Harrison Medal 2016: Introducing Susan Youens
This year the Council of the Society for Musicology in Ireland has awarded the Harrison Medal to Professor Susan Youens, J.W. Van Gorkom Professor of Music, University of Notre Dame, for her outstanding contribution to Schubert studies in particular and Lieder studies in general. The presentation of the award, followed by Professor Youens’s lecture "Reentering Mozart's Hell: Schubert and 'Gruppe aus dem Tartarus'", will take place on Wednesday evening in the Organ Room of the Royal Irish Academy of Music in Dublin, Ireland, on 23 November 2016 at 6pm.
The Harrison Medal
The Harrison medal of the Society is named in honour of Frank Llewellyn Harrison (1905–1987), the Irish musicologist who made a seminal contribution to the study of medieval music (especially music in medieval Britain) and to the study of ethnomusicology. Harrison held positions in Canada and the United States before being appointed to a Lectureship in Music at Oxford in 1952; he was appointed Reader in the History of Music there in 1962. Harrison subsequently became Professor of Ethnomusicology at the University of Amsterdam in 1970. A detailed account of his career and publications by Robin Elliott is available in EMIR, Vol. 1, pp. 469–471.
The Harrison medal is awarded by the President and Council of the SMI to recognize outstanding achievements in musicology. Laureates to date include Professor Christoph Wolff in 2004 (for his contribution to Bach scholarship), Professor Margaret Bent in 2007 (in recognition of her contribution to the study of music in the middle ages), Professor Kofi Agawu in 2009 (for his contribution to historical musicology, analysis and the study of African music), Dr Christopher Hogwood in 2011 (for his exemplary combination of musical scholarship and the performance of early music), and to Professor Barra Boydell and to Professor Harry White (to mark the publication of The Encyclopaedia of Music in Ireland). This year the Society is delighted to honour Professor Susan Youens, who in 2015 was also made Honorary Member of the SMI, a distinction awarded for extraordinary contribution to musicology in Ireland.
Susan Youens, who received her Ph.D. from Harvard University, is the J. W. Van Gorkom Professor of Music at the University of Notre Dame and the author of eight books from Cambridge University Press, Princeton University Press, and Cornell University Press on the lieder of Schubert, Schumann, Wolf, and others, as well as over fifty scholarly articles. She is a recipient of fellowships from the Humboldt Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the National Humanities Center, and has taught at the Ravinia, Aldeburgh, and Oxford Lieder Festivals. In 2015, she was also made Honorary Member of the SMI, a distinction awarded for extraordinary contribution to musicology in Ireland.
The musicologist Professor Youens is widely regarded as one of the world’s foremost authorities on German song, and the music of Franz Schubert and Hugo Wolf. She is one of very few people in the United States who have won four fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, as well as fellowships from the National Humanities Center, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton.
She is the author of eight books (Retracing a Winter’s Journey: Schubert’s Winterreise, Cornell University Press 1991; Hugo Wolf: The Vocal Music, Princeton University Press 1992; Franz Schubert: Die schöne Müllerin, Cambridge University Press 1992; Schubert’s poets and the making of lieder, Cambridge University Press 1996; Schubert, Müller and Die schöne Müllerin, Cambridge University Press 1997; Hugo Wolf and his Mörike Songs, Cambridge University Press 2000; Schubert’s Late Lieder: Beyond the Song Cycles, Cambridge University Press 2002; Heine and the Lied, Cambridge University Press 2007) and over fifty articles in scholarly journals, including Nineteenth-Century Music, The Musical Quarterly, The Journal of Musicology, The Cambridge Opera Journal, Nineteenth Century Music Review, Music & Letters, The Journal of the Arnold Schoenberg Institute, Schweizer Jahrbuch der Musikwissenschaft, Il Saggiatore musicale. She also regularly writes program-booklet essays for song recitals at Carnegie Hall, as well as numerous liner notes for CDs.
In addition, Professor Youens has contributed chapters to essay collections from Cambridge University Press (Schubert’s Late Music: History, Theory, Style, ed. Lorraine Byrne Bodley and Julian Horton), Oxford University Press (Rethinking Schumann, ed. Roe-Min Kok and Laura Tunbridge), Princeton University Press (Liszt and His World, ed. Christopher Gibbs and Dana Gooley), Boydell & Brewer (Words and Notes in the Long Nineteenth Century, ed. Phyllis Weliver and Katherine Ellis), University of Rochester Press (Mediating Music from Hildegard of Bingen to The Beatles, ed. Craig Monson and Roberta Marvin), Oxford University Press, Rethinking Schubert, ed. Lorraine Byrne Bodley and Julian Horton; Cambridge University Press, The Cambridge Companion to Schubert, ed. Christopher Gibbs; Cambridge University Press, The Cambridge Companion to Lied, ed. James Parsons; Cambridge University Press, The Cambridge Companion to Mendelssohn, ed. Peter Mercer-Taylor, Universal Editions, Schirmer Books, and University of California Press.
A popular speaker, Professor Youens has delivered lectures in Germany, France, England, Canada, Spain, Austria, Poland, Switzerland, Ireland, Scotland, and thirty states in the U.S. She has also taught at the Steans Institute for Young Artists of the Ravinia Festival, the Oxford Lieder Festival, La Jolla Music Festival, the Vancouver International Song Institute, and the Britten-Pears Institute - Aldeburgh Festival. The universities at which she has given invited lectures include Harvard University, Cambridge University, Oxford University, Humboldt-Universität in Berlin, the Royal College of Music, The Juilliard School of Music, University of Pennsylvania, Cornell University, Cincinnati Conservatory, the Guildhall School of Music, Reed College, Tufts University, Trinity College Dublin, Williams College, and more.
Professor Youens is frequently consulted by such great artists as Graham Johnson, Roger Vignoles, Malcolm Martineau, and Margo Garrett and has collaborated with them in lectures, lecture-recitals, and master classes.
A member of the American Musicological Society for over forty years, Youens has served as an elected member of the Board of Directors, chair of the Pisk Prize Committee (a prize for the best paper by a junior scholar at the national conference), chair of the Kinkeldey Committee (the prize for best book by a senior scholar), and chair of the Publications Committee. In November 2012, she was made an Honorary Member of the society, an award granted to those “long-standing members of the Society who have made outstanding contributions to furthering its stated object.”
Professor Youens was born in Houston, Texas and studied piano with Drusilla Huffmaster and musicology with Ellsworth Peterson before going to Harvard University for her graduate degrees. She taught at Washington University in St Louis and Ithaca College before joining the University of Notre Dame, where she has received the Joyce Award for Outstanding Teaching.
SMI applauds Professor Susan Youens, the Harrison Medal recipient, 2016.
Wednesday 23 November 2016, 6pm
Organ Room, RIAM
Prof Susan Youens, J.W. Van Gorkom Professor of Music, University of Notre Dame
This is some text!
In September 1817, Schubert went back to a poem he had earlier tried to set to music more than a year earlier, in March 1816---an attempt he abandoned after fourteen measures. But in 1817, he succeeded in magnificent manner, with one of his greatest essays in ombra style (the eighteenth-century conventions of music for the supernatural in opera, ballet, and more): his second setting of Friedrich Schiller’s early poem “Gruppe aus dem Tartarus,” D. 583. As a mass of nameless, faceless souls are forced into the deepest pit of everlasting punishment (a blend of Greek mythology and Christian tradition), Schubert deploys all the conventions of ombra music, meant both to harrow and to thrill, to invoke awe and fear: a dark, brooding tonality, disjunct motion in melodic lines and harmonic progressions, dissonances, dotted rhythms, syncopations, chromaticism, repeated notes, pedal points, sighing figures, tremolandi, and tonal instability. Schubert would have known the famous passages in this style in Christoph Willibald Gluck’s Don Juan ballet and many other works, given the vogue for scenes of furies, demons, and hell in Viennese dramatic works. Most of all, he would have been very familiar with ombra style in Mozart, in Idomeno and, first and foremost, Don Giovanni. Both in the Damnation Scene in the Act II finale and in the first section of Schubert’s “Gruppe aus dem Tartarus,” we encounter what some earlier theorists call the “passus duriusculus,” the “harsh passage,” or a chromatic ascent or descent. I often wonder whether Schubert chose his repeated figure at the start of this mammoth song for the sheer appropriateness of the term: it is indeed a “harsh passage” we hear and almost see in “Gruppe aus dem Tartarus.” It is my speculative belief that it was from Mozart’s shattering damnation of his amoral archetype that Schubert derived his model for music designed as “chromaticism within chromaticism,” intensifying the “harsh passage” to an even greater degree: a rising chromatic scale is itself repeated sequentially to a rising chromatic pattern (other aspects of Mozart’s Hell are also present and accounted for in Schubert’s through-composed, tightly organized artifact of immensity). We know that Schubert revered Mozart, that he measured himself against Mozart’s achievement on more than one occasion; in this setting of Schiller’s vivid poem, he challenged one of the most unforgettable scenes in all of opera and created one of the most terrifying Lieder of them all.