Transnational Opera Studies Conference 2017

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The FMJ research project has been represented at the recent Transnational Opera Studies Conference in Bern, on July 5-7, 2017.
Dr. Francesco Finocchiaro reported on ‘Cinema and Musical Theatre in the Weimar Republic’, elaborating on Kurt Weill’s Royal Palace and Alban Berg’s Lulu as two paradigmatic instances of medial combination.
The paper focused on dramaturgical and aesthetical issues related to the cross-pollination between old and new medial languages in the Weimar era theatre.

F. Finocchiaro, Cinema and Musical Theatre in the Weimar Republic: Two Case Studies, 2nd Transnational Opera Studies Conference, Bern, July 5-7, 2017

When Jazz Meets Cinema

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At the recent conference When Jazz Meets Cinema (Lovere, May 5-7, 2017), Francesco Finocchiaro and Leo Izzo held a lecture on jazz numbers in Gottfried Huppertz’s score for Metropolis (1927) by Fritz Lang. The paper gave rise to a lively discussion that addressed many issues concerning the reception of the jazz music in Europe between the two world wars.

Francesco Finocchiaro & Leo Izzo, Metropolis’ di Fritz Lang: la città del futuro nell’età del jazz, International Conference “When Jazz Meets Cinema”, May 5-7, 2017, Lovere (BG)

Metropolis in the Jazz Era

Metropolis-new-tower-of-babelAt the forthcoming International Conference When Jazz Meets Cinema, May 5-7, Lovere (BG), Project Leader Francesco Finocchiaro, together with jazz scholar Leo Izzo, will give a lecture on Gottfried Huppertz’s original score for Metropolis (1927) by Fritz Lang.
In their four-hand paper, Finocchiaro and Izzo will deal with two remarkable film scenes accompanied by jazz music. The analysis will focus on the symbolical meaning associated with jazzy sound and language in the music accompaniment for silent movies.

Organic-mechanical metaphors in the musical discussion between the two World Wars

896The discussion on music’s mechanization exploded in German print journalism between the two World Wars, when a series of technological innovations (radio, phonograph, cinematograph and sound cinema) caught the attention of the public and swept through the music world, shaking its very foundations.

In this sharply polemical debate, the metaphorical antithesis “organism-mechanism” reflected the contraposition between different thought systems and structured a generational opposition.

In other words, “organic music” was the music of the Nineteenth Century and that of the followers of the Classical-Romantic tradition; by contrast, “mechanical music” was the music of radiophonic, electro-acoustic and cinematic experiments, carried out by the new generation of composers at the Baden-Baden Festival.

In the framework of this ideological debate, the organic-mechanical metaphors constitute the point of connection between compositional structures, music analytical categories, and exegetical processes. Metaphors represent the hinge, the element of mediation between the categorization of the compositional structures and the hermeneutic processes that forge the aesthetic discourse. They mediate between the territories of poetics and aesthetics, where the verbal discourse has the central role, and the immanent structures.

Francesco Finocchiaro, “Musica organica versus musica meccanica”. Un’antitesi metaforica nel dibattito musicale fra le due guerre, in Musica e metafora: storia analisi ermeneutica, edited by F. Finocchiaro and M. Giani, Torino, Accademia University Press, 2016, pp. 117-154 (Biblioteca di Athena Musica, 1).

Project Presentation

Jour FixeThe research project on Film Music as a Problem in German Print Journalism will be presented at the University of Vienna, on 23 March 2017.

Project leader Dr. Francesco Finocchiaro and Project assistant Henriette Engelke will introduce the main issues of the ongoing project.

The lecture will be held at the Department of Musicology, from 3.30 pm to 5 pm.

Modernismo musicale e cinema tedesco nel Primo Novecento, 2017

copertinaInvestigating the relationship between musical Modernism and German cinema means paving the way for a rather unorthodox research path, one which has been little explored up until now. The main figures of musical Modernism, from Alban Berg to Paul Hindemith, and from Richard Strauss to Kurt Weill, actually had a significant relationship with cinema. True, it was a complex and contradictory relationship in which cinema sometimes emerged more as an aesthetic point of reference than a factual reality. Nonetheless, the reception of the language and aesthetic of cinema had a significant influence on the domain of music.

Between 1913 and 1933, Modernist composers’ exploration of cinema reaches such a degree of pervasiveness and consistency as to become a true aesthetic paradigm, which underpins the Modernist project in its innermost essence. The creative confrontation with the avant-garde medium par excellence represents a vector of musical Modernism: a new aesthetic paradigm for that process of deliberate misinterpretation, creative revisionism, and sometimes even intentional subversion of the Classic-Romantic tradition that constituted the historical actualization of the “dream of Otherness” of the Modernist generation.

Francesco Finocchiaro, Modernismo musicale e cinema tedesco nel Primo Novecento, Lucca, LIM, 2017.

Music and the Moving Image, 2016/3

front_coverThe Vindobona series by Universal Edition is a unique case among mood music collections for “silent” film accompaniment. It is a collection that, starting in 1927, published salon orchestra adaptations of music by, to name but a few, Strauss, Mahler, Schreker, Janácek, Bartók, Křenek, Weill, and Zemlinsky. This list by itself is enough to make it a document of undoubted historical value—a document that helps us understand the specificities, as well as the limitations, of musical Modernism’s reception in the practice of the musical accompaniment for moving pictures in German-speaking countries.

When it was launched in 1927, the Vindobona was emphatically introduced by its publisher as the first collection of modern music by modern composers for film use. Its importance is limited as far as actual musical practice is concerned on account of evident miscalculations in its editorial design. Nonetheless, the Vindobona Collection has much to tell us. Its analysis allows us to infer, at least indirectly, important information about the routine of music for cinema. The Vindobona project reflects, at least in its approach, a series of significant changes in the aesthetics of cinema presentation and, in general, of the social dimension of cinema.

This essay considers first of all the structure of the collection and its genesis, on the basis of unpublished archive materials from the Department of Music of the Austrian National Library and the Historical Archive of the Universal Edition. It then moves on to analyze the collection’s editorial goals, before finally evaluating its particularly problematic relationship with the contemporary practices and aesthetics of cinematic music.

Francesco Finocchiaro, The ‘Vindobona-Collection’ of the Universal Edition, “Music and the Moving Image”, IX n. 3, Fall 2016, pp. 38-56 (