2021 Conference abstracts and bios

Daniele Palma (SAGAS, Università di Firenze), “Beyond the trace. Rethinking sonic documents in light of radical mediation”  

It is accepted among “phonomusicologists” that recorded music is to be referred to (live) performance in terms of representation. The former denotes the latter according to a complex semiosis process, for which we listen to a recording as diegesis, i.e. as an unfolding-in-time narration of a musical event, even though we know (or at least should know) that it never took place as such. As suggested by Georgina Born (2009) and developed by Nicholas Cook (2009, 2013), the paradigm of representation effectively describes what recordings are in terms of what they do or require us to do. However, what does it happen when using them as a document of past performing practices? Machines are lying narrators (TREZISE 2009), and “recordists” of all ages help construct the very mechanisms of illusion. What if we start recognising that performers “lied” too by adapting their playing to machines’ requirements (STANOVIĆ 2019)? Where is the trace if all agential forces behind the product contribute to its actual existence as representation? 

To overcome tensions and dualistic oppositions intrinsic to diegesis, I suggest disentangling recordings from performance (theory) and considering them as different sonification systems (CLARKE 2005). Drawing on examples of alternative uses of recorded performance (discs for children, gymnastics, and piano accompaniment), I posit that diegesis is just but one of the possible affordances of recorded music. Secondly, I adopt the perspective of Richard Grusin’s radical mediation (GRUSIN 2015) as a heuristic tool for constructing an alternative path to the study of recordings. I propose that we treat them less as documentary traces of past performing practices than as agents continually transforming the very conditions of musical performativity (FISCHER-LICHTE 2008). This would eventually lead to a shift from constructing histories of changing styles to drawing cartographies of the process of change itself. These cartographies could focus on self-construction processes (AUSLANDER 2006, 2020) and instances of textualisation, objectification, and historicisation, all pivotal to (musical) performativity.

Daniele Palma is completing his PhD in History of Performing Arts at the University of Florence. His research project deals with early tenor recordings of Italian opera, focusing on mediatisation processes and their impact on cultural representations of voice. His research interests concern mainly early sound media and their relationships with musical culture and amateur music practices, ranging from lyric opera to children records in the first half of the 20th century and beyond. On these topics, he has published articles in scholarly journals (Rivista Italiana di Musicologia, Palaver, Revista Post-Ip, Acusfere) and book chapters (Guerini 2021, and Routledge, forthcoming 2022). He is a member of Come suona la Toscana, a triennial ethnomusicological research project led by Prof. Maurizio Agamennone, devoted to sonic practices of oral tradition in Tuscany. He has been awarded an Edison Fellowship for 2019/2020 by the British Library. He is co-editor of Sounds of the Pandemic (Routledge, forthcoming 2022).

Bohdan Syroyid Syroyid, “In Search of the Vocal in a Piano Performance: A Musical Analysis of Tempo Oscillations in Early Recordings of Franz Liszt’s Liebestraum No. 3, S.541 by Sauer, Rosenthal and Lamond” 

The Nocturne No. 3 in A-flat major, S.541 also known as Liebestraum No. 3 (German for Dream of Love) is one of the most popular piano pieces by Franz Liszt (1811–1886). Although this piece was published in 1850, the original version was written for soprano and piano, five years earlier, by setting music to a poem by Ferdinand Freiligrath “O lieb, so lang du lieben kannst” (German for Oh love as long as you can love). The present paper presents a comparative analysis of three recordings by Liszt’s pupils: a ca. 1925 recording by Emil von Sauer (1862-1942); a 1929-30 recording by Moriz Rosenthal (1862-1946); and a 1936 recording by Frederic Lamond (1868-1948). An analysis of the pulse durations was conducted in Sonic Visualiser, revealing a wide range of tempo oscillations linked to the expressivity of the performance. In spite of sharing some common features, these recordings display a number of individual characteristics that set them apart. In this paper, tempo oscillations are contextualised by means of a musical analysis that is focused on the processes of tension and repose. At the same time, certain tempo oscillations reveal a vocal quality that could be connected to the earlier version of the piece as a song and its treatment of the lyrics. It is hoped that the conclusions of this analysis may provide some insights on the piano performance practice in the Interwar period, as well as deepening our understanding of the pianism of Sauer, Rosenthal and Lamond.

Joanna Staruch-Smolec (Université libre and Conservatoire Royal of Brussels), “Towards Better Understanding of Ysaÿe’s Portamento: A Comparative Study of Recorded and Annotated Evidence”

The analysis of violin portamento found in early recordings is highly present in Performance Studies, notably in the research of Robert Philip (1992) or David Milsom (2003). Recent methods for computer-aided deconstruction of string fingerings (used, among others, in portamento analyses) have been presented by Johannes Gebauer at the 2020 conference ‘Early Recordings: Methodologies in Research and Practice’. However, it often remains difficult to draw clear conclusions regarding the exact gesture used by a performer on an early recording. In this paper, I explore the portamento employed by Eugène Ysaÿe (1858-1931) in Walter’s Preislied by Richard Wagner (arranged for violin and piano by August Wilhelmj) by comparing his recording (1913) with a score annotated by him (held in the collection of Jannette Dincin in Juilliard School). Detailed analyses of both sources bring together two kinds of information about various types of Ysaÿe’s portamento. They appear to be to some extent complementary, offering deeper understanding of his gestures. Certain problematic cases are reexamined, which leads to an improvement of the methods used (notably with regard to computer-aided analyses). This material offers a unique opportunity to study Ysaÿe’s portamento. It allows to enrich the portamento’s typology and to revise the methodology of its analyses, providing a better ground for studying other recordings and annotations of Ysaÿe. It also participates in larger research on string portamento at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries.

Joanna Staruch-Smolec is a FNRS research fellow and a PhD candidate at Université libre and Conservatoire royal of Brussels. She completed her violin formation in Conservatoire royal de Bruxelles (Belgium) where she studied with Leonid Kerbel. In 2015, she began her master research on the late 19th century performance practice with a particular focus on Johannes Brahms’s violin Sonatas. Currently, she works on violinistic expression of a Belgian violinist, Eugène Ysaÿe (1858-1931), as part of her PhD (doctorat en art et sciences de l’art) under supervision of Valérie Dufour (Université libre de Bruxelles) as well as Véronique Bogaerts and Vincent Hepp (Conservatoire royal de Bruxelles). Joanna had an opportunity to present the outcome of her research during conferences in Baeza (Spain), London (England), Gdansk (Poland), Paris (France) and Brussels (Belgium). She remains active on stage as a violin player, giving, among others, lecture-recitals linked to her research.

Benjamin M. Korstvedt (Clark University), “Bruckner at the Turning Point: the earliest recordings of the Fourth Symphony as documents of “changing performance practices

The mid-1930s proved to be a turning point in the reception and performance of Bruckner’s symphonies. At that time new ‘urtext’ editions of these works started to appear and were promulgated with increasing intensity. The growing adoption of these editions, which began to supplant the older editions in performance, hastened the development of newer, more modern approaches to the performance of these works. The older editions, which carefully indicate modifications of tempo and character, were products of a Wagnerian tradition that presented these works in flexible, vitalist performances. In contrast, the new ‘urtext’ editions, which lack many of these markings, seem to prescribe a notably more objective, even geometrical, mode of performance.

It was also at this time that Bruckner symphonies began to be preserved on recordings. At least six performances of the Fourth Symphony, on both commercial recordings and radio recordings, from between 1936 and 1944 are extant. These recordings capture performances based on both the new and old editions. My project involves the study of these recordings in order to gauge the diversity of approaches to these works that co-existed during this transitional moment. The picture that emerges is fascinating. Performance styles rooted in the older tradition were applied to the new edition by conductors to varying degrees. A modern objective manner, which became predominant in the 1950s, also begins to emerge. The overlapping of these different approaches seems to reflect the pressure of several competing musical, technical, interpretative, and perhaps even political influences.

Benjamin M. Korstvedt is Professor of Music at Clark University, where he chairs the Department of Visual and Performing Arts and is affiliated with the programs in German Studies, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, and the interdisciplinary program in Media, Culture and the Arts. He is the author of Listening for Utopia in Ernst Bloch’s Musical Philosophy (Cambridge, 2010) as well as numerous publications on Bruckner, Mahler, Viennese musical culture, compositional process, music criticism, and musical culture in the late Habsburg Empire, interwar Austria, and the Nazi era. His three-volume critical edition of Bruckner’s Fourth Symphony began appearing in the Neue Anton Bruckner Gesamtausgabe in 2019. His current book project is Bruckner’s Fourth: The Critical Biography of a Symphony.

Andrew Hallifax, “Acoustical versus Electrical: A comprehensive survey of pianists who recorded the same repertoire acoustically and electrically”

The claim is often made that limitations inherent in pre-1925 acoustical recording technology adversely affected musicians and their performances in the recording studio. Certainly, the technology constrained the permissible duration of recordings and, it is surmised, may sometimes have precipitated hastier performances as a consequence. The comparative insensitivity of early recording equipment is also commonly believed to have obliged performers to adapt or exaggerate musical dynamics and perhaps to give compensatory emphasis or weight to low-frequency sound in particular. 

Though it’s impossible to disentangle the innumerable factors that together determine performance character, a study of piano repertoire recorded acoustically and again electrically after 1925 by the same pianists might, at least in some instances, reveal distinctive features attributable to the constraints or conditions under which the recording was made. 

To facilitate such a study I have compiled what I believe to be a comprehensive list of commercial piano recordings by pianists who, having recorded certain repertoire acoustically, returned to re-record it again electrically some time later. By facilitating direct comparisons, I hope the list will prove a useful resource in the study of the presumed impact of recording technology on piano recordings.

Andrew Hallifax is an independent acoustical music recording engineer and producer. He is also a consultant re-mastering engineer of shellac 78rpm disc recordings. Until recently he was Visiting Research Fellow at King’s College London where, over the years, he has worked on several projects involving the Sound Archive.

Ben Macpherson (University of Portsmouth), “Soft Shoe Shellac: Musical theatre tap dance on early recording”

Arriving as simultaneous forms of popular culture at the close of the nineteenth-century, sound recording and musical theatre performance share a rich and often symbiotic history. Since the New York recording of Florodora (1900), Original Cast Recordings of musical productions became ‘a commercial commodity that would transcend generations, tastes, and genres’ globally (Maslon 2018: 4). Given the impossibility of fully capturing a stage performance – with its embodied and visual qualities – in aural form, the success of musical theatre recording seems astounding. Even more fascinating is the inclusion of musical theatre tap dance on such records, captured due to its percussive properties since the early decades of the 20th Century. Focussing on a 1926 recording of ‘The Half of It, Dearie, Blues’ from the George Gershwin musical comedy Lady, Be Good!, this paper will consider the rich but fragmented landscape of early musical theatre on record by listening to a moment of improvised tap from Fred Astaire and a brief but gleeful exchange between him and his accompanist – Gershwin. I will examine the sonic properties of including tap on this recording and elsewhere within the context of the newly-utilised electric recording technologies in the mid-1920s as part of its capture, in comparison to more recent attempts at including dance on record. In conclusion, I reflect on the imperative for including a visual art-form as an aural document, suggesting that this particular convention reveals much about the diverse history of sound recording and musical theatre in popular cultural history.

Ben Macpherson is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Portsmouth, where he currently leads the BA (Hons) Musical Theatre programme. A member of the British Musical Theatre Research Institute and co-founder of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Voice Studies, his research interests primarily reside at the intersection of these areas. He is the author of Cultural Identity in British Musical Theatre 1890-1939 (Palgrave, 2018), co-editor of Voice Studies: Critical Approaches to Process, Performance and Experience (Routledge, 2015, with Konstantinos Thomaidis) and founding co-editor of Journal of Interdisciplinary Voice Studies (Intellect) and the Routledge Voice Studies monograph series. His current projects include a monograph entitled Singing Utopia: Voice in the Musical Theatre (Oxford), the ‘Vicarious Vocalities’ initiative, and an AHRC research network proposal exploring musical theatre ‘Original Cast Recordings’ as sonic heritage and media artefact, in collaboration with the National Science and Media Museum, Bradford.

Fatima Volkoviskii (Universidad Complutense de Madrid), “Flamenco beyond the Established View: Early Recordings of Cantaoras, Cantadoras and cantantes of Flamenco”

By reviewing early recordings of Flamenco music, published in Spain from 1897 to the early 1920’s it becomes evident that this musical genre was interpreted by a variety of singers from different musical backgrounds. Furthermore, during this period, there are multiple ways in which Flamenco was accompanied and not only with the traditional toque of the Flamenco guitar. These early recordings point to the hypothesis that Flamenco was understood in a very different way as it is considered today. 

These findings also reveal a certain flexibility of how Flamenco was sung, ways of interpretation of the different sub-genres called palos, as well as how society understood, accepted and participated in this popular music genre. The history of Flamenco has only briefly considered early recordings and in no significant way. Much is to be discovered from these first two decades of Flamenco recordings, and as part of my doctoral dissertation, it is my aim to place these early examples of Flamenco music into their socio-cultural context. To do this, I have begun a dialogue between these early examples of recordings with what is available as historical context by way of periodicals, cultural supplements, art magazines and record catalogues of the time. 

In this presentation I would like to present the performance practices of three different singers that sing a palo called marianas and with this example offer a glimpse into the beforementioned open boundaries of how Flamenco was sung, what was understood as Flamenco in the early years of the XXth century, as well as what information we can reconstruct from the dialogue between musical and written sources.

Fatima Volkoviskii Barajas began her studies in her native Mexico and received her Bachelor’s Degree in Art History, focusing her studies and thesis on Music History. She is currently in her third year of the doctoral program of Musicology at the Universidad Complutense in Madrid where she also studied her master’s degree through a scholarship granted by the Mexican government. Her doctoral research is focused on the vocal styles of early Flamenco recordings dating from 1898 to 1922. As a singer, she began her studies at the Universidad Veracruzana conservatory in Mexico within the classical tradition, and in recent years has furthered her studies by focusing on body awareness schools of vocal practice within the Roy Hart, Alexander Technique and Linklater traditions.

Riccardo La Spina (Universidad de La Rioja), “Diversity vs. Disparity: Peculiarities of Genre, Style and Intent in Early Hawaiian Vernacular Recordings (1904-14)

The earliest efforts to capture the sound of Hawaii’s music and musicians affords listeners with a snapshot of rapid evolution, encapsulating both its diversity and the ever adapting yet deep-rooted spirit of this Island culture. What counted as ‘Hawaiian’ at Victor’s first releases (1905) of the Ellis Brothers, and Nani Alapai would undergo changes with the Hawaiian Quintette in 1913. While demonstrating the ebullient native Polynesian soundscape, another side of these offerings blending stylistically disparate genres is represented, and often subsumed by it: the manifestation of national pride, through the decorum and mannerisms of the western concert singer. That these performers enjoyed connections to the royal household, under protection and musical tutelage of its matriarch, Queen Liliuokalani, is of particular import, as their once sovereign nation becomes the territory of another. Although the period’s songs are often generalized in terms of ‘fad’, dismissed as predominantly English–language hapahaole (‘half-white’) vehicles pandering to then-emerging trends, this paper explores the earliest extant vernacular commercial recordings of Hawaiian vocal solos and ensembles through the lens of their courtly attachments to salon and theatrical music. The convergence of various discernable style traits beckons closer scrutiny, using comparative methodology to trace evolving stylistic influences, among which the lyrical cantilena, combined with uniquely variegated polyphonic singing stand out. Furthermore, an approach illustrating the very act of recording –through the lens of performativity – as spontaneous performance, may provide an essential platform for further analysis and study towards better understanding these ‘troubadours’ in the contexts of style and cultural identity.

Riccardo researches nineteenth-century music, and enjoys membership in international study groups, presenting for distinguished scholarly societies (Società Italiana di Musicologia; Society for Musicology in Ireland; American Musicological Society; IRCTP, Tbilisi; etc). He received research awards (UK), visiting scholarships (Mexico, Spain, Italy), and the AMS’ 2014 Hampson Fund Award for Research in Song (Antonio Barili). Published contributions include Grove, RILM, journals (PMM, Nineteenth-Century Musical Review, Studies in Musical Theatre), reviews and articles pending. A concertizing tenor-soloist and composer, Riccardo also performs ethnic song, playing accordion and Georgian panduri. He is currently in residency as Visiting Scholar at the Center for Iberian and Latin American Music, University of California at Riverside, and is a doctoral candidate in Musicology at the Universidad de La Rioja.

Charis Efthimiou (University of Music and Performing Arts Graz, Austria), “A Computer-assisted Analysis of the Early Recordings of L. V. Beethoven´s Symphony Nr. 3”

L. van Beethoven’s Symphony Nr. 3 is only one of the most recorded symphonic works of the last 300 years. Since 1922 until today, there are over 300 recording of the Eroica available on the market, which were already scientifically documented (among others: An Eroica Project). This huge amount of recordings analyzed with specific newly created computer programs, opens up new perspectives in the field of musical interpretation. The aim of this paper is to look at the complete available recordings of the exposition of the first movement of this symphony with the target to identify the individual performing style of some of the most profiling conductors, with particular emphasis on the recordings until the beginning of the Second World War (around 20). A further task of this comparative study will be to reveal long term tendencies and similarities between recordings after the Second World War compared to the early ones. The following aspects are presented in detail: general tempo, tempo-changes within a musical phrase, long-term accelerandi and rallentandi, dynamics, the relationship between the different groups of the orchestra in terms of tempo and dynamics, as well as spectral analysis of the melody and bass line. Furthermore, the computer-assisted analysis (computer programs used: Sonic Visualiser and Sonic Lineup) has the aim to answer the following questions: In which fields of L. van Beethoven´s musical language distinguish the recordings of orchestras on period instruments (1985-2020), compared to those of the most famous conductors, such as Karajan (over ten different recordings) and Klemperer (around seven)? Do the conductors until 1945 follow the features of the second half of the 20th Century, the new trends of the performance practice movement after 1985, or even they show individual characteristics?

Born 1978 in Greece. Master in composition and music theory at the University of Music and Performing Arts Graz (KUG). Ph.D in Mozart’s Symphonies. Since 2012 senior lecturer (University of Music and Performing Arts Graz) on music history and music theory. Since 2019 Post Doc (senior scientist) at KUG. Monographs on Iron Maiden and Mozart’s Symphonies. Publications on the symphonic works of W. A. Mozart (Mozart-Jahrbuch 2021), J. Sibelius (Cambridge Scholars Publishing), J. Myslivecek, L. Sorkocevic, R. Wagner, J. M. Krauss, A. Rolla, A. Honegger, L. Janacek, J. S. Mayr, the trio sonatas of J. L. Krebs and on Heavy Metal (Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Nightwish, Slayer, Metallica and Black Metal).

Makiko Hayasaka (Tokyo College of Music), “The Voice of the ‘Real Japanese’ Butterfly: Re-evaluating the Performance of Tamaki Miura through Tempo Analysis of Her Recording of ‘Un bel dì, vedremo’ (1917)”

Tamaki Miura (18841946) was the first Japanese soprano to earn international fame by singing Madama Butterfly. Making 110 recordings from 1911 to 1946, she was also one of the earliest musicians to actively archive their performances at the dawn of music recording. Despite the abundance of her musical documentation, however, Miura has rarely been studied from the standpoint of performance practice, but rather introduced as an example of a Japanese prima donna whose success was attributed to fixing the image of a ‘real-Japanese’ Cio-Cio san in Western audiences’ minds. Nevertheless, her recordings, particularly those made in the early years, are worth further consideration because they directly show how and to what extent she mastered Western vocal techniques when teachers and resources were very limited in Japan. As preliminary research into Miura’s singing voice itself, this paper analyses Miura’s application of and changes in tempo of ‘Un bel dì, vedremo’ (1917), using Sonic Visualiser to graphically compare Miura’s performance with her contemporaries, including Emmy Destinn (1908), Geraldine Farrar (1909), Frances Alda (1913) and Rosa Ponselle (1919). From the analysis, it is clear that Miura’s overall adaptation of tempo largely corresponded to that of her Western counterparts. However, she occasionally emphasised portamento, ritardando, rallentando, accents and tenuti, which required her to take additional breaths that compromised phrasing and contrasts in tempo; her performance thus might sound redundant and less dramatic in places. That said, Miura’s performance in 1917 cannot be considered to deviate from contemporary Western practice. Based on tempo analysis, together with the observation of pitch and vocal quality in her singing, I claim that Miura succeeded in delivering a musical demonstration that reasonably convinced Western ears at the time, even though there were some weaknesses.

Makiko Hayasaka is a native of Tokyo, Japan. After obtaining degrees in musicology at the International Christian University and Tokyo University of the Arts, she pursed her doctorate at the University of Bristol, where she completed her thesis entitled Organ Recitals as Popular Culture: The Secularisation of the Instrument and Its Repertoire in Britain, 1834-1950. Dr Hayasaka has worked on a wide range of topics dealing with the history of Western music throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Currently, she is undertaking the research project ‘The Singing Voice of Tamaki Miura: A Study of the Vocal Style and the Reception of a Japanese Opera Singer in the Early 20th Century’, with support from Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. Her other research interests include concert culture and public taste, music semiotics, Japanese poetry and art songs and English education for music students. While teaching music and English at Tokyo College of Music, Dr Hayasaka is also actively involved in concerts and recordings as a singer, cellist and organist.

Domen Marinčič (Ljubljana), “Simulated Ovation on Early Recordings – Towards a Better Understanding”

Simulated applause, cheering, or calls for an encore on early studio recordings may seem entertaining or even comical, but such practices have unexpectedly become relevant in recent months when ensemble members started applauding and congratulating themselves to compensate for the lack of a live audience. Various forms of ovation were especially common in the earliest recordings of band music and musical comedy albums. While Patrick Feaster has maintained that the practice was largely abandoned within a few years, it can be heard on recordings of classical music until as late as c. 1912. Simulated ovation is thus heard on recordings of eminent male singers such as Battistini, Maurel, D’Andrade, Rossi, and Moreschi. Whether the applause in each case was supplied by the technicians, a small audience or the performers themselves mostly remains a matter of speculation. It was used in part to compensate for timing problems, sometimes providing an excuse to repeat the performance in the manner of an encore. This may explain why it only occurs sporadically, often in connection with particular types of pieces. The ovation must also have made sense culturally, especially since it was likewise employed by recording enthusiasts such as Julius Block and the young Josef Hofmann. It was described as amusing and it helped to avoid uncomfortable silence or abrupt endings, encouraging listeners at phonograph and gramophone exhibitions to join in. Simulated ovations were perceived as rendering recordings more realistic, creating illusions of actual events, before recordings eventually developed into more independent realities of their own. 

Domen Marinčič is a freelance musician, researcher, broadcaster and concert presenter. He studied viola da gamba, harpsichord and thorough bass in Nuremberg and Trossingen. He has performed extensively throughout Europe, in Canada, USA, Vietnam, China and the Middle East, and has participated in 35 CD recordings for Accent, Aeolus, Arcana, BIS, Harmonia Mundi France, Oehms Classics, Ricercar and Sony/DHM. He has reconstructed missing parts for performances and editions of many 17th- and 18th-century works. Since 2005 he has been a regular broadcaster for Radio Slovenia. For several years he taught at the Department of Musicology at the University of Ljubljana. Since 2009 he has been on the editorial board of the Monumenta Artis Musicae Sloveniae series. He has given papers at international musicological conferences in Slovenia, Italy, Austria and the USA, as well as lectures or workshops at conservatoires or music academies in Vienna, Mantua, Venice, Detmold, Bremen and Munich.

Kristin M. Franseen (Carleton University, CA), “Edward Prime-Stevenson, Record Collecting, and the Queer Possibilities of Listening”

The works of American expatriate music critic and amateur sexologist Edward Prime Stevenson (1858-1942) present one perspective on the role of early twentieth-century recording technology in the history of queer listening practices. Through a series of self-published novels, short story collections, and non-fiction works carefully distributed by the author to select readers, bookstores, and libraries, Prime-Stevenson simultaneously preserved otherwise unrecorded queer musical knowledge and presented a highly personal approach to the intersections of queer identity and musical meaning. While his last known book, A Repertory of One Hundred Symphonic Programmes (1932/3), is a seemingly conventional guide to record collecting, listening, and musical appreciation, several aspects of Prime-Stevenson’s choice of repertoire resonate with his earlier writings on music and European gay subcultures. These include a focus on the German symphonic canon and an emphasis on active listening as something that can be either a communal experience or a space for finding a personal connection with history. This presentation builds on both Fillion’s use (2010) of the concept of “difficult rhythm” to explore the “balancing act” between the qualities of absolute music and reliance on extramusical associations found in the fiction of E.M. Forster and my own prior work (2020) on Prime-Stevenson as proto-queer musicologist. Like Forster, Prime-Stevenson utilized specific musical allusions to depict complex relationships with past and current notions of identity. Reading Repertory alongside his more overtly queer work suggests one way in which recordings facilitated the kinds of queer musical experiences he struggled to depict in print. 

Kristin M. Franseen is a contract instructor in musicology at Carleton University. She received her PhD from McGill University in 2019, with a dissertation on the writings and careers of three early twentieth-century queer musicologists. Her research appears in Music & Letters, 19th-Century Music, and the Cahiers de la Société québécoise de recherche en musique (SQRM), and her monograph Imagining Musical Pasts: The Queer Literary Musicology of Vernon Lee, Rosa Newmarch, and Edward Prime-Stevenson is under contract with Clemson University Press. Her research focuses on the role of gossip and anecdote as sources for musicology and composer biography.  She is currently in the preliminary stages of two new research projects: (1) an examination of Antonio Salieri’s reception history through the lenses of biography, collegiality, and the post-truth and (2) a critical look at Edward Prime-Stevenson’s efforts at queer canon-building through record collecting and music criticism.

Ryan Gourley (University of California, Berkeley; USA), ““Gypsy Romances” and Balalaika Orchestras: Stylistic Diversity in Early Russian Recordings”

Before the Bolsheviks stormed the Winter Palace in 1917, the nascent Russian recording industry teemed with musical innovation. Beyond the canonical recordings of Feodor Chaliapin and other operatic vocalists, a wide range of musical genres were consumed from Saint-Petersburg to the furthest reaches of the Russian Empire. In this research snapshot, I will take a brief tour of the sound archive at the Museum of Russian Culture in San Francisco, offering examples of 78 rpm recordings made in Russia before the revolution and later in emigration. A large portion of the museum’s collection of sound recordings has recently been digitized and made available online for the first time, supported by a grant from the National Recording Preservation Foundation. From the emergence of the “gypsy romance” (цыганский романс) as a new popular genre to the sensational acts of Tsar Nicholas II’s favorite balalaika orchestra, I will explore the stylistic diversity of Russian music recorded in the first few decades of the 20th century. Although many pre-revolutionary recordings ceased to be reproduced in the newly established Soviet state, imperial military marches, Russian Orthodox chanting, and other prohibited genres continued to circulate amongst the White Russian diaspora abroad. Early Russian recordings complicate narratives focused on Soviet cultural models and offer insight into the expressive musical creativity of the late Russian Empire outside of the operatic stage.

Ryan Gourley is a Ph.D. candidate in Ethnomusicology at the University of California, Berkeley, focusing on Russian and Soviet popular music. His dissertation examines musical circulation and memory in the Pacific White Russian diaspora from 1917 to the present. He is the recipient of several research grants, which have funded archival and ethnographic research in sites across Eastern Europe. Since 2019, he has collaborated with the staff at the Museum of Russian Culture, San Francisco to build a community sound archive. He is currently working to catalog, preserve, and digitize the museum’s collection of rare Russian recordings dating back to 1902. His research interests include the politics of memory, network and mobility studies, Soviet / Post-Soviet aesthetics, and Diaspora Studies.

%d bloggers like this: