Prof. Dr. A. A. Bispo, Dr. H. Hülskath (editores) e curadoria científica
© 1989 by ISMPS e.V. © Internet-edição 1999 by ISMPS e.V. © 2006 nova edição by ISMPS e.V.
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N° 62 (1999: 6)
Congresso Internacional Brasil-Europa 500 Anos MÚSICA E VISÕES Sob o patrocínio da Embaixada da República Federativa do Brasil Akademie Brasil-Europa Pres. Dr. A. A. Bispo- Dir. Dr. H. Hülskath em cooperação com/in Zusammenarbeit mit:
Internationaler Kongreß Brasil-Europa 500 Jahre
MUSIK UND VISIONEN
Colonia, 3 a 7 de setembro de 1999
Köln, 3. bis 7. September 1999
Unter der Schirmherrschaft der Botschaft der Föderativen Republik Brasilien
Musikwissenschaftliches Institut der Universität zu Köln
Institut für hymnologische und musikethnologische Studien
Congresso Internacional Brasil-Europa 500 Anos
MÚSICA E VISÕES
Sob o patrocínio da Embaixada da República Federativa do Brasil
Pres. Dr. A. A. Bispo- Dir. Dr. H. Hülskath
em cooperação com/in Zusammenarbeit mit:
Dr. Paul Terse
Os 500 anos de relacionamento entre o Brasil e a Europa têm sido
marcados por transplantações, desenvolvimentos, amálgamas, sincretismos
e adaptações étnicas, culturais e religiosas. De algum modo aconteceu
o mesmo com os Estados Unidos, a outra grande nação ao norte do
continente, cuja história também foi marcada pela interação de
nativos indígenas, de europeus, africanos e orientais. Houve,
certamente, diferenças marcantes influenciadas por fatores geográficos
e políticas coloniais, pelos idiomas, religiões e culturas. Houve,
porém, também paralelismos na maneira de pensar da América do
Sul e do Norte, talvez não na sua forma de expressão, mas em conceitos
de "visão", um tipo de pensamento que influenciou o desenvolvimento
de caminhos previamente desconhecidos do pensar e na sua implementação.
Por essa razão, é produtivo tecer alguns breves comentários a
respeito da "Idéia Transcendental Americana" como uma espécie
de saudação ao Brasil por parte de seu primo do Norte. O conceito
ou definição de "Visão" tem estado sempre presente no pensamento
humano, um ato ou poder de antecipação profética, uma experiência
geralmente antevista para ser de benefício ou significante. Visão
também é a percepção de uma pessoa, de um evento ou entidade experimentada
sob ação divina ou espiritual, ou, pelo menos, a nível sobrenatural.
As diferentes tendências de cada século deram cunho particular
à concepção de "Visão", podendo esta também ser compreendida de
natureza mais positivista. No século XIX, após o estabelecimento
dos Estados Unidos e com o florescimento da literatura americana,
desenvolveu-se um tipo especial de "Visão" na Nova Inglaterra.
Essas concepções do "American New England Transcendentalism" manifestaram-se
primeiramente nos "Essays" do unitário Ralf Waldo Emerson, nos
escritos de Henry David Thorau e nas novelas de "Nathaniel Hawthorne",
todos eles de Concord, Mass., uma cidade conhecida como "Atenas"
dos Estados Unidos. "Transcendentalismo" é por definição uma filosofia
baseada na idéia de que os princípios da realidade devvem ser
descobertos pelo estudo dos processos de pensamento, ou uma filosofia
que enfatiza o intuitivo e o espiritual, mais do que o empírico.
Ao redor de 1920, este especial tipo de "Visão" tornou-se decisivo
no pensamento musical do compositor Charles Ives, como pode ser
estudado no seu "Essays before a Sonate". Essa obra de Ives esclarece
muito a respeito de uma específica mentalidade americana. A "Visão"
de Ives permeou a música e as artes de várias décadas.
O paralelismo na maneira de pensar, enraizadas nas experiências dos colonizadores do hemisfério ocidental do Norte e do Sul, evidencia-se hoje na permanência da Idéia Transcendental com relação à Natureza, a Deus e ao Universo. O hemisfério ocidental tem sido formado através da confrontação de culturas europeus com um ambiene natural e através da interação, primeiramente mal-entendida, com povos indígenas de culturas naturalísticas, complexas, universais e transcendentais. Esta existência contínua do pensamento transcendental pode ser detectada em vários elementos da arte musical contemporânea do Brasil e dos Estados Unidos. Todos nós carregamos conosco esta "Visão" para o século XXI: a nossa "Visão".
The five-hundred-year-old relationship between Brazil and Europe has been especially marked by ethnic, cultural, and religious transplantation, development, amalgamation, syncretism, and adaptation. In some ways basically similar to Brazil, a large Western-Hemisphere neighbor to the north, the United States, has also had to deal with strong acculturative processes during its own, equally long historical development, a development in which native Indian, European, and also African and Far Eastern elements continue to interact to this day. Although there are marked differences that were influenced by the geographics of colonial politics, language, religion, and culture at the beginning of the 16th Century, there are certain parallels in the North- and South American manner of thinking, perhaps somwehat less similar in their specific ways of expression, but nevertheless steeped with concepts of "Vision", of a kind of Thought which influenced the development of previously unknown ways of thinking and of the implementation thereof. And so, it is fitting that some short comments reflecting upon the American Transcendental Idea in the Art Music of the United States be given here, as a greeting to Brazil from her cousins to the North.
A concept or definition of "Vision" is always present somehow in human thinking. Setting aside the purely physical act of sensing with the eyes - that is to say, "sight" ("seeing") - vision is the act or power of prophetic anticipation, an experience generally regarded as being beneficial and meaningful. "Vision" is also the perception of a person, event, or entity experienced under either a divine or spiritual agency or - at the very least - on some sort of preternatural level. Specific tendencies of thought in a given century determine largely whether the concept of "Vision" is either of a positive nature, to be recognized and accepted as something worth striving for, or whether it is to be reviled and rejected, or even - assuming that it exists - that the entity "Vision" is even to be perceived at all.
Beginning in 1492, in the area that eventually was to become the United States, a particular mentality crystalized out of a developing tradition of experimentation, out of the improvisation that permeated virtually all aspects of life and that was and is necessary, if a body of people associated with a particular territory and being sufficiently conscious of its unity to seek or to possess a government specifically its own - in other words, a nation, - is to be created on the spot and is to survive. For the European settlers, a harsh environment of social and legal vacuum forged a type of thinking different to the previous; the basic question of physical survival forced them to re-define the historical incombatibilities both in everyday practical thinking and in philosophical, artistic and religious Thought.
This brought about a new combinatoriality in thinking; out of a European mentality there arose the American, which developed its own concept of "Vision". Settlers in America took on a stupendeous task of not only freeing themselves from a world power, but also of taking advantage of the golden opportunity to found a government. Here the writers of the Constitution, including James Madison, were completely consistent in thinking with the American way of applied "new combinatorialities". This American Colonial upper-class, professional intellegentia of that time had intensively studied Swiss, Dutch and - very importantly - Ancient Greek City-State Confederations, and, strengthened by the writings of John Locke and Montesquieu concerning government, also included Newtonian principles, which were familiar to them. These "new combinatorialities" reflect a "Vision" which came into being through direct contact with Nature and Experience: Nature, because the physical environment of the New World was so hostile and untamed and Experience, because without a consciously-apprehended and shared Experience, the establishment of a new society would not have been possible.
This Experience, gained through the physical senses (because of the direct confrontation with nature), was generally regarded as being beneficial and meaningful, true to part of the the already-mentioned concept or definition of "Vision". The desire to reach the core of a problem or concept in the most direct and simple way possible was already evident in the American way of thinking. The Englishman Sir Isaac Newton had already written in 1686 that "Nature does nothing in vain, and more is in vain when less will serve; for Nature is pleased with simplicity, and affects not the pomp of superfluous causes". In the Declaration of Independence of the United States we read ninety years later, in 1776, of the "laws of nature and of natures God". Here was expressed a "Vision", that touched upon the question of "Transcendence and Immanance"- the concept regarding the unity of being, of nature, of God and the universe.
And so, in their decision not to rewrite the cumbersome Articles of Confederation and instead to formulate a completely new Constitution, the Founding Fathers of the United States worked to attain the most simple of solutions while having learned from direct experience, and when finished, most certainly also must have thought of Platos Seventh Letter, in which he writes that "After much effort, as names, definitions, sights, and other data of sense, are brought into contact and friction one with another, in the course of scrutiny and kindly testing by men who proceed by question and answer without ill will, with a sudden flash there shines forth understanding about every problem, and an intelligence whose efforts reach the furthest limits of human powers." These words of Plato rang further not only in the emerging Statesmanship of the young United States of the Eighteenth Century, but also evident in the first blossoming of the American Literature of the Nineteenth and the Art Music of the Twentieth Centuries; and it also succinctly describes the formative, creative thought processes of the American Transcendentalists and the composer Charles Ives.
In the Nineteenth Century, soon after the establishment of the United States and with the first flowering of American literature, there evolved further, in New England, this special type of "Vision", an American New England Transcendentalism that manifested itself primarily in the "Essays" of the Unitarian Ralf Waldo Emerson, in in the writings of Henry David Thoreau, and in the novels of Nathaniel Hawthorne - all three from Concord, Mass., a small town that was for this reason considered by many to be the "Athens" of the United States. "Transcendentalism" is by definition any philosophy based upon the doctrine that the principles of reality are to be discovered by the study of the processes of thought, or a philosophy emphasizing the intuitive and spiritual above the empirical. It should be pointed out here that, in America, the term "Transcendentalism" is much more associated with the name of Emerson, rather than Immanual Kant.
By 1920, this special type of "Vision" had long been decisive for the musical thinking of the composer Charles Ives, as can be read in his "Essays before a Sonata".
Ives "Essays" served as a supplement to the four movements of his "Piano Sonata Concord, 1840-60" (known as the "Concord"-Sonata). The movements of the Sonata bear the names of Emerson, Hawthorne, the Alcotts - a locally celebrated Concord "apostolic philosopher" and his daughters - and Thoreau. In discussing these portrayals of nineteenth-century men of vision, Ives addressed basic questions of music and art. Of tantamount importance for him was the justification of musical expression for material, moral, intellectual, or spiritual values usually expressed in terms other than music, questioning if music be the language of emotion only, by asking: "Where is the line to be drawn between the expression of subjective and objective emotion"", maintaining that "It is easier to know what each is than when each becomes what it is". Already in the Prologue of these "Essays" Ives - typically for him - concludes almost immediately that "This reduces, or rather brings the problem back to a tangible basis namely: - the translation of an artistic intuition into musical sounds approving and reflecting, or endeavoring to approve and reflect, a moral goodness, a high vitality, etc., or any other human attribute mental, moral, or spiritual[...]But we would rather believe that music is beyond any analogy to word language and that the time is coming, but not in our lifetime, when it will develop possibilities unconceivable now, - a language, so transcendent, that its heights and depths will be common to all mankind."
Ives defined himself with Emerson: When we read what Ives wrote concerning the transcendentalist philosopher, we - with knowledge of Ives own music - immediately realize that he is also describing himself when he writes that it is futile to try to "fasten on Emerson any particular doctrine, philosophic, or religious theory. Emerson" [read also "Ives" here] "wrings the neck of any law, that would become exclusive and arrogant, whether a definite one of metaphysics or an indefinite one of mechanics. He hacks his way up and down, as near as he can to the absolute, the oneness of all nature both human and spiritual, and to Gods benevolence. To him the ultimate of a conception is its vastness...For he [Emerson] is but reaching out through and beyond mankind, trying to see what he can of the infinite and its immensities."
From our perspective eighty years later, Ivess "Essays" throw
light on this his very specific American mentality. The questions
that he sets up, his way of fielding them, and, of course, the
way he wrote his own music have, in an exemplary manner, permeated
the aesthetics of American Art Music up until today: Ives own
"Vision" of Music and the Arts has been reflected in the ensuing
decades by myriad American composers, who themselves have chosen
their own aesthetic in a way similar to Ives, their manner of
thinking still interpreting in some way Plato, the mathematical
ideas of Newton, the statesmanship of Locke, Montesquieu, and
Jefferson, the Concord Transcendentalists, and Charles Ives himself.
And while individually accepting or rejecing historical compatabilities
and incombatabilities, they are constantly coming up with "new
During the last eighty years, American Art Music has arranged itself into more or less nine larger areas of style and aesthetic: 1) the strict, strongly intellectual post-Webernism [Milton Babbitt and Eliot Carter, Charles Wuorinen or Mario Davidovsky]; 2) the improvisational, chance-oriented, philosophilically generated, graphically notated or from music theater influenced music [John Cage, Henry Cowell, Pauline Oliveros, or Robert Ashley]; 3) the "eclectics", a large and varied group that combines traditional, tonal elements with dissonance, atonality, jazz, ragtime,"new music" techniques [William Bolcolm, David Del Tredici, George Rochberg]; 4) the so-called "New Romanticism", with its spectacular Orchestrations [George Crumb, Jacob Druckman or Josef Schwantner]; 5) minimalism [Terry Riley, Philip Glass, Steve Reich or John Adams, 6) the scarcely-to-be-categorized, highly consequential eccentricism [Henry Brandt, John Deak, Tom Johnson, or Conlon Nancarrow; 7) alternative spacial and ritual music [Pauline Oliveros, Laurie Anderson, Charles Dodge]; 8) the non-avantgardistic, highly tonal, lyric, "accesible" music [Aaron Copland, William Schuman, Ned Rorem, Leonard Bernstein, Vincent Persechetti, Edith Zwillich, Ronald Caltabiano and John Harbison]; and 9) ethnic-oriented music of Afro-American, Asian, Hispanic, or Native American Indian [T.J. Anderson, Carmen Moore, Antohny Davis].
In the United States, the special area musico-sociologically known as Womens Composers is gradually reaching out into the mainstream of the concert goers musical consciousness: Women composers are no longer being seen as being radically feminist exotics, and, indeed, in the comparatively near future, such a separative lable as "Female Composer" will no longer be necessary.
And so, in the end, we can observe such diverse composers as Eliot Carter, Leonard Bernstein, John Cage, George Crumb, Mario Davidowsky, Conlon Nancarrow, John Adams, T.J. Anderson, or Edith Zwillich in their own search for that "Vision" of "Transcendence and Immanance", contemplating thereby the unity of being, of nature, of God and the universe.
Another interesting phenomoneon that should be mentioned in passing is the ability of American composers to swing back and forth individually between and among all these various styles and subdivisions, frustrating European efforts of catalogization!
And especially in the American music that is ethnically oriented, or has as its point of departure ancient Western and non-Western elements and philosophies, we discern an example of that which, as Ives said - in the "Epilogue" of his "Essays" - "A true love of country is likely to be so big that it will embrace the virtue one sees in other countries and, in the same breath, so to speak." And how steeped with "Vision" are the following comments of Ives!: " if a man finds that the cadences of an Apache wardance come nearest to his soul, provided he has taken pains to know enough other cadences let him assimilate whatever he finds highest of the Indian ideal, so that he can use it with the cadences, fervently, transcendentally, inevitably, furiously, in his symphonies, in his operas, in his whistlings on the way to work, so that he can paint his house with them - make them a part of his prayer-book - this is all possible and necessary, if he is confident that they have a part in his spiritual consciousness. With this assurance his music will have everything it should of sincerity, nobility, strength, and beauty, no matter how it sounds; and if, with this, he is true to none but the highest of American ideals (that is, the ideals only that coincide with his spiritual consciousness), his music will be true to itself and incidentally American, and it will be so even after it is proved that all our Indians came from Asia."
Yet, sadly enough - as far as North American Indians were concerned- the lofty ideals of the New England Transcendentalists and the composer Charles Ives were then already being contradicted by social reality in the United States. At the time of Ives "Essays", Indian musical culture had been rapidly impoverished through the rush of European settlers. Entire tribes had been obliterated, their cultures preserved only on rather primitive sound recordings. Christian conversion and westernization of Indian social and economic patterns, coupled with tourism, further diminished variety and originality. Yet, around 1960, a beginning resurgence of Indian ceremonial, musical, and dance culture could again be ascertained. The emergence of ethnicism in the concert Art Music of the United States since then has furthered a broader awareness of the Indian Heritage, a Heritage that was marked by an attitude of musical composition that originated supposedly at the time of a given tribes origin, through dreams - or through visitation, the supernational emanation, the "Vision".
The ledgends, ritual, and musical instrumentarium of North American Indians have already taken their valid place in United States American new music, as evidenced by such pieces as the dance piece "Ashes Like Seashells Containing Small Bones", which combines these elements of American Indian culture with those of the European/American on a highly artistic level. And during the course of this Symposium here we will be hearing Art Music from Brazilian women composers that incorporates an Indian thematic.
And so, it seems as though, now - at the end of the 20th Century - the ideals of New England Transcendentalism are still emerging for us and are winning a new actuality. When Henry David Thoreau writes in his "Walden" (and is so quoted by Ives in his own sonata "Essays") that "I penetrated to those meadows...when the wild river and the woods were bathed in so pure and bright a light as would have waked the dead if they had been slumbering in their graves as some suppose. There needs no stronger proof of immortality", we can immediately ask if he - Thoreau, the North American cousin - indeed, with his fascination of Walden pond, is really so far removed from Brazils Karaj Indians and the importance for them of the Aruana, the creatures of the waters depths?
Charles Ives, with a transcentental subconsciousness, could also have had the Karaj in mind when he wrote: "There are communities now, partly vanished, but cherished and sacred, scattered throughout this world of ours, in which freedom of thought and soul, and even of body, have been fought for. And we believe that there ever lives in that part of the over-soul, native to them, the thoughts which these freedom-struggles have inspired."
Geographically more specific, Ives returns to his native country: "America is not too young to have its divinities, and its place legends. Many of those "Transcendent Thoughts" and "Visions" which had their birth beneath our Concord elms - messages that have brought salvation to many listening souls throughout the world - are still growing, day by day, to greater and greater beauty - are still showing clearer and clearer mans way to God!"
There is no misunderstanding Ives, a man of "Vision", a "Transcendentalist", when, specifically with regard to music, he says that "No true composer will take his substance from another finite being - but there are times, when he feels that his self-expression needs some liberation from at least a part of his own soul. At such times, shall he not better turn to those greater souls, rather than to the external, the immediate, and the "Garish Day"" The strains of one man may fall far below the course of those Phaetons of Concord, or of the AEgean Sea, or of Westmorland - but the greater the distance his music falls away, the more reason that some greater man shall bring his nearer those high spheres".
The already-mentioned parallel ways of Thought, rooted in the settlers experiences in the Western Hemisphere both North and South, are evidenced today by the resilience of the Transcendental Idea regarding Nature, God, and the Universe. The Western Hemisphere has been formed by confrontations of European Cultures with an extremely untamed natural environment and by the interaction -however misunderstood, at first - with indigenous peoples of naturalistic, complex, universal, transcendental cultures. This continuing existence of this Transcendental Thought can be ascertained in many elements of contemporary art music in the United States and in Brazil. We are all carrying with us the "Vision" into the 21st. Century: our "Vision".
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