In the summer of 2018, the Rita Benton Music Library “adopted” Wülfie Parsons, who belonged previously to Dr. Donna Parsons.
He’s always on the prowl near the Service Desk, decked out in his Hawkeye black and gold kerchief, keeping the Music Library in tip-top shape.
Wülfie’s seen a lot happen at the Music Library during his first year, and here are some tips he has for new and returning students, faculty and staff at the start of the 2019 academic year.
1. Consult the expertise of our excellent student workers
The Music Library hires 10-15 student workers each year who spend their time processing new items, sewing scores into those blue binders, re-shelving books, scores, and recordings, and answering your questions about how the library works and what to do when something goes awry. They are well-trained by the full-time staff members, and know the stacks inside and out. They can also help when the printers run out of ink, the scanners are acting strangely, and if you need to find a stapler. Wülfie would also like everyone to know they give the best ear scritches.
2. Recycle! Trash and recycling bins are located at the front entrance.
Trying to figure out what to do with scrap paper, empty beverage containers, and other recyclables that need to be disposed of while in the Library? There’s a recycling bin right next to the security gates at the entrance to the Library. If you realize you need a regular trash receptacle, you can use the can next to the in-library printer or the one next to the recycling bin.
3. Be respectful of fellow patrons and take voice and video calls outside of the Library.
There are times when you may need to speak to someone on the phone or video chat with them during your time at the Library. Please realize that the Library is viewed as a quiet-ish space, designed to allow students to focus on their work. Loud and even whispered conversations can cause anxiety for others and disrupt their concentration.
We’ve had a few times in the last year where patrons also found the level of noise coming from the Library workroom to be disruptive. The Library full-time and student staff can sometimes be louder than they realize (including the librarian), so if we are being disruptive, please let us know! We will pipe down. That includes Wülfie, who has a bad habit of practicing his howling techniques at odd hours.
4. Bring snacks! Bring coffee! Eat full or hot meals in other spaces.
Wülfie can tell you, the Music Librarian loves coffee, and every musician knows how important it is to stay hydrated. Bring beverages into the library, but please bring them inside a container with a lid.
Snacks, like granola bars or fruit or cookies, are also welcome. If you plan to eat a hot meal, like a re-heated frozen dinner or pizza or foods that make a fair amount of noise or odor, please find another place in Voxman to eat. The downstairs lounge, which has a fridge, microwave, sink, and is without carpet, makes a far more amenable place for eating meals. Crumbs and spills can damage library items, or attract creatures to the stacks.
If you bring a dog biscuit for Wülfie, that’s totally OK, too. In fact, it is encouraged.
5. Follow the University Tobacco-Free Campus Policy. No smoking, including vaping, in the Library.
Wülfie doesn’t have much to add to this item, except to say that if you need to review the University’s Tobacco-Free Campus policy, it’s available here.
What is American Music? What does the idea of “American” music making mean for different University of Iowa artists and audiences?
In what ways have University of Iowa musicians, audiences, conductors, critics, and historians contributed to the musical identity of the United States? In what ways might they do so in the future?
The students of the Fall 2018 offering of the graduate musicology seminar in American music invite you to consider these questions as they relate to the place of American music in the past, present, and future of the University of Iowa School of Music.
The “Exploring Our Sounds” exhibit, which is on display throughout the Spring 2019 semester on the first floor of the Voxman Music Building, showcases our responses to these questions. Throughout the semester, we will be posting on the objects and themes of this exhibit in greater depth.
We hope you return to the blog and participate in “exploring our sounds.”
Students Investigate: Deeper Dives into American Music Making at the University of Iowa
Bring headphones and a mobile device so you can hear what you are reading about. Where possible, we have provided direct access to the different traditions of American music making discussed in the form of a digital music playlist. Examples were selected to further illustrate points in our exhibit text, and to encourage broader enjoyment of the diverse sounds and styles that make up the traditions of American music making at the University of Iowa. The Exhibit Playlist can be accessed at https://bit.ly/2TAom3t, or by scannable QR code at the exhibit.
Look out for theme clusters: “Curriculums,” “Student Musical Life,” and “Composers.” Over the semester, we conducted individual studies of the displayed items, drawn from the Rita Benton Music Library collections, and then worked together to put our independent work in dialogue with that of our colleagues. The “Curriculums,” “Student Musical Life,” and “Composers” areas of the exhibit are the results of these collaborative efforts.
Be ready to explore further. The dotted lines running throughout the exhibit are representative of the broader thematic connections that crisscross the different areas and aspects of the “Exploring Our Sounds” Exhibit. The expected and unexpected links that are made between “American” sounds, university programming, local community traditions, and more, should leave you thinking about the questions we asked above.
In 1923, department chair Philip Greeley Clapp established graduate studies in music at the University of Iowa, and in 1924/25, the first students concluded their course of study with the submission of musical compositions and documents as theses. Over the last 95 years, Iowa graduates have submitted musical works, performing and critical editions, historical and theoretical studies, arrangements and transcriptions, bibliographies, and most recently, audio recordings as thesis as the capstone project of their master’s or doctoral degree in music at the University of Iowa.
This exhibit invites you to explore the breadth and depth of Iowa music theses, both in substance and style. Objects on display will rotate periodically and will be organized around different themes, such as theses about music in Iowa and the UI School of Music, prize winning projects, compositions, recordings, and more.
Two compositions were submitted for thesis in the summer of 1925; Pandora by Marian Edman and Smoke and Steel by Anna Margaret Starbuck. The latter was daughter of piano and organ professor, Anna Diller Starbuck, who figures prominently in the correspondence of music department chair, P. G. Clapp.
Clapp wrote in a letter to his wife, “Margaret Starbuck is finding, to her surprise and consternation, that finishing her score is a big job. She is keeping at it – now! – and will, I think, finish her work, especially as I have a notion (which naturally I am not publishing) that I can get her a time extension of about three days at the end, if necessary; but her parents are clearly worried, and are starting a prophylactic rumor that I could excuse her from finishing if I were decent and chose.”
In the end, Margaret completed the project on time and graduated as a Master of Music. Her composition, Smoke and Steel, was inspired by the Carl Sandburg poem of the same name.
Early theses compositions were handwritten manuscripts written in ink, so Margaret’s struggles to complete her project are understandable. A close look at her score reveals the underlying pencil marks, and in several places, she had to scrape away the paper to remove mistakes.
The first written music thesis analyzed Debussy’s Arabesque No. 2 and Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune, charting the cadences with observance to their function and effect. Camp’s project may seem mundane, but consider that Debussy died only six years before the thesis was written and his music still relatively new (though the works studied were more than twenty years old).
The thesis shows the limitations of typewriters in handling musical needs, for Camp found it necessary to write in sharps, flats, and intervals. This may be why Camp included no musical examples in the thesis – only measure numbers. Subsequent thesis writers pasted or taped handwritten examples into their documents.
Following graduation, Camp moved to Arizona, where a census record lists her as a teacher at the state university. She married Cecil Clampitt in 1930 and died at the age of 87 in Tuscon.
Lasocki went on to publish numerous performing editions of flute and recorder repertoire. His book, The Recorder: a research and information guide, is in its third edition. He also co-published several performance guides with Iowa’s emeritus flute professor Betty Bang Mather.
Lasocki worked as a reference librarian at the William and Gayle Cook Music Library at Indiana University, Bloomington for many years. In retirement, he still researches and writes about historical performance and the recorder.
Männerchors, or male singing societies, were active in the United States from the mid-nineteenth century, though most folded following the world wars. While several studies had examined specific männerchor or focused on a defined region, Snyder’s thesis endeavored to “explore the Männerchor from both the local and regional view, and much attention…given to the Sängerfests of regional federations…These festivals significantly influenced the musical climate of the times, and let to the establishment of music festivals across the United States, many of which are in still in existence today.”
In her acknowledgements, Snyder credits UI musicologist Dr. Fred Crane for “interesting me in a topic that has been fascinating and immensely rewarding.” Crane’s personal collection of musical Iowana informed sections of Snyder’s study [see medallion left].
Snyder’s dissertation received the Rita Benton Dissertation Award. She continued writing about männerchor, including a chapter about sängerfests in Indianapolis for the book Music and culture in America, 1861-1918 (Garland, 1998).
The English novelist Anthony Burgess visited Iowa City in 1975 to teach at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. His course received endorsement in the “Letters to the Editor” section of the Daily Iowan. “I would like to thank the Iowa English Department for arranging such a unique class as Problems of the Modern Novel and for arranging to have Mr. Anthony Burgess teach this subject,” wrote Kevin Cookie. “I can honestly say that Anthony Burgess did present in fine form a considerable number of problems.”
In a move that distinguished him from other visiting writers, Burgess brought with him a new symphony. He had written it specially for James Dixon and the University of Iowa Symphony Orchestra.
I’d had a long-standing invitation to visit the University of Iowa, internationally known for, among other things, its Writers’ Workshop, but something always got in the way of acceptance. Then I received a letter from Jim Dixon—not the hero of Kingsley Amis’s Lucky Jim but the conductor of the University of Iowa Symphony Orchestra—asking me if I had anything in stock, musical of course not literary, that the orchestra might perform when, if, I came there. This seemed too good to be true. Neglect of my music by the orchestra of the Old World was what mainly turned me into a novelist, but most of this music had by now been blitzed, lost, torn up, and I had nothing in stock. So just before last Christmas I bought myself a half-hundredweight of scoring paper and starting writing a symphony.
Composition of the “Symphony in C” began in Italy, around Christmas of 1974. Burgess conceded that some passages were composed under the influence of “Christmas bibulosity,” though “the writing seems sober enough.” The rest was penned during a tour of the United States, with Burgess laboring mightily midst airport muzak. “Do the people responsible for this bland abomination,” mused Burgess, “realize that there are people around desperately trying to compose music of their own?”
When Mr. Dixon brought the work before the orchestra, Burgess responded with delight: “I attended the first rehearsal and was awed at the large competence of all those delectable kids in blue jeans…I had written over 30 books, but this was the truly great artistic moment.” It wasn’t all perfect, of course. Some of what Burgess had written needed fixing. Plus, “young people do not take kindly to pianissimo markings: they like to saw or blast away.”
Not all the blue-jeaned musicians were exactly kids. The bass section included Laird Addis, who had received his bachelors and Ph.D. degrees from UI and was serving as a philosophy professor. (In addition to his forty-year tenure as a UI faculty member, Laird spent decades playing in the Quad City Symphony and cofounded the Iowa City Community String Orchestra. His passing in 2018 is keenly felt.) The violin section was helped by the presence of Candace Wiebener, another UI alumna who was by then already serving as City High School’s Director of Orchestras. (She retired in 2012 and is active in the local music scene; she also plays in the Iowa City Community String Orchestra.) Googling the names of other musicians from the program produces a vivid illustration of what happens to young musicians who train intensively together and then disperse across the country: they teach, perform, and grow musical communities.
In A Clockwork Counterpoint, Paul Phillips begins his study of Burgess’s music and music-infused writings with the Iowa City premiere of the symphony. His reason is simple: the concert affirmed within Burgess his calling to write music. This was no mere pat on the back; it was a rebalancing of the soul. Phillips notes that “unlike Paul Bowles and Bruce Montgomery, who compartmentalized writing and composing as independent activities, Burgess constantly sought ways to unite both halves of his creative personality.” It was not always easy, as demand for Burgess’s writings far outstripped interest in his many–over 250–compositions. It is telling, for instance, that Burgess compared his own exasperation over A Clockwork Orange’s rampant notoriety to a composer’s plight: Rachmaninoff, who came to begrudge audiences’ obsession with his Prelude in C# Minor. Upon hearing the UI Symphony Orchestra play his own opus, Burgess realized that Iowa City was that rare space where his talents as writer and composer might be appreciated together, where the problems of the modern novel might coexist peaceably with a new symphony: “how blessed the opportunity, however brief, to communicate without preaching, without being groused at for delivering no or the wrong message—to communicate in pure sound, form, pattern.”
Burgess left the manuscript score of his symphony—inscribed affectionately to James Dixon–with the university, where it is kept in the Canter Rare Book Room of the Rita Benton Music Library. Whatever distractions the Christmas celebrations and airport muzak posed, they have left relatively few signs of distress in the score itself, which is written neatly in ink. At one point Burgess lost or emptied his black pen, forcing an abrupt to switch to blue ink in the middle of the first movement. There are also some irreverent remarks printed in Arabic. Evidently proud of these idiosyncratic improprieties, Burgess referenced them in multiple commentaries on the symphony.
As a whole, the symphony exudes an affable eclecticism of styles, somewhat akin to the spirit of Leonard Bernstein’s concert works. Also similar to Bernstein, the music’s charismatic appeal to listeners is balanced by substantive challenges for players. No one gets off easy. Large swaths of the work flicker with rapid activity, intense contrasts in orchestral color, and rhythmically intricate handoffs. As a result, players must execute challenging passagework under very exposed circumstances. Burgess may have thought he was writing a symphony, but the players are tasked with a concerto for orchestra.
Given the sheer musical interest—and fun—of the symphony, it is surprising the work is not better known. (The symphony remains unpublished.) Dixon’s own intention to release a professional recording with the UI Symphony is a plan that remains to be realized by a future director.
Even so, Dixon’s invitation to Burgess and the composer’s enthusiastic response call us to reassess our own capacity for versatile creativity—as well as our opportunities to elicit such creativity from others. “It follows,” wrote Burgess, “that all novelists should also be symphonists and that their works should be performed in Iowa City. Good for their souls as well as for their primary craft. And it might also give them a chance to write gratefully about people like Jim Dixon and orchestras like the one he trains and conducts.”
The Story behind the Story
I learned about Burgess’s Iowa Symphony from Theodore Ziolkowski’s Music Into Fiction: Composers Writing, Compositions Imitated, which music librarian Katie Buehner helpfully displayed on the new book shelf. I checked out the book because I liked the title and then placed it carefully alongside other well-titled books in my office. When I finally got around to opening it, I was surprised to find a reference to the symphony’s premiere at UI.
A few searches in the catalog and further correspondences with Katie, Amy McBeth, and Christine Burke led to the printed program for the concert, Burgess’s manuscript score, and the university’s archival recording of the concert itself. Before seeing the score or hearing the recording, I was already hooked by Burgess’s program note, which introduced the symphony to listeners in terms that were alternately engrossing and endearingly self-deprecating. At this point, the story seemed to be taking me by the hand. Being the obliging sort, I followed.
I studied Burgess’s manuscript full score at the staff work table tucked behind the patron counter at the music library. This setup was different from my visits to collections with devoted tables for researchers. In those spaces—such as the University’s Special Collections–researchers are set up with rare materials at a large table and left to commune with their selected sources. Score study of Burgess’s symphony, in contrast, was fit alongside the daily work of student staff. My encounter with Burgess’s music happened amidst the inner workings of the library itself, as students Alex, Anastasia, Ramin, and Shelby bound new music scores, loaded book carts, and helped patrons. I liked being close to these familiar rhythms, which reminded me of working as a student employee at the University of Michigan music library. That early experience of being surrounded by music and music scholarship had helped me find my way; UI’s music library offers similar opportunities today.
And it is not a stretch to imagine Burgess approving as well, knowing that his music for Dixon and the UI Symphony contributes to the curiosity-driven economy of research, by which music-making sustains and is sustained by the efforts of staff and librarians. Burgess would be pleasantly surprised to know that the recording of the premiere has benefited from the library’s care. “The work went on to tape,” he noticed, “to be blurred by the magnetic apparatus used in airport security checks, eventually to be snarled up or to wear out or to be accidentally wiped off.” While nothing material lasts forever, the university’s records of that special Iowa City performance are for now well kept at the Rita Benton Music Library, where ongoing efforts to enliven local history—including historic premieres by our student ensembles—provide current students with means to pursue music studies and designs of their own.
Nathan Platte’s research and teaching interests include American film music, opera, collaborative creativity, and musical adaptations across media. He has presented papers at national and international conferences, including the Society for American Music, Society for Cinema and Media Studies, the American Musicological Society, and the British Library. His articles and projects have received recognition from the University of Michigan (Louise E. Cuyler Prize in Musicology), Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center (Dissertation Fellowship), the American Musicological Society (Publication Subvention), and Society for American Music (Mark Tucker Award and Wiley Housewright Dissertation Award).
Platte’s publications explore film music of Hollywood’s studio era from a variety of angles, including the collaborative process of film scoring, the intersection of technology and music, the role of studio orchestras, and soundtrack albums. His articles have appeared in many journals, including The Journal of Musicology, 19th-Century Music, and The Journal of the Society for American Music. Platte’s work has also been published in anthologies, including Music in Epic Film: Listening to Spectacle (Routledge, 2017), where he contributed an essay on the Tara theme from Gone With the Wind, and Sound: Dialogue, Music, and Effects (Rutgers University Press, 2015), to which he contributed a chapter on production practices in postwar Hollywood. Platte’s books include The Routledge Film Music Sourcebook (Routledge, 2012; coedited with James Wierzbicki and Colin Roust) and Franz Waxman’s “Rebecca”: A Film Score Guide (Scarecrow Press, 2012; coauthored with David Neumeyer). His most recent book, Making Music in Selznick’s Hollywood (Oxford University Press, 2018), investigates the scores for films like Gone With the Wind, Since You Went Away, and Spellbound.
Platte received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, where he also completed bachelor’s degrees in history and trombone performance. Before joining the faculty at the University of Iowa in 2011, he taught at Michigan and Bowling Green State University.
William Oscar Perkins and Henry Southwick Perkins, The Nightingale: A Choice Collection of Songs, Chants and Hymns, Designed for the Use of Juvenile Classes, Public Schools, and Seminaries; Containing Also a Complete and Concise System of Elementary Instruction (Boston: Oliver Ditson, 1860)
Advertised in University catalogues as providing “peculiar advantages to students,” the University of Iowa’s first music courses utilized a repertoire grounded in larger, nineteenth-century trends in American music education and represent the subject’s institutional foundation at the University prior to the establishment of a permanent School of Music.1 The academic sessions, held annually at the local Normal Academy of Music, were created to “give complete courses of instruction” in music performance, “both vocal and instrumental.”2 Written in part by the institution’s founding principal Henry Southwick Perkins, The Nightingale demonstrates a direct connection to the beginnings of American musical education itself. Originating in the eighteenth century, singing schools flourished throughout the United States with the use of simple songs arranged in three or four parts, a method standardized by eminent music educator Lowell Mason of Boston in the 1840s.3 Perkins himself studied under Mason and operated singing schools nationwide and, as such, prefaced his manual with a course of instruction for music beginners.
Beyond its pedagogical contents, The Nightingale features nearly two hundred pages of part-songs composed by prominent American composers that often reflect nationalistic themes. From the patriotic “Hail Columbia” and “Our Country’s Flag” to hymns by Perkins himself, the academy founded its day-to-day music instruction on domestic educational methods and a national repertoire.4 Perkins’s own patriotic anthem, “My Native Hills” (shown here), is descriptive of both its American surroundings and democratic ideals when it asserts that “my native hills are thine.” In addressing the goals of the volume, Perkins wrote that the selections are “pleasing and practical in character . . . [and] may contribute largely to the pleasure and education of the rising public,” a testament to egalitarian impulses of the nation’s then-budding public music education.5
1Catalogue of the State University of Iowa for the Year 1866-67 (Davenport, IA: Lush, Lane & Co., 1866), 47. 2Henry Southwick Perkins, “The Iowa State Normal Academy of Music at Iowa City,” Annals of Iowa 1872, no. 1 (1872): 62. 3 Edward B. Birge, History of Public School Music in the United States (Washington D.C.: Music Educator’s National Conference, 1966), 26. 4 Foundational American music historian Oscar Sonneck wrote extensively regarding the origins of “Hail Columbia” and overtly draws ideological associations between the anthem and the “Star Spangled Banner.” Oscar Sonneck, “Critical Notes on the origin of ‘Hail Columbia,’” Sammelbände der Internationalen Musikgesellschaft 3, no. 1 (1901): 139. 5 William Oscar Perkins and Henry Southwick Perkins, The Nightingale: A Choice Collection of Songs, Chants and Hymns, Designed for the Use of Juvenile Classes, Public Schools, and Seminaries; Containing Also a Complete and Concise System of Elementary Instruction (Boston: Oliver Ditson, 1860), .
About the Author
Cody Norling is a PhD student in historical musicology at the University of Iowa. Apart from his research on American operatic traditions, he maintains research interests Midwestern History and has contributed writing to the Annals of Iowa and a forthcoming volume on nineteenth-century identity formation in the Midwest. Cody is currently the instructor for a course titled “Midwestern Identities” in the University of Iowa’s Department of Rhetoric.
State University of Iowa Orchestra concert of Copland compositions, March 5, 1958
Represented by original concert program and picture of Himie Voxman and Aaron Copland from the composers 1958 visit to Iowa City
by Jenna Sehmann
On March 5, 1958, Aaron Copland attended a concert by the State University of Iowa Symphony Orchestra as an honored guest. Copland’s visit, culminating in this performance, reflected as much upon Copland’s achievements as it did upon the achievements of American Music, and the musical achievements at the University of Iowa.
Copland’s visit to the University was well received by students, faculty, and local residents. Attendance was at full capacity for the Symphony Orchestra concert as well as a lecture Copland gave titled “The Emergence of American Music.” In this lecture, Copland detailed that the “Emergence School of American Music” was “in the running,” implying that American Music could stand up to its European predecessors.1 This emergence that Copland referenced in his lecture is reflected in his own compositions performed by the SUI Symphony.
At this concert, the orchestra performed three works from a wide range of Copland’s compositional style and time periods: The Suite from the Ballet Billy The Kid, Copland’s Third Symphony, and a concert version of his opera The Tender Land. In a review by Donald Justice, the orchestra was praised for their performance, noting that Billy The Kid and Third Symphony were “two excellent performances.”2 The performance of Copland’s rarely performed opera The Tender Land was especially suitable for the composer’s trip to the Midwest. The opera is set on a Midwest farm, making it particularly reflective of the lives and upbringings of many students and community members.3
Oboist Jenna Sehmann is a performer and teacher currently located in Iowa City, IA. Ms. Sehmann serves as the oboe studio teacher at Cornell College (Mount Vernon, IA) and Mount Mercy University (Cedar Rapids, IA). She is also the Teaching Assistant for the oboe studio at the University of Iowa, where she is pursuing her Doctor of Musical Arts in performance and pedagogy under Dr. Courtney Miller.
She holds a Master of Music degree in oboe performance from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and a Bachelor of Music degree in both music performance and music industry from Eastern Kentucky University. Regionally, Jenna has performed with Orchestra Iowa, Dubuque Symphony, Dayton Philharmonic, Evansville Philharmonic, and the Bach Ensemble of St. Thomas. To learn more about Jenna, visit her website jennasehmann.com
On April 26, 2000, Johnson County Landmark, the premiere big band of the University of Iowa, featured the music of band leader, John Rapson, and award-winning American jazz composer, Maria Schneider. Programmed were three pieces from Schneider’s 1994 debut studio album, “Evanescence” – “Wrigly”, “Evanescence”, and “Gush”.1 Not only does the programming of Maria Schneider’s music display the jazz program’s commitment to a meaningfully well-rounded education in jazz history for student musicians and audience members alike, but to highlight her compositions is to underscore the diversity of American music and its infinite aesthetic possibilities.
Listen to JCL performing “Wyrgly”
Since launching her career in the late 1980’s, Maria Schneider has been drawn not to the conventional sound of the traditional American big band, but to orchestral colors, classical composition techniques, soloist-improvised bridges, and an emotional subtlety atypical to the accustomed big band sound.2 She has studied with and been mentored by two prominent names in American jazz history, Gil Evans and Bob Brookmeyer. These studies, combined with a unique vision for musical storytelling, have fostered Schneider’s chart-topping masterpieces which defy categorization and alter the notion of what a modern American big band can sound like.3
Maria Schneider remains one of the most prominent pioneers for women in jazz. In a 2016 spotlight interview for JAZZed magazine, Schneider affirmed that she has never seen her gender as being relevant in terms of her music.4 Regardless, one cannot deny that she holds a position as a prominent female role model in a male-dominated genre that jazz performers and listeners of all ages and genders look to as an example of originality of voice and cutting-edge musicianship at its finest. In a professional musical outlet where women are broadly marginalized, Maria Schneider is a true luminary for women composers and for anyone looking to test the boundaries of tradition.
Toni LeFebvre, originally from Bettendorf, IA, is an active trumpet player and music educator. She completed her undergraduate degree in Music Education at the University of Northern Iowa in 2014. She was most recently the Band Director at Okoboji High School from 2015 to 2017 before moving to Iowa City to pursue a Master’s degree in Music Education at the University of Iowa, which she will complete May of 2019. In addition to her graduate studies, Toni has directed the Iowa City New Horizon’s concert and jazz ensembles, and is the co-founder and leader of the Iowa Women’s Jazz Orchestra, a big band comprised of women from across the state of Iowa which seeks to inspire young female musicians to find their voice in the jazz idiom. Upon completion of her Master’s degree, she plans to return to the field of public education as a high school band director in Iowa.
IN OUR LIVES was designed in the Fall 2018 offering of Donna’s “World of The Beatles” course. Participating students studied her materials–donated in Donna’s name to the Rita Benton Music Library–and worked together to flesh out the different themes that now define their multimedia, multidirectional account of the enduring legacy of The Beatles that stretches across each fin. The exhibit design is a tribute to the rich learning experiences Donna created for University of Iowa students, and a preview of the valuable learning experiences her collection will support for years to come.
We invite you to journey through the World of The Beatles in the following ways.
PANELS: “THE MUSICIANS,” “THE MUSIC,” “BEATLEMANIA!,” “THE BEATLES OF TODAY”
Each of the four exhibit panels represent the combined efforts of the corresponding topic subgroups (notated as “Deeper Dives” on the front of each Exhibit Panel).
The Musicians: Band Image/Identity, Working Together, Going Solo, Songwriting
Who were The Beatles as Public Figures? Do details of particular songs speak to their Personal/Public experiences?
The Music: Catalog Overview, Albums Early, Albums Late 1, Albums Late 2
What behind-the-scenes events became factors in the production of their albums?
What was a Beatles concert tour like? How did other types of Beatles media (e.g., fan newsletters, magazines, films, etc.) sustain mass interest in The Beatles? What does the “Paul is Dead” hoax teach us about Beatles fandom?
The Beatles of Today: Managing, Symbolizing, Celebrating, Recreating?
Who were the “fifth Beatles”? What can we learn from classic Beatles art/imagery about how The Beatles are remembered? What does it mean to pay tribute to a group like The Beatles?
Student Collection Highlights and Blog Posts
As part of their work on the exhibit, participating students familiarized themselves with the vast array of reference books, documentaries, and Beatles memorabilia that Donna’s family donated to the library in her name. Visit the Rita Benton Music Library website throughout the semester to read blog posts by the participating students, faculty, and library staff, which will examine the objects and themes of this exhibit in greater depth.
Can works composed in the United States be considered American if they draw on European styles? When does an immigrant – and his art – become American?
The November 17, 1965 University Orchestra program offers one opportunity to consider how these questions can be navigated. The program notes for his Symphonic Elegy, In memoriam: Anton Webern (1946) present Austrian-born Czech Ernst Krenek (1900-1991) as an American composer.1 His American citizenship is emphasized, noting that the piece was written in St. Paul, MN, nine years after Krenek’s emigration. However, William Pepper, the program notes’ author, unifies the four pieces of this program by appealing to European dynasties of composers. Pepper notes that while Mozart and Beethoveen are considered members of the First Viennese School, Webern was part of founding the Second. As Webern’s student, Krenek was a direct descendant of the Second Viennese School.2 By framing the program in this way, Pepper emphasizes the way that programming at the University of Iowa during the late sixties involved experimentalists without straying too far from canonical giants.
Krenek’s association with the European tradition of art music give his music prestige, but he is still claimed as an American composer. Here, his Americanness is legitimized by subtly emphasizing his flight from oppression in Nazi Germany.3 Pepper notes that Webern was killed in Germany when he exited his house after curfew, further emphasizing the political priorities that loomed large in the American mind of the 1960s. These program notes seek to establish Krenek’s piece as both the product of American freedom and the heir of the great Viennese masters.
Correspondence between Krenek and Himie Voxman about scheduling a trip to campus is held in the Rita Benton Music Library Special Collections, but there is no evidence yet whether Krenek was able to visit.4
4 Ernst Krenek, Krenek to Himie Voxman, undated, in Himie Voxman Papers, Rita Benton Music Library, University of Iowa.
About the Author
Lisa Pollock Mumme will finish her M.A in Musicology at the University of Iowa in Spring 2019. Lisa studies gender and music, specifically in film music, with a secondary interest in the performing bodies of nineteenth-century Latin American opera world. Lisa’s work in film music focuses on gender in genre film, with particular attention to dystopian works. Lisa’s thesis on the Mad Max franchise located a site of embodied resistance for one disempowered character in her diegetic performance of her own theme, and defined competing musical forces that simultaneously masculinize and feminize subsequent characters. Her secondary area of research concerns the nineteenth-century Mexican opera singer and composer Ángela Peralta. Lisa plans to develop both facets of her research as a PhD student next year.
This playlist accompanies the “Exploring Our Sounds” exhibit, which is on display throughout the Spring 2019 semester on the first floor of the Voxman Music Building. Visit the Rita Benton Music Library website throughout the semester to read blog posts by the participating students, faculty, and library staff, which will examine the objects and themes of this exhibit in greater depth.
1. Excerpt, John Rapson Oral History, origins of the University of Iowa jazz program, 2018
2. Excerpt of Maria Schneider, Wyrgly, performed by Johnson County Landmark, 2000.
3. Old Gold performing “Valerie”
4. Gene Mills, University of Iowa Alma Mater, performed by the Hawkeye Marching Band, 2015
5. Excerpt of Aaron Copland, “The Promise of Living” from The Tender Land, performed by the University of Iowa Symphony Orchestra, 2010.
6. Excerpt of Olly Wilson, Voices, performed by the University of Iowa Symphony Orchestra, 1976.
7. Excerpt of Philip Bezanson, The Western Child, University of Iowa Opera Theater, 1959.
8. Michael Eckert, “Dialogo” from Three Pieces in Brazilian Style, performed by the University of Iowa Latin Jazz Ensemble, 2008.
9. Ernesto Nazareth, “Escorregando,” performed by Maurita Murphy Mead (clarinet)
10. Excerpt of Olly Wilson, Akwan
11. Ernst Krenek, Symphonic Elegy for String Orchestra (In Memoriam Anton Webern), performed by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra