Geiringer Fund Application
The American Brahms
Society is seeking applications for its Karl Geiringer Scholarship in
Brahms Studies, from students in the final stages of preparing a doctoral
dissertation written in English. Work relating to Brahms should form a
significant component of the dissertation, but it need not be the exclusive
or even primary focus. The society gives equal consideration to research
in historical musicology, analysis, performance practice, and cultural
history, among others.
will consist of a cover letter, including the applicant’s address,
phone number, email address, and institutional affiliation; and a description
of the project of no more than 500 words. Two confidential letters, including
one from the dissertation adviser, should be submitted separately. All
materials should be submitted electronically as pdf files to Richard Cohn,
The deadline for submission
of materials is June 1, 2017. Finalists will be invited to submit a sample
chapter. Recipients will be notified in November.
of the Geiringer Scholarship, 1990-2014
Heather Platt (Graduate Center, City University
of New York)
Text-Music Relationships in the Lieder of Johannes Brahms.
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
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.
Margaret Notley (Yale University)
"Brahms’s Chamber Music—Summer of 1886: A Study of Opera
99, 100, 101, and 108."
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
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.
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.
Daniel Beller-McKenna (Harvard University)
"Brahms’s Settings of Biblical Texts between 1877 and 1896."
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.
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.
Dillon Parmer (Eastman School of Music)
"Brahms the Programmatic."
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.
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.
Antonius Bittmann (Eastman School of Music)
"Brahms, Wagner, and Competing Modernisms: Max Reger’s Tortuous
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
(Joe Fortes Branch Library, Vancouver, British Columbia)
Johannes Brahms: An Annotated Bibliography
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.
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.
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."
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
Is currently Secretary of the American Brahms Society and Assistant Professor
of Music History at Emory University in Atlanta.
Ryan Mark Minor (University of Chicago)
"National Memory, Public Music: Commemoration and Consecration in
Nineteenth-Century Choral Works."
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
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.
George Papadopoulos (University of Washington)
"Johannes Brahms and Nineteenth-Century Comic Ideology"
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
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.
Brent Auerbach (Eastman School of Music)
"The Analytical Grundgestalt: A New Model and Methodology Based on
the Music of Johannes Brahms"
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.
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.
is currently Assistant Professor of Music at the University of Massachusetts
Paul E. Berry (Yale University)
Inspiration, and Compositional Process in the Solo Songs of Johannes Brahms"
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.
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.
Jacquelyn Scholes (Brandeis University
"'Transcendence,' 'Loss,' and 'Reminiscence': Brahms's
Early Finales in the Contexts of Form, Narrative, and Historicism"
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.
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.
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.
Laurie McManus (The University of North Carolina at Chapel
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
Katharina Uhde (Duke University)
Joachim, Psychologische Musik, and the Search for a New Music Aesthetic”
Robin Wilson (University of Sydney)
and Interpretation in the Nineteenth-Century German Violin School with
Particular Reference to the Three Sonatas for Pianoforte and Violin
by Johannes Brahms”