- Compositional Crossroads: Music, McGill, Montreal
Compositional Crossroads is a collection of articles written by composers, musicologists, and students who have been associated with the Faculty of Music, McGill University, between 1970 and 2004. The book takes as its object the emergence of McGill as a center of new music in Canada, and focuses mainly on the explosion of new music activity that took place at the Faculty during the second half of the 20th century.
The study is articulated in two parts. In Part One: Mapping the Infrastructures of the Faculty of Music, McGill University, as a Center for New Music, Robin Elliott offers insight into the pioneering contribution of István Anhalt to the development of the composition program; alcides lanza, interviewed by Meg Sheppard, speaks about the birth and development of the Electronic Music Studio; and Paul Pedersen writes about the history of McGill Records. John Rea remembers the impact of the visit of foreign composers to the Faculty of Music; James Harley reflects upon how composer–performer collaborations influenced his compositional approach; and Laurie Radford evaluates some current directions in technological and artistic development.
Part Two: Composer–Work Studies consists of a number of essays where selected works by important composers who teach or have taught at the Faculty of Music are approached analytically. Bruce Mather contributes "The Lost Recital: An Analysis of Bengt Hambraeus's Carrillon for Two Pianos," Pamela Jones "The Soles of the Feet: alcides lanza Reconnects with his Roots," and Neil Middleton "Hidden Meaning in Brian Cherney's Die klingende Zeit." Steven Huebner authors "Bruce Mather's Théâtre de l'âme,"Jérôme Blais "'Music under the Influence': on la nécessité extérieure in the Music of John Rea," and Patrick Levesque "Illusions, Collapsing Worlds, and Magic Realism: The Music of Denys Bouliane."
Eleanor V. Stubley, Director of Graduate Studies of the Schulich School of Music, McGill University, serves as editor of Compositional Crossroads. Her "Introduction: Crossroads" offers valuable historical background that prepares the reader to fully comprehend the significance of the articles that follow. Drawing upon a wealth of sources, she is able to present a thorough yet compact account of the evolution of Music at McGill University, which she casts against the background of important social and political events.
She further provides an introduction to both parts of the book, and contextualizes authors and their methodological approaches by means of brief biographical sketches placed at the beginning of each chapter. Ms. Stubley also contributes the closing epilogue: "The Schulich School of Music: Hearing the Future."
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The book includes a chronology and two appendices. Commercial recordings of the works cited in the body of the study are listed in Appendix 1, and the document "The Aims and Philosophy of McGill University Records (1988)" is included as Appendix 2.
This review will consider in some detail only the articles included in Part One.
In "István Anhalt and New Music at McGill," musicologist Robin Elliott examines the career of Mr. Anhalt as a composer, teacher, theorist, and administrator between his arrival at McGill from Europe in 1949 (aged 29) and his departure to Queen's University in 1971. Throughout the article, the author—who is Director of the Institute for Canadian Music at the University of Toronto—expounds [End Page 83] on the significance of his career in the context of the development of McGill's Faculty of Music.
Budapest-born Anhalt had studied under Zoltan Kodály in Hungary and Nadia Boulanger in France. In the words of his former student, William Benjamin, he was "more the exception than the rule among émigré intellectuals in being willing to...