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Critical Lives: Pyotr Tchaikovsky and Igor Stravinsky
Wed 9 November 2016, 12:30 – 14:00 GMT
Professor Philip Ross Bullock (Professor of Russian Literature and Music, University of Oxford) and Professor Jonathan Cross (Professor of Musicology, University of Oxford) will discuss their books with Dr Kate Kennedy (Weinrebe Research Fellow in Life-writing).
The event will be chaired by Dr Rosamund Bartlett.
About the Books
Pyotr Tchaikovsky was gifted with a prodigious work ethic and a commitment to writing music that was as scrupulously crafted as it was artistically inspired. His music struck audiences as supremely communicative and appealed to wealthy and influential patrons, such as Nadezhda von Meck and Tsar Alexander III, as well as Russia’s growing audiences for serious classical music. He became the nation’s leading musical celebrity, performing at the opening of New York’s Carnegie Hall in 1891 and receiving an honorary doctorate from the University of Cambridge in the summer before his death. Yet such success came at a price, and Tchaikovsky found the social obligations that his fame entailed burdensome.
Igor Stravinsky (1882–1971) was perhaps the twentieth century’s most feted composer, a leading light of modernism and a restlessly creative artist. This book traces the story of Stravinsky’s life and work, setting him in the context of the turbulent times in which he lived. Born in Russia, Stravinsky spent most of his life in exile – and while he swiftly became a cosmopolitan figure, the discomfort of estrangement nonetheless left its mark both on the man and on his work, in the form of an ever-present sense of loss and nostalgia.
Philip Ross Bullock is Professor of Russian Literature and Music, Fellow of Wadham College and Lecturer at Worcester College, University of Oxford. His main areas of methodological expertise include theories of gender and sexuality, interdisciplinary approaches to the relationship between literature and the other arts, and the study of translation, reception and cultural exchange (with a particular interest in Russia, Britain, Scandinavia and Finland). He is a member of several international networks, including Writing 1900 (a research project jointly hosted by the University of Oxford and the Humboldt University in Berlin), the Study Group for Russian and East European Music (supported by the British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies), and the International Platonov Seminar. In 2015, he was elected a to serve a three-year term as a member of the ‘wissenschaftlicher Beirat’ of the Tschaikowsky-Gesellschaft, and together with Alexandra Lloyd and Laura Tunbridge, he runs the Oxford Song Network: Poetry and Performance at TORCH (The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities).
Jonathan Cross has written, lectured and broadcast widely on issues in twentieth-century and contemporary music, and in theory and analysis. His publications include the highly acclaimed The Stravinsky Legacy (Cambridge University Press, 1998); a study of the work of Harrison Birtwistle (Faber and Faber, 2000); and an edited companion to the music of Stravinsky (Cambridge, 2003). His monograph on Birtwistle’s landmark opera The Mask of Orpheus was published in 2009 (Ashgate). He was Associate Editor (1994–99) and Editor (2000–2004) of the journal Music Analysis, and currently serves on the Editorial/Advisory Boards of Music Analysis, Tempo and Analysis in Context (Leuven Studies in Musicology). He is also an Associate Editor and Member of the Editorial Board of Grove Music Online (Oxford University Press).
He speaks frequently at international events, most recently in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Serbia, South Africa, Switzerland and the USA. Aside from his academic work, he is committed to giving talks on a broad range of musical topics that engage with the interests of the wider public. He is Series Conultant to the Philharmonia Orchestra’s 2016 Stravinsky: Myths and Rituals series. He also appears regularly on BBC Radio 3.
Kate Kennedy is Weinrebe Research Fellow in Life-writing at Wolfson College, University of Oxford.
She lectures in both music and English, and specialises in interdisciplinary biography. Her biography Dweller in Shadows: Ivor Gurney, poet, composer will be published by Oxford University Press in 2016, and she is currently working on a triple biography of Rupert Brooke and composers FS Kelly and William Denis Browne, entitled The Fateful Voyage. She has published widely on British composers and writers in the early twentieth century, co-editing The Silent Morning: Culture and Memory after the Armistice (Manchester University Press, 2013), The First World War: Literature, Music, Memory (Routledge, 2011) and contributing numerous chapters for books and journal articles. She is the editor of Literary Britten, a compendium of scholarship on Benjamin Britten’s use of text. Both her biographies have been featured on BBC Radio 3, and she is a regular broadcaster and academic consultant to the BBC, directing the commemorations for the First World War and for International Women’s Day for Radio 3, among other projects.
She is particularly interested in developing biographical research as performance, her opera libretto Out of the Ruins was a Royal Opera House commission in 2014, and her dramatized recitals for singer, pianist and actor have been performed by Fiona Shaw, Alex Jennings, Simon Russell Beale and Simon Callow in Literary and Music Festivals across the UK, and commissioned by theWigmore Hall and Southbank Centre.
Free, all welcome. Booking essential.