A multimodal approach including singing, transcribing, interpreting theory, and practicing practice made for a lively and productive experience for nineteen participants from eleven universities across the US and Canada. Plans are already underway for the second annual Historical Notation Bootcamp to take place in Summer 2017.

The program was made possible through the support of the Sidney Cox Library of Music and Dance, Department of Music, and the Carol T. Sienko Memorial Endowment at Cornell University and the Beinecke Library and Department of Music at Yale University. notation boot camp 1-603x250

 

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