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Geiringer Fund Application Guidelines

Completed applications will consist of

  1. A cover letter, including the applicant’s e-mail and postal addresses, phone number, and institutional affiliation.
  2. A concise description of the project (no more than 500 words), in which the applicant’s methods and conclusions are stated clearly.
  3. A brief account (no more than 250 words) detailing the aspect of the project to be completed with assistance from the Karl Geiringer Scholarship, including travel plans, if appropriate.

These materials should be submitted electronically in pdf files to the Chair of the Geiringer committee, Professor Ryan Minor, Department of Music, SUNY Stony Brook: ryan.minor@stonybrook.edu. Applications must be emailed no later than 1 May of the year in which the applicant wishes to be considered. The application must be supported by two confidential letters of recommendation, including one from the dissertation advisor. These should also be emailed directly to Ryan Minor and must be sent by 1 May. Finalists in the competition will be notified by 15 May and asked to submit a sample chapter from their dissertation. Please direct inquiries to Ryan Minor.

 

Recipients of the Geiringer Scholarship, 1990-2010

1990
Heather Platt (Graduate Center, City University of New York)
Text-Music Relationships in the Lieder of Johannes Brahms.

In the nineteenth-century Lied, more than in any other genre, the relationship between text and music is paramount. Although Gustav Jenner recalled that Brahms himself emphasized the importance of depicting the text, it is only recently that analysts have begun to examine the relationship between the texts and the tonal and motivic structures of his songs. My study is the first to consider the extent to which the text penetrates to the deeper structural levels. Through an analysis of tonal structure and its coordination with motivic and rhythmic events, I show that Brahms responded to both the structure and the meaning of his poems, often creating a profoundly sympathetic interpretation of the text’s protagonist.

Ms. Platt, a native of Australia, took her master’s degree at the University of Adelaide with a thesis on the orchestral suites of Johann Friedrich Fasch. She currently teaches at Ball State University in Indiana and is President of the American Brahms Society.

1991
Margaret Notley (Yale University)
"Brahms’s Chamber Music—Summer of 1886: A Study of Opera 99, 100, 101, and 108."

Reviewers welcomed the change in style they perceived in the Cello Sonata in F major, the Piano Trio in C minor, and the Violin Sonatas in A major and D minor. And since critics of the day tended to view art single mindedly as a reflection of the artist’s personality, they linked this more accessible, "popular" style to a newly won serenity in Brahms himself. Ironically, the pieces were composed against a backdrop of general crisis in Vienna in which all that Brahms held valuable—in music and otherwise—was under attack.
The most immediate context for the composition of the works was formed from Brahms’s experiences in the summer of 1883, when he spent a considerable amount of time playing sonatas for violin and piano with Rudolf von Beckerath. The repeated collaborations of the two friends on this relatively humble part of the repertoire might well have stimulated the new spare style that was to emerge a few years later, and which to contemporaneous listeners sounded more natural, less contrived than Brahms’s earlier styles. At all events, these works clearly show, to borrow Tovey’s phrase, a renewed "reaction towards" the Classical style.
There were two broad aspects to Brahms’s creative activity in the productive summer of 1886: the probable composition of three movements of the Cello Sonata in F major around a pre-existing slow movement, and the reinterpretation of discrete facets of Classical style in all but one of the movements in the other three works. A number of connections between different pairs of movements suggest that the four works were conceived as a comprehensive compositional project.

Margaret Notley, who is an accomplished pianist and former student in piano at the Mannes College of Music, holds the degrees of A. B. in English from Barnard College and M. Phil. in music from Yale University. She is the recipient of several prestigious awards including National Endowment for the Humanities and Fulbright fellowships, as well as the American Musicological Society’s Alfred Einstein Award. She currently teaches at the University of North Texas.

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1992
Daniel Beller-McKenna (Harvard University)
"Brahms’s Settings of Biblical Texts between 1877 and 1896."

Focusing my attention on the motet "Warum?" Op. 74 No. 1, the three Fest- und Gedenksprüche, Op. 109, the motet "Ich aber bin elend," Op. 110 No. 1, and the Vier ernste Gesänge, Op. 121, I will interpret these works within the context of major historical events and cultural phenomena of the later nineteenth century: the new German State, pan-Germanism in Austria, and the rise of pessimistic philosophy and conservative politics. Given the importance of the Lutheran Bible as a historical and cultural icon for German Romantics, my study of each setting will treat a particular aspect of the Bible’s role in Romanticism and post-Romanticism: Individualism in Op. 74, Nationalism in Op. 109, Historicism in Op. 110, and Pessimism in Op. 121.

Daniel Beller-McKenna holds a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and a Master’s degree in Music History, both from Temple University, where he also studied classical guitar, and Ph.D. from Harvard University. He currently teaches at the University of New Hampshire and serves on the American Brahms Society Board of Directors.

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1993
Dillon Parmer (Eastman School of Music)
"Brahms the Programmatic."

My work begins with a critical evaluation of the aesthetic and ideological frameworks underpinning recent proposals that Brahms’s music is rather less abstract than previously thought. Through a careful reading of key texts from the era of neo-romanticism, I argue that program music is a type of absolute music in which composers attempt to control or direct understanding of a work by prescribing some extra-musical object (such as a novel or painting) for the listener to take into account during an audition of the composition in question. I evaluate the extent to which such interpretive control can be inferred in Brahms’s compositional output, focusing on four different classes of works: those for which Brahms himself provided suggestive titles or poetic prefaces (e.g., certain movements from the piano sonatas), those using symbolic motifs (e.g., Schumann’s "Clara cipher"), those alluding to songs or other vocal-based music (such as the "Regenlied" Sonata, Op. 78), and those which, as Brahms allowed privately to friends, are associated with some external text (such as the "Werther" Quartet, Op. 60).
Although the picture of "Brahms the Progressive" that emerges from this examination derives from only a small portion of his œuvre, the composer’s contribution to the history of the genre is much more substantial than is generally believed. A study of this contribution within the framework of newly proposed definitions of absolute and program music yields an account of his music that could have repercussions in the wider musical and philosophical contexts in which these categories continue to circulate.

Mr. Parmer holds the degrees of Bachelor of Music with Gold Medal Honors in Music History and Master of Arts in Musicology from the University of Western Ontario. At Eastman, he is completing his doctoral degree with the support of a Sproul Fellowship and a Social Science and Humanities Research Council Doctoral Fellowship. He is currently Assistant Professor of Musicology at the University of Ottawa.

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1997
Antonius Bittmann (Eastman School of Music)
"Brahms, Wagner, and Competing Modernisms: Max Reger’s Tortuous Path."

Mr. Bittmann's dissertation shows that the current--and none-too-flattering-- Image of Reger derives from the battles waged by critics of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, battles In which Brahms's music played a crucial role. To quote from the first chapter of his study: "the polar circle around which Reger reception revolves Is Reger's dependence on Brahms." Drawing on his research at the Max Reger Institute In Karlsruhe, Mr. Bittmann paints a fascinating and nuanced portrait of the complex ways In which the reception of Reger's music was Intertwined with critical views of Brahms, especially between roughly 1920 and 1940. Mr. Bittmann convincingly shows that this pairing did not always work to Reger's advantage, leading as It did to current perceptions of a "poor man's Brahms." Just as much of the most stimulating Brahms research of the recent past has demonstrated that Brahms was not as "absolute" a composer as we once thought, so Mr. Bittmann argues that Reger was considerably more than a vessel for a supposedly "absolute" Instrumental style Inherited from Brahms. All In all Mr. Bittmann's Work will be of considerable value to students of Reger, Wagner--and of course, Brahms.

Mr. Bittmann studied with Ralph Locke and Jürgen Thyme at the Eastman School of Music, where he also earned a DMA degree In Organ Performance and Literature. Before coming to the U.S. for graduate study, he received a Master's degree from the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik In Freiburg with a thesis on Reger's chorale fantasies for organ ("Max Regers Choralphantasien für Orgel In Ihrer Entwicklung"). He currently teaches at Rutgers University.

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1998
Thomas Quigley (Joe Fortes Branch Library, Vancouver, British Columbia)
Johannes Brahms: An Annotated Bibliography

Departing from its usual guidelines for this scholarship the Board of the American Brahms Society felt that special recognition was due to Mr. Quigley for his important service to our field. This special award was made on the occasion of the publication of the second volume of his Brahms biography (Scarecrow Press, 1998). It Is the Board's hope that these funds will assist Mr. Quigley with the research for the next volume of his bibliographic series on Brahms.

Mr. Quigley, who holds degrees In music history and library science from the University of British Columbia and Is currently head of the Joe Fortes Branch Library in the public library system of Vancouver, British Columbia, first came to Brahms studies as a research assistant for Margit McCorkle’s Brahms Verzeichnis. In 1990 he published he published Johannes Brahms: An Annotated Bibliography of the Literature Through 1982 (Scarecrow Press), the first comprehensive bibliographic tool for Brahms research.

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2000
Kevin C. Karnes (Brandeis University)
"The Early Analytical, Aesthetic, and Critical Writings of Heinrich Schenker. With Special Consideration of His Understanding of Brahms, and of the Development of His Work through Harmony."

Although there has recently been a significant rise of interest in late nineteenth-century music criticism, the early essays of Heinrich Schenker, one of the most prominent Viennese music journalists, have previously received little scholarly attention. In this dissertation, Karnes examines Schenker’s critical writings—100 essays and reviews published between 1891 and 1898 in five journals—for the insight they provide about both the early stages of Schenker’s thinking and the critical culture of Vienna and surrounding cities during this period. He argues that Schenker’s critical writings are especially valuable for our understanding of late nineteenth-century criticism in that they introduce us to several forms of journalistic reporting, including the analytical review and the biographical portrait, that have previously been overlooked in studies of the subject. Such essays, he suggests, in turn encourage us to examine the ways in which critics drew upon a wide array of ideas discussed and debated by figures active in a number of other branches of the intellectual discourse on music, including analysis, philosophical aesthetics, and the study of music history. In order to illustrate this point, he describes how Schenker makes use of analytical means to defend the effectiveness of Brahms’s vocal music; how his discussions of both musical coherence and the creative process draw upon the ideas of Eduard Hanslick, Friedrich von Hausegger, and other important nineteenth-century writers on music aesthetics; and how his biographical studies confront some of the same methodological problems debated by Guido Adler and other pioneering music historians. He concludes by arguing that Schenker’s early writings introduce us to the previously unacknowledged intellectual richness of the critical discourse in this time and place, and by suggesting that a detailed examination of the work of his many neglected peers may likewise enhance our understanding of this field

Karnes Is currently Secretary of the American Brahms Society and Assistant Professor of Music History at Emory University in Atlanta.

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2002
Ryan Mark Minor (University of Chicago)
"National Memory, Public Music: Commemoration and Consecration in Nineteenth-Century Choral Works."

My dissertation is an exploration of nineteenth-century German choral works written for public festivity. In particular I focus on the use of the chorus for commemorations and consecrations--festivities whose respective organization around memory and communal hope provided ample opportunity to employ the chorus's ties to both the musical past and a utopian future. Drawing on close musical analysis, standard musicological literature (source studies, biography, reception), and recent work in cultural history and German studies, my dissertation aims to provide an overdue account of ways the chorus was employed in nineteenth-century German festivity as well as the place of this festive tradition within the choral music itself. In addition to numerous works by unknown composers, I focus on Mendelssohn's music for Dürer and Gutenberg celebrations, Liszt's two "Beethoven" cantatas, Brahms's Triumphlied and Fest- und Gedenksprüche, and Wagner's
Parsifal.

Ryan Minor received his Bachelor of Music at Rice University in 1996, where he studied with Marcia Citron. A recipient of the Bundeskanzler Fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in 2000-2001. He is currently Assistant Professor of Music at the State University of New York, Stony Brook.

 

2003
George Papadopoulos (University of Washington)
"Johannes Brahms and Nineteenth-Century Comic Ideology"

This dissertation is the first comprehensive study of the comic categories—humor, wit, irony, parody—in the music of Brahms, providing also a thorough examination of his personal relationship to the Romantic comic. Central to my study is the notion that humor in nineteenth-century music is different from eighteenth-century models, in that it gradually shifts from the amiable expression of generic gestural incongruities to an individualized manifestation of the composer’s inner world. The artist’s immersion in the terrors of nature and absurdities of life is reflected in music through a dialectical opposition of the tragic norm and its humorous release. As a result, humor assumes the qualities of comic relief in great tragedy and affords the listener a unique psychological perspective.

The two opening chapters survey the literature and present the philosophical and aesthetic backgrounds. Chapter three offers a psychograph of Brahms’s comic temperament and illuminates the social, personal, and artistic contexts for the manifestation of his biting wit. The fourth chapter examines Brahms’s comic literary sympathies by studying the relevant books from his library. Chapter five provides a typology of comic musical devices in his music, and suggests—through detailed analyses of several humor-related pieces by Brahms—a number of affective topoi that seem to attract his comic treatment. Each of the final two chapters contains a large-scale study of an orchestral work—the Academic Festival Overture and the Scherzo from the Fourth Symphony—in which close readings of the music’s humorous potential alternate with discussion of the wider cultural milieu surrounding composition, performance, and reception.

Born in Thessaloniki, Greece, Mr. Papadopoulos earned degrees in piano, pedagogy, harpsichord, and conducting from the Royal Academy of Music and King’s College in London He has given solo and chamber music recitals in many European countries and in the US, and has performed as a soloist with orchestras. Mr. Papadopoulos has received several other scholarships, prizes, and awards for his studies and performances, and he completed his Ph.D. in Historical Musicology in Autumn 2003.


2004
Brent Auerbach (Eastman School of Music)
"The Analytical Grundgestalt: A New Model and Methodology Based on the Music of Johannes Brahms"

The monumental influence of Brahms on the development of Arnold Schoenberg as theorist and composer is well known. As such, analysts in the past have gained much insight into Brahms’s works by redirecting Schoenberg’s theories – notable among them the principle of developing variation – back upon them. My dissertation falls in line with such work, focusing on the structural role of Schoenberg’s Grundgestalt, a multivalent structure that encodes a work’s total motivic, thematic, harmonic, rhythmic, and textural content.

The dissertation advances a new model of the Grundgestalt as well as a new methodology for analysis, one wherein rules are fashioned in response to previous analytical conventions and are based exclusively on Brahms’s music. The main advances over earlier views of the Grundgestalt include requiring the structure to occur as a polyphonic complex and allowing it to occur at any point within a piece (instead of only at the beginning). The first of these new conventions enhances the Grundgestalt’s ability to reveal a work’s organicism. The second, entailing a reconception of the Grundgestalt as the head of a hierarchy radiating down to local Gestalten and smaller musical segments, allows for multiple narrative analyses of a single piece. Detailed analyses of a number of works by Brahms in contrasting genres – a Capriccio and Intermezzo (op. 76, nos. 5-6), the song “Mädchenlied” (op. 107, no. 5), and the Adagio movement of the Second Symphony – confirm the validity of this approach.

Auerbach is currently Assistant Professor of Music at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

2006
Paul E. Berry (Yale University)
"Memory, Inspiration, and Compositional Process in the Solo Songs of Johannes Brahms"

Throughout his career, Brahms composed works in the intimate genre of the solo song and shared those works with close friends. This dissertation interprets selected songs as products of inextricably linked musical decision making and personal deliberation, recreating plausible paths for Brahms's compositional thought and its connections to his personal relationships based on the music and documents he left behind.
Scholars have long suggested connections between compositional activity and biography in Brahms's music, but it has proven difficult to relate particular musical choices to specific aspects of his social existence. A possible solution involves new emphasis on the link between Brahms's memory and his conscious compositional decision making. Musical evidence of his recollections remains in allusive gestures and other forms of deliberate musical borrowing. Correspondence, diaries, published recollections, autograph manuscripts, and surviving materials from the composer's library preserve further clues as to the connotations of remembered music among members of Brahms's circle, for whom his latest songs were often available in manuscript before publication. Identifying borrowings from previous works and exploring what those works meant to the composer and his closest friends permits investigation of what might have motivated their reappearance in a new musical and interpersonal context.

Three introductory chapters lay necessary groundwork by describing how the experience of vocal chamber music maintained and deepened interpersonal relationships within Brahms's circle. Case studies then address five clusters of solo songs, tracing connections between Brahms's compositional process and the private significance of borrowed music, and examining the role of performance in his friends' apprehension of his works. Taken together, the case studies map a series of independent but fundamentally similar moments when combined recollections of old music and past personal experience became a source of new inspiration, yielding a set of plausible scenarios that describe Brahms in the act of composing. These scenarios bring us nearer to one of the central goals of Brahms studies by facilitating a deepened understanding of how his music was made and how it was meant to function for its initial audiences.

2007
Jacquelyn Scholes (Brandeis University
"'Transcendence,' 'Loss,' and 'Reminiscence': Brahms's Early Finales in the Contexts of Form, Narrative, and Historicism"

This dissertation is the first systematic exploration of the rhetorical character and function of the finale in the music of Brahms. Conceived as groundwork for a broader chronological view of Brahms’s approach to final movements, my study examines the surviving multi-movement instrumental works completed through 1860: the piano sonatas, opp. 1, 2, and 5; the B-major trio, op. 8; the serenades, opp. 11 and 16; the d-minor piano concerto, op. 15; and the B-flat major sextet, op. 18. The dissertation aims to answer three interrelated questions: 1) in each work, what are the finale’s distinctive musical features and dramatic qualities?; 2) how does the finale function, musically and dramatically, within the broader context of the work?; and 3) in evaluating each finale’s contents and rhetorical function, what, if any, is the possible significance of the work’s place in Brahms’s life and oeuvre and of the young composer’s developing view of his own historical position?

Close analysis suggests that the early finales reflect a preoccupation not only with the concept of “transcendence,” but also, frequently, with “loss” and “distorted reminiscence,” expressed primarily through Brahms’s handling of large-scale thematic and harmonic structures. Although scholars have consistently emphasized Brahms’s acute historical consciousness and have identified apparent thematic allusions to earlier composers in most of his works, historical references are generally treated as if their relevance is limited to particular passages or individual movements. At least in several of the early works, however, allusions seem to resonate musically and dramatically with material in other movements in ways that have not been realized, suggesting significant relationships between form, inter-movement narrative, and historical reference that have yet to be sufficiently appreciated.

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Daniel Stevens (University of Michigan)
"Brahms's Song Collections: Rethinking a Genre"

By theorizing the role of genre in Brahms’s song collections, this dissertation explores what the composer’s alluring description of these collections as “Liedersträuße” (“song-bouquets”) might imply for their analysis and interpretation as music-textual wholes. Opp. 57, 85, and 70 form the basis of three analytical chapters that demonstrate the variety of unifying textual and musical aspects found in these collections. In each case, apparent unities are resisted by other elements of music and text, thereby suggesting an ironic conception of the song-bouquet while calling into question the generic identity of these collections as larger wholes.

Brahms’s singular approach to the nineteenth-century song collection thus invites a renewed interest in the problem of musical genre. Taking an interdisciplinary approach to the subject, this dissertation advances common notions of musical genre in order to articulate the new modes of relating text and music found in Brahms’s collections, not just within a song but between them. Considering genre as a historically constructed social category, I argue that these collections project a historical consciousness typical of late Romantic thought. In doing so, Brahms’s song-bouquets may be productively interpreted as a critique both of earlier genres such as the song cycle and of the Romantic ideologies that have structured the creation and reception of those genres.

2010
Laurie McManus (The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

"The Rhetoric of Sexuality in the Age of Brahms and Wagner"

As an enduring theme in nineteenth-century music history, the Brahms-Wagner debate often takes the problem of form as its main thesis: it has long been cast as the struggle of “absolute” versus “program” music. Recent musicology has focused on its intersections with nationalism and politics, historicism, and the nascent fields of music history and theory. Broadening the scope of critical discourse we study, I have examined the debate through the lens of certain sexual rhetoric employed in music criticism, such as Wagnerian attacks on the “chaste” Brahms, or the accusations of “wanton lust” in Wagner. By incorporating documents that relate music explicitly to sexuality, gender roles, and notions of the body, I argue that we reassess the debate as a fundamental struggle between sensuality (Sinnlichkeit) and purity (Reinheit) in music. This global approach extends the debate beyond traditional generic boundaries and modes of scholarly inquiry, and contextualizes it against cultural ideas of sexuality, purity, and the women’s emancipation movement.

2014
Katharina Uhde (Duke University)
"Joseph Joachim, Psychologische Musik, and the Search for a New Music Aesthetic”

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