The Voice of Leontyne Price

An Interview with Joelle Lamarre about The Violet Hour—A Show in Homage to Leontyne Price

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Joelle Lamarre is a Chicago-based soprano, actress, and playwright, who has performed leading operatic roles for the Ojai Music Festival, Northwestern University Opera Theater, American Chamber Opera Company, South Shore Opera Company, and the Lyric Opera of Chicago. An outstanding advocate of new music, she sang the leading soprano role in George Lewis’s Afterword and the title role in Nkeiru Okoye’s Harriet Tubman, When I Crossed That Line to Freedom. In her most recent project, The Violet Hour, Lamarre celebrates the career of African American soprano Leontyne Price, who achieved international success at a time when segregation and discrimination were prevalent in the United States. Price’s 1961 debut at the Metropolitan Opera preceded the Civil Rights Act by three years. In September, Lamarre will perform The Violet Hour at the University of Notre Dame and the Rochester Fringe Festival.

1. My understanding of voice is that it’s not just a sonic and vibrational phenomenon involving a singer and listeners, but also a metaphor for the articulation of self and subjectivity. Could you describe Leontyne Price’s voice for me?

Leontyne Price is considered a lyric soprano. She never put any limitations on who she is and what she can do. For her, singing and listening are spiritual experiences, and her voice speaks life. As an artist, Leontyne was uncompromising. She was there to give the audience her purpose in life, which was to share her God-given talent with others.

Price knew what her accomplishments were doing for other African Americans. She believed she had statements to make about her country, people, and art in general. As a lead soprano at the Metropolitan Opera, Price understood what her accomplishments meant for those coming after her.

2. As musicologist and voice scholar Nina Sun Eidsheim states, there is no such thing in opera as a black vocal timbre. Rather, blackness is something that exists in the listener’s ear and preconceptions—not in the actual timbre of the voice. Do you think that the concept or construct of blackness shaped Price’s career?

I don’t think that the concept of blackness shaped her career.

In 1955, Leontyne Price performed the title role in Tosca on national television for the NBC Opera Theatre. To perform what is traditionally conceived of as a white role—and on national TV—was an opportunity of a lifetime. Yet, at the same time, her hometown station in Laurel, Mississippi refused to air the broadcast.

When Price made her Metropolitan Opera debut in 1961, it was as Leonora in Verdi’s Il Trovatore. Although later she was most famous for her portrayal of the title character in Aida—at this crucial moment in her career, she didn’t want to be limited by being typecast.

In 1964, Price was supposed to sing a leading role in Don Giovanni in Atlanta, and she was the first to integrate opera there.

3. Your show, The Violet Hour, uses preexisting music, but how did you create the script?

My show’s title is The Violet Hour, a reference to Price’s full name—Mary Violet Leontyne Price. In terms of content, I transcribed her interviews from a number of different videos and articles. The one-hour show is a series of episodes from her life.

4. How has the show changed from its initial performance in February 2017?

Initially, it started out as a recital and projecting short segments of video. Then I started playing with her accent. I thought that maybe I could play her on stage. I looked at other examples of one-act shows, and took a class at the Chicago Dramatists. At first, the show was just me and an accompanist, but then I introduced two additional characters.

Later, when I saw Leontyne Price on the PBS documentary about the Metropolitan Opera—Great Performances: The Opera House—I knew I had got it right.

Finally, I’d like to mention a person who has been instrumental in shaping my show: Jake Heggie. Also, Amy Hutchison directed the first show.

5. Do you have a favorite scene?

I don’t really have a favorite scene. Leontyne is such a radiant, grateful person, which is most evident in the show’s monologues.

I really wanted this show to be an opportunity to say thank you to Leontyne Price, who has been such a positive role model for me. My next goal is to meet her.

Genre, Tactility, and Circulation in Yoshiaki Onishi’s Music

(Earlier this month, I interviewed friend and colleague Yoshiaki Onishi about the role of genre, tactility, and the circulation of ideas in his string quartet cycle, Les Six Aspects du Néant. This interview, excerpted below, was originally published on I Care If You Listen on July 12, 2018. See the ICIYL website for the full interview.)


Recipient of the 2018 Guggenheim FellowshipYoshiaki Onishi is a Japanese-American composer and conductor, who will be a postdoctoral fellow at the Mizzou New Music Initiative beginning in Fall 2018. (See here for a list of his many commissions and premieres.) One of the most fascinating aspects of Onishi’s compositions is his approach to music as the circulation of ideas—how each musical work has an underlying idea or concept that shapes the compositional process and the sound at each moment. Related to this is the tactility of the sound—Onishi’s great virtuosity in employing contemporary techniques and his attention to the physical properties of sound. Both features are especially evident in his ongoing project Les Six Aspects du Néant (“The Six Aspects of Nothingness”), a cycle of six pieces for string quartet. Parts of the cycle will receive performances this coming Fall at the Vertixe Sonora Festival in Spain, the 45th International Viola Congress in Rotterdam, and the Trieste Prima Festival in Italy.

My understanding of genre is that it’s not some fixed category, but rather results from its continual use and reproduction. What draws you to the string quartet as a genre?

If I were to name one piece that was the critical turning point for my current compositional aesthetics, I’d have to say it is my Culs-de-sac (en passacaille) (2009, revised in 2010) for string quartet. I think that the string quartet as a genre motivated me to discover what it means to truly listen when I compose. Technically speaking, the string quartet is very highly refined and uniform in terms of the overall timbre, composed of four instruments of the same instrumental family. So it poses a different type of challenge than, for example, writing for orchestra where there are readily more varied timbral possibilities at the composer’s disposal. As I wrote Culs-de-sac (en passacaille), I became interested in excavating what lies beneath the surface level—this surface level being the timbral uniformity of the string quartet. As a result, listening for me became an obsessive act, focusing myself on the process of listening to the sounds at a deeper level.

Initially, writing a cycle of pieces was not in my mind. Then in mid-to-late 2010, I came across the recording of Quatuor Diotima playing Liturgia Fractal by Spanish composer Alberto Posadas, then another recording of the Arditti Quartet playing the cycle Zayin by Francisco Guerrero Marín, teacher of Posadas. Listening to these pieces, I thought that writing a cycle would be a good idea for me, as well. But since every work would be conceived as an individual piece that would or would not be played as part of the cycle, I decided that in my cycle, all four players only play three out of the six pieces. I thought that working on subset formations gives me an opportunity to re-examine timbral constituents of the string quartet. But in order to ensure the thematic cohesion of the cycle across different instrumentation, I decided that I would embed the musical elements of Culs-de-sac (en passacaille) in the other pieces in the cycle—for example, I ask all the strings to detune, and this scordatura is kept throughout the cycle.

(This is only an excerpt. You can read the full interview on the I Care If You Listen website.)

The Sound of Empathy in George Lewis’s “Afterword”

(This article originally appeared on the AMS Musicology Now website on May 11, 2018.)

Premiered in 2015 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, Afterword is a two-act opera composed by George Lewis to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM). I approach the opera as an opportunity to examine the role of community and empathy in Lewis’s works. Though Lewis discusses empathy in terms of a specific community—the AACM on the South Side of Chicago—I apply his thinking to the role of the listener in general. Lewis’s musical works, especially Afterword, demonstrate the sound of empathy—the sound of pushing existing boundaries while at the same time calling on the active participation of the listener as a creative improviser.


(Afterword, Act 1, scene 4, from left to right: Julian Terrell Otis, Gwendolyn Brown, and Joelle Lamarre. Photo by George Lewis)

In a recent interview, George Lewis describes his conception of community and empathy in Afterword:

Community is essential to the opera’s themes. What we’re seeing is a community in formation. People are coming together to find commonalities, and they need to come together because nobody is really supporting them. […] And we’re seeing the stresses and strains of community formation—disagreements of different kinds. But at the same time there is a need to forge a community that is accepting of different points of view. This is when you get to the empathy part. Empathy is also fundamental to the creation of this community; we need empathy to establish community. People need to be receptive and open. They need to even make themselves a little vulnerable, and we see this in the opera as well. There is a sense in which people aren’t sure what’s going to happen (Rothe 2017).

At the AACM’s first meeting in May 1965, musicians gathered to discuss how they could survive in an environment where black musicians were being pushed out of the South Side of Chicago. Confronted with an exploitative music industry and a city council that sought to shut down music venues on the South Side, the musicians voted to form an organization for the promotion of creative music—original music outside the restrictive genre markers of the music industry.

A key aspect of the AACM from its inception, genre mobility refers to transcending the existing musical system and its genre boundaries, drawing on a broad range of different musical languages. Through genre mobility, AACM members were able to resist restrictive genre markers while exploring new networks and infrastructural pathways.

As described by Lewis in his 2008 book, A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music, in the early days of the AACM, empathy was especially evident in Muhal Richard Abrams’s aim of “awakening the psyche” of his fellow creative musicians. On the one hand, this was a commitment to original music and the need to be supportive of fellow creative musicians. On the other, it involved concern for the “spiritual growth” of the community—to provide free education for young musicians and present imaginative programs of creative music to the public.

The Sound of Empathy and Genre Mobility

Drawing on the scholarship of Suzanne Keen (2007, 4), I interpret empathy as a shared experience and feeling. Keen discusses empathy as including two aspects: it is a spontaneously shared emotion that also involves cognitive perspective taking. This perspective taking is always shaped by cultural and individual factors of memory and experience. In a chapter on empathy, improvisation, and embodied cognition, Vijay Iyer (2016, 18) likewise stresses how our perception of others is grounded in a culturally-situated understanding of embodied action. According to Iyer, empathy is a kind of action understanding that activates similar motor programs in the observer’s brain when experiencing music—i.e. bodies in motion.

Ryan Dohoney’s research on Julius Eastman has been instrumental in shaping my thinking about empathy in terms of genre mobility. In a chapter on Julius Eastman’s life and music in New York City in the period between 1976 and 1990, Dohoney (2015, 126) examines how Eastman was able to connect diverse networks at venues such as The Kitchen, Environ, and Paradise Garage. During this period, Eastman composed and performed music that defies a single genre label—mixing extended vocal techniques, experimental music, improvisation, and disco.

George Lewis’s music demonstrates a similar sort of empathy through genre mobility and drawing on multiple networks. In Lewis’s music, the sound of empathy is of pushing existing boundaries, giving rise to a feeling of instability that calls for the active participation of the listener as a creative improviser. In the process of doing so, it activates the desire for change in everyday life.

(Afterword, Act 1, scene 4, 1:45:44-1:58:19; Ojai Music Festival performance, June 9, 2017, Libbey Bowl, Ojai, CA)

The sound of empathy is especially evident in scene 4 of Afterword, entitled “First Meeting.” Based on Lewis’s transcript of an audio recording of the founding AACM meeting in May 1965, this scene depicts the musicians in the process of deciding to perform only original music. As the musicians discuss various types of music, Lewis uses the opportunity to compose music that comments on music (music about music)—a tradition that stretches back to Monteverdi’s Orfeo.

A close listening of this scene reveals that there is no over-arching global form. Instead, Lewis works with modules—approximately ten to fifteen measures of music at a time—which he brings back, but changes with each repetition. The layering of ostinatos and sustained chords results in a thick, complex sound. Lewis creates a shared feeling of instability by means of jump cuts between sections and extended techniques that destabilize pitch (e.g., glissando, microtonal inflection, tremolo). In the vocal writing, he contrasts recitative-like passages, which are unmetered and occur over sustained chords, with metered arioso passages. Lewis stresses the clarity of the text through syllabic treatment.

A key technique of genre mobility is musical signifyin(g), a practice of quoting or referring to preexisting material that in turn changes it by adding a new layer of meaning—whether playful, subversive, or as a means of paying tribute to someone or something (on musical signifyin(g), see Samuel Floyd). Afterword’s scene 4 includes a number of examples of musical signifyin(g). When soprano Joelle Lamarre’s avatar sings “we thought of all the things we are,” the music references the jazz standard “All the Things You Are” (1:47:07). Given that the AACM members rejected the genre marker of jazz, this reference is a playful subversion of existing genre boundaries. When the text alludes to music on the radio (“The other music is already being presented; record companies, disk jockeys, everyone is promoting it”), Lewis signifies on the groove-oriented nature of much popular black music in the mid-1960s (funk and R&B; 1:51:38). Lastly, whenever the text refers to original or creative music (1:48:19, 1:50:01, 1:54:16, 1:56:51), Lewis layers multiple loops on top of each other. He is signifyin(g) on the idea of creative music as involving the complex layering of sounds. In sum, we encounter a sense of empathy through the shared feeling of instability along with the shared experience of Lewis pushing existing genre boundaries.

The Improvising Listener

The absence of a global form, the complex layering of loops, and stark contrasts of sound—these are all techniques that call on the active participation of the listener as a creative improviser. While Afterword’s score is fully notated—i.e. there is no improvisation at the level of the performers—this does not exclude the possibility of the improvising listener. Lewis writes of the listener:

[…] We can understand the experience of listening to music as very close to the experience of the improviser. Listening itself, an improvisative act engaged in by everyone, announces a practice of active engagement with the world, where we sift, interpret, store, and forget, in parallel with action and fundamentally articulated with it (Lewis 2007, 113).

In other words, the listener participates in the performance as an improviser, which is akin to the experience of improvisation in everyday life. In Afterword’s scene 4, the improvising listener navigates multiple layers of sound and creates a pathway through disparate blocks of sound. The fact that the singers’ text always remains in the foreground in no way diminishes the role of the listener as creative improviser. By experiencing this scene in the context of a musical language of instability, we have all the more appreciation for the difficult task confronted by AACM musicians at the first meeting. While the listener to some degree self-identifies with the AACM musicians, empathetic listening in this case refers more broadly to the shared feeling of instability and pushing existing boundaries.

In recent years, empathy—as a mode of emotionally engaging with music and literature—has received much criticism. Molly Abel Travis (2010, 232) argues for the necessity of moving beyond the self-identification of empathy, instead adopting an attitude of openness to experiences of difference that “interrupt our epistemological projects to contain the other.” However, it is exactly this attitude of openness that Lewis’s opera fosters by pushing existing genre boundaries. In doing so, he creates a shared feeling of instability that simultaneously activates the listener’s own mobility as a creative improviser. As listeners to Afterword, we encounter a model for thinking about improvisation in everyday life, seeking similar experiences of pushing boundaries of social injustice.

Works Cited

Dohoney, Ryan. 2015. “A Flexible Musical Identity: Julius Eastman in New York City, 1976-90.” In Gay Guerrilla: Julius Eastman and His Music, edited by Renée Levine Packer and Mary Jane Leach, 116-130. Rochester: University of Rochester Press.

Floyd, Samuel A. 1995. “African-American Modernism, Signifyin(g), and Black Music.” In The Power of Black Music: Interpreting Its History from Africa to the United States, 87-99. New York: Oxford University Press.

Iyer, Vijay. 2016. “Improvisation, Action Understanding, and Music Cognition with and without Bodies.” In The Oxford Handbook of Critical Improvisation Studies, Volume 1, edited by George E. Lewis and Benjamin Piekut, 74-90. New York: Oxford University Press.

Keen, Suzanne. 2007. Empathy and the Novel. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Lewis, George E. 2007. “Mobilitas Animi: Improvising Technologies, Intending Chance.” Parallax 13, no. 4: 108-122.

_____________. A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008.

Rothe, Alexander K. 2017. “An Interview with the Composer.” VAN Magazine, June 22.

Travis, Molly Abel. 2010. “Beyond Empathy: Narrative Distancing and Ethics in Toni Morrison’s Beloved and J.M. Coetzee’s Disgrace.Journal of Narrative Theory 40, no. 2 (Summer): 231-250.

Listening to the AACM and Its Ongoing Impact

(A shorter version of this review was originally published on I Care If You Listen on July 20, 2017.)

A Review of Bells for the South Side


Roscoe Mitchell. Bells for the South Side. September 2015. ECM 5711952, 2017. CD.

The album Bells for the South Side, released by ECM Records on June 16, 2017, features multi-instrumentalist, composer, and improviser Roscoe Mitchell’s four trio ensembles, which are presented individually and combined in new and fresh ways. This album documents two concerts that he gave in September 2015 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago as part of an exhibition celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM)—a collective of African-American musicians founded on the South Side of Chicago in 1965.

A founding member of the AACM, Mitchell later created the Art Ensemble of Chicago, the AACM’s flagship ensemble for many years. As George E. Lewis writes in his 2008 book A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music, the AACM promoted individual development within the context of the community. For instance, Muhal Richard Abrams encouraged AACM members to develop their own compositional style and not to imitate others.

These same principles of cooperation and individuality are also highlighted on Bells for the South Side. The musicians of each trio contribute their own unique sound, and together they create an environment that is supportive of individual expression.

The album begins with “Spatial Aspects of the Sound,” a composition by Mitchell for two pianos, percussion, and piccolo. We hear warm, resonating chords on the two pianos and tubular bells, highlighting the sound of the bell—a theme that Mitchell frequently returns to throughout the album. Midway through the piece, the pianists pluck and strum the strings inside the piano, and the percussionist Kikanju Baku comes on stage and dances with sleigh bells and ankle bells (see the album preview above.) Baku’s dance is a reference to the late Malachi Favors, who often danced during Art Ensemble of Chicago performances. The piece ends with Mitchell performing a whole-tone passage on the piccolo.

The next piece’s title, “Panoply,” refers to a 1967 painting by Mitchell. Many of the AACM members engaged with other art forms in addition to music. Mitchell’s 1967 painting is densely structured with vibrant colors, characteristics that are in turn reflected in the musical composition. The piece starts with an ostinato passage on the xylophone, cymbal, and snare drum—a passage that returns throughout the work. This is the album’s first composition to use all of the musicians from the separate trios. However, the musicians don’t all play at once, but rather are divided into smaller groups. 


Roscoe Mitchell, “Panoply,” 1967, Acrylic on canvas, Collection of Kay Michener.

“Prelude to a Rose” features the album’s first trio: Mitchell, composer and multi-instrumentalist Tyshawn Sorey, and trumpeter Hugh Ragin. This work is like a theatrical scenario. Following a slow, somber chorus, the performers engage in a humorous three-way conversation via their instruments. I’m reminded of Paul Steinbeck’s discussion of the intermedia elements incorporated by the Art Ensemble of Chicago. Inspired by the happenings and performance art of the 1950s and 1960s, Art Ensemble performances included poetry, costumes, masks, face paint, gesture, and movement.

The second trio—consisting of Mitchell, keyboardist Craig Taborn, and percussionist Kikanju Baku—performs “Dancing in the Canyon,” which begins softly with chimes and Taborn’s mysterious electronics. When Mitchell enters midway through the piece, he leads the ensemble in an intensity structure—a massive buildup to a dense texture in which the musicians simultaneously play contrasting material.

“Ep 7849” is an exercise in transcending genre boundaries. At first, we hear a low brass instrument with thunderous bass drum. Then there is a playful electronic dance music section, followed by some hard rock with heavily distorted electric guitar. We couldn’t be any further from the initial style of “Spatial Aspects of the Sound.” Yet even at this moment, we can hear bells softly chiming in the distance.

Since the previous piece was an elaborate, through-composed transition, the title track “Bells for the South Side” feels like an arrival. It showcases what I take to be the specific bells alluded to in the title—Roscoe Mitchell’s percussion cage and the percussion set-ups of Don Moye and Malachi Favors. (See this video on Mitchell’s percussion cage.) I interpret the piece as a tribute to the Art Ensemble of Chicago—in particular, Lester Bowie and Malachi Favors, who weren’t alive to celebrate the AACM’s anniversary—and to the community of the South Side of Chicago, which played an active role in the AACM from the beginning. The musical work, which has a ternary form, begins with a short introduction of sleigh bells, an alarm, and chimes. A siren (Varèse?) signals the onset of the first section—a beautiful, majestic theme played on the piccolo trumpet. The contrasting second section has a low, ominous element recalling the previous piece (“Ep 7849”). The final section brings back the piccolo trumpet, though its melodic material is now transformed.

The third trio features two artists with whom Mitchell has collaborated for many years: percussionist Tani Tabbal and bassist Jaribu Shahid. They perform “Prelude to the Card Game, Cards for Drums, and the Final Hand,” which highlights the bass and drums—normally associated with the rhythm section—as melodic instruments. In the first section, Mitchell improvises over Shahid’s melodic line, followed by a virtuosic drum solo by Tani Tabbal. The last section returns to the initial melodic material, this time with all three musicians.

The fourth trio includes two of Mitchell’s colleagues at Mills College: multi-instrumentalist and composer James Fei and percussionist William Winant. “Six Gongs and Two Woodblocks” begins and ends with an imitative texture. Between these sections, Mitchell is featured as a master of extended techniques (microtones, multiphonics, circular breathing) against a colorful background provided by Fei on electronics and Winant on gongs and woodblock.

In the final piece, “Red Moon in the Sky,” all of the musicians gather to perform an extended intensity structure, like an expanded version of the one found in “Dancing in the Canyon.” The album ends with “Odwalla,” a classic of the Art Ensemble of Chicago.

I highly recommend this recording. It demonstrates the same sort of mobility of genre that the AACM was able to accomplish. While celebrating the AACM’s rich history, it also points to the future. Moreover, the album draws attention to music’s potentially transformative role within the community. This is an important lesson for today’s listeners.

Further Reading

Lewis, George E. A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008.

Steinbeck, Paul. Message to Our Folks: The Art Ensemble of Chicago. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017. [Link to Paul Steinbeck’s writings on the Art Ensemble of Chicago]

Further Listening

Art Ensemble of Chicago. A Jackson in Your House. Sunspots SPOT 543. CD. Original release, BYG/Actuel 529302, 1969. LP.

 Art Ensemble of Chicago. Live at Mandel Hall. Delmark DE 432. CD. Original release, Delmark DS-432/433, 1972. LP.

Mitchell, Roscoe. Roscoe Mitchell Sextet: Sound. Delmark DE-408, 1996. CD. Original release, Delmark DL-408, 1966. LP.

On the Bildungsroman and the Dramaturgy of the Avatar in George Lewis’s “Afterword”


Founded in 1947, the Ojai Music Festival is a four-day music festival held in Ojai, CA every June. This year’s music director is Vijay Iyer (see his artistic statement here), and he will be highlighting the outstanding legacy of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM).

Program Notes for the Ojai Performance of George Lewis’s Afterword (June 9, Libbey Bowl, Ojai CA)

Premiered in 2015 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, Afterword is a two-act chamber opera composed by George Lewis to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), a collective of African-American musicians founded on the South Side of Chicago in 1965. The libretto, also written by Lewis, is based on the final chapter of his 2008 book A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music—a chapter in which he depicts a fictional meeting between past AACM members who are reunited to discuss the organization’s history and hopes for the future. The discussion draws on recordings of past meetings and interviews conducted by Lewis. The opera presents this meeting as a series of episodes in which the same three singers serve as avatars of the organization’s thoughts and beliefs. I argue in these program notes that there are two central ideas for understanding Afterword: Lewis’s critical revision of the traditional bildungsroman and his dramaturgy of the avatar.

George Lewis refers to Afterword as a “Bildungsoper,” a term derived from the “Bildungsroman”—a coming-of-age novel. Lewis’s choice of terms here is especially significant, since the bildungsroman has traditionally been associated with white European values. In the bildungsroman, as discussed by Jennifer Heinert (2009), a young hero is confronted with a series of obstacles that, once overcome, lead him—the protagonist is usually male—to embrace the values of the dominant (i.e. white European) culture. Instead, Lewis presents a revision of the traditional bildungsroman—a revision that critically engages the genre’s values, assumptions, and conventional narrative techniques. In Afterword, the development of the community is just as important as that of the individual. Like the bildungsromans of Toni Morrison (e.g., The Bluest Eye), Lewis eschews the linear and teleological trajectory of the traditional bildungsroman in favor of the juxtaposition of multiple narratives and historical moments. In doing so, Afterword offers listeners a positive model of development that does not reduce African Americans and women to the role of the other.

Particularly important for understanding Afterword is its dramaturgy of the avatar. An avatar is a virtual image that stands in for a person on the internet or in a game. The dramaturgy of the avatar refers to a type of theater in which the characters on the stage are both human beings and virtual selves. Accordingly, Afterword refrains from depicting actual historical figures in the AACM and instead employs the opera’s characters as proxies for the AACM as an organization. As Uri McMillan (2015) writes about black feminist art and performance, the avatar blurs the boundary between subject and object, allowing black female artists to perform objecthood in a way that extends agency and overcomes everyday limitations.

This aspect of the avatar is evident in Afterword’s emphasis on the body as a site of meaning that extends beyond the confines of the verbal language of the libretto. More specifically, in Sean Griffin’s remarkable staging, the singers also appear as movers, performing a sophisticated gestural language in counterpoint to the verbal text. McMillan also alludes to the “polytemporal” nature of the avatar—that is, it permits performers to transcend linear time and to perform the past in the present. One finds this practice in Lewis’s libretto and its interweaving of testimonials and transcripts removed in time. Afterword does not depict the AACM’s history in a sequential fashion, but rather as a series of historical episodes.

Finally, the concept of the avatar enables us to rethink the relationship of the media involved in opera. Just as the avatar blurs distinctions between the real and virtual worlds, opera similarly transcends the boundaries of its constituent media. As Lewis states: “Sung and spoken voices, instrumental music, and movement become heteroglossic avatars, in a process described by Toni Morrison and others as the expression of a community voice.” Ultimately, in expressing the community voice, Afterword contributes to what Guthrie Ramsey (2012) refers to as the outstanding task of “denaturaliz[ing] some of the conventions that have governed blackness’s presence in opera.”

Works Cited

Lewis, George. A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008.

Heinert, Jennifer Lee Jordan. Narrative Conventions and Race in the Novels of Toni Morrison. New York: Routledge, 2009.

McMillan, Uri. Embodied Avatars: Genealogies of Black Feminist Art and Performance. New York: New York University Press, 2015.

Morrison, Toni. The Bluest Eye. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1970.

Ramsey, Guthrie. “Foreword: Singing in the Dark.” In Blackness in Opera, edited by Naomi Andre, Karen Bryan, and Eric Saylor, ix-x. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2012.

(These program notes also appear on the Ojai Music Festival website.)

Afterlives of May 1968 in the Bayreuth Centennial Ring Cycle

A Preview of My MLA 2017 Paper

In May 1968 and the months following it, France experienced widespread student protests and the largest worker strike in French history, affecting all parts of France and all sectors of the economy. I adopt the term “afterlives” from Kristin Ross (2002) to refer to how the legacy of May 1968 was subjected to new interpretations for personal and political gain during the 1970s in France. These afterlives were apparent not only in concert music – as documented by Eric Drott (2011) – but also in opera stagings, in particular of Richard Wagner’s Ring cycle. The theme of Wagner the revolutionary – Wagner’s participation in the Dresden Uprising of 1848/9 and the revolutionary content of his works – was especially conducive to assessments of current events and memories of the 1968 events.

Dammerung1 copy

The final scene of Chéreau’s Götterdämmerung. Workers watch as Valhalla burns to the ground.

Both Chéreau and Boulez participated in the May events, albeit in different ways. Chéreau experimented with collective theater and bringing theater to local schools and factories in Sartrouville. On May 13, 1968, Boulez gave a lecture (“Where Are We Now?“) in Saint-Etienne that proposed sweeping changes to the new music landscape in France.

By the mid-1970s, memories of May 1968 had undergone a significant transformation. Many former radicals disavowed their revolutionary past and Marxism in general, as exemplified by the New Philosophers. Chéreau and Boulez were similarly disappointed with and wished to forget their experiences of May 1968. In spite of their desire to forget the past, both Chéreau and Boulez adopt ideas and themes of the May 1968 period in the Bayreuth centennial Ring. (For further background information on the Bayreuth centennial Ring, see my previous blog post.) Chéreau’s critique of Wotan as a metaphor for an oppressive state is in keeping with the anti-authoritarian impulse of the 1968 years. Boulez repeatedly draws on ideas from his 1968 lecture, in particular the idea of discovering a new musical language and establishing a research center outside of the traditional concert system.

(My MLA 2017 paper is entitled “Visions of Wagner and Memories of May 1968 in the Bayreuth Centennial Ring Cycle” and will take place on Thursday, January 5 at 5:15-6:30pm, Franklin 12, Philadelphia Marriott. See the abstract here.)

(This blog post and conference paper are based on Chapters One, Three, and Four of my dissertation. The material is under copyright. All rights reserved.)

George E. Lewis and Zora Neale Hurston’s Notion of Adornment

georgelewisThis past weekend at the American Musicological Society annual conference in Vancouver, George E. Lewis was elected an honorary member of the society (see the official announcement here). Lewis, who is the Edwin H. Case Professor of American Music at Columbia University, has been a central figure in the AMS, most notably his plenary lecture “Putting Scholarship into (Art) Practice: Four Cases” at the annual meeting in Louisville in 2015. In addition to having served as an outstanding mentor to me and many other young scholars and musicians, Lewis has greatly contributed to the AMS’s willingness to engage with important issues of race, ethnicity, gender, and diversity. In doing so, he has fostered a culture of open dialogue and tolerance, both of which are key for academic scholarship. I was very happy to hear that the AMS has formally recognized Lewis’s outstanding achievements and contributions.

In order to celebrate George Lewis’s award, I would like to revisit his composition The Will to Adorn, a work that he composed for his Composer Portrait concert at Miller Theatre in November 2011. The work’s title refers to Zora Neale Hurston’s 1934 essay “Characteristics of Negro Expression,” which reflects on the nature of African-American identity with regard to literature, art, and music. Hurston writes:

The will to adorn is the second most notable characteristic in Negro expression [after drama and mimicry]. Perhaps his idea of ornament does not attempt to meet conventional standards, but it satisfies the soul of its creator. In this respect the American Negro has done wonders to the English language. It has often been stated by etymologists that the Negro has introduced no African words to the language. This is true, but it is equally true that he has made over a great part of the tongue to his liking […]. The stark, trimmed phrases of the Occident seem too bare for the voluptuous child of the sun, hence the adornment. It arises out of the same impulse as the wearing of jewelry and the making of sculpture – the urge to adorn. […] Whatever the Negro does of his own volition he embellishes (56f).

In this passage, Hurston identifies the “will to adorn” as a key feature of African-American expression. As Cheryl A. Wall explains, Hurston saw culture as a living phenomenon and stressed the creativity, adaptability, and variety of African-American expression. Adornment is a creative embellishment, enabling the possibility of a mutual cultural enrichment.

George Lewis’s composition The Will to Adorn highlights this idea of adornment as creative embellishment and mutual enrichment. He writes the following about the work:

The title comes from a 1934 Zora Neale Hurston essay, “Characteristics of Negro Expression.” The piece is not meant as any kind of direct homage to Hurston, and the music doesn’t indulge in period quotes or related essentialisms. Rather, what I’m interested in is recursive adornment as a compositional attitude or method that valorizes instability and even breakdown (Lewis on Lewis).

Though not intended “as a direct homage to Hurston,” George Lewis nevertheless takes up and further develops the notion of adornment as a type of cultural exchange that doesn’t negate difference. The music is dense and complex, consisting of many layers juxtaposed alongside one another. Lewis achieves great variety by breaking down the piece into a number of smaller sections, each featuring a different set of instruments and its own rhythmic, melodic, and timbre profile. My favorite moments are when Lewis presents an ostinato in the foreground and then disintegrates it into the background. At times, the music alludes to jazz and postwar avant-garde styles, suggesting a mutual exchange between the two. Yet Lewis embellishes both styles to create his own musical language.

In place of a conclusion, I offer the reader the following question: Might the notion of adornment be a fruitful model for considering broader issues of diversity in musicology?

Congratulations to George on his AMS Honorary Membership!

Further Reading

Hurston, Zora Neale. “The Characteristics of Negro Expression.” In Sweat, edited by Cheryl Wall, 55-71. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1997.

Lewis, George E. “Guest Post: Lewis on Lewis.” The International Contemporary Ensemble Blog, November 11, 2011. Accessed November 7, 2016.

Wall, Cheryl A. “On Freedom and the Will to Adorn: Debating Aesthetics and/as Ideology in African American Literature.” In Aesthetics and Ideology, edited by George Levine, 283-303. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1994.

(This blog post is based on a paper that I presented at the German Academic Exchange Service Music Conference in Berlin in 2012.)

A “Tristan” in the Style of Lars von Trier?

Some Observations about the New Tristan Production at the Met Opera

mettristanimage2This past Thursday, October 13, I attended the new production of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde at the Met Opera. My expectations were very high and – for the most part – I was not disappointed. Apart from the superb singing and conducting, what struck me the most about this production was its cinematic qualities and its use of association to create a thick web of visual imagery in keeping with the films of Lars von Trier, in particular the 2011 film Melancholia.

Mariusz Trelinski’s staging, which shifts the setting of Wagner’s work to a modern-day warship, was cinematic in its simultaneous use of multiple spaces. For example, in Act One, as Isolde (Nina Stemme) and Brangäne (Ekaterina Gubanova) converse in the ship’s cabin, Tristan (Stuart Skelton) and his men stand on the deck directly above them. Also cinematic is the use of video projections, especially during the Prelude to Act One. These video projections are imaginative in their juxtaposition of abstract shapes and figures, a view from the ship’s periscope, and footage of a solar eclipse. The solar eclipse was a not-so-subtle reference to the planets that collide in Trier’s Melancholia, and the periscope reminded me of the 1981 German epic war film Das Boot. The video projections continue throughout the opera, and Trelinski is very adept at blurring the boundaries between staged action and the video. In general, Trelinski adopts a visual language of quotations, at times to film and elsewhere to other stagings of Tristan. For instance, Act Two is set in a missile storage facility, a curious mixture of Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove (“How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb”) and Heiner Müller’s powerful staging of Tristan at Bayreuth in 1993. In Act Two of Müller’s staging, Tristan (Siegfried Jerusalem) and Isolde (Waltraud Meier) walk between rows of steel armor, suggestive of rearmament and imminent catastrophe. The result of Trelinki’s visual language of quotations is that the viewer focuses more on looking for and identifying the allusions and less on the plot.

To summarize my observations about Trelinski’s staging: the production doesn’t have a clear, over-arching concept but rather works through association. By association, I mean the juxtaposition of recurring images (e.g., the ship, the moon, a solar eclipse, warheads) and allusions to film and other stagings. Trelinski’s emphasis on association rather than a single concept or narrative is what makes this new Met production so like Trier’s Melancholia, even more so than the staging’s direct visual references to the film. And this is where staging and film become a matter of personal taste: I don’t think a staging has to have a clear narrative in order to be successful. A juxtaposition of contrasting images allows the viewer to create his or her own meaning of the production.

The singing and conducting were excellent. Sir Simon Rattle’s conducting was always transparent and very supportive of the singers. (Read here about how Rattle consulted Mahler’s score in order to increase the transparency and lightness of the music.) Yet, ultimately, Rattle’s conducting was missing any real bite. I would have preferred more flexibility in his tempos, although he did push forward in the Prelude to Act Two. It was the chance of a lifetime to hear Nina Stemme perform the role of Isolde. Stemme’s sound is fuller and more polished than Waltraud Meier’s, yet I still prefer Meier’s greater emphasis on dramatic delivery. Stuart Skelton is wonderful as Tristan: a full-bodied sound with intelligence and great delivery. It is indeed rare to have a production in which both Tristan and Isolde are so superbly performed.

In conclusion, I highly recommend the Met’s new Tristan. I had high expectations and was not at all disappointed. The staging was a bit gloomy at times, and the lighting was not ideal from my balcony seats. Most likely, the staging works best on the HD movie-theater transmissions, and I look forward to watching the DVD. While this staging was not the best that I have seen, it was both imaginative and thoughtful. If you haven’t seen the production yet, do not miss out on this wonderful experience.

A Musical Adventure Novel Set in the Mountains: Strauss’s “Alpine Symphony”

CD Review of Richard Strauss: Eine Alpensinfonie (Kent Nagano, Göteborgs Symfoniker)


Kent Nagano. Richard Strauss: Eine Alpensinfonie. Recorded with the Göteborgs Symfoniker, November 2014. Farao Classics B 108091, 2016. CD.

The Alps are only a short train ride from Munich, where Richard Strauss was born and lived for a great part of his life. In fact, as I recall from living there, you can see them from the window on a clear day, hovering along the horizon just out of reach. The experience of living in close proximity to the Alps – Strauss later settled in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, at the foot of the Zugspitze – strongly affected his music and his view of life in general. Nowhere is this more evident than in his Alpensinfonie, op. 64, composed between 1911 and 1915. This excellent new CD by Kent Nagano and the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra keeps listeners on the edge of their seats as they follow the protagonist in his perilous journey in the Alps.

The Alps and mountains in general have long fascinated German writers and artists: Schiller’s Wilhelm Tell; the paintings of Caspar David Friedrich; Nietzsche; Thomas Mann’s Magic Mountain; and, Bergfilme, a film genre about mountains (Ireton and Schaumann 2012). As the musicologist Christopher Morris states, Strauss’s conception of the mountains was mediated by ideas of his time period, which saw the birth of the nature-oriented German Youth Movement and the proliferation of numerous alpine societies (Morris 2012). Equally influential for Strauss were Nietzsche’s writings, as demonstrated by the 1896 tone poem Also sprach Zarathustra. The initial title for Op. 64 was “The Antichrist. An Alpine Symphony,” alluding to a passage in Nietzsche’s Der Antichrist: “One must be skilled in living on mountains, seeing the wretched ephemeral babble of politics and national self-seeking beneath oneself.” Yet we must be careful not to reduce Strauss’s work to Nietzsche’s philosophy. Strauss was also responding to other musical works that depict nature, in particular Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony, the third movement of Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique (“Scène aux champs”), and Mahler’s First Symphony. Finally, Strauss provided a musical counterpart to the alpine novel, a type of adventure novel set in the Alps that was popularized by such authors as Ludwig Ganghofer and Ludwig Thoma. Like Strauss’s Alpine Symphony, these alpine novels often featured a life-and-death struggle with nature resulting in self-enlightenment (Morris 2012).


Part of the Bavarian Alps, the Zugspitze is the largest mountain in Germany (9,718 ft). Richard Strauss had a villa in Garmisch, which is at the foot of the Zugspitze.

This recording was not my first time listening to Kent Nagano conduct Strauss. Nagano was the General Music Director at the Bayerische Staatsoper when I lived in Munich in 2006/2007, and I heard him conduct nearly every week. Nagano has a deep understanding of Strauss’s operas and orchestral works, a type of mastery that can only be achieved through many years of experience conducting Strauss’s works. Nagano presents Strauss as a modernist composer that uses an enormous orchestra to create a highly differentiated sound palette. Nagano keeps the rich orchestral textures transparent enough so that one can always hear the contrapuntal treatment of the melodic voices and Strauss’s ability to create seamless transitions between contrasting episodes.

The Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra (GSO) has long been one of my favorite ensembles. I grew up listening to their superb recording of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. I was nevertheless surprised to read about their long tradition of performing Strauss’s works. The GSO performed Don Juan in their 1905-1906 inaugural season. In 1917, Strauss visited Sweden and praised the city of Gothenburg for its outstanding musical culture. Over the years, the GSO has performed Strauss’s works many times. In order to celebrate the composer’s 150th anniversary in 2014, Nagano and the GSO have been performing and recording all of Strauss’s major orchestral works (many of these performances are available on the GSO’s Vimeo channel.)

(A short promotional video about this CD)

In my opinion, the best part of this recording is “On the Summit” (Auf dem Gipfel), at which point the protagonist has reached his goal (listen to a preview on iTunes.) The Zarathustra motif sounds above a bed of shimmering tremolo strings. This is followed by a reference to the oboe melody from the third movement of Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique (“Scène aux champs”), when the artist is in the countryside and hears two shepherds piping a mountain tune. The Zarathustra motif returns at 1:51 accompanied by a brass choir and percussion. A soaring string melody then appears above pedal tones in the low brass and strings (2:19). The soaring melody is juxtaposed with a countermelody in the brass. This movement of Strauss’s work is a moment of extreme elation after having reached the mountain’s summit. The episode’s majestic major tonality contrasts the extreme chromaticism of the other movements, lending it a feeling of arrival and stability.

According to the Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Literature, the adventure novel is a genre in which the reader follows a protagonist through a series of episodes involving extreme danger and that are overcome through both cunning and hard work. In the Alpine Symphony, we encounter a similar narrative of a protagonist who aspires to ascend a mountain. Like the adventure novel, Strauss’s tone poem is made up of a number of episodes, each one propelling the action forward. Another key feature of the adventure novel is the attention to realistic details, which meant incorporating the latest scientific research and information from real expeditions. We find a corresponding realism in Strauss’s work, more specifically his ability to conjure up the illusion of a real, life-like sonic landscape. For example, we hear such things as a distant hunting party (Der Anstieg), bird calls, a babbling brook, a waterfall, and the intense winds of an alpine storm (Gewitter und Sturm, Abstieg). In conclusion, by highlighting the music’s exciting episodic nature and its programmatic details, Nagano and the GSO present the Alpine Symphony as a type of musical adventure novel. I highly recommend this recording.

Further Reading:

Ireton, Sean and Caroline Schaumann. “Introduction: The Meaning of Mountains: Geology, History, Culture.” In Heights of Reflection: Mountains in the German Imagination from the Middle Ages to the Twenty-First Century, edited by Sean Ireton and Caroline Schaumann, 1-19. Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2012. [Link to book]

Morris, Christopher. Modernism and the Cult of Mountains: Music, Opera, Cinema. Farnham, Surrey, England: Ashgate Pub., 2012. [Link to book]

Youmans, Charles Dowell. Richard Strauss’s Orchestral Music and the German Intellectual Tradition: The Philosophical Roots of Musical Modernism. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2005. [Link to book]

Boulez, IRCAM, and Bayreuth

In January 1977, the Institute for Research and Coordination in Acoustics/Music (IRCAM) officially opened its doors to the public. The occasion was marked by a series of important concerts entitled “Passage du XXe siècle” celebrating the music of the 20th century. Part of the Centre Georges Pompidou (CGP), IRCAM is a music center that focuses on computer music production and computer music research. It began as President Pompidou’s vision of a cultural center in Paris that would improve France’s prestige abroad and at home, which along with a music center included a Museum of Modern Art, a large public library, and a center of industrial design. President Pompidou chose Pierre Boulez to create and lead the new music center, since Boulez was France’s most revered musician and composer – even if Boulez had left France after a bitter argument with the former Minister of Culture André Malraux. When Boulez began planning the music center in 1970, he had two models: the Bayreuth Festival and Bauhaus. I will focus on how and why the Bayreuth Festival became a model for Boulez, since Bayreuth seems like an unlikely model for an experimental music research center.


The IRCAM building (seen above) and the Bayreuth Festspielhaus look nothing alike, but Boulez nevertheless saw Bayreuth as a model for IRCAM.

Boulez’s thoughts about creating a new music research center can be traced back to a talk that he gave in Saint-Etienne in May 1968, at the same time that student and worker protests were erupting throughout France (Born 1995). Entitled “Where Are We Now?,” Boulez’s talk calls for sweeping changes to the new music landscape in France:

Contemporary music in fact demands the intelligent participation of the audience … but our concert-hall arrangement, and indeed the whole character of our musical life, implies, as I have said, an attitude of worship … I believe that solutions to this problem can be found only in a common undertaking in which each individual will have his own part to play. I am quite clear in my mind that musicians by themselves cannot solve these problems … but they alone will be capable of determining the direction of any new discovery (Boulez 1986: 462).

Boulez concludes that composers, musicians, and scientists must work together to create new sounds and a new musical language that is shared by musicians and listeners alike.

When Boulez gave this talk in 1968, he had already conducted Parsifal at the Bayreuth Festival, an experience that had a profound effect on his understanding of music and its place in society. After collaborating with Wieland Wagner on a production of Berg’s Wozzeck at the Frankfurt Opera in April 1966, Boulez accepted Wieland’s invitation to conduct Parsifal at Bayreuth later that year. Both Wieland and Boulez set out to capture a sonic equivalent of the New Bayreuth style, stripping away the layers of tradition that had accumulated at the festival. It seemed all the more shocking then when Boulez said in a 1967 interview in Spiegel that “blow[ing] up the opera houses … would be the best solution.” When asked to comment on his appearances in Bayreuth, Boulez explained that the Bayreuth Festival is an exception – that Bayreuth is a site for experimentation and innovation, since it is not bound by the same constraints as other opera houses.

(In the 1966 Parsifal at Bayreuth, Boulez provided the sonic equivalent of Wieland Wagner’s New Bayreuth style, stripping away old layers of tradition at Bayreuth.)

In Boulez’s writings on Wagner, he frequently repeats his argument that Bayreuth is not bound by the constraints of traditional opera houses. In his essay “Richard Wagner: The Man and the Works” (1975), Boulez writes that Wagner “overturned the existing language of music as well as of the opera” (223), which required not only a different performance space but also a new school of singing. Boulez states that Wagner finally accomplished this task with the Bayreuth Festival. Yet Wagner died shortly afterward, and Bayreuth “was soon to become a blindly conservative rather than an exploratory institution” (229). Here Boulez’s discussion of Wagner’s new musical language mirrors his own call for a new musical language and research center in the 1968 Saint-Etienne talk. In other words, Boulez’s experiences in Bayreuth shaped his plans for IRCAM.

The events leading up to IRCAM’s opening unfolded at the very same time that Boulez was working on the Bayreuth Centennial Ring cycle. (See my post on the Bayreuth Centennial Ring.) Wolfgang Wagner, who had become both artistic and managing director of the Bayreuth Festival after Wieland’s death in 1966, approached Boulez in May 1972 to conduct the Bayreuth Centennial Ring cycle. As documented by Dominique Jameux, Boulez’s nomination as head of the new music center was finalized in 1972 (Jameux 1991). In March 1974, Boulez held a press conference at which he publicly announced the future opening of IRCAM and discussed the center’s organization. There were to be four departments, to which a further one was later added: electro-acoustics (led by Luciano Berio), instruments and voice (Vinko Globokar), computer theory (Jean-Claude Risset), administration (Gerald Bennett), and pedagogy (Michel Decoust). Such a comprehensive music center was unheard of at the time, and Boulez’s selection of personnel was a sign that he wanted a diversity of viewpoints, a collaboration between a group of composers and theorists. In 1975, Boulez published a collection of essays (La Musique en projet) outlining IRCAM’s aims and objectives. The key point of the articles was that musicians and scientists must work together to discover new sounds and musical forms. Later that year, Boulez received additional funding to establish the center’s own ensemble, the Ensemble Intercontemporain. Henceforth, an important aspect of IRCAM became the training of musicians to perform new music and the creation of a concert series in which the public could be educated about new music. The importance of education and communication with the audience were ideas that Boulez had initially articulated in his 1968 talk in Saint-Etienne.

The simultaneous unfolding of both IRCAM’s opening and the Bayreuth Centennial Ring was much more than a temporal coincidence. At IRCAM, Boulez was guided by the idea of Bayreuth as a music center existing outside of the traditional opera and concert-going system. At Bayreuth, Boulez approached Wagner’ music through the lens of IRCAM’s aim of discovering a new music language. In conclusion, the founding of IRCAM and Boulez’s experiences at Bayreuth were inextricably connected: we cannot understand the one without the other. Commentators at the time were also quick to make this connection, likening the construction site of the subterranean IRCAM building to Nibelheim (Jameux 1991). (See photos of the IRCAM construction site here.)

Next year, when we celebrate the fortieth anniversary of IRCAM, we should also remember this connection between IRCAM and the Bayreuth Festival, which was one of Boulez’s greatest accomplishments.

Further Reading:

Born, Georgina. Rationalizing Culture: IRCAM, Boulez, and the Institutionalization of the Musical Avant-Garde. Berkley: University of California Press, 1995. [Link to book]

Boulez, Pierre. “Where Are We Now?” In Orientations: Collected Writings, edited by Jean-Jacques Nattiez and translated by Martin Cooper, 445-463. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1986. [Link to book]

Boulez, Pierre. “Richard Wagner: The Man and the Works.” In Orientations: Collected Writings, edited by Jean-Jacques Nattiez and translated by Martin Cooper, 223-230. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1986. [Link to book]

Jameux, Dominique. Pierre Boulez, translated by Susan Bradshaw. London: Faber and Faber, 1991. [Link to book]

(This blog post is based on Chapter Four of my dissertation. All rights reserved.)