FMJ at the Musical Moments Conference

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Between the 1910s and 20s, countless film adaptations of operas originated as the consequence of a true medial competition between cinema and the bourgeois cultural institution par excellence: opera.
The film adaptation of an operatic original cannot be regarded as a mere ‘relocation’ of the stage’s subject on the big screen. The transposition of a music theater work into a cinematic work can be properly framed as a remediation: i.e., the transposition of a source text from its original form of presentation into a new textual system.
The paper focuses on a spectrum of music scenes – from Albert Capellani’s La vie de Boheme (1912) to Jacques Feyder’s Carmen (1916), and from Robert Wiene’s Rosenkavalier (1926) to Ludwig Berger’s Der Meister von Nürnberg (1927) – that represent different and complementary strategies in transposing operatic music numbers to the cinema.

F. Finocchiaro, Arias and Ensembles in the Film Adaptations of Operas: Some Preliminary Reflections, Musical Moments Conference, University of Salzburg, March 8–10, 2018.

Symposium Novembergruppe 2018

At the recent conference Novembergruppe 2018 (Dessau, March 3, 2018), PI Francesco Finocchiaro held a lecture on the role of musical metaphors in the aesthetic reflections that lie at the foundations of abstract cinema. In his paper, Dr. Finocchiaro described Walter Ruttmann’s Lichtspiel Opus 1 as the result of an inherently metaphorical creative process: a painted paraphrase of rhythm and musical phrasing that confers the cinematic work the content and character of a musical piece.

F. Finocchiaro, ‘Der absolute Film’: The Role of Musical Metaphors in the Aesthetic Manifesto of Abstract Cinema, Symposium Novembergruppe, Dessau, March 3, 2018.

Musical Modernism and German Cinema from 1913 to 1933

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The English-language monograph Musical Modernism and German Cinema from 1913 to 1933 has been published in the book series “Film and Television Studies” by Palgrave Macmillan, UK.

Finocchiaro’s study delivers compelling insights into the relationship between Musical Modernism and German silent and early sound cinema. Approaching cinema from the vantage point of its engagement with modernist composers manages to move beyond the boundaries between “high” and “low” art, opening up the wider field of the cultural status of cinema in relation to coexisting art forms at a crucial historical moment.
Anna K. Windisch, University of Salzburg, Austria. Co-Editor of The Sounds of Silent Films. New Perspectives on History, Theory and Practice, 2014

Francesco Finocchiaro, Musical Modernism and German Cinema from 1913 to 1933, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 2017.

International Music Theory Conference 2017


During the silent era, as known, the accompaniment music for film projections was in an extremely precarious state. Nevertheless, film theory assigned to music an essential role, often describing the ‘tenth Muse’ as a daughter of the more ancient and noble ‘art of sounds.’ The idea of an ‘elective affinity’ between music and cinema found a theoretical systematization within the writings by Georg Otto Stindt (1924), Béla Balázs (1924), and Hans Erdmann (1927), who identified the rhythmic dimension as the trait d’union between these two forms of art.

Francesco Finocchiaro, “Im Anfang war der Rhythmus”. Aesthetic Abstractions in the Film Music Composition of the 1920s, 17th International Music Theory Conference, Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre, Vilnius, November 8–10, 2017.

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)